Showing posts with label Saddleback. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saddleback. Show all posts

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Observations on the Latest Saddleback Developments

What a week for Saddleback! The long rumored Australian buyer surfaced and the Majella group has executed an agreement with the Berry family to allow them to go full steam ahead in getting
Saddleback ready to ski again! The final deal closing is expected later this summer.
Warden's Worry at Saddleback


For those looking to catch up here are some observations / facts of the deal with some random thoughts thrown in:

Interesting mix of old and new, local and “from away” - As Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour said at the press conference “As you can see, I am truly from away. There are few places that are further from here than Australia.” How true this is. I went to Australia once. I left on a Wednesday afternoon and landed in Sydney on Friday morning with Thursday mysteriously vaporizing. However, Fred LaMontage who has long ties with the city of Portland along with former Saddleback finance director Greg Andrews and Rangeley real estate developer Perry Williams will be part of the new management team. And in my opinion in a very strong move Jim Quimby will come back as the on-mountain manager. I always thought the on-hill operations was run very well under Jim’s leadership and it is great to see him stay on with the new ownership group. I am sure we will some some familiar and new faces as the team rounds out. It is a good mix of old and new to bring Saddleback to the next chapter.

Be open to change - Mr. Monsour said at the press conference. “So we are making this commitment to you today that not only will we be turning Saddleback into the premier ski resort in North America, but also into a four-season resort that we know and all think it deserves to be.” This is a big statement. It will require capital and change. It will be interesting to see how the new ownership group will move forward on this goal. One of the reasons I loved Saddleback, affordable with rarely any significant lift lines and trails all to myself, is exactly the reason why it did not work as a business model. They need more skiers and more revenue... period. And to do that they need more entertainment, recreational and lodging offerings at the ski area. It is that simple. Us Saddlebacker’s need to be open to change, embrace it and know that without it, we will not be able to enjoy the mountain... and cross our fingers that we can still afford it!


First up - new lifts - They have already started the design process for lifts to replace the Rangeley Double and T-Bar. The Rangeley will be replaced with a fixed gripped quad (think Sugarloaf’s Skyline lift) and the T-Bar will get a new surface lift. Both solid replacements and the owners have decided not to go high-speed detachable.  I wonder if some of these older lifts will serve future expansion? Time will tell. Majella is sinking some major money in early… a good sign.


And be patient - The new ownership group is basically starting over. They have a mountain that has been shuttered for two years that they have to bring back to life. They have to hire staff, get marketing & the website setup, get food service setup, install two lifts and all that goes with that, get all the business permits, set up an accounting and HR system, get the ski school and rental shops going, interface with the condo associations and local businesses, and on and on and on. They have not committed to an opening date this year and I don’t blame them! As they said in the press conference “When our team has a date that ensures we can deliver to you the skiing experience that all of you deserve, you will know, and it’s as simple as that.” We have to take them at their word.


So this is an exciting time. The Saddleback Facebook page has come back to life and they are already engaging with their customers. There are a million questions that everyone has, their press release and FAQ answers a lot of them, but more questions and answers to come. It won’t be a perfect roll out, they admit as much, but they seem ready to dive in to make things happen and learn from their mistakes. I am very glad the people and businesses of Rangeley will have more places to work and more visitors to fill up the restaurants and lodging establishments.


The @MaineSkiFamily crew sincerely welcomes Majella group to Maine. We wish them all the best and we are looking forward to skiing our favorite Saddleback trails again when the time is right.


References:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 14 Update from the Saddleback Mountain Foundation




Latest update from the community group / Peter Stein.

We have made great progress since my last report.
The Saddleback Mountain Foundation’s Articles of Incorporation for registration as a non-profit have been prepared and sent to the state for processing. For this, a mission statement is required and we wanted to share it with you.
“The Saddleback Mountain Foundation is committed to conserving and protecting Saddleback Mountain and the Saddleback Mountain ski area, providing access to the mountain and mountain resort for all to experience, through model conservation and economic development programs.”
We are very proud of this mission statement, and all who are now founding members of the Saddleback Mountain Community Resort, and those that intend to join, should take pride as well.
Now that we are -- or very soon will be -- incorporated as a non-profit, we are preparing our application for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. Our hope is to submit this by the end the month with a request for expedited processing. We are told it can happen quite fast if there is good reason.
For those that might be confused, we are no longer entertaining the concept of selling equity ownership in our community resort as a bridge to ownership by the non-profit. This change in course takes us directly to a closing where the Saddleback Mountain Foundation purchases the land and ski area assets and the Saddleback Mountain Community Resort (SMCR, LLC) is a wholly owned subsidiary.
On the fund raising side, we are now raising the required funds in two pots:
Sales of memberships in our Saddleback Mountain Community Resort
Gifts or pledges to the non-profit Saddleback Mountain Foundation
On the membership sales, we are approximately 40% of the way to the goal and have received enrollments forms from 12% of those that responded to the survey. This is good news because we are also running well ahead of the survey results. Membership sales exceeded the total commitment for 4-years from those in the survey by over 10%. The survey results showed total commitments of close to $3 million and we are running ahead of those sales. We are confident that when comfortable with the plan, the rest of the respondents to the survey and many others will enroll in our community resort and we will easily make the membership sales goal.
On gifts to the foundation, we are 1/3 of the way to the initial goal after connecting with a small percentage of those who have previously made a verbal commitment. We now have confidence that we can and will reach the goal of getting our ski area back up and running.
For those that bought memberships with credit cards, we have not run them yet. We are holding the information in safe storage while we continue to work a solution. We now know what the next steps are and are confident we can solve the problem with a little more time. We will update you when we have more information and contact you prior to running the credit card. If at any point you would prefer or be able to send in a check, it does help the initiative significantly to have the cash on hand and save on the credit card processing fee. In this case, there is no need to contact us. Please send in a new membership form, note that you have a credit card purchase on file, and we will happily cash your check and void your credit card number.
I want to personally thank everybody for their support over the last few months. It has now been 8 months since we started this process together, and I think our combined passion is about to accomplish something amazing.
I also want to encourage everyone to get out skiing. I skied The Loaf Sunday and Sunday River today. The conditions were fantastic at both mountains - both of these are also gems in the state of Maine. You can feel a great ski season developing and I have a feeling it will just get better and better.
Finally, at this holiday season I wish you and yours peace, comfort, family, friends, and all good times. If you do not hear from me, please know I am pushing as hard as I can while also taking a bit of time to enjoy the good stuff.
Skifully,
Peter Stein

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 6th Update - Saddleback Community Resort


Latest update from the community group / Peter Stein.

Our fundraising is now underway!!! In case you have questions, we are planning informational meetings for Thursday, November 10th in Portland at Three Dollar Deweys at 6pm and in Farmington, on Monday November 14th 5:30pm at the UMF North Dining Hall. There are some of us (read me) that love nothing more than answering questions about this initiative.

It has been a short two weeks since we reached a complete agreement with the Berry Family. Since then we have:

-Formalized a resort membership package that has received excellent reviews.
-Arranged and conducted a press conference in Portland and a town meeting in Rangeley.
-Geared up personnel and other resources for fundraising
-Initiated and developed a first version of a web site.
-Set up bank accounts with lock box services.
-Developed a fund raising package.
-Merged and managed mailing lists

Our team consisting of many volunteers with solid professional experience, is working feverishly to make the dream of a community owned resort a reality!!

Many of you have asked for a more financial and operational information. We are working on materials to address these and other questions, which we plan to distribute next week.

We have received a great many excellent suggestions on how to improve the resort membership structure. We are listening and tracking all of these ideas. While we cannot make changes to the membership plans during this campaign, once we reach our $4,000,000 target we will examine all the input we received to look for ways to make our membership plans even better. At that time, members will have the opportunity change their plans to take advantage of any new benefits we offer.

If you have already sent in your check THANK YOU. If not, please send it in today. The sooner we can reach our $4,000,000 fundraising target, the sooner we will be able to secure the future of Saddleback Mountain.

Many of you have asked us about operating the lifts this winter. With this goal in mind, we are making a special push to see if we can reach our fundraising target before Cyber Monday. Everyone who sends in their membership payment before November 27, 2016 will get the following extra benefits:

-Royal Tiger/Green Weaver members will have the option of replacing their minor pass with:
-A book of 10 day tickets
-A senior pass (valid for skiers over 65)

Tightline and Dark Wizard Couples special:
Add a Dark Wizard membership for your spouse for an extra $5,000 or a Tightline membership for an extra $3,000, with the purchase of the corresponding plan for yourself. Simply add this fee to your enrollment payment!

All members will AUTOMATICALLY get these benefits when we receive their payment by thanksgiving. I look forward to seeing you at our informational meetings. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@skisaddlebackme.com.

Skifully, Peter Stein

Attachments:

Enrollment Form
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fe4bb1d0fd62ea84c5be652ad/files/Saddleback_Resort_Membership_Enrollment_Form_1610_12_1_.01.pdf

Payment Form
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fe4bb1d0fd62ea84c5be652ad/files/PAYMENT_FORM_General_1611_02.01.pdf

FAQ
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fe4bb1d0fd62ea84c5be652ad/files/FAQ_General_1611_02.01.pdf

P.S. If you would like to upgrade your membership to take advantage of our Cyber Monday Special, simply send in the form with the incremental payment, indicate the plan you would like, and indicate on the form that you are upgrading your membership.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

FUNDRAISING LETTER - SADDLEBACK COMMUNITY RESORT

This is a copy of the email that went out that is kicking off the fundraising portion of the community effort to purchase Saddleback Ski Area. The next few short weeks are vitally important for this effort to succeed. Please spread the word and carefully consider if you can contribute to this effort. 

Congratulations!  Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we are delighted to let you know that we have reached an agreement to acquire the Saddleback Mountain Ski area assets from the current owners.  This is a huge conservation and economic development step for the Rangeley region.  If successful, this will assure the continuous operation of the ski area within a well-capitalized and stable financial framework.  When this transaction is completed, the community will own and control the resort:

- The ski area real estate will be owned by the Saddleback Mountain Foundation (SMF), a non-profit whose mission will be to preserve the beautiful pristine region for generations to come.

- The resort will be operated by the Saddleback Mountain Community Resort (SMCR, LLC), a community owned company that plans to reinvest all profits back into the resort.

We are truly humbled by the outpouring of support for this initiative. Through the survey and verbally, from home owners, businesses, and dedicated Saddlebackers, we have already obtained commitments approaching $5,000,000. Of course, we can only accomplish this if we receive the contributions from everyone who committed their support.

We now need to raise $4,000,000 (from the $5,000,000 in commitments) in order to secure our exclusive right to buy the resort and to fully capitalize the operating company.  If we don’t reach this target, the chance to build this incredible lasting foundation for future generations could be lost.

We are raising funds by selling memberships in the Saddleback Community Resort. Please look closely through the attached forms, do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, and send in your payments as soon as possible.

Thanks again for helping to preserve this priceless place for generations to come.  As a founding member, you, through your contribution today, are making history.

Skifully!
Peter Stein,
President,
SMCR, LLC

Payment Form 
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fe4bb1d0fd62ea84c5be652ad/files/PAYMENT_FORM_General_1611_02.pdf

Saddleback Resort Membership Enrollment Form 
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fe4bb1d0fd62ea84c5be652ad/files/Enrollment_Form_1610_12.pdf

FAQ 
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fe4bb1d0fd62ea84c5be652ad/files/FAQ_General_1611_02.pdf

Friday, October 28, 2016

EDITORIAL OPINION ON CURRENT SADDLEBACK SITUATION


It has been an exciting few days for all those interested in the future of Saddleback. This is the @MaineSkiFamily opinion on the current state of things.

SADDLEBACK MOUNTAIN FOUNDATION IS THE BEST LONG-TERM OPTION FOR SADDLEBACK - I sincerely believe that a ski area owned by the community for the community is the best viable long term option. Saddleback is vitally important to the Maine, the ski industry and most importantly the Rangeley area. It has been proven repeatedly that it is challenging for a commercial entity to make money at Saddleback. Why keep doing the same thing over and over again? I believe a non-profit setup, where all monies can be directed back to the mountain is the best sustainable business model for Saddleback. A mountain run by a non-profit board of directors who care deeply about the mountain and Rangeley region provides the best chance of success. This is along the lines of the Mad River Glen model and Eric Friedman, the marketing director at Mad River Glen has been advising the foundation through the entire process. It is important that everyone who cares deeply about Saddleback does everything they can to support the Saddleback Mountain Foundation initiative through their time, talents and money as they can.

THE BERRY’S STRONG SUPPORT OF SADDLEBACK AND THE FOUNDATION IS VITALLY IMPORTANT - It is important to fully recognize that the Berry’s are willing to hold a note for $3.8 million dollars while the foundation completes the fundraising effort over the coming years. It is understandable that currently the Berry’s want to keep all options open, including other buyers that are interested in purchasing the property with up-front money. But the fact that the Berry’s have committed to working the foundation IF they meet initial fundraising goals is vitally important for this to succeed. The Berry’s saved Saddleback from the brink and invested a TON of money in the mountain. That is most appreciated and must not be forgotten in this entire process.

IT’S TIME TO TRULY #SAVESADDLEBACK - This is an opportunity for the collective ski and business community to band together and do something positive. Outdoor recreation is the heart of what Maine is and the foundation has a big challenge ahead. They need to initially raise $4 million dollars to get this started. Will this be easy? No… But we can do it! We are a community that working together can make big things happen. Let’s stay positive and get the word out to everyone that a community owned ski area is the best option for Saddleback.

Stay tuned to the Saddleback Mountain Foundation website for more details on how we can collectively bring Saddleback... BACK!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

COMMENTARY - Thoughts on Saddleback Passholder Options

Saddleback made an announcement on Friday December 18th giving hope a sale will be completed
Hopeful this will happen again this winter!
soon and a late January opening is possible. This is good news, but the reality is that the sale is not final, and there is a lot of work to do complete the sale and get the mountain open. Recognizing this, the current and prospective owner they have given current passholders 3 options for this winter.

100% RefundAt any time from now until opening day, if you wish to not wait any longer you may request your season pass refund

This is the biggest news of the announcement. For folks that want to (or have already made plans) to ski elsewhere this winter, they now have an out card and can get their money back. Both Sugarloaf/Sunday River and Shawnee Peak have special season pass rates for folks that have purchased Saddleback season passes. In Shawnee's case, they are marketing a Season Pass to last year's passholders too.

I want to commend the Berry's for offering this refund option prior to the sale going through.

For those looking to hang in there with their Saddleback pass there are two options:

Keep pass and receive 50% bonus - By waiting for opening day, you will receive an additional 50% resort credit bonus added to your season pass that can be used anywhere in the resort:  food, tickets, lessons, rentals, seasonal locker rentals, future season or day passes etc. This may be used this year or next.

Convert Pass to Gift Card + 50% Bonus - The amount of your pass purchase will be placed on a gift card and by waiting for opening day you will receive an additional 50% resort credit bonus that can be used anywhere in the resort:  food, tickets, lessons, rentals, seasonal locker rentals,  future season or day passes etc. This may be used this year or next.

Both options have positive's and negatives and you have to assess your own situation to see what works for you. It is important to note if you convert your pass to a gift card you are giving up the pre-season rates. That is if you buy a pass later this season it will be at the published price.

@MaineSkiFamily's advice?

If you need your money back go ahead and get it now. Just keep an eye on Saddleback and if it opens, make a day trip or two (or more) this year and make plans for 2016-2017 season pass back at Saddleback.

For those looking to hang in there, wait a bit and see if the sale goes through. Three things could happen.

  • Absolute worst case and unlikely scenario, the sale collapses and Saddleback does not open, you get your money back. 
  • Saddleback sale happens and a January opening date is announced; the Keep pass and receive 50% bonus will probably be the best option. I see lots of opening day PBR's flowing at the Swig-n-Smelt with this option. :-)
  • Saddleback sale happens but opening is delayed into February; then the Convert Pass to Gift Card + 50% Bonus becomes more of an consideration. You basically have to decide how much you are going to ski Saddleback this season and see if the math / money works for you.
Once the official word of the sale and opening date are announced, you can do what is best for your situation.

So despite this horrendously warm weather, we still have a need to ski between now and when Saddleback hopefully opens. For those hanging in there with their Saddleback season pass, you may not want to spend a pile of money on lift tickets. Here are options you can consider:

Buy a Shawnee Peak Season Pass at $150. This is a very nice mountain and at this price, you only have to ski there three times to have the pass pay for itself. As of this writing (December 20) they are open for the season.

Ski Black Mountain of Maine - $15 Friday / $29 Saturday. This place reminds me a lot of Saddleback. Great family vibe, fun trails with +1,300 ft vertical drop, good learning area, outstanding nordic trails, very nice base lodge, reasonable ticket prices and some outstanding gladed terrain. You can ski here affordably and get an outstanding community mountain experience. If you think you might ski here 10 times or so a season pass may make sense too. As of this writing they are hoping to open December 26.

Our other favorite mid-sized mountain is Mt. Abram. I don't believe they are offering any deals to Saddleback passholders, but when the snow is on, the terrain at Mt. Abram is really good. Definitely worth a day-trip or two regardless of your pass status. As of this writing (December 20) they are open.

There are lots of great ski areas in Maine. Check them out!

CONCLUSION
So this Saddleback situation is still quite challenging. When this is all settled, it will make an interesting business school case study. While we understand the frustration of many, @MaineSkiFamily chooses not to look backward but look ahead. We will play the hand that we are dealt and trust it will all work out for Saddleback somehow. For now, we just need some snow!!! 

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the blog comment section or on our Facebook page

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saddleback in Trouble

Our favorite Ski Mountain - Saddleback Maine is in jeopardy of closing. The Berry's (the owners) have decided after many years of running the mountain at an operating loss they no longer can sustain this pace. They need help with financing a new lift to replace the Rangeley double, and that will hopefully pave the path forward to profitability. Without the lift, no ski season and time is running out to obtain financing.

I know everyone at Saddleback is trying their best. I hope it resolves successfully and we are skiing this winter.

You can read the press release from Saddleback here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Toasting the 2014-15 Season with a Fantastic Spring Ski Day at Saddleback

Here is to you Mother Nature - thanks for a great year!
We wrapped up the 2014-15 ski season in style and toasted a great year by skiing the April 19th closing day at Saddleback Maine.

The day started out a bit on the cool and firm side, but by lunchtime the clouds left and the bright bluebird spring day was upon us. They had lost some snow when compared to last weekend but everything was still open and skied great. The corn snow was perfect making the groomed trails smooth and the bumps soft.

On Peachy's Peril I was able to stick my 50" pole into the trail snow pack all the way to the handle. We really had some epic snows and some favorable weather to keep the base locked in all year.

Beers, Burgers, Chicken, Pulled Pork and Sausage all available on the deck in the glorious sunshine. Wherever you are raise a glass of your favorite beverage to toast an epic ski season in Maine and the rest of New England!




Thank you to my son Alec for all the edits and to Alec and Isaac for capturing a lot of footage and images for the blog. And special thanks to Juley for putting up with all of us boys this year and getting some great turns in. With Alec going off to an out of state college next year I am glad we were able to share a great year on the slopes together. We are after all A Family Skiing in Maine!

Here is our video edit of the day.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Epic April Spring Ski Day at Saddleback

After a winter of incredible skiing we got an outstanding spring day at Saddleback. With deep cover, the bright sunshine and temps around 50 made a stellar ski day.

After about 11am, the natural trails loosened up and skied great. Everything was awesome all day. Groomers, Woods, Bumps - all were outstanding. The old man took a tumble down Governor head wall - check out the video evidence below... but no harm done.

Enough words - our day was just a bunch of this.






NO HARM DONE! But a bit of a fall by the A Family Skiing in Maine old man on the Governor headwall. Ski got caught and down we go!
Posted by A Family Skiing in Maine on Sunday, April 12, 2015



Saturday, April 4, 2015

An April Powder Day at Saddleback Maine

The incredible ski season of 2014-15 continued on April 4, 2015 with a fun powder day at Saddleback.



Lots of snow in Lower Thrombosis Glade
Friday April 3rd by all accounts was a warm and sunny spring day with hero snow and bumps. What a difference a few hours makes - back to winter! On Saturday we drove up from Freeport in the rain but it changed to snow just a few miles outside of Rangeley. It snowed steadily all morning piling up to around 4" and we got some really sweet powder turns in late morning. Upper nightmare skied incredibly well. We hit the Governor head wall and found some sweet turns on this trail. Early in the day turns on Frost Bite, Black Beauty and Wardens Worry did not disappoint.

We were looking for some more great upper mountain turns after our lunch but the wind picked up as predicted and put the two upper chairs on wind hold. So we did a couple of runs off the T-Bar but the snow on the lower mountain was a bit warmer and not quite as good, so we called it around 2:30 very satisfied with our ski day.

It's April 4th?
It is a different world up at Saddleback. The snow is DEEP and will easily last throughout the season. It may be mud season back home but the spring skiing at Saddleback is and will continue to be most excellent. Saddleback will be open weekends at least through April 19th and maybe longer if the skiers support the mountain - so get out there and enjoy it!









Happy Easter everyone. Here is our video edit of the day. Our turns down Nightmare glade at 0:55 were quite fun for all of us!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Impressive March Skiing at Saddleback

The View and Snow at Saddleback is Outstanding
I had to go to thesaurus.com to come up with ideas for a new adjective to describe our ski day. I have to say impressive is a good way to describe Saturday March 28th at Saddleback. We are so impressed by how good this skiing has been for so long this year. This is truly a ski season for the ages and I am really happy this blog has been a mechanism for us to capture it.

Temps were comfy - in the upper 20's / lower 30's with the sun poking out from behind the clouds occasionally, but spring really hasn't started at Saddleback yet. No matter your ability today it was great skiing. The cover is deep and the spring skiing should really be outstanding. Great crowd on the hill with lots of friendly smiles on peoples faces.

After today Saddleback is open April 3,4,5 and April 11,12 from 9:30 to 5:00. They will be open longer into April if the people and snow hold up. The snow won't be a problem, so everyone get to Saddleback for some awesome April skiing!

I will let the pictures and video tell the rest of the story.

@AlecPhoto with some Frost Bite Air

@AlecPhoto finding the Untracked on Frost Bite

Juley Carving up the Soft Snow - This is March 28?

Black Beauty Head Wall and the Gorgeous View

Juley Carving up the Soft Snow on Front Bite

@AlecPhoto Sizing Up a Turn

@MaineSkiFamily Old Man on the New Bizzard Bonafides

Just an Amazing View at Saddleback - Never Gets Old!

Here is our video from the day. It was the three of us as the youngest had a weekend youth event. Lots of great skiing by @AlecPhoto and highlights include:

  • 0:37 Jane Craig double cliff huck
  • 0:45 @MaineSkiFamily Old Man Cam on Tight Line
  • 1:04 Upper Governor Glade
  • 1:56 Mom Cam on Governor




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bluebird March Ski Day at Saddleback

What a gorgeous mid-week ski day at Saddleback. A co-worker and I took the day off and enjoyed a
Could not beat the view today at Saddleback
bluebird no wind day. Temps were upper 20's to lower 30's with great views and great snow. 

The groomer were spot-on. The woods and bumps were a bit firm, but easy to get an edge in and everything was a lot of fun.

Last weekend I broke my trusty Rossi Phantoms that were 170cm in length and 87 underfoot. I really liked these skis but they were 6 years old and I had a lot of great runs on them. Today was a good day to ride some demos from the Saddleback ski shop.

I first got on some Solomon Quest 90 underfoot 177cm in length. These skis rocked the groomers. I could lay down both quick and long arching turns. Just a tad too long in the woods and bumps however and did not feel comfortable on those skis off the groomed trials.   

So then I tried out some Blizzard Bramhas 173cm 88 underfoot. These skis were quick and lively and I found them very good in the trees and bumps. It was the first time I have skied a ski with a rocker so I had to push my shins into the front of my boot to really engage the edge. Overall I liked these skis quite well. 

However, I wanted to try something a bit wider, so I got on the Blizzard Bonafides 173cm 98 underfoot. These skis still felt great in the woods and bumps, I could engage them a little easier on the groomers and I just felt like I had a little more meat under my feet. I love to ski through the crud and variable snow on the edges of the trial and this ski really plowed through that stuff nicely. So that is my winner and I took them home. 

The Blizzard Bonafide's - I am a happy camper!
For mid-week there was a decent crowd at Saddleback soaking up the sun and fine weather. Looks like a bit of wet weather is coming so I am am ready for some spring skiing corn harvest! Get out there and ski it!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weather Channel Interview, Busted Ski and Another Great March Ski Day at Saddleback

We had an interesting week in the @MaineSkiFamily household. After a great ski day on Sunday, Monday looked even better up at Saddleback but work and school called. On Wednesday, I was going to take the day off to go skiing with a co-worker, but the wind was howling, the temps around zero so we did not make the drive up. The lifts ended up not turning so it was a good call not to go. I love winter but I have to say I am getting ready for a bit of spring skiing. I am all done with freezer burn survival skiing for this year!

During the day on Wednesday, I put out a tweet complaining about having to wear earmuffs at noontime in Portland Maine on March 18. A producer from the weather channel saw my tweet and contacted me asking for an interview. They were looking for folks to interview experiencing Maine's never ending winter and said they would show a few of my pictures. I thought my son Alec would be a better interview since he drives most of the image work for this blog. So they lined up Alec for an interview on the Weather Channel during the My Weather segment.

Alec did a great job and it was cool to see him and some of his pics on National TV. Unfortunately our home Wifi internet connection cut out halfway through the segment so they lost the Skype connection. However, Alec still got some air time and they were nice to talk about his pictures even after the connection dropped. Here is a recording of the interview.



Looking at the weather forecast we saw Saturday March 21 was going to be a much nicer day to ski than Sunday. We had another great ski day! We could tell the mid-week winds had really scoured the
Isaac going big in Thrombosis Glade
open areas. However, the groomers were fantastic. Tight Line and Supervisor were great early although they did show some scratch later in the day. 

As they day wore on, it warmed up softening the snow and the skier traffic loosened up the top layer very nicely. Jane Craig, Peachy's Peril, Governor, Nightmare Glades and some of our other favorites skied extremely well in the mid-day sun. Temps got into the mid-30's mid-day. It felt like a heat wave!

There was a great crowd on the hill! It seemed like there were a lot of visitors at Saddleback. Hopefully they all had a great day!

Around mid-day our social media feeds starting reporting about the lift accident at Sugarloaf. The King Pine lift started slipping backwards and some people got hurt. Scary! We were just on that lift last weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

I like to tease my family about throwing down some 'Old Man Air' and thrashing my way down Peachy's Peril (probably my favorite trail) doing some 'Old Man Bumps'. Well, it looks like my 6 Year old Rossi Phantoms have had enough. Halfway down Peachy's I felt my left foot seemingly get loose in the binding after smacking a bump. I stopped and looked down at my binding and all looked OK. So I skied a couple of more runs and in the flats and run outs my left ski just seemed squirrely and would not go straight. We stopped and the Yurt and once I took my ski off I figured it out pretty quickly. Big time de-lamination under my binding!

This... is a problem.

It is the end of the season so there should be deals on skis. I will have to demo some models the next time I am at Saddleback. 

Here is our video recap of the day. Highlights include:

  • Double Jane Craig Cliff Huck at 0:12
  • Governor Head wall entrance at 0:25
  • Black Beauty at 1:17
  • Tri-Color with glimpse of @MaineSkiFamily Mom at 1:50
  • Old Man Cam on Parmacheenee Bell at 2:17
  • Tight line seeded moguls at 2:42
  • Fresh lines in unnamed secret glade 3:02







Monday, March 16, 2015

Free Refills for a Stellar March Saddleback Sunday

Old Man Finding some Fresh at Saddleback
We had a great March 14-15 weekend in the mountains for western Maine. On Saturday, we went to Sugarloaf to ski and Isaac participated in the Ski the East freestyle competition. Isaac did well ripping his way down Ripsaw in front of the judges and had a good time. The skiing overall was OK - it was pretty icy due to the recent thaw freeze cycle but we still got some good turns in.

In the freestyle contest, the Sugarloaf event manager was on the microphone at the bottom of the course announcing competitors, home mountain and other info about them. When he announced Isaac skied at Saddleback he booed. I admit it was good natured ribbing and the announcer was trying to keep things lively. Saddleback and Sugarloaf are competitors after all. Not a huge deal but not a great way to treat a guest on the mountain either... especially considering the over $300 I spent at Sugarloaf Saturday on lift tickets and entry fees. Next time maybe I will just keep that cash in my pocket and go ski Saddleback.

Rant over and on to Sunday where we skied the best mountain in Maine IMHO - Saddleback. It was
awesome. We stayed the night at the Rangeley Inn and awoke to 3" of snow. According to the radar it looked like the snow was over but my oldest Alec swore we were going to get more. He was right! After a bit of freezing fog early, it starting snowing at 10am and kept snowing hard the rest of the day. Free refills! I am guessing we had 7" when we stopped skiing and it was still snowing hard.

By mid-day it was a whole lotta THIS!
Juley Finding Fresh on Black Beauty
Everything skied great and by the afternoon ski patrol opened the head walls of Wardens Worry, Frost Bite and Black Beauty. The snow just kept piling up and there was powder everywhere. Deep soft turns until our legs gave out around 3pm. Nice crowd on the hill, people on chairs all the time and in the true Saddleback way, most of the day we had the trials to ourselves. Saddleback has great terrain and just does not overcrowd the trails. Each run is unique and a true Maine ski experience.




Here is the video from our day. Highlights include the boys ripping the snowfields skiers right of Wardens Worry at 1:02; Old Man Cam at 1:09 including nice wipe out in Thrombosis; and our boys Alec and Isaac just ripping it up everywhere at Saddleback. One of the best days of the year and we have had a bunch of good ones!

Monday, March 9, 2015

More of the Same - Great March Skiing at Saddleback

What a great ski season we are having in Maine! It started with an awesome opening day at Saddleback and the conditions have stayed consistently stellar all winter. Sunday March 8th was no different at Saddleback Maine.

One word of the day - the snow was FAST. It was not icy, but it was that perfect mid-20's
Lift Ride During a Saddleback Snow Squall
temperature along with a fresh coat of wax on the boards made our skis zip along the snow. It made the woods a bit tricky. Although most of the gladed terrain had great cover and you could always get an edge in, after two turns you were looking to scrub off speed - it was that quick. So if you were not quick on your feet the woods got a bit challenging.

The goomers were A+. Deep base everywhere an only minimal scratch towards the end of the day. It snowed lightly most of the day, with a couple of heavier squalls after lunch. They probably picked up an inch or so and it freshened things up a bit to make for some fun afternoon turns. Upper Professor and Jane Craig skied great and Peachy's Peril had some car sized moguls for those looking to bounce off firm bumps.

It was the day after daylight savings time switch over so it was a late arriving crowd, but by mid-day there was a nice crowd on the hill with the occasional modest lift line. Good to see Saddleback selling some day tickets.

OldMan Hucking Professor
This time of year the mountains of Maine usually get nuked with snow while closer to the coast gets more mixed precipitation. That would work for me! Bring it mother nature!

Our video edit of the day. Even the old man tried to huck the Professor cliff at 2:45 with mixed
results. Saddleback is skiing great right now. Go out and ski it!



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Amazing February Conditions Again at Saddleback

The view at Saddleback never gets old!
We finished off one of the better February's in memory with a great ski day at Saddleback Maine.
Temps were in the lower teens, very light winds with bright sunshine and zero clouds. A spectacular winter Maine ski day.

Overall the conditions were excellent. The groomers are skiing absolutely beautifully. Ghost, Coachman, the Devils, Silver Doctor all were awesome and the upper mountain Tight Line and Supervisor were super as well. Perfect corduroy in the morning with a deep base so conditions held up all day. We thought the gladed trails, notably Intimidator and Thrombosis were spot-on. Even though they had been skied plenty they held soft snow that held an edge well when you needed it. The upper section of Peachy's Peril held perfect Old Man bumps. Us powder hounds are looking forward to some more snow in the Western Maine mountains, but overall we certainly can't complain about our ski day!

Isaac launching it on Tri-Color
A telemark group from Bowdoin College outing club was there wearing all kinds of crazy outfits. Loads of fun. Nice crowd on the mountain but lift lines were manageable to ski right on. Doesn't get any better than that.

Today (March 1st)  is $39 Maine day at Saddleback. Temps should get into the 20's - it should be an awesome day! Here is our video edit from our day.





Monday, February 23, 2015

Spectacular February Ski Day at Saddleback

We wrapped up school vacation week with a spectacular ski day at Saddleback Maine February 22, 2015.

This trip report is pretty simple.
The new Wolly Bugger Glade skied great

1. Great snow conditions with 2" of powder overnight.
2. Comfortable Temps in the 20's with light wind!
3. Comfortable Temps in the 20's with light wind! (that is worth saying twice!)

Everything skied awesome. Pick a groomer, bump run or glade and you would be happy today. There
was a great vibe on the mountain. You could actually show a little skin, put away the neoprene mask and have a great time skiing in Maine.

Deep freeze is back on for a bit this week but boy is the spring skiing in Maine going to ROCK this year!

Here is our video on the day. Trail Lineup.

0:07 - Professor
0:27 - Lower Jane Craig
0:33 - Tri Color (Old Man Cam)
0:38 - Governor (Old Man Cam)
1:01 - Nightmare Glade
1:30 - Black Beauty
1:40 - Casablanca
1:50 - Professor Cliff
1:58 - Wolly Bugger Glade
2:02 - Governor (Old Man Huck Cam)



Sunday, February 8, 2015

It Keeps Getting Better at Saddleback - February 7, 2015

Ever since MLK weekend, the skiing keeps getting better, and better at Saddleback and February 7, 2015 was even better! As with all the ski areas in Northern New England, the snow keeps a-coming and the temps keep the snow light and fresh.

Isaac on the Professor Cliff Huck
The groomed trails were outstanding. Tight Line was the best I had ever skied it. The bumps and woods were deep and fresh. We have to say Governor, Upper Professor, Lower Jane Craig, Family Secret, Peachy's, Nightmare Glade, Muleskinner and others had deep stashes of snow and skied great. See my guide to all the trials at Saddleback.

The light snow is having a bit of trouble sticking to the natural head walls on Wardens, Black Beauty and Frostbite but there were accessible from the cross-cut off Tight Line. However, the Governor head wall held snow and the trail skied exceptionally well. On some of the natural trails there was some ice/scratch on the wind-blown sections but they were few and far between.

Temps were between 5-10 degrees but the wind was relatively light... making for a pleasant ski day. Good crowd on the mountain but the lift lines were short. One of the top ski days of the year and we
Great View and Deep Drifts on Muleskinner
have had some good ones so far! 

Josh Christie put together a great article on Saddleback and the Rangeley region in the January 7th Portland Press Herald. Saddleback is setting up perfectly for February vacation week. Make your plans, get up there an enjoy it!

Video of the day. While we like to play in the woods and bumps the skiing was outstanding all over the mountain from the beginner green trails, blue cruisers to the expert bumps and glades. Everyone will have fun at Saddleback.

Highlighted Trail Lineup:

0:00 - Tight Line
0:22 - Parmacheenee Bell
0:33 - Upper Professor
0:38 - Wolly Bugger Glade
0:55 - Warden's Worry
1:00 - Unnamed Secret Glade
1:04 - Peachys Peril
1:21 - Royal Coachman
1:36 - Governor
1:56 - Intimidator Glade
2:08 - Muleskinner




Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Sunday Skiing at Saddleback - Feburary 1, 2015

It was an interesting weekend for the @MaineSkiFamily crew. After getting shut-out at Black Mountain of Maine on Saturday due to extremely high winds (and below zero temps) we called an audible and hit up Saddleback on Sunday. Social media hinted at stellar conditions at Saddleback, and the wind managed to calm down to give us an enjoyable but cold ski day. And then we watched with the rest of New England and celebrated a Patriots Super Bowl win!

Overall conditions were stellar. Super light snow that kept drifting in with the wind to create constant refills. We
Alec in Lower Nightmare Glade
basically hung out on the upper mountain Quad lapping glades and some of our favorite natural trails. We found Wardens Worry to be the pick of the day. The wind kept blowing in fresh snow so each run was as good as the last. It was a bit scratchy on the first head wall on the cross cut from Tight Line (The old man fell on the head wall 3 out of the 4 times we did the trail but it was worth it!) Peachy's Peril skiers left was stellar, and the Nightmare glade (Upper and Lower) did not disappoint.

Saddleback re-opened its Casablanca glade. They had to clear a lot of blow downs and dangerous obstacles from a storm earlier in the season and one has to ski with caution, but we found the #1 and #2 sections to be deep, fluffy and very fun to ski.

It was cold! However, we geared up and covered all our skin, and took frequent breaks and had a most enjoyable day. The wind blew strong at the top but once you got into the trials the wind was calmer.

With even more snow today (February 2nd) and perhaps more later in the week... we are on quite a run skiing in Maine!

Here is a video of our ski day. It was super-cold so the batteries didn't last long in the GoPro and Phone camera's but we got some good shots in.

Video trail lineup:

0:16 - Golden Smelt
0:30 - Wardens Worry (Face Shot)
1:00 - Peachy's Peril
1:20 - Peachy's Peril (Old Man Cam)
1:30 - Unnamed Secret Glade (First Tracks)
1:55 - More Peachy's
2:00 - Casablanca #1
2:36 - Tri Color (Isaac Big Air)



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blizzard 2015 Mid-Week Fun at Saddleback

While Saddleback did not get slammed with snow like the coast did during the January 2015 blizzard, they did pick up a solid foot which freshened things up considerably to say the least.

Wardens Worry was Great!
The Freeport school system called off classes for a second day on Wednesday and that meant the @MaineSkiFamily boys and mom had a bonus ski day. Too many things going on at work for the old man. They report that while some of the entrances to trails were blown off due to the high winds during the storm, the snow was deep and fluffy once down the trail a bit. Some of the @MaineSkiFamily favorites like Wardens Worry and Governor skied exceptionally well and all the glades were spot on. Overall a great 'school' day on the slopes!

More snow on the way Friday looks like! Get out there and ski in Maine!

Here is the video of the day.