The West's regional multi-mountain pass has ventured beyond the Southwest with an agreement to operate Willamette Pass in Oregon.
The addition of the 555-acre mountain means skiers and riders with the full-on Power Pass now have eight ski and snowboard mountains to chose from -- and the first outside of Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico that are owned or operated by Mountain Capital Partners in Durango.
Located an hour's drive from Eugene, Willamette Pass fits well into the size, vibe and on-the-hill focus of MCP's portfolio: “Willamette Pass Resort's unique terrain, incredible snowfall, operations that often extend late into spring, and its authentic community of local skiers and riders will be a perfect addition to our family of resorts," said MCP's James Coleman in a press release.
Regulars at Willamette Pass can expect to see improvements in infrastructure -- snowmaking, grooming and lift upgrades -- as that has been Coleman's strategy ever since he purchased his first resort, northern New Mexico's Sipapu, in 2015.
Opened in 1941 with two rope tows, Willamette currently has a magic carpet and four chairlifts, including Oregon only high-speed six-pack chair. Two of the other fixed-grip chairs date back more than three decades ago. Because of an annual average snowfall over 400 inches, snowmaking is limited, but skiers and riders should get more coverage as MCP settles in to operating the mountain.
With 1,500 feet of vertical, Willamette Pass has a 20-45-35 mix of trail ratings, with both long and gentle green runs and a couple of the steepest trails (R.T.S.) in the Pacific Northwest. Both front and back sides have a variety of ways to get down, including a half-dozen long blues and plenty of glades between trails.
Right from the git-go, the Pacific Northwest has gotten the lion's share on snowfall this season, and Oregon's nine mountains and resorts have opened with plenty of depth.
Oregon's ski and snowboard resorts have unveiled how they plan to deal with COVID-related concerns this winter, and the options are all over the lot -- depending upon seasonal variables and local habits.
After 5 to 6 feet of snow fell last week in the Central Oregon Cascades, ski areas in the region are set up for a potentially stellar late-winter and spring season.