Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort has submitted a master plan amendment to the Forest Service seeking to expand by 924 acres while adding 51 new trails, four new lifts, a mountain coaster and more. This should come as no surprise given the resort’s history, current layout and owner – the collective of southwestern ski resorts known as Mountain Capital Partners. Like with the resort’s accepted 2012 master plan, Sipapu continues to envision two new base-to-summit lifts. Today, it takes two fixed-grip lift rides to reach 9,295′, well below the actual summit of the mountain.
A mile-plus long Sipapu Express would rise from the current base area to a new beginner learning zone at nearly 9,700 feet with a second chairlift and two carpets. Because it would operate in both winter and summer for a variety of guests, the Sipapu Express is proposed as a chair/gondola combination lift. Mountain Capital Partners and its managing partner, James Coleman, plan to build a similar lift at Arizona Snowbowl as soon as next summer. A second detachable lift at Sipapu, the Westside Express, would service intermediate terrain in an entirely new pod beyond the current permit area. “This lift will provide access to the abundant intermediate fall line skiing terrain that has been identified to address the deficiency of intermediate terrain within the existing SUP Area,” the plan notes. This one would be around 4,400 feet long with a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour. The plan would also see Lift 1 realigned and replaced with a ift capable of moving 2,400 skiers per hour. Lift 3, one of the last remaining high-speed Pomas in the country, is unfortunately slated for removal without replacement.
The retired Al’s Run quad from Taos is headed to Texas to anchor the state’s first lift-assisted bike park, Spider Mountain. Mountain Capital Partners is behind project and will host a preview mountain bike race on September 29th. Skytrac is installing the lift, which will open sometime next year. “There is a much larger plan for the property and bikes are just a part of it,” says a poster on Bike Mojo involved in trail building. Spider Mountain sits just outside Burnet, Texas and has a 350 foot vertical rise with views of Buchanan Lake.
MCP Managing Partner and CEO James Coleman is a University of Texas at Austin alum and Spider Mountain is about an hour away from the fast-growing city. His company currently operates ski resorts in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. This project brings the number of new chairlifts and gondolas outside of ski country to eight this year. From bike parks to theme parks, fairs and urban transport applications, ropeways are proving their usefulness around the country.
The new operator of Utah’s Nordic Valley, Mountain Capital Partners, has high hopes for what is currently the littlest ski resort in Utah. MCP is the fast-growing Durango, Colorado-based outfit led by James Coleman that now operates six ski resorts in the four corners region. Less than three years after acquiring Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl, Mr. Coleman entered into an operating agreement with Nordic Valley’s owners in April. Now we know one of the reasons why he went to Utah.
The centerpiece of master plan released this month is a 4.3 mile gondola stretching from North Ogden to a summit elevation of 8,100′ before descending into Nordic Valley’s base area near Eden. It would be the third longest gondola system in the world and some 6,000 feet longer than anything in the United States today. “In addition to offering direct-to-resort access in a scenic 12-minute ride, the gondola will also help cut down on canyon traffic and vehicle emissions,” notes the recently-launched nordicvalleyproject.com website. A similar gondola was once eyed to connect Ogden to Snowbasin and the proposal reminds me in some ways of the successful Silver Mountain Gondola project which transformed Kellogg, Idaho.
Nordic Valley has attempted to expand upward and outward multiple times over its 50 year history but never before had access to the kind of capital needed to undertake what is now mapped. The plan includes nine new chairlifts surrounding the new gondola, which would likely be built in two sections. “We’re passionate about the ski industry, and about giving families and individuals the freedom and opportunity to experience the outdoors,” MCP notes. “With an improved guest experience, the new Nordic Valley will be better positioned to grow the ski industry, compete with other area resorts, and bolster Ogden’s status as a first-rate recreation destination.”