June Mountain celebrates 50 years with more fresh lines than lift lines

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 7, 2011 1:55 pm

June Mountain celebrates 50 years this season with a birthday bash to be held the first weekend in March, 2011.  A vintage ski race with apres activities will be held and starting in late January, the crowd pleasing big event Taco Tuesdays at the half pipe returns.  You can watch your friends or between runs enjoy $2 tacos and apres to $3 beers in the sunshine. 

June Mountain is a great compliment to a Mammoth Mountain vacation.  An estimated 30-40 minute shuttle service is available to from Mammoth Lakes June Mountain.  $7 one way or $13.50 round trip.  You can learn more about that at eastern sierra transit.com for times and pickup locations.  The best part is that if you have a Mammoth Pass already, skiing at June mountain is free.

Transworld snowboard magazine recently ranked June Mountain #3 in overall park category and 6th overall for their pipe.  Placing well ahead of many other more renowned terrain park locations.  click here for rankings.

Fun Facts

Did you know?

-  When June Mountain opened there was a Pomalift transporting skiers from the Chalet ot the Wall, to ski what was called ‘Chalet Bowl.”

-  The original OP Pro, held at June Mountain Jan 6-8, 1989 was one of the first nationally televised snowboard competitions in  America

-  The original name of June meadows Chalet was Grand Chalet Schweizerhof

-  Bud and Lois Hayward of Santa Ana owned and operated June Mountain for 26 years.

-  June Mountain opened with a foot of fresh snow on Presidents Day weekend, 1961.

-  The original ski school director was Austrian ski racer Pepi Greimeister.

-   Bunker Hill, located next to chair 3, was named after Bud’s wife, Lois who’s maiden name was Bunker.

History of skiing in June Lake

 Late 1930s – Rope tows on Oh! Ridge

1933 – CCC Spike Camp in June Mtn. parking lot location does trail work

1940 – June Lake Winter Sports Association established; 2,000-foot-long rope tow near Fern Creek Hatchery installed, inviting skiers

              for $1 a day

1940s – Mono Ski Club established; Carson Peak Run ski race

1945 – Chuck Osborn begins Dream Mountain Ski Tows (west of Four Seasons Motel location)

1946 – June Lake gets electricity

1955 – Southern California skiers begin visiting when newly opened Mammoth    Mountain books up

1960 – Construction of June Mountain begins under proprietorship of Bud Hayward

1961 – June Mountain opens with 12 in. fresh snow; Chair J1, 12 miles of runs, T-Bar and Chalet operate

1962 – Winter so freezing that marines delivered water to townsfolk with frozen water supply

1962 – Operations include Chair J1 (double), 4,000-foot-long T-Bar, Pomalift and rope row

1963 – Chuck Osborn ceases operation of Dream Mountain rope tow

1964 – Expansion toward the June Mountain summit begins; 15 miles of runs open

1965 – Chair J2 opens

1969 – Legendary winter with huge snowfall; avalanches occur at Boulder Lodge and Oh! Ridge

1969 – Original Chair J7 (double) installed

1970 – “Two more lifts completed” Original Chair J6 installed (and Chair J4?)

1975/76 – Not enough snow to stay open all season

1986 – After 26 years, Dave McCoy, owner of Mammoth Mountain, purchases June Mountain

1986 – Dave McCoy rebuilds Chairs J6 and J7

xxxx – Avalanche takes out Chair J5

xxxx – Chair J5 becomes a pomalift for tubing down the bottom of the Face

1989 – Snowboarding allowed

 Nichols

June Mountain – History

August 30, 2010

 

June Mountain is a treasure of Southern California skiing and if you haven’t been there yet, book at trip and enjoy an amazing resort with more fresh lines than lift lines.

June Mountain is also open during summer and is an ideal access point to hiking trails, fishing, biking, camping and so much more.

 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE HISTORY

 

 

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June Lake beginnings
In the 1860s, when Abe Lincoln was president, Mark Twain was a prospector hunting for gold in the west, and John Muir was dipping his toes in the Merced River of Yosemite Valley, Mono County was established. One of the small towns that set up shop was June Lake village, a fisherman’s paradise tucked in a horseshoe-shaped canyon where four trout-filled lakes’ deep waters each reflected a row of10,000-foot peaks. These peaks were a sight to see (and still are). In 1886 US Surveyor LC Russel came along and recorded it as Horseshoe Canyon. Today, it’s simply “June” to most folks.

Geologic wonders
The canyon where June Lake and June Mountain sit was created a million years ago, a.k.a. the Pleistocene era. Rush Creek Glacier was 24 square miles in size and left several astounding geological wonders in its wake, for instance: a.) the towering 10,900-foot Carson Peak; b.) the creek that flows “backwards.” Reversed Creek runs from June Lake toward the Sierra, then to Grant Lake and Mono Lake in a horseshoe pattern; c.) Balanced Rock, the 706-ton granite rock 18′ by 22′ by 30′ near the June Lake fire station. This area was once inhabited by the great tribes of Paiutes, who collected obsidian from nearby Mono Craters, wove beautiful baskets and lived on pine nuts and flies from Mono Lake. Later, fishermen came to visit, and some stayed to build their homesteads. One such person was George “Tuffy” Conn.

Growing interest in winter sports
By the mid-1940s, the June Lake Winter Sports Association and Mono Ski Club had been established and June had become popular in both summer and winter. The thirties had hosted everyone from the CCC Spike Camp (based in the present-day June Mountain parking lot), who did extensive trail work, to Hollywood, who made the days-long trek to film black-and-white movies in the serene mountain environment. These high-profile visitors from the south stayed at the Heidelberg Inn and drank at the Tiger Bar, which had been established early in the decade with the third oldest liquor license in the state of California. When the snow fell, makeshift rope tows were set up on Oh! Ridge. The winter sports association members were hosting skiing at a 2,000-foot-long rope tow near Fern Creek Hatchery for $1 a day (hydro-powered, rumor has it) and racing the steep 4,000-foot descents of the Carson Peak Run ski race. So it was that Conn began operating Dream Mountain Ski Tows, west of the Four Seasons Motel location, in 1938. Conn sold it to Chuck Osborn in 1945. It would be another year before June Lake village got electricity and five before a town doctor and library were established – obviously, skiing has been a priority to the June Lake community for quite a while. Then, in 1955, even more Californians began arriving with wooden skis and bamboo poles when Mammoth Mountain – 15 miles to the south – opened for business to booked-out crowds. To June they came, and some never looked back. June had the steep slopes, deep snow, charming townsfolk and ethereal views that winter dreams were made of.

“Many skiers park their boards at Mamou all year and would never dream of venturing elsewhere. Just three years ago, when skiers battling long weekend lift lines at Mammoth were told of a newly-opened area just 15 miles away, they just shrugged. They stayed away for the most perverse of all reasons: ‘There’s nobody there.’ But the small band that did go immediately fell for June’s combination of genuine courtesy and family intimacy reminiscent of smaller European resorts.” – Los Angeles Times, Feb. 25, 1964

Evolving June
WWII was over and in May 1960 Bud Hayward began construction on a winter resort that could hoist skiers to the top of a mountain via chairlift and entertain them for a day with rope tows and a cozy lodge. Of course, not every one of June’s residents jumped for joy. Stew Pot Slim, even though he soon skipped town, earned a namesake warming hut on June Mountain that continue to operate today.

“Many colorful characters inhabited the area in the early days of June Lake, but one of the best known is Joseph Everett, a.k.a. Stew Pot Slim. He earned the name Stew Pot because he was exceptionally clean, washing his work clothes every day in an old brass-bottomed wash tub (or stew pot). He was an infamous handy man and pack rat, well known for innovative construction techniques using any material he found at hand. Stew Pot eventually moved to Alaska because he heard a ski resort was to be developed in the June Lake area and he preferred a more secluded lifestyle.” – Mono Lake Basin, by David Carle and Don Banta

“He said he had drunk enough whiskey by the time he was forty to sink a navy, and smoked too. Then he stopped both and never took a drink again, nor had a smoke. He loved to lie on his belly and drink from the cold clear streams. It was a sad day for June Lake when Stew-Pot, in his new Ford pick-up, took off for Alaska in 1960.” – Horseshoe Canyon, by Betty Bean

June Mountain development
William C. “Bud” Hayward, a real estate tycoon from Santa Ana in southern California’s Orange County, obtained a permit from the Inyo National Forest to build a ski resort. A dedicated crew, headed by local builder Pete Marzano, spent nine months in1960 building a chairlift, lodge and other amenities where they still stand today, on the most scenic ridge in the middle of the horse-shoe-shaped canyon. The views up and down the canyon are remarkable, and Hayward named the lodge Grand Chalet Schweizerhof to conjure the Swiss Alps that June’s views so well replicated.

On Presidents Day Weekend in February 1961, on a day when 12 inches of fresh Sierra snow covered the landscape, June Mountain opened for business. There was Chair J1, a 3,000-foot-long Riblet double lift starting from the base of the Face, as well as a 4,000-foot Dopplemayr T-Bar, serving 12 miles of cleared runs. These were mostly on Chalet Bowl, which is present day Chalet and Baby Face. The original ski school director was Austrain ski racer Pepi Greimeister. The lift manager was Maynard Jenkins. In 1962, despite a freezing winter (so cold that marines delivered water to townsfolk with frozen water supply), operations expanded to include to a rope tow and Pomalift, which carried skiers from the Chalet to near the top of the Wall. Expansion continued.

“Starting from the steep and forbidding face of the bottom part of the mountain (7,650 ft.), he hurled lifts up 3,000 ft. to the table-top smooth beginner’s area on top. Hampered by poor snow on the lower areas, poor advice on brush clearing and famine or facture terrain conditions, Hayward has now launched a program to go to the top of June Mountain (10,250 ft.) This giant leap, adding 9,672 ft. of running double chairlift, gives Hayward access to honest-to-gosh snow country. Clearing hundreds of thousands of trees, Hayward envisions a sprawling web of trails, 15 mi. of 3 and 5-mi. long runs. In all, there will be nine lifts operating.” -Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 1963

By 1964 15 miles of runs were open, and by the end of the decade the entire 10,250-foot summit (it’s actually a ridge, but who’s counting?) was being skied with lift access. Chair 5 was eventually turned into a poma used for inner-tubing down the lower part of the Face. Hayward and his wife Lois enjoyed hosting skiers for 26 years, through excessive snows (record winter of 1969) and drought years (the 1975/76 season only had enough snow for operation several days).

McCoy Years
Dave McCoy, owner of Mammoth Mountain, purchased June Mountain in 1986. With enough chairlifts and hard work, he intended to connect the two ski resorts over the San Joaquin Ridge and provide skiers with a 15-mile backcountry experience through the powerful and majestic Eastern Sierra.

“McCoy originally intended to link the June and Mammoth ski areas with a series of 12 to 15 lifts, comparable to multi-mountain ski areas in Europe. The plan ran into opposition from the U.S. Forest Service and many local environmentalists, however, and was shelved in favor of upgrading Mammoth and June as separate ski areas”. — June Lake from Oh! Ridge by Wendy Fujikawa

While this dream never materialized, the dream of establishing this section of Hwy. 395 as the premier winter destination on the west coast did happen. Dave set immediately to rebuilding June Mountain’s chairlifts, even upgrading Chair J1 to a tram before it was later rebuilt as a double chairlift. His daughter Candy oversaw daily operations. Skiing in the 1980s had taken a new breath of life. And another one was just around the corner.

New horizons
Snowboarding was new to the world in 1989, and June Mountain was where it was happening. On January 6-8, 1989, the OP Pro Invitational snowboarding contest was one of the first of its kind. It was nationally televised. June Mountain was one of the first places to ride a snowboard in a halfpipe, and now, over two decades later, remains at the top of freestyle terrain development. It is June Mountain’s friendly, folksy atmosphere and great terrain that have enabled it to try new things and take risks on innovation while remaining everyone’s favorite “secret” place to ski and snowboard. In 2005, when Dave McCoy sold the controlling interest in Mammoth Mountain to Starwood Capital Group, June Mountain remained under the proprietorship of Mammoth Mountain, thus continuing the synergistic relationship that benefits skiers and snowboarders who enjoy two resorts in one area, often on the same lift ticket or season pass. Many say there’s more at June that hasn’t changed than those that have. In the 1970s, June Mountain employed about 150 people in the winter. Today the staff is about the same size. And many of us are the same people. We love June. Here’s to fifty years!

Resources
June Mt. Resort Off to Big Start, Feb. 16, 1961
June Slopes in Good Shape, Nov. 9, 1962, Los Angeles Times
Hayward Aims at June Mountain Top, Nov. 8, 1963, Los Angeles Times
June Mountain Gives Relief to Skiing Set, Feb. 25, 1964, Los Angeles Times
June Lake from Oh! Ridge (Wendy Fujiwaka)
Horseshoe Canyon: A Brief History of the June Lake Loop (Betty Bean)
Mono Lake Basin (David Carle & Don Banta)

 

 

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