Whaleback Mountain in Enfield, New Hampshire is the most recent New England ski resort to announce they are shutting down operations. In a post on their Facebook page on March 14th; marketing lead Even Dybvig announced the unfortunate news, penning it on unmanageable debt:
It is with deep regret that Frank, Dylan and I, owners and managing members, inform you that we have no option but to close our business. We sincerely hope that our departure is not the end of skiing and riding at Whaleback. On the contrary, we believe that this is an opportunity for the community to Save the Whale and continue to maintain this beloved place. We strongly believe that Whaleback could be a sustainable and vital resource with appropriate funding and leadership, especially after our 8 years of developing strong programs and relationships. It would be a tremendous loss to this region and the industry if Whaleback closes for good.
The positive spin the current management is giving it is that there may be opportunity for others or for the community to step in and take ownership in some form.
The remainder of the statement:
Currently, multiple schools and towns utilize Whaleback for after school ski and snowboard programs. Every Thursday Night 47 teams of 4 racers eagerly anticipate a night of racing under the lights. The Whaleback Core Team and Whaleback Mountain Club thrive with families who choose to spend their weekends and nights on the slopes here. Whaleback also has been a resource for Ford Sayre Ski Club, which utilizes our great terrain to train future stars of ski racing. Whaleback has become a favorite spot for people to host events of all types from weddings to skiing and snowboarding competitions to motor sports events.
Unfortunately, the positive gains that we have made over the years have not been enough to overcome our debt. We have tried numerous avenues to recapitalize the business to put ourselves on surer footing without success. Our only option at this point is to close. We thank you so much for your support and for believing in the value that our small mountain has for you, your friends and family. Needless to say, we believe in it too.
There have been many discussions and plans are emerging to raise money through a non-profit to purchase the mountain and continue operating. This is an option that many believe is the best hope for the future of Whaleback. If you would like to comment or contribute, please contact Frank directly (email@example.com). When this plan is ready to go live you will be among the first to know.
Finally, while this a certainly a bittersweet time for all of us, we want to relish the remainder of the season together. Please join us to say goodbye and to enjoy a few more runs down favorite trails as we all contemplate what this place means to us. For us it has been a big family that we will dearly miss.
They are planning on remaining open for the remainder of this season, so if you want to ski Whaleback, it’s probably a good time to head over there.
Creative funding of struggling ski areas is something that appears to be a growing trend. Recently, Squaw Mountain in Maine reopened through the support of volunteers and donations. Other membership based organizations such as the Mountain Riders Alliance are promising to operate ski areas in a leaner way to bring sustainable economics to resort ops.
Whether these new methods will work in the long run remains to be seen, but for the sake of the future of Whaleback, we sure hope so.