As snow begins to accumulate at June Lake, the resort town that was forced to sit out the 2012-2013 season will reopen for business Dec. 13 with a winter festival.
June Mountain, which is owned by Mammoth Mountain, has long been operating at a deficit, and the closure had “devastating impact” on local residents and businesses, according to Connie Black, an owner of the Double Eagle Resort and Spa, which employs both full-time and seasonal staff, many of whom suffered layoffs.
But Black said the ordeal inspired the June Lake community to pull together and work to find sustainable ways to make the resort profitable. Without lift tickets, there were snowmobile rallies, triathlons, snow sculpture contests, live music and other events.
“We pretty much came together and organized our own events,” said Black. “We had committees and volunteers to keep things going.”
As for the closure, “It was a business decision by the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to close June Lake for one year for financial reasons,” said Tim Alpers, a Mono County District 3 Supervisor. Alpers said the town is back in the black and is repositioning itself as a family destination. There will also be investments in a new chair lift and snowmaking machine.
Jon Coats, who owns the Fern Creek Lodge at June Lake, has been busy posting pictures of the latest snowfall to his company’s Facebook page. He said he is elated the community has come together to create more activities for families to distinguish itself from the much larger Mammoth Mountain to the north.
“I’m just happy to see the community come together, after what we have all been through.”
Carl Williams is the General Manager of Mammoth Mountain. He said many were bewildered at the closure, but it was necessary.
“We didn’t just walk away,” said Williams. “We put things to bed very carefully.” Williams said the resort has been rehiring staff since April, and added “Mammoth Mountain needed to have a reasonably successful year to get the banks off our backs.”
Now, said Williams, June Lake just needs a lot of snow.
Forecasts on Monday predicted 2-4 inches, but by noon it had already dumped about 6 inches, said Williams.
The Dec. 13 Opening Day Festival will feature $10 lift tickets, and all proceeds will go to the June Lake Chamber of Commerce. Season passes will be on sale for $399. On Nov. 9, the Double Eagle Resort and Spa will be selling season passes to locals for $310.
All June season passes will be honored at Mammoth for spring skiing, and all kids 12 and under can ski all season for free.