Mountain Capital Partners Assumes Operation of Willamette Pass, Oregon; Adds Ski Area to Power Pass
MCP breaks out of its Southwest core with its eighth active lift-served ski area
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Once in a while you hook around a mountain backroad and instead of the collection of Riblets and Halls left over from the coronation of the first Dinosaur King you find that most unlikely of contraptions: a six-pack banger swinging in the breeze. This happens as you approach Ragged Mountain, New Hampshire and Sugar Mountain, North Carolina and Timberline, West Virginia and Bear Valley, California. Jackson Hole doesn’t have any six-packs and neither does Snowbird and neither for God’s sake do Beaver Creek or Deer Valley but for some reason these little honky-tonks returned enough pop bottles and saved up their allowance and there you go. And how glorious it is, like leather seats in a Citation or ribeye from a vending machine, an unassuming thing made grand.
And that’s Willamette Pass. An hour down the road (in summer) from mighty Bachelor, which bumps 3,365 feet from its base and sprawls 4,323 acres but nice six-packs bro. And by that I mean Oregon’s largest ski area doesn’t (yet*) have what Willamette planted 20 years ago: a Doppelmayr CTEC high-speed six-pack. Why I have no idea. Its other lifts are a trio of triples. If you’re not impressed by the shiny stuff then you will be by this: Willamette Pass scores 430 inches of average annual snowfall. It’s the best kind of place to end up by accident.
Starting this ski season, a few more people may find themselves there on purpose. That’s because Mountain Capital Partners (MCP), the Snow King of the American Southwest, announced today that it is taking over operations at Willamette Pass. The resort joins MCP’s eclectic lineup of skyscrapers and town bumps, which sprawl across the Four Corners states. Here’s what the company’s lift-served skiing operations look like with today’s addition:
Willamette Pass also joins MCP’s Power Pass, a lesser-known regional version of the Epic or Ikon Passes that comes in three versions: the unlimited-at-every-mountain Power Pass; the Power Pass Select, which will also deliver unlimited Willamette access; and the Power Pass Core, which will be unlimited-less-blackouts at Willamette. Aside from MCP’s eight active ski areas, the top versions of the pass offer a limited number of days at Copper, Loveland, Monarch, and Sundance. Here’s a breakdown of the 2022-23 Power Pass lineup (the pass is free for kids 12 and under and discounted for teens):
This is MCP’s first step out of its Southwest core, and a signal that the ambitions of its swashbuckling founder, James Coleman, will not be constrained. A California kid obsessed with skiing who declared he would one day own a ski area and purchased his first one – Sipapu – at age 32, Coleman is the Bob Vila of skiing, stacking worn-out properties and transforming them into wintry cathedrals. If This Old Ski Area were a TV series, Coleman would be the star.
Coleman was quick to compliment his predecessor, Tim Wiper, who’s run the place since 1982. “Tim is a pioneer, not just for Willamette Pass Resort, but for our entire industry,” Coleman said. “He has championed so many firsts: the first six-person, high-speed detachable chairlift and magic carpet in Oregon; the Northwest’s first snowmaking system and express rental program, and more. Willamette Pass Resort is a success today thanks to Tim’s vision and bold willingness to try new ideas no one else was doing. Our team is thrilled to partner with him and his entire team to bring even more successes to this great mountain community.”
Good and fair - when Wiper showed up 40 years ago, the joint didn’t even have a chairlift. But let’s be honest: this transition is objectively and unambiguously good news for Willamette Pass. Everything will change here and fast. MCP’s emphasis is on fixing up infrastructure, on long seasons and snowmaking, on new lifts and refurbished masterplans. Visit Willamette Pass’ website today, and you feel tired just looking at it. It is not Blue Knob- or Ski Sawmill-level terrible but it looks like someone put it together in the Clinton administration and forgot about it. The joint could use a Red Bull, is what I’m saying here. It’s about to get a lightning bolt.
Here’s a full breakdown of Willamette Pass, and what its addition to MCP’s roster means for the Power Pass, local skiers, and Oregon skiing in general:
*Mt. Bachelor will replace the Skyliner high-speed quad with a D-Line sixer next year.
Below the paid subscriber jump: a full statistical breakdown of Willamette Pass, how the ski area nearly lost that six-pack, what MCP should prioritize, and where the company may expand next.