Silver Creek Holding Co., Inc., owners of Silver Creek Resort near Granby, Colorado, has entered into an agreement to purchase Berthoud Pass ski area from previous owner Paul Wiebel, pending U.S. Forest Service permit approval. Silver Creek Holdings is owned by Brazilian entrepreneur Marise Cipriani, and counts Black Dog Mountaineering in Winter Park, Colorado, and the Silver Creek Marina at Grand Lake, Colorado, among its holdings.

Cipriani, the only female CEO in the Colorado ski business and a growing force in the state’s ski and resort industry, said, “We are very excited about the acquisition of Berthoud Pass ski area and the opportunities that it provides for our guests.”

Berthoud Pass ski area is situated high atop the Continental Divide¿and is most commonly known as Colorado’s first ski area, opened in 1937¿with average snow depths in excess of 500 inches per year and a ski season that typically lasts from October through July. Berthoud Pass is the gateway to Grand County, where Silver Creek Resort is located, and summer activities currently revolve around scenic chairlift rides to the top of the 12,000-foot Continental Divide and hiking. Other amenities include food and beverage services and a retail outlet.

The 1998-99 ski season at Berthoud Pass culminated with the opening of 680 acres of terrain on Berthoud’s west side, effectively tripling the ski area’s terrain from the previous year to a total of more than 1,000 acres of skiable terrain, with a 1,200 foot vertical drop.

“We will be introducing a ‘complete’ ticket that will provide access to both Berthoud Pass and Silver Creek¿including Silver Creek’s expanded night skiing terrain and new high-speed quad,” said Bill Murphy, executive vice president of Silver Creek Holdings.

Silver Creek had languished for years until the Cipriani family bought it in 1995. In three years, Cipriani has orchestrated resort-wide improvements, including ski instruction innovations, expanded night skiing, a championship golf course (to open next year) and other year-round amenities. Over the next ten years, the resort plans to triple its ski area terrain and revitalize its base area. Already Silver Creek has set skier-day records, up 12.6 percent last year.

“From a business standpoint, the purchase of Berthoud Pass provides an opportunity to introduce some of our summer products, like our rafting company, marina, horseback riding outfitters/rendezvous camp, and our golf course opening in the summer of 2000,” Murphy said. “During winter, our guests will be able to experience the steep and deep at Berthoud¿a great compliment to Silver Creek’s more mellow terrain¿and we will be able to provide more year-round employment for our employees.”