AP NEWS

Red Lodge Mountain stock sale finalized

November 10, 2016 GMT

The sale of stock in Red Lodge Mountain Resort was finalized last week but details about the deal have not been released.

“There will be no changes in the management structure or personnel,” said Jeff Schmidt, mountain manager for 10 years. “This season it will be business as usual.”

He said a midseason meeting with the new stockholders, some of whom have local ties, will be held to discuss strategy and the future. JMA Ventures LLC — a San Francisco-based development firm that focuses on “real estate and leisure-lifestyle assets” — will continue its management role and is also a minority stockholder.

Jan Smidek, JMA Venture LLC’s vice president of acquisitions and finance, was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

“But as far as today, we’re just working to open up,” Schmidt said.

Land

The ski area was founded by locals in 1960. The Corning and Marble families purchased controlling interest in the ski area in the 1970s.

Red Lodge Mountain Resort, which includes the 1,600-acre ski area on Grizzly Peak as well as an 18-hole golf course north of town, was sold to JMA and Angelo, Gordon & Co., a hedge fund, in 2007. Since then the company has invested $3.8 million into new infrastructure on the mountain, according to one report, and is waiting on the finalization of paperwork to conclude a land exchange with the Custer Gallatin National Forest to consolidate its ski area holdings.

The ski area is partly on federal land, requiring the owners to notify the Forest Service of changes in its corporate structure, according to Jeff Gildehaus, Beartooth Ranger District recreation planner. Although there is no timeline for revealing that information, Gildehaus said the land exchange would require updated corporate information before it could proceed.

The land trade has been in the works for four years. Appraisals were just completed and given to the Forest Service last week, Gildehaus said, so a Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact on the exchange should be coming in a few weeks.

Snow

The news comes as Red Lodge Mountain’s staff begins gearing up for the ski and snowboard season, which traditionally starts with the ski area’s opening the day after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately this fall’s weather hasn’t cooperated by making much snow.

“We do have some snow left up high,” Schmidt said. “It’s supposed to cool off on Tuesday and hopefully we can begin making snow.”

To make snow requires an optimal “wet ball” temperature — a combination of temperature and humidity — of 36 degrees, Schmidt said. When that temperature is reached, the ski area’s 33 snow guns can be used. At maximum output the guns can spray about 1,800 gallons of water a minute. The water is stored in a reservoir on top of the mountain.

Early snowmaking will concentrate on the Triple Chair and Miami Beach lifts.

Looking back

Last season proved tough for Red Lodge Mountain, with usually reliable spring snowfall absent. As a result, the ski area didn’t open two of its lifts all season and didn’t hold its traditional winter carnival themed cardboard sled race.

Schmidt said this season’s weather is starting off similar to last year.

“The whole West is in the same boat,” he said.

The website PowderChasers.com was forecasting an end to the snow drought next week, with precipitation possible in portions of Montana and Wyoming along with the Cascades and Sierra mountain ranges.