No one has prayed harder for snow during the past few years than those running Soldier Mountain Ski Area
. The ski resort outside of Fairfield has struggled with such poor snow that it was only able to open for 13 days during the 2013-2014 season
. Last month, the owners decided to put the resort on the market for $149,000.
"The price is real," they said on Soldier Mountain's Facebook page
. "This is all we owe to our bank for the last 3 years of improvements and operations. As a non profit we only sell for the debt owed against the business (sp)."
Prospective buyers flooded the Facebook page, with 2,100 people requesting info packets on the resort. At the beginning of November, Matt McFerran and his wife, Diane, bought the resort.
According to Boise State Public Radio
, Matt has worked in the ski industry for years and called the chance to own his own resort a dream come true. The couple lives in Bend, Ore., but plans to move to Idaho soon. He said his first priority is to get snowmaking in place to open the mountain this year.
The McFerrans now own the area's three lifts and 36 ski runs, as well as the lodge and all the equipment, but they don't own the actual land the resort sits on. Soldier Mountain operates on a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
Soldier Mountain's biggest claim to fame comes from its previous owner—movie star Bruce Willis. He bought it in the late '90s and donated it back as a 501(c)3 in 2012.
According to Powder Magazine
, a few other ski resorts are up for sale around the West as well, though none of them are quite as cheap as Soldier. Oregon's Sprout Springs Ski Area has a price tag of $1.25 million. Montana's Marshall Mountain is going for $3 million and Utah's Wasatch Peaks property has an asking price of $46 million.
It's hard to say how this year's ski season will go. Soldier Mountain already has around 8 inches of snow at the summit, while Sun Valley
has received 16 inches and officials say they plan to open the resort on Thanksgiving Day. Brundage Mountain
has accumulated 9 inches so far and plans to be open full time by Friday, Dec. 11. Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
even got a 3-inch dusting, but that already melted away.
This year's El Nino could pull moisture away from the Northwest, leaving area ski resorts with a warmer, drier winter than usual. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
, southern Idaho could be up to 40 percent warmer and 30 percent drier than average this winter.