Sierra Wave Media

Eastern Sierra News for June 14, 2024





thetownLocal people lived through it over something like 70 years. For those who want a 16-minute version of Mammoth’s rise and fall to near bankruptcy, an online documentary offers a creative look.

Two students of the UC Berkley Graduate School of Journalism, C.K. Hickey and Matt Sarnacki, researched and documented Mammoth’s history and the steps leading up to the declaration of bankruptcy and beyond. Hickey had vacationed in Mammoth Lakes most of his life and heard from his Grandfather that Mammoth was headed for trouble. Hickey handled web design and what’s called Immersive Design which deals with story-driven media of all kinds. Sarnacki led the reporting and video production.

Powder Magazine is airing the documentary on its site at The show is called “The Town – the rise, fall and re-development of Mammoth Lakes”. It starts with a current interview of Dave McCoy who said he saw Mammoth when he was 12 and knew that’s where he wanted to be. From the magic of McCoy, the film moves on to the Ski Area purchase by corporate Intrawest and mistakes made over development at Mammoth Airport.

The filmmakers interviewed former Airport Manager Bill Manning, Councilman John Eastman, Steve Searles and Police Chief Dan Watson. Councilmen Rick Wood, Michael Raimondo and Matthew Lehman all said the way out of Mammoth’s money pit is growth and development when it’s possible. Lehman leaned on marketing.

At the end of the film, Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory goes to the philosophical when he speaks of a look from “a long way back.” He points to the Sierra with its geological violence, wind, rain and erosion. He said, “When you put a few people in a powerful, natural environment like this you get more of what this area provides which is a tremendous amount of grinding, grating and breaking – destruction. There’s a lot of destruction that goes along with constructive things.” Said Gregory, “It’s the way things are supposed to be.”