Mountain News: 

Who will get the rest of Mammoth?

MAMMOTH, Calif. — At age 89, David McCoy is finally ready to liquidate his remaining stake in Mammoth Mountain, the ski area in the Sierra Nevada that he founded in 1937. The question is who will get it?

Possible buyers include Intrawest Corp., which owns a majority of the company but not a majority of voting shares. It is also developing three base villages there. Another potential bidder is arch-Intrawest rival Vail Resorts, which two years ago bought its first California ski resort and who has admitted to be interested in another. Other potential buyers reported by the Los Angeles Times include the Walt Disney Co., actor Robert Redford, and Mammoth’s chief executive, Rusty Gregory, who has been at the resort 27 years. He already owns 14 per cent of the company.

Analysts estimated the value of McCoy’s stake at $200 million to $300 million. The number of bidders have been reported at anywhere from three (serious) bidders to 30 possible. The sale is expected to take anywhere from four to six months.

Speaking in Mammoth Lakes recently at a session covered by The Sheet, a web-based publication, Gregory suggested McCoy wants to cash out in order to accelerate his philanthropy. He also said McCoy wants to cement direction for the resort while he’s still sharp. That vision is to make Mammoth a competitive destination resort along the lines of Vail and Whistler. McCoy can pull out of the sale if he doesn’t like what he sees.

Gregory also said that Intrawest is a buyer if the price is low, a seller if the bidding goes high. "They spent last year paying down debt, and a lot of their current strategies are inconsistent with paying a lot of money for the company," said Gregory.

Skiing seems to be becoming more profitable. In 1996, Mammoth grossed $50 million, said Gregory. Last year, it grossed $115 million. While it often led the nation in skier days in the early 1970s, despite the five- to six-hour drive to Los Angeles, it was overtaken by Vail and now routinely shares runner-up status with Breckenridge.

Suicide rate above average

ASPEN, Colo. — In addition to Hunter Thompson, three other people have shot themselves this year in the Roaring Fork Valley, where Aspen is located, and another person hanged herself.

In fact, Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, and adjoining Garfield County, where many of Aspen’s workers live, both have suicide rates well above state and national averages. Eagle County, where Vail is located, is in line with the national average.

"Everyone likes to talk about ‘quality of life’ around here, and the emphasis is on having fun, skiing partying, going to restaurants, arts, and music," Jeff Kremer, programming director for the Aspen Counseling Center, told The Aspen Times. "But the truth is there is a dark side that this community hasn’t been overly eager to talk about."

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