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Ski Hesperus To Stay Closed For Another Season

Hesperus-Cover The 35-year-old double chair at Ski Hesperus won't be running in 2024-2025 season, as owners pause to plot a future for the community ski hill. (Image via Ski Hesperus Facebook)

An expensive lift motor repair plus an uncertain future without snowmaking has forced owners of Ski Hesperus to keep the local hill idle for a second season in a row.

Owners Mountain Capital Partners shuttered Durango-area Hesperus for the 2023-2024 season because of an inability to fix the balky transmission of the mountain's only chairlift. Now, ownership has decided that the cost of rebuilding the gearbox of the 35-year-old fixed-grip double chair is too much to bear on a hill with inconsistent natural snowfall and no snowmaking backup.

General manager Dave Rathbun told the Durango Herald that in the eight years of MCP ownership, Hesperus has made money in just one of them -- primarily because insufficient snowfall limited spinning the lift to just three times during the revenue-critical Christmas holiday period.

"... at this moment, as we face this extremely expensive repair, we have to consider Hesperus’ longevity," the owners said in a press release. "This decision ultimately comes down to a matter of water. It is imperative for us to be able to make snow to guarantee reliable conditions that keep guests coming year after year."

So Hesperus' 80 acres and 700 vertical feet will remain untracked for another winter. All access will be prohibited, including the parking lot, and popular uphill and hike-to tubing access. The hill's warming hut and ski services will be shuttered as well.

Since 1962, Hesperus has been one of Colorado's classic local hills. Many Durango-area youngsters learned to ski and ride there, and many of their parents took a few turns after work. It sits on private ranch land right along U.S. 160 west of town. Night skiing has been a staple of the operation for decades, with lights from top to bottom.

The Bighorn double chair started operating in 1988, replacing a rope tow that had been operating on and off for 25 years. In 2016, Durango-based Mountain Capital Partners purchased the lease for the 160 acres on which Hesperus sits. The firm owns Purgatory and owns or operates 10 other American resorts, including New Mexico's Pajarito, Sipapu and Sandia Peak -- all local hills like Hesperus.

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