View Full Version : Saddleback may be closed this winter

07-20-2015, 12:19 PM

The Berry's purchased the facility after the long term owner Dan Breen cashed out by selling the AT easements to the fed. The Berry's seem to have been doing the right thing but the fundamentals haven't changed that the resort is too far away from major population centers for day trippers and there are several other choices like Sugarloaf that are as close or closer.

Tom Rankin
07-20-2015, 01:13 PM
That could make those 2 peaks a good deal harder. Especially if 'closed' means 'keep out'.

07-20-2015, 01:46 PM
If the fed has he easements, would they be able to keep out hikers?

07-20-2015, 02:12 PM
Looks like poor Master Planning to me.

07-20-2015, 02:30 PM
If it happens, it may impact the "easy" summer and winter routes via the ski trails but the approach from RT4 via the AT will remain as it is covered by NPS easements. I don't think I ever have actually done the approach from the ski area despite having hiked it the ridge a few times. I haven't done it in winter and I expect that would be the biggest impact as the extra miles from RT 4 and the exposed ridgeline would add a lot of exposure. The rational for the Fed paying a rather exorbitant price for the easement from the prior owner was to protect the alpine zone from the vagaries of the ski industry. (Others argued that the owner used that threat to drive up the easement price). There was an independent study by a national ski development consultant prior to the easement deal that came to the conclusion that the ski area was at best a marginal proposition due to its remoteness. Despite a thriving summer population of higher end summer camp residents in the region, once the leaves fall off the trees, the area get quite desolated with a small bump up in winter snowmachine traffic that doesn't carry over to the ski area.

Coincidentally, many of the same discussions on Saddleback may also be applied to the Balsams development in NH, the odd thing is the fastest way to Saddleback by Mass residents is via RT 16 in Errol NH. At the stop light on RT 26 the skier has the option of turning left and driving 15 minutes to the Balsams or turning right and going another hour north to Rangeley through some very desolate territory.

Tom Rankin
07-21-2015, 04:20 PM
FWIW, I think the present ski center configuration does not impinge on the area above tree line, so the easement was successful. A thru-hiker would barely notice the ski center.

And yes, it would be a lot of exposure! Just hiking from the exit point to the summit, then over to the Horn and back was one of the longest times I have ever spent above tree line (with some tiny breaks) with a strong wind blowing the whole time. I was at the edge of my comfort zone that day.

07-22-2015, 11:32 AM
I was thinking this could just be a marketing ploy to just make the news to help ensure that 2015/2016 winter traffic is strong. However, when people see this, they probably get nervous about buying season passes, which would really hurt their cash flow.

So now I'm thinking this is just plain extortion, and they will probably be seeking handouts from the state of Maine to preserve jobs.

07-22-2015, 12:03 PM
I can't imagine there are that many jobs. I do know a couple people that work there during the ski season. They could probably get different Winter jobs without too much trouble.

07-22-2015, 12:41 PM
some article said 350 jobs, which is probably substantial for that area

07-22-2015, 01:44 PM
I don't know what other industry is in that area. But if it's in line with other "less developed" areas that rely on ski areas, the impact would be massive. There are almost no other jobs, winter or summer. I know in my local Adirondacks, many people work the ski area in the winter and go on unemployment in the summer, because there are no other jobs. In our economy over here, if the ski area closed, the town would "close" shortly thereafter (like a depopulated ghost town).

07-22-2015, 02:36 PM
I expect the 350 is both direct and some indirect jobs. The current owner, a local family seems to have played things above board since they have owned it, I expect they are just overleveraged and hoping some angel will appear. There are a few very well off folks in Maine that could write a check and have written large checks to the AMC and Maine Huts and Trails in the past. There are plenty of seasonal jobs in the summer and fall but the loss of a ski area makes it so some residents cant string together seasonal jobs. The locals tend to save their unemployment for the early winter and spring mud seasons when neither the summer or winter businesses as in play. Depressingly there are always speculators who will show up at the auction of a closed ski area and buy it for 10 cents on a dollar, I think Mt Abrams in South Paris has gone through that routine more than once.