A small ski area in Clear Creek County sold this week for millions more than the seller paid seven years ago.
The real estate for Echo Mountain, which is located at 10,000 feet between Evergreen and Idaho Springs, sold for $7.35 million, according to a deed recorded by the county Wednesday.
In addition to real estate, the sale of the ski area would also involve things like water rights and business assets. Echo General Manager Fred Klaas said $7.35 million is “not the total price” for the transaction, but declined to reveal that figure.
That’s a big jump from October 2016, when seller Burwell Enterprises paid about $4 million total for everything.
The ski area’s new owner is Jogan Inc., an Englewood company whose LinkedIn page calls it “a shared services organization founded by entrepreneur Dan Dietrich.”
Klaas said the buyer plans to release information in the coming days, and that he couldn’t speak about plans before then. He did say he and other staff members were staying in their roles.
Dietrich’s LinkedIn profile lists him as CEO of 10 companies, including a pavement striping firm, a medical spa and an emergency management consulting firm.
Dietrich’s most well-known company may be Jogan Health, a health care staffing firm launched in 2021 to which the state paid $72 million for COVID-19 vaccination services, according to TV station Denver7. A Colorado Department of Labor and Employment investigation subsequently concluded last year that the firm intentionally falsified wage records and willfully violated wage laws, the TV station reported. (Dietrich sued Denver7 for defamation over its reporting; a judge threw out the case last month.)
Dietrich is also a local angel investor, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Echo is unique in that it operates on private property. Most Colorado ski areas lease public land from the U.S. Forest Service.
Echo’s size also makes it stand out. It has just 60 skiable acres, a vertical drop of 600 feet and a single chairlift called the Hot Laps Special. For comparison, Eldora Mountain Resort — itself considered small by Colorado standards — has 680 skiable acres and a drop of 1,240 feet. Vail Ski Resort boasts more than 5,000 acres and a drop of nearly 3,500 feet.
Echo bills itself as “Denver’s closest, most affordable ski area.” Peak window price for a daily adult lift ticket is $79, according to the company’s website, hundreds less than Colorado’s giants. A season pass for this coming winter costs $329.
The mountain has used $35 night skiing and a tubing hill as lures to draw visitors.
“Tubing, specifically, was one of the core tenants of the original business plan to diversify the offering, appeal to different guests, and increase visitation,” Klaas said. “Night skiing has been an offering we’re really passionate about and have seen really grow in the last two-three years but have understood that it’s something we need to sort of build from scratch.”
Klaas said there “isn’t a huge night skiing culture in Colorado” compared to the East Coast and Midwest.
Klaas said, without providing numbers, that Echo’s business “grew dramatically” under Burwell’s ownership, comparing it to “a startup with the hockey-stick-like growth.”
“We expected a huge majority of our business to come from locals and in-state guests, and while they’re still a big, and critical, part of our customer base, we saw early on our out-of-state visitor numbers grow far more than we anticipated,” Klaas said.
Seller Burwell Enterprises, a firm based in Minnesota, is led by Peter Burwell, a graduate of the University of Denver.
“Our goal with Echo Mountain was to create Colorado’s most affordable, most accessible, and most diverse ski and snowboard destination,” Burwell said in a statement. “Our remarkable team members at Echo built that vision into a reality. My family is incredibly proud of that and them.”
Klaas said Burwell Enterprises has grown significantly in recent years and “in evaluating their portfolio of companies, it became apparent that Echo was becoming more and more of an outlier.”
The buyer, Klaas said, inquired about a deal a few years ago, and was still interested when a broker representing the mountain reached back out over the summer.
“The buyer’s interest and excitement along with their belief in what Echo is now and what it can become definitely played a big role in the deal going through,” Klaas said.