There are several more projects in the works that could in one way or another expand the Northeast ski roster. The most exciting of these is up at Big Squaw, Maine, where new owners \u2013 if they can ever get the deal done \u2013 would at long last re-open the dormant upper mountain (and rename the ski area), increasing the vertical drop from its current 600 feet to 1,700. Les Otten continues his quest to re-open the former Wilderness ski area as The Balsams and transform it into the largest resort in New England. It looks amazing:
Unfortunately, the last owner, Jeff Katofsky, insisted Sugar Loaf could only be resurrected as some kind of luxury resort, and went to great expense to strip the five old double chairs before selling the place in late 2020 to a mysterious \u201Cprivate buyer.\u201D That owner, \u201Cknown only as SPV 45 LLC,\u201D according to the Traverse City Record Eagle, finally tore down the derelict base buildings late last year. Their intentions beyond that are unclear.
Tim: Your simplification is pretty spot on. Minimum infrastructure to get going again would be a new/used lift, say $2 million will cover that with installation. For snowmaking pipe/pond/pumps/electrical for the frontside (Round About, Nastar, Waful, k2 and Awful Awful) 25 acres or so (that\u2019s twice the size of Waterville Valley\u2019s high country) feed that with 2,000 gpm giving an acre foot of snow every 1.33 hours, so 33 hours at full blast to cover the area with a foot of snow. To blast that type of snow the area would need at least 20 guns but I would recommend 40 as maxing out requires extreme cold. That\u2019s 500k in guns, 500k in pumping, $1.5M for pipe, hydrants, electrical (bit of a WAG as I don\u2019t know what is still there for primary electrical). A steel building lodge like Crotched runs about $2.5 but a yurt village would be doable for a few 100k so let say $1M for now. Parking is still in OK shape but I think the thing that would kill the project is the demo of the old lodge, but the county or state may help as it is a public nuisance at this point, so let\u2019s say the fire department does a controlled burn \uD83D\uDD25 All said and done on a shoe string $5M should get it up and running. But if it was me I would go all in as I think the area could support a higher end resort, just need the right money man \uD83D\uDE0E. This is off the top of my head, some day it would be fun to run these numbers down and see if something could really work.
Ski area operators are fairly secretive about their finances, but the basic structure is this: every time you swipe your Ikon or Epic or Indy or Mountain Collective Pass at Schweitzer or Telluride or Jay Peak or Grand Targhee, the mountain gets a payout. This payout, or \u201Cyield\u201D is a percentage of the so-called \u201Crack rate,\u201D or walk-up lift ticket price. Several sources with knowledge of the machinery behind these things have indicated to me that Mountain Collective and Indy tend to pay the highest yields. Indy Pass founder Doug Fish told me last week that Powder Mountain received \u201Cnear rack rate\u201D for weekend redemptions this season. Telluride\u2019s then-CEO Bill Jensen said a few years back that each Epic Pass swipe yielded roughly the same payout as a guest buying a multi-day lift ticket (though I can\u2019t seem to locate that article). Reciprocal lift tickets of the sort you find on Ski Cooper\u2019s season pass are a whole different thing. When Ski Cooper and Holiday Valley agree to give one another\u2019s passholders three lift tickets each, no money is exchanged between resorts. They are just comp tickets.
KSL Capital has owned Camelback since 2019, and, last year, also purchased nearby Blue Mountain. Its KSL Resorts division manages both properties. Curiously, KSL Capital is, along with Aspen owners Henry Crown, a co-owner of Alterra Mountain Company, overlord of the Ikon Pass. KSL reportedly stuck their Poconos mountains under the purview of their luxury resort manager, rather than Alterra, because they were \u201Ctoo small,\u201D which is nonsense. Vail owns at least a dozen resorts smaller than Camelback. Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory did, however, tell me on the podcast last year that we could see Camelback (and, hopefully, by extension, Blue), on the Ikon Pass at some point. Although when Boyne opted to keep its new Shawnee Peak ski area off the pass for next season, it signaled, along with Ikon\u2019s dramatic access changes, that volume management is crucial to the pass\u2019 self-image at the moment. While I don\u2019t expect to see Camelback and Blue on Ikon anytime soon, they could, and should, at least launch a joint season pass, as the two ski areas are only 30 miles apart. 2b1af7f3a8