|Looking down from the summit.
The history of the Squaw Pass Ski property goes back many years.
Skiing first began on Squaw Pass back in 1960 when Tom Creighton
installed two rope tows. The following summer, Roebling was contracted
to install a T-bar. Construction at the area consisted of a lodge area,
which had a nice fireplace and snacks, five runs and a well-known ski
school. The T-bar continued to run for over a decade as primarily local
residents of Evergreen and Clear Creek County used the ski area.
Other than Arapahoe East, Squaw Pass did not have much in the way of
competition as the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel was not built and other
areas like Berthoud Pass and Loveland were farther away. Typical
operations consisted of a weekend schedule, which meant that powder
could build up all week for skiers. In 1975, the ski area was shut down.
Looking back on it today, many people speculate it was due to snow.
Former employees at the area assure us that on a typical operating year,
Squaw Pass was never short of snow. It was, however, often cold and
windy. It all reality, by the 1970’s, many smaller ski areas were closing
throughout the state. This was mostly due to rising operation costs, which
stem from insurance and maintenance expenses.
After Squaw Pass’ closure, many residents continued to ski here. Some
would practice their backcountry skiing here since avalanches were not a
danger. The former owner also had to remove the bottom terminal of the
T-bar because crafty skiers figured out how to start the diesel drive engine
and have essentially a private ski area.
Once the ski area closed, it was later sold to a church organization that
had grandiose plans for the property. They wanted to construct a ski area
with a 200-room hotel. Since water is difficult to obtain on Squaw Pass,
the hotel would have required daily deliveries from water trucks. This
plan does not seem too practical in hindsight. Unfortunately, plans fell
through for the church organization and the area continued to remain
While the property changed hands multiple times after the church group;
nothing ever amounted at the Squaw Pass site. Finally, in 2002, the area
was put on the auctioning block. The Petitt family of Colorado purchased
the land for about three quarters of a million dollars. Upon acquisition of
the land, the Petitt's were considering rebuilding the ski area. By the
following year, it became apparent the former Squaw Pass site would host
skiers again. Permits by the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Department
of Transportation and Clear Creek County were issued during the winter
of 2004-2005. Construction began during June of 2005.
The Pettit's original marketing model for the new ski area was to create
one giant terrain park called Echo Mountain Park. With the recent boom
in the terrain park aspect of ski areas, Echo hoped to provide a superior
produce closer to Denver and free of the plagued Interstate 70. Most of
the area’s attention focused on park features such as jumps, rails and
boxes. A used Yan 1000 model triple chair was purchased from
Heavenly, CA and installed by Ski Lifts Unlimited. The chair serves Echo’
s entire 700-foot vertical drop. Along with the new lift, two lodge
buildings were constructed. They house everything from a cafeteria, bar,
area offices, to rest rooms. Snowmaking was available for the first season
fed by four on-site wells, which provides coverage on all trails. Since
there are no utilities on the pass, Echo's power source is from an on site
generator. Plans may eventually call for ski area to be wired into the grid.
Due to construction delays, Echo did not open until March 4th, 2006.
During that winter, snow storms heavily favored divide and west, but little
if any precipitation fell on the Front Range. This left Echo's opening day
solely dependant on snowmaking. Despite the unfavorable weather
pattern, Echo opened a single trail for crowds. For their first season,
Echo hosted 3,238 skiers and riders.
During Echo's second year of operation they offered a full operating
schedule, running the lift seven days per week. Skier numbers topped
18,758 during a year where Denver and the Front Range saw near-record
For the 2007-08 season, Echo installed a new learner's handle tow,
relocated from Snowmass Ski Area. Along with the new lift, glades were
cut to provide more non-terrain park runs for skiers and riders.
During the summer of 2012, Jerry Petitt placed the ski area up for
auction. The ski area and property sold to Nora Pykkonen of Evergreen,
Colorado for an undisclosed amount. Under the new ownership, Echo
Mountain will now be called the Front Range Ski Club and will not be
open to the general public. The facility will be used as a race training
facility. For more information, click here.
|A wooden rail over an old car!
|A few rails overlooking the divide.
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*Resort Stats Current for 2012-13
The Colorado Ski Museum
|Front Range Ski Club
Ad for sale of ski area