27 October 2016 — Big news, or at least the start of what is possibly and hopefully big news, coming out of Maine today as a group of non-profits and what-have-yous announced an agreement of sorts with the Berry family to purchase Saddleback Resort, which is a big time ski area way up in western Maine lake country. The Berrys swooped in and rescued Saddleback while it was on life support circa early 2000s, pumped all sorts of money into it ($40 million according to some sources) and they’re done socking their personal fortunes into an investment that melts every spring. The new collective of people making this happen is called the Saddleback Mountain Foundation, who say they’ve got a deal to buy the 723-acre ski area for $2.2 million. Another group, a combination of The Trust for Public Land and the New England Forestry Foundation, says they will purchase another 3,000+ acres from the family for preservation. Saddleback did not operate last season, so, let’s keep our fingers crossed, say our prayers, lift your feet at railroad crossings, rub the rabbits foot or whatever it is you prefer to do in the hopes of a positive outcome…brouhaha continues in Utah’s Mary Ellen Gulch, where Snowbird wants to expand (I think a new chairlift, but not sure) and Mark Allen, founder of Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon, wants them to hold off. Allen says heavy metals from an abandoned mine could possibly contaminate stuff. Jennifer Chergo, EPA public affairs person says they’re going to do an assessment, but it won’t hold up Snowbird’s plans. Allen, for his efforts, is feeling a bit frustrated by perceived lack of environmental protection from the agency responsible for that very thing…back to New England, snow guns are on at Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe VT, see photo above thanks to Smuggs…also word that Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires lit up the snow cannons last night, but we suspect that is simply a routine test as anything else would be madness at that elevation and this early date…moving through the states, Whiteface NY has had snowmaking going, not sure if that’s a test or what. State-owned sister area Belleayre also had the guns on, definitely says they were just testing…and in Michigan, Jeff Katofsky, who is taking over the long-shuttered Sugar Loaf Resort (relax, the Sugarloaf in Maine is one word) says that he’s going to do a feasibility study, but that skiing will be part of the plan in some fashion. He also said it may take a few years to get off the ground due to the permitting and construction required to reopen the joint…FIS World Cup news, reigning overall men’s champion Marcel Hirscher will receive the prestigious Skieur d’Or-Serge Lang Trophy tomorrow, awarded by the international association of ski writers or something like that. Hirscher’s won it before. I’m telling you, if this guy ever commits to speed events, the record books are going to need a lot of re-writes…thanks for joining us, check back Monday.
Photo above courtesy Smuggler’s Notch Resort, AKA “Smuggs”
Late addition here, this just in, snow on the summit of Bristol Mountain in western NY….
Photo Credit: Steve Fuller
Location: Summit of Bristol Mountain
Date: October 27, 2016