Mountain High, Dodge Ridge Owners Purchase China Peak, California
New owners Invision Capital and Karl Kapuscinski will combine three resorts on joint pass; look to add more West Coast ski areas to portfolio
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Invision Capital and Karl Kapuscinski, owners of Mountain High and Dodge Ridge ski areas, today announced their purchase of China Peak from longtime owner Tim Cohee. A ski industry veteran who spent 17 years as the head of Kirkwood and the past 12 and a half at the helm of China Peak, Cohee will stay on as the resort’s general manager.
“As of today I have completed the sale of China Peak Mountain Resort to a Private Equity firm, Invision Capital, based in Chicago,” Cohee wrote in an email to a broad list of contacts, including The Storm Skiing Journal, this afternoon. “I have agreed to remain General Manager for the foreseeable future, and also work with Karl to increase the guest experience at the other two resorts. We weren't anxious sellers, but Karl and Invision were very keen to the prospect of having resorts that cover most of the California market geographically.”
All three ski areas, which are stacked south-to-north along a 300-mile stretch of California mountains, are members of the Indy Pass and the reciprocal Powder Alliance partnership. Kapuscinski sees enormous opportunity in uniting the three resorts under common ownership and creating a regional pass for local skiers.
“We will definitely offer a pass and do some fun things between these resorts,” Kapuscinski said in a telephone interview Friday with The Storm Skiing Journal. “We’re debating whether we want to launch something this year, or whether we want to come out fresh in the spring.”
With the purchase, Invision becomes the third entity to own three or more ski areas in California, joining Vail Resorts’ three (Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar), and Alterra Mountain Company’s five (Mammoth, June, Palisades Tahoe, Big Bear, and Snow Summit). Kapuscinski said that the purchase was a direct reaction to the footprint- creep of the Epic and Ikon Passes, whose build-up of high-profile resorts – particularly around Lake Tahoe – has rapidly changed the state’s ski season pass market.
“Skiers are now trained to look for multi-mountain products, so it’s really tough as a standalone operator right now,” Kapuscinski said. “We see a huge advantage in having all three of these under the same umbrella versus fighting alone.”
With the purchase, Invision becomes the 12th U.S.-based entity to own three or more ski areas, and one of a growing number of regional operators building their own mini-networks to create local alternatives to the national megapasses. The addition of China Peak comes just 16 months after Invision and Kapuscinski, who has run Mountain High for decades, purchased Dodge Ridge from its longtime owners. And they may not be finished: Kapuscinski, who ran Stevens Pass before Vail purchased the resort in 2018, confirmed today that Invision would like to add more West Coast ski areas to the portfolio.
“If there’s an opportunity, most definitely we’d be interested in adding another two or three properties,” he said.
By joining forces, Kapuscinski and Cohee hope to combine their operational strengths and enhance all three ski areas. China Peak, which struggled to operate for full winters until recent snowmaking upgrades, will no doubt benefit from Invision’s experience operating Mountain High, which thrives in the testy mountains of Southern California. Cohee, in turn, hopes to drive non-ski enhancements at Mountain High and Dodge Ridge, which currently emphasize the on-slope experience.
Here’s a deeper look at today’s sale and what it means for China Peak, California skiing, local skiers, the Indy Pass, and more:
Below the subscriber jump: a full breakdown of China Peak, Mountain High, and Dodge Ridge; what a three-resort pass might look like; whether the trio will stick with Indy Pass; competing with Epic and Ikon; which resorts Invision may buy next; a survey of California’s megapass landscape; and more.