Mountain Capital Partners to Operate Willamette Pass

Durango, Colorado-based Mountain Capital Partners today announced Willamette Pass, Oregon will join its collective of Western ski resorts through a joint venture with current owner Tim Wiper. Willamette Pass becomes the eighth ski resort to join MCP and its first in the Northwest. The company currently operates resorts in four Southwestern states as as well as a lift-served bike park in Texas. “For more than two decades, MCP has strengthened its position in the Southwest, acquiring, building, developing and successfully growing nine resorts in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Texas,” said MCP managing partner James Coleman. “While Willamette Pass Resort’s location introduces a new geographical region to the company, the skiing is fantastic and the opportunity to carry on the tradition of Willamette Pass made the decision an obvious one,” he continued. Willamette Pass will join the Power Pass family of season pass products and current resort leadership is expected to remain in place.

Willamette Pass features a fleet of four Riblet and CTEC chairlifts including Oregon’s first six pack. The mountain also has significant expansion potential in the fast-growing Pacific Northwest ski market. Mountain Capital Partners specializes in building and improving resorts through targeted capital improvements including new lifts and snowmaking. “MCP expects to bring meaningful upgrades to resort operations starting this winter,” said the company’s press release.

Founded in 1941, Willamette Pass offers guests access to 29 trails across 555 skiable acres. “Since this resort’s founding, this has been a family business and, together with our incredible staff, we’ve put in this work for one reason: our love for skiing,” said Tim Wiper, who has owned the resort with his family since 1982. “Mountain Capital Partners clearly shares our undeniable passion for this sport, and they are the right partner to not only lead Willamette Pass Resort into the future but also work together with us to carry on our remarkable legacy.”

News Roundup: Peak Pressure

  • Peak Resorts’ financial footing reportedly worsens amid staff layoffs, reduced operations and spending cuts.  The company owns 14 resorts across the Eastern U.S.
  • Leitner Ropeways celebrates 15 years of DirectDrive with 55 installations to date.
  • Poma has already delivered components for Zacatecas, Mexico’s new gondola but construction that was supposed to start in January has been delayed.
  • The 2002 Garaventa CTEC Chondola at Willamette Pass is still for sale along with the mountain’s Midway triple.  WP apparently can’t afford to maintain its only detachable lift and listed it for sale a year ago.
  • Le Relais also has 2 lifts newly listed (these are being removed to make way for a new six pack.)
  • LST signs La Plagne to launch the company’s first detachable lift next winter. MND Group CEO Xavier Gallot-Lavallee commented, “We are delighted to announce the initial commercial success of our brand new range of detachable chairlifts. The new contract signed with SAP, a subsidiary of leading ski resort operator Compagnie des Alpes, confirms the benefits of the innovative technology that we have developed and positions MND as a leading market player.”

LST chair
LST will debut unique new detachable chairs and terminals for a new six-pack chairlift in La Plagne.

Another “Lost” Detachable lift?

This week, we learned Willamette Pass in Oregon has put their base-to-summit six-pack up for sale for $2.65 million.  The Eagle Peak Accelerator was built in 2002 by GaraventaCTEC for $3.5 million.  After three terrible seasons in a row, the ski area says it can no longer afford to operate such an expensive lift.  This winter, Willamette Pass got 7 percent of its normal snowfall and essentially didn’t operate.  The plan is to buy or trade the detachable for a fixed grip lift and reuse the existing tower tubes.  If this happens Willamette Pass will become the first resort in North America to remove a six-pack.  (Mount Washington on Vancouver Island might not be far behind – they have a similar lift and barely opened the last two winters.)

The “biggest, fastest uphill transportation in Oregon” may go away.

The list of “lost” detachable lifts is short.  Ascutney Mountain in Vermont spent $2 million to build the North Peak Express in 2002 but went into foreclosure in 2010 and never reopened.  Creditors sold their flagship lift to Crotched Mountain, NH and SkyTrac moved it there in 2012.

Continue reading