Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort’s Founder Turns 100, and He Only Stopped Skiing a Few Years Ago
An outdoorsy lifestyle and fun-loving spirit kept Mammoth founder Dave McCoy on the slopes into his nineties
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort founder Dave McCoy turns 100 today, and to celebrate, he’s launching a $100 for 100 campaign through his Mammoth Lakes Foundation, the non-profit he founded to support higher education in the Eastern Sierra.
The aim is to get one hundred people to donate $100 by the end of today. If that happens, McCoy will match their donations at 100%. All the proceeds will go to the foundation.
Related: Why Mammoth Mountain Is the Ski Destination You Need to Visit This Winter
We caught up with the centenarian at his Bishop, California home to learn the secrets of his longevity and success—and, of course, to wish him a happy hundredth!
Sunset: Okay, first things first: You only stopped skiing a few years ago. How have you stayed so active and fit?
McCoy: You know, turning 100, you just have to take it as it comes. That and have fun. Always have fun.
Sunset: And you still keep a pretty busy schedule, working with the foundation and, I hear, inventing.
McCoy: That’s right. I’m making an electric vehicle right now. It’s better than anything on the market—it’s good for six hours. It’ll go 80 or 90 miles an hour.
Sunset: Any plans to put that on the market?
McCoy: No way—I’m busy! I’m retired. I don’t want to get into business. I’ve been in monkey business all my life. Now’s the time when I can just have fun. I’ve always had fun—now I can have even more.
Sunset: So you were born in L.A. and went to high school in Washington state. How’d you land in Southern California?
McCoy: I hitchhiked here from Washington. I had the last 50 cents in my pocket when I landed in Independence, CA, and I went to work in a restaurant. So then I had food, a place to go, and people to have fun with.
Sunset: And you got to ski, too, right?
McCoy: I was just learning how to ski then. I made a pair of skis with some boards, slapped them on my feet, and went and had some fun with friends. There was nobody living here in the wintertime then. I think there were just six people living in Mammoth when I got started.
Sunset: So how did you decide to start a ski area?
McCoy: Everybody said it was impossible—that Mammoth was too far away, it was too cold, it was too high. And the minute they said ‘You can’t,’ that’s when I decided I would.
Sunset: What was the area like back then? Was there any infrastructure?
McCoy: I started with a little portable rope tow, and people would hang on to that [to get up the mountain]. We had all kinds of fun.
Sunset: Fast forward a few decades, and Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is now one of the biggest in the country. Is that success what led to you founding the Mammoth Lakes Foundation?
McCoy: You know, the town of Mammoth grew from six people to three or four hundred people. Then those people were having children and trying to live in this territory. I thought, the best thing to do would be to have a school or a college right here where they live. So that’s what we did. A lot of people believed in me and helped make it happen, and now we have a beautiful school in a beautiful location and room for a bigger set up.
Sunset: Last but not least: Happy birthday! How are you planning on celebrating tonight?
McCoy: It’s going to be great. We’ll have the family up here—just McCoy family, including my wife—and I’m thinking it’ll be about 60 people. I feel lucky.