SAM Magazine—Durango, Colo., Oct. 18, 2016—Less than a month after acquiring Hesperus, one of Colorado's smallest ski areas, James Coleman has acquired the state's largest snowcat skiing operation with access to more than 35,000 acres of permitted terrain located just outside of Purgatory Resort near Durango. Coleman is the managing partner of a group that owns Purgatory, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, N.M., Pajarito Ski Area, N.M., Arizona Snowbowl, Ariz., and Hesperus.
The business will be renamed from San Juan Untracked to Purgatory Snowcat Adventures. Coleman purchased it from Dennis and Amanda Martin, who have owned the operation since 2013. Dennis, who grew up in Durango, will stay on to manage it as a Purgatory Resort staff member.
“Amanda and I are very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the new Purgatory team that has been consistently dedicated to the betterment of Durango and the San Juan mountains skier experience,” said Martin. “We are excited about the collaboration with James and his team. James and I both love skiing and love Durango, so this merger will help both of us accomplish what is important to me, and that's putting Durango on the map for amazing backcountry skiing.”
“I'm pleased that Dennis and his team agreed to run Purgatory Snowcat Adventures this season,” said Coleman. “His experience, energy and dedication to delivering a top-notch, memorable guest experience in the backcountry is essential to making this a success.”
The permitted area stretches from Purgatory Resort to Rico, Colo., to Cascade Creek on the southwest side of Engineer Mountain, and includes Grayrock Peak and Graysill Mountain.
Backcountry guests take a chairlift from the Purgatory Resort base area, and then ride a Mattrack van into the San Juan backcountry to meet the passenger snowcats. Runs vary from 500 to 2,500 feet of vertical, with an elevation range between 10,000 and 12,500 feet. The package includes powder skis or snowboards, backcountry safety gear, lunch, and guides.