Snow days. Children—often slow to roll out of bed for school on a cold, winter morning—somehow find unbridled energy to bounce right up, eagerly and enthusiastically dress, grab their gear and romp through crystal flakes, traversing the hilltops and mountainsides. Be it a board or skis or atnoses from outdoor festivities followed by cups of hot cocoa while thawing out around the fire inside. Snow days may not always produce the same jovial outcome for those of us who, despite the canceled classes, must brave the day to get to our places of employment. There are cars to warm, driveways to clear, and ice to scrape, all the while hoping the roads don’t make our travels too treacherous. Ah, snow days adulting.
But there is hope for the grown-ups who, once our workweek or workday ends, rediscover the wintery bliss that awaits us. We can leave behind the crowds, the hustle and bustle, the stresses and troubles. There is a peaceful quiet unearthed, sipping morning’s first cup of coffee, daydreaming about the first tracks on a powdery day. There are familiar faces to meet over a couple of beers in the afternoon. These are the days spent with family and friends, days when we make memories. This year, as the world hunkers down under its white winter blanket, choose the shorter lift lines, the friendlier après ski, and the love and camaraderie of finding your home mountain.
Mountain Capital Partners (MCP) is aiming for a win for winter. MCP owns and manages a collection of ski resorts and mountain bike parks across the southwest region. Their properties cover nearly 4,000 acres of terrain, over 300 trails, 39 lifts, 20 terrain parks and 35,000 acres of backcountry snowcat skiing. The Power Pass includes unlimited access to all of MCP’s resorts: Purgatory and Hesperus in Colorado, Sipapu and Pajarito in New Mexico, Arizona’s Snowbowl, Utah’s Nordic Valley and the newly acquired Brian Head Resort, also in Utah. “Mountain Capital has a different approach, focusing on the Southwest and using these properties to bolster attraction to the Southwest. The goal is to make skiing more affordable for families and more accessible,” shared MCP Public Relations Contractor, and longtime snowboarder, Theresa Graven.
The Power Pass also includes free ski days at nearly 20 additional resorts, as well as unlimited year-round access to Spider Mountain Bike Park, Northwest of Austin, Texas. “It always comes back to making it more affordable and more accessible, and growing participation,” Theresa said, explaining that the Power Pass is different from the mega-consolidations within the rest of the ski industry. “It’s not all about the money.” Mountain Capital Partners ultimately wants to create more skiers and snowboarders and to reignite a passion for snow sports at the local level. In recent years, the industry has become increasingly prohibitive. Prices are rising, and unmanageable crowds press the limits of available infrastructure at some of the larger, busier resorts.
Going to mountains like Purgatory means helping achieve the goal of making skiing more enjoyable and inclusive. It means supporting those mountains that still maintain a local feel, those mountains that are championing for fun and love of the activity over merely being the biggest. Whether your passion lies in finding a new line through the trees, or in making new friends at the lodge, both resorts foster that small-town feel. Part of that atmosphere comes from the emphasis on making family a priority. From the free passes for kids aged ten and under to the transferable pass for parents of toddlers under 3, the goal is to encourage families to make ski days a staple of their winter activities. MCP wants kids to get excited about days at the mountain, as they develop that life-long love of snow; their parents shouldn’t have to miss out either.
Purgatory is also testing out a new idea this year. All incoming freshmen to Fort Lewis College have the opportunity to get a free season pass. “If you are going to college for the first time, it’s such a big transition in people’s lives,” Theresa stated. She explained that the idea is to introduce that relationship with skiing at a time when people are open to new ideas and experiences. The freshman pass does come with a few strings attached, though. “They have to be full-time students, which means 12 credits or more, and if they drop classes or drop out, then they lose their pass.”
Li Cui, the Marketing Coordinator for MCP in Flagstaff, noted that “although Snowbowl does not offer a similar pass for incoming freshmen, as a collective we remain committed to making skiing and snowboarding affordable for all ages.” Both mountains also acknowledge that being a beginner can be scary, and they both try to create opportunities to transform fear into excitement. Snowbowl is a perfect mountain for learning to ski and for stepping up your ability level. “Snowbowl’s Hart Prairie beginner terrain, new Terrain Based Learning lessons, free lessons for beginners, and accessibility to the greater Phoenix metro area, make the resort a mecca for newcomers to the sport who may have never seen snow in their lives, much less skied or snowboarded on it,” Li said. “Affordability, accessibility, and the friendliness of our staff are the reasons why Snowbowl is where Arizona learns to ski.”
Both Theresa and Li explained that Purgatory and Snowbowl started offering complimentary group lessons to first-time skiers and snow-boarders with the purchase of a full-day, full-price lift ticket.
No matter who you are, there is something to look forward to with Mountain Capital Partners. For skiers and boarders and patrons frequenting the slopes and fireside seats, it’s an exciting time. Purgatory and Snowbowl have development plans in progress that will benefit their endeavors to ignite the love of laid-back, quality time at the mountain. Purgatory has already been making moves with its new mountain coaster and its increased offering of summer activities. As they look to the future, there are plans for a new hotel, with an additional lift and more ski runs.
Arizona Snowbowl has also just released its proposal for a master development plan. Li explained that, while it is not fully approved yet, “the master development plan has four major elements. [Including] winter ski trails and lift improvements, additional facilities to improve guest experiences, limited night skiing, and tubing, and additional year-round and summer activities. With these improvements, Snowbowl will have a more diversified year-round business, employ more people, and greatly improve guest services with more facility space.”
As you plan your family vacation or consider your options for next year, remember what it’s all about. Take pause, acknowledge the beauty of the snow-capped landscapes and the warmth and happiness you feel by the fireside, surrounded by family and friends. Ditch the shovels and snow blowers. Toss the ice scraper aside and rekindle the joy of your very own snow days. Bounce out of bed, get dressed, grab your gear and head to the local hilltops and mountainsides. Make it a win for winter.
“It always comes back to making it more affordable and more accessible, and growing participation.” - Theresa Graven, MCP Public Relations Contractor
Story written by: Sara Knight Photos Provided by: Mountain Capital Partners