James Coleman, who purchased Purgatory Resort in 2015, has added another ski slope to his portfolio: Hesperus Ski Area, 11 miles west of Durango.
The acquisition announced Thursday includes the Hesperus Ski Area’s lodge, rental shop and tubing hill, in addition to its 160-acre lease.
“We’re very happy to bring Hesperus Ski Area into our family of ski resorts in the Southwest,” Coleman said in a news release. “Hesperus offers incredible fall line skiing at a great value and is a natural fit in our portfolio of ski resorts.”
Coleman, of Durango, is a businessman and managing partner of an investment group that owns four other ski resorts, including Arizona Snowbowl, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort in New Mexico and Pajarito Mountain in New Mexico.
Purgatory season pass holders will also now have access to Hesperus Ski Area.
“Hesperus is a true gem in the Southwest and the Four Corners,” Coleman said. “Power Pass holders can now ski day and night in Durango with access to unlimited skiing at Hesperus Ski Area.”
Coleman said he is committed to maintaining Hesperus as an affordable, family-friendly ski area.
“Hesperus is a favorite of locals wanting to ski after a workday, families living in the region seeking an affordable ski experience, and those wanting to learn to ski or snowboard,” the release says.
He acquired Hesperus Ski Area from Jim Pitcher, who has held a lease agreement since 1988.
“I’m thrilled to pass the baton to James Coleman, who is passionate about skiing, and have confidence that his team can make improvements to take the Hesperus Ski Area to the next level,” Pitcher said in the release. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to the people and businesses that have supported me and the Hesperus Ski Area for all these years.”
Pitcher held a lease with private landowner, S. & I. Scott & Co. The corporation is now held by Jack Scott, Katy Scott Moss and John Scott.
“The Scott family has shared our property with winter sports enthusiasts for well over 50 years now and is excited to work with James as he continues to grow the sport of skiing in the Southwest,” Jack Scott said in the release. “We believe Hesperus Ski Area is an important asset to the community and look forward to the future of Hesperus under James and his team’s management.”
Hesperus has a volunteer ski patrol and offers ski and ride school, including an after-school program that teaches skiing and snowboarding.
Coleman plans to operate Hesperus through the end of the winter season before evaluating what improvements should be made to the ski area, the release says.
“One of our top priorities is to make skiing more accessible and affordable to families,” he said. “Bringing Hesperus into our family of resorts is a win for everyone, including the community, its employees, and the Four Corners region. We want to maintain the unassuming small ski area ambiance while enhancing the overall skier experience in the future.”
Hesperus Ski Area is scheduled to open mid-December through March, weather permitting. It offers 26 trails and a double chairlift. It has no snowmaking capabilities.
In 2009, the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition, which used to grade ski resorts on their environmental stewardship, named Hesperus to its list of “Little Ski Areas that Rock.”
“Unlike ski resorts, they aren’t in the real-estate game, and they don’t feel the impetus to constantly expand and ‘improve,’” the report said. “They’re fine the way they are, and people like them that way.”
It offers nighttime skiing operation from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, with weekend operations, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.