Love and Lee Canyon

For one man, all the answers were up on the mountain

imgp9035-copy.jpgJack Bean was raised on Mount Charleston, and he lives there today. At 59, he’s witnessed the entire half-century history of the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort—and he and his family have helped make that history.

Bean was born in Henderson, but his parents moved to Lee Canyon—as the ski area is still known to longtime Las Vegans—when he was 4 years old. They were the first homeowners in what’s now known as the Summer Home area; they had to live in an Army tent while Bean’s father built their house. A long-term lease from the Forest Service allowed his parents to live there until 2009.

Bean remembers when the resort opened; he skied its slopes when the only way to the top was a T-bar lift. He got his first job at the resort, busing tables, at 14. Between part-time gigs, summer jobs and his eventual career as director of mountain operations—a position he still holds today—he’s worked his entire professional life at the resort.

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The place provided more than a living; it also brought him his bride, Monetta. The pretty blond 16-year-old was visiting from Oklahoma in 1971 with a friend whose father was a ski instructor. Bean spotted her, and a year later they were married.

After spending a year in a cabin on the mountain, the newlyweds moved into a home in northwest Las Vegas, where they had two children, Heather and Joshua. In 1995, Jack and Monetta returned to Mount Charleston, settling down in lower Kyle Canyon.

The entire family skis or snowboards or both. They’ve all drawn a paycheck from the resort at one time or another. “My son has always worked here,” Bean says. “As a toddler, he rode in the grooming machine with me. Now, he’s in charge of slope maintenance.”

His attachment to the place comes from its hidden-gem quality: “Having a mountain so close to a major city like Las Vegas,” he says, “I always saw the potential.”

Bean’s not nostalgic for the good old days, either. In his opinion, progress has meant improvement. The addition of snowmaking machines in the mid-1980s boosted the resort’s popularity. Powdr Corp’s acquisition of the area in 2003 brought much-needed upgrades to infrastructure and equipment.

“I feel like we’re really making headway now,” he says. “Kevin [Stickelman, president and general manager of LVSSR] has brought the right attitude to work with both the Forest Service and environmentalists to make the resort better.”

But what he likes most about the place should be obvious: “It’s been my whole family together here, all these years.”

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