Peak Resorts and Wildcat Mountain have signed a purchase and sale agreement that would add Wildcat to the portfolio of 11 ski areas that Peak already owns and operates in the United States.
Wildcat is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, across Pinkham Notch from Mount Washington, New England's highest peak, with what many consider the best ski trail views in New England.
Peak Resorts CEO Tim Boyd said his company has signed a P&S with Pat Franchi, owner of Wildcat, for Peak to acquire all Wildcat Mountain Ski Area assets and attractions.
The agreement must be approved by the U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land on which Wildcat operates.
"We're very excited," Boyd told OnTheSnow. "The view is pretty stupendous, as good as any you get on the East Coast. We think it's a real opportunity, not just for us, but for our customers. Wildcat is a unique product by itself, but frankly there are times when it's pretty tough with the weather conditions you get coming off Mount Washington. It will be pretty nice to be able to default to Attitash and Bear.
"We already sell the Granite Pass (for Attitash and Crotched Mountain) and Wildcat will move into that same vein. One of the things that hurt Wildcat over the years is that people love it when it's good, but when it's not so good it's a financial risk for them; now it's teamed up with Attitash and Bear. It's a good addition to our group, and a great product that we're going to be able to offer to the Mount Washington Valley," Boyd said.
"Wildcat is the essence of classic New England skiing, old time, fall line trails, 2,000 feet of vertical, looking right across at Tuckerman Ravine and Mount Washington, " Karl Stone of SkiNH told OnTheSnow.
"Peak Resorts already owns Attitash and Crotched Mountain, and with Wildcat now in the mix, they can put together some really good pass and lift ticket packages," Stone said.
Peak also owns Boston Mills, Brandywine, and Mad River Mountain in Ohio, Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania, Mount Snow in Vermont, and Paoli Peaks in Indiana.
In 1933, the federal Civilian Conservation Corps started clearing the Wildcat trail, one of the first ski racing trails built in the United States, in a Depression-era jobs program. Twenty-five years later, on Jan, 25, 1958, Wildcat Mountain opened for lift-serviced skiing with The Wildcat Gondola and a single T-bar surface lift. Wildcat's trademark for many years, the Wildcat Gondola was the first lift of this type in the U.S. to be built.
Franchi and his family purchased Wildcat Mountain from the original developers in 1986 and made significant capital investments to day lodge facilities, snowmaking, summer attractions, and lifts. In 1997, Franchi replaced the original gondola with the Wildcat Express: a high-speed detachable quad chairlift that accesses the 4,000-plus-foot summit in just over six minutes providing visitors over 2,100 vertical feet of skiing and riding in the winter and is converted in the summer and fall with four-person enclosed gondola cabins to be the state's highest scenic gondola.