Southwest Ski Area Operator Purchases Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl
New Mountain Collective Makes History as the Largest in the Region
DURANGO, CO, AND FLAGSTAFF, AZ. – In a landmark announcement yesterday, Colorado’s Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort and Arizona Snowbowl announced they have entered into an agreement to sell 100% of their respective ski areas to James Coleman, managing partner at Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area of New Mexico, to form the largest mountain collective in the Southwest. Together, the four mountains make up 3,088 acres, 26 lifts, over 200 trails and 13 terrain parks, all within a convenient drive of each other – and the new owner is pledging to make them the best in the region.
“I have spent most of my life skiing, working and living in this region, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to continue the visionary leadership of Arizona Snowbowl’s General Partner, Eric Borowsky, Purgatory’s Chairman Chuck Cobb and the Duncan family to bring these mountains together and usher in a new era while delivering the best skiing and snowboarding in the Southwest,” Coleman said.
Today’s announcement places Coleman at the helm as the largest ski area operator in the Southwest. After nearly 15 years as the managing partner at Sipapu (located near Taos, New Mexico), Coleman understands how to successfully operate ski resorts. Since his arrival at Sipapu, he has doubled the ski area terrain and quadrupled skier visits to launch this modest mountain to the fastest growing resort in New Mexico. His commitment to snowmaking has also helped Sipapu to earn a distinct reputation for being the first ski area open in New Mexico (Sipapu is scheduled to open November 15, which will mark the 12th consecutive time the New Mexico ski area opens before any other) as well as having the state’s longest ski season. Last week, resort officials announced Coleman and his team will begin managing operations at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
With a career rooted in real estate development and private equity investment (Coleman’s investment group has offices in Durango, Phoenix and Austin), in addition to ski area management, Coleman is eager to put his knowledge to work at the Durango and Flagstaff resorts. Coleman’s reputation for opening his slopes before any other ski area in New Mexico is renowned, and it comes as no surprise one of his first orders of business is to extend the seasons at the other resorts as soon as possible. Snowbowl has historically had the longest ski season in Arizona and Coleman is committed to making this happen every year.
“Skiing is my first priority and, like many of our guests, I’m always eager to get the winter season started,” Coleman said. “I’m committed not only to opening these mountains early but also creating an exceptional experience for skiers and snowboarders – be it local or destination resort guests – while making each of these ski areas the most family-friendly, family-fun resorts in the Southwest and the best value in the nation.”
This summer, Sipapu and Pajarito unveiled the New Mexico Power Pass, New Mexico’s only season pass with unrestricted access to two ski areas plus free skiing at more than 25 partner mountains in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and throughout the country. Coleman said that Purgatory and Snowbowl will maintain their existing pass partnerships, which offer free or discounted lift tickets to select season passholders.
Coleman has committed to retaining the current management teams at both ski areas, including Snowbowl’s General Manager JR Murray and Purgatory’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Derck.
The ski industry was abuzz earlier this year when Purgatory chairman Chuck Cobb announced he – together with the resort shareholders, including the mountain’s founding family – was looking for an outside investor to take over majority ownership of the 1,360-acre ski area. Cobb was the majority owner since 2000 and secured the approvals for Purgatory’s master development plan that will allow for extensive improvements through the end of the decade. Prior to his involvement, Vincent Duncan was the principal owner in 1986. Duncan took over from his brother, Ray Duncan, who had been the principal owner since the ski area’s founding in 1965.
General Partner Eric Borowsky’s investment group acquired Arizona Snowbowl 22 years ago. During his tenure, he successfully planned, executed and installed one of the nation’s most progressive snowmaking systems, which utilizes reclaimed water from the City of Flagstaff, thereby ensuring not only Snowbowl’s survival, but its ability to become one of the most successful operations in the country.
About Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort
Named as the best value ski spot by TripAdvisor in both 2013 and 2014, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is recognized as the top family-friendly resort in the Southwest. Purgatory features 88 trails, five terrain parks, 10 lifts, 1,360 skiable acres and multiple restaurants, shops and lodge facilities. Located in the rugged, majestically beautiful San Juan Mountains, the resort is 25 miles north of the town of Durango. Other winter activities include tubing, dog sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice climbing, snow-biking, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling and more. The resort offers a variety of lodging from luxurious condos, vacation homes, and convenient slope-side units, to value-priced lodge rooms. www.DurangoMountainResort.com
About Arizona Snowbowl
Founded in 1938 and known for offering the best beginner terrain in the Southwest, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the oldest continually operating ski areas in the country. Located 14 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona, on the San Francisco Peaks and on the highest mountain in Arizona, Arizona Snowbowl offers 32 trails and 2,300 vertical feet on 777 acres with five lifts, two terrain parks and two mountain lodges. With exceptional backcountry access and tree skiing in the winter, Arizona Snowbowl also offers a world-renowned scenic chairlift that provides stunning views of the red rocks in Sedona, the cinder cone volcanic field, and the rim of the Grand Canyon. For more information, visit www.ArizonaSnowbowl.com.
About Pajarito Mountain Ski Area
Located in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and 30 minutes northwest of Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area offers 40 trails, 6 lifts and two terrain parks, all located on 751 acres on the eastern edge of the Jemez Mountains. Known for its spectacular views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Valles Caldera National Preserve, the ski area was founded and developed in the late 1950s by the Los Alamos Ski Club. The fall line and bump runs are heralded as some of the best in the state, and the mountain offers a ski school, restaurant, and ski rental facility. During the summer season, Pajarito Mountain is home to an extensive mountain biking trail system with lift served access and hosts several New Mexico Brewers Festivals throughout the summer. For more information, visit www.SkiPajarito.com.
About Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort
Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort is New Mexico’s fastest growing ski resort. Located just 20 miles southeast of Taos and two hours north of Albuquerque, Sipapu offers family-friendly, family fun to all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Family-owned and operated since 1952, Sipapu is home to New Mexico’s longest ski season and the best deals in the Rockies. The resort is surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Carson National Forest, and features over 40 trails, five lifts and four terrain parks. On-site amenities include slope-side lodging, a full-service ski shop, ski school and New Mexico’s best riverside dining experience at the Riverside Cafe. For more information, visit www.SipapuNM.com.