Dick Bass sells Majority Ownership in Snowbird

Snowbird Resort’s Dick Bass has partnered with Ian Cumming in a move that took many by surprise. The families have formed a partnership that makes billionaire Cumming majority owner of the resort. Bass remains as chairman.

In 1971, Bass opened the Snowbird Ski Resort. He became prominent in the industry due to his self-proclaimed “blanket curiosity, nonstop verbosity and hyper-enthusiasm.” In the early 80’s Bass got wind of the adventure challenge of summiting each of the seven continents tallest mountains: Denali (Mt. McKinley), North America; Aconcagua, South America; Mt. Elbrus, Europe; Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa; Vinson Massif, Antarctica; Mount Kosciuszko, Australia; and Mt. Everest, Asia. Bass challenged Pat Morrow of Canmore Alberta to become the first person to achieve the seven summits. Bass’s deep pockets and self-promotion overplayed Morrow’s success. Bass held the record for being the oldest person to have climbed Mt. Everest.

In this new venture Cumming’s has the deep financial pockets Snowbird needs for capital improvement projects, including a new restaurant and skier services building atop the aerial tram set to break ground this summer.

“This partnership will enable Snowbird to achieve more rapid growth and even greater benefits for our guests in keeping with our founding perspective and philosophy of providing a year-round destination mountain resort for the enhancement of body, mind, and spirit, with our ever-present emphasis on environmental protection and sensitivity,” said Richard D. Bass in a prepared statement.

“Partnering with the Cumming Family ensures a bright future for Snowbird,” added Snowbird CEO and president Bob Bonar, one of the first employees when Snowbird opened in 1971.

Rumors of a potential sale began swirling this past April. There were reports of possible advances by Vail Resorts but, according to Utah sources, Cumming was always the obvious heir to the Little Cottonwood domain. The original investor in the Inn at Snowbird and owner to the ‘elevator house’ on Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Cumming said that his family has a long history of skiing Snowbird. “We are very happy to be involved at a place that has so many fond memories,” he said.

Cumming founded Powdr Corp. in 1994 with the purchase of Park City Mountain Resort, but Cumming’s son John currently runs the company. The families claim the Snowbird partnership does not involve Powdr. Snowbird’s current management team, led by Bob Bonar, Tom Jones and Jerry Giles, will stay in place. It’s unclear, however, what will happen in the future, as the 85-year-old Bass has been unable to live and work at Snowbird’s altitude, and his family has shown little interest in operating the resort without Dad in charge.

What is certain is that it will be business as usual next season. There’s a Four Diamond remodel planned for the aging Cliff Lodge, and a renovation of the Snowbird Center.