Not Just Another Mammoth Mountain History

How is it that a young man—raised in the road camps of California’s Central Valley, abandoned at age 15 by his father, deposited with his grandparents in a damp coal-mining town in central Washington by his mother, and thrust into adulthood near the end of the Great Depression—eventually came to build one of the biggest and most successful ski resorts in the country? 

Dave McCoy’s work ethic, self-reliance, determination, optimism and ingenuity certainly played roles, but perhaps there was a more determinative influence. 

Author Robin Morning returns with her second comprehensive work covering the history of California’s Mammoth Mountain and its protagonists with For the Love of It: The Mammoth Legacy of Roma & Dave McCoy. Note the order of Mammoth’s founders in the title, as Robin (and Dave) both attribute much of his success to his wife of 80 years, local girl Roma Carriere. In the book, Roma’s perspective is intimately shared through first-person chapters alternating with the third-person descriptions that tell Dave’s story.

The book details the lives of Dave and Roma from childhood through the completion of Chair One in 1953, marking the beginning of commercial skiing at Mammoth. While the legends of Dave’s life in the Eastern Sierra are widely known—from aqueduct repair work with the Civilian Conservation Corps, to erecting ski tows throughout the Highway 395 corridor, and his fortuitous hiring as a hydrographer (for his skiing ability)—the familiar stories blossom here in a conversational tone.

Dave met Roma in Bishop, a shy local girl who had a passion for dance but was soon converted to the rhythms of skiing. Inspired by a desire to have fun up in snow country and share that fun with others, together they built a legendary junior racing program at Mammoth while raising six racers of their own. Kids from near and far gravitated to Mammoth to enjoy Roma’s home cooking and cozy floor space while under the tutelage of Coach Dave.

Mammoth Mountain was developed not through any vision shared with would-be financiers, but through the McCoys’ remarkable resourcefulness. Dave became something of a Pied Piper on the mountain, with a diverse following of former accountants, engineers, World War II veterans and surfers abandoning their former lives to participate. Roma provided the home base where all were welcomed as family after a day of good clean fun moving tows, fixing weasels, clearing roads and skiing. 

Morning grew up in Santa Monica and raced for McCoy at Mammoth, competing for the U.S. Ski Team from 1965 to 1968. The day before the opening ceremonies for the 1968 Winter Olympics at Grenoble, she broke her leg on a downhill training run. After coaching junior and master’s racers in Southern California, Mammoth, and Colorado, she became a schoolteacher and eventually found her way back to Mammoth, where she still lives. She’s the author of the ISHA Award-winning book Tracks of Passion: Eastern Sierra Skiing, Dave McCoy & Mammoth Mountain. 

Morning has published her new book, For the Love of It, in part as tribute to her friend McCoy, who died in February 2020 at 104 (see Skiing History, March-April 2020). Available in softcover, 426 pages with numerous photos, signed copies available. Order online at —Chris I. Lizza