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Echo Mountain owner files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

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By Gabrielle Porter

The owner of Echo Mountain Resort has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a move she said will help her restructure debt but shouldn’t immediately affect operations.

Resort owner Nora Pykkonen, who bought the Clear Creek County ski area in August 2012, filed for bankruptcy for Pykkonen Capital LLC on Feb. 5. Pykkonen’s filing lists more than $1.45 million owed to the company’s 20 largest unsecured creditors, including wages due to her executive director. However, Pykkonen said the foreclosure protection filing is an effort to stave off her secured creditor, which she said provided about $1 million.

“I only filed (for bankruptcy) since my secured lender was threatening to start foreclosure on my house and the ski area …,” Pykkonen wrote in an e-mail, adding that she has paid the lender about $300,000 in interest over the past three years. “We are currently operating in the black and working through all of our possible options.”

Pykkonen said she has invested $3 million in the site since opening,  $1 million of which came from the secured creditor, which she did not name. The other $2 million was evenly divided between unsecured creditors and her own company’s capital.

The 226-acre ski area on Squaw Pass Road opened as a public ski area in December after several years operating as a private venue for the Front Range Ski Club.

Pykkonen said opening to the public has gone well this year.

“Ninety percent of the people who walk through our door are from Texas and have found us since they Googled the closest ski area to Denver,” Pykkonen said. “Many are staying in downtown Denver and take Uber to the mountain.”

Pykkonen said many visitors to the ski area come without planning to ski and rent all their clothes and gear from Echo Mountain.

“We could triple the number of beginner lessons we have every day, since most of our visitors have never skied or snowboarded,” she said. “We would love to expand our beginner area before next season.”

Pykkonen’s largest unsecured creditors include several lenders based in Seattle that fronted the company up to $262,500. However, the company also owes its executive director, Evergreen resident Bob Gregory, $175,000, and is in arrears to Clear Creek County by more than $75,000 for taxes and water bills, according to the filings.

Pykkonen is scheduled to appear before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Joseph Rosania Jr. on March 15 to answer questions about the company’s assets and liabilities, reasons for filing bankruptcy, and her plan for reorganization.

Pykkonen Capital LLC bought the ski area in August 2012 for $1.53 million, according to county records. Pykkonen originally planned to invest $5 million in the resort, which is now equipped with snowmaking equipment, lifts and lights for night skiing.