Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

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Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby EMSC » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:31 am

It's being sold to a Boston investment fund which hopes to close on the deal by mid-December. When it opens for next season apparently it will have at least 2 new lifts as well. A new Quad and a new t-bar. It's a bit far to reach for the remaining eastern FTO readers, but a unique place way up north...

https://www.centralmaine.com/2019/11/07/agreement-reached-on-sale-of-saddleback/
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:14 pm

https://www.centralmaine.com/2019/11/07/agreement-reached-on-sale-of-saddleback/ wrote:Andy Shepard, who will be Saddleback’s new general manager, said Arctaris plans to reopen for skiing sometime between Thanskgiving and Christmas of 2020.

I believe Saddleback has been closed for 4 ski seasons so it will take considerable time and $$$ to refurbish, get safety certified etc. So there's no way a deal closing next month could possibly result in the area reopening for the upcoming season.

I've read some info on this saga, and it's certainly good news that an interesting area like this will be saved, at least for now. But my understanding is that making a go of it in that remote location is very tough. Here's the local insight before the sale, not optimistic.
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby EMSC » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:55 am

That is an interesting post in pugski.

I had heard that the 2 newer quads had been maintained over the years, but perhaps by someone who is incompetent and didn't really know what to do per that post. The rest of the infrastructure will be a pain and require $$ to bring up to snuff, but would probably be quite usable at close to as-is status IMHO (that is of course without having ever seen the lodges & snowmaking). I say that having spent so, so many years skiing Greek Peak and Eldora where the owners let basically everything go for decades at a time before any investment. It won't necessarily be the prettiest or easy to use, but it will be mostly usable would be my guess.

Everything I've ever heard says that is the skiing is pretty great. Even that they have a bunch of expansion possible too... if they can ever get anyone to drive that far to make it economically feasible.
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:38 am

EMSC wrote:t's a bit far to reach for the remaining eastern FTO readers, but a unique place way up north...

I've always wanted to check out Sugarload, Saddleback, and Big Squaw but yes, a long trek from where I live. Onetime FTO contributor Mapadu posted this video from Saddleback in 2013 and it's still working. Kinda reminds me of Cannon?
https://vimeo.com/61802107
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:33 pm

That video shows some subalpine terrain at the top, which I thought was unique to Sugarloaf in the Northeast.

Mom-and-pop areas like Eldora, Greek Peak, Baldy have to do a minimum of maintenance to spin the lifts each season. Once you go idle for a year or more (in Saddleback's case 4 years), things deteriorate and the cost in time and $$$ to reopen rises substantially. There will also be very detailed supervisory inspections before the ski area is allowed to reopen. Mt. Waterman had to go through this after being closed from 2001-2007.
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby snowave » Wed Apr 08, 2020 5:34 pm

I was just reading about this the other day. Hopefully it still works out for them.

Being a little bored lately, I was slightly curious about places I could live if I ever moved east (which is highly unlikely as I've lived in the west most of my life). I have some family history in the Bangor area, but only went there once in the late 70s when I was a wee little tike.

The town of Rangeley (which is where Saddleback is near) is probably the only place I'd consider. If for some reason I stopped snowboarding, I'd prefer near the coast. I have lived in small towns the last 15 yrs (under 5,000 at most), so I would have no desire to live near the more populated megalopolis of the NE.

Curious, does sugarloaf/saddleback get frequent rain events in winter? (I'm pretty clueless on east coast weather) However, I follow Mt Washington NH on FB, I I know I have seen the mountains in that area go from lots of snow to next to nothing in 1 or 2 storms.
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 09, 2020 11:46 am

Every place in the NE gets frequent rain events by the standards of all the places snowave has lived.

Rain incidence decreases with latitude. So Sugarloaf/Saddleback get the least rain in the northeast US but probably still more than Quebec City or Tremblant. The catch is that none of these places get nearly as much snow as the ~300 inches in northern Vermont. Le Massif averages 236 inches and the rest of the Quebec City areas around 200. Sugarloaf averages 175 inches and Tremblant 167 inches.

Sugarloaf skiing skews heavily to late season vs. the rest of the Northeast. Besides the latitude it tops out over 4,000 feet and has primary north exposure. Jay, Sugarloaf and Mt. Ste. Anne average the most terrain open during the first half of April and Sugarloaf is definitely the largest of those mountains. Open terrain crashes precipitously during the second half of April everywhere in the Northeast.
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby snowave » Tue May 19, 2020 5:19 pm

yeesh... under 200"... Although, I realize the resorts in the NE probably all have extensive snowmaking, that's still a huge drop compared to what I'm used to (exception being my socal years)/ I always cringe seeing places like Sun Valley and Lake Louise, who both also average under 200" a season, but again... I know Sun Valley has a huge snowmaking system, but Lake Louise not so much (although, 660 acres is pretty decent for west standards). I hit LL about 20 years ago, and we only rode a few hours as the coverage was terrible.
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed May 20, 2020 12:31 am

snowave wrote:I always cringe seeing places like Sun Valley and Lake Louise, who both also average under 200" a season

Both of those places are far more reliable than the Maine resorts.

I have skied Lake Louise in 7 different seasons and never had a day there I would call bad. None of them have been earlier than February though and yes there are places it can be low tide where I needed to be careful. The worst of my Lake Louise days was in 2015 with tseeb, where the front side was mostly refrozen. But backside steeps were still good. Lake Louise can be damn cold but is essentially immune from rain. The 2015 day was not ideal but due to a lot of rain in B.C. that season had the best conditions we saw in Canada lift service other than Panorama. Ironically, by my observation Panorama gets even less snow than Lake Louise but it's predominantly north facing.

Sun Valley in 2010 was only good on groomers as it had not snowed in a long time. This is another place where rain is rare, and of course the standards of both snowmaking and grooming are very high. But 3 days was enough with the mogul and bowl skiing being not worthwhile. As I've mentioned before conditions were stellar on my first trip to Sun Valley in 1983, and the February day with Liz in 2013 was excellent also.

The stats from Maine for me say "Baldy without the volatility." That's a year sort of like the past two in SoCal. Obviously Maine is much colder so you won't get much melt/freeze midwinter. But rain incidence is similar so you can be looking at widespread ice and trail closures as I experienced arriving at Sunday River two days too late in December 2018. We were hopefully on our way to Sugarloaf, a drive from EWR that James has yet to do, because conditions there on Dec. 1 were so good I wanted to seize the rare opportunity.

Anyone who has lived seasons with Targhee and Wolf Creek as home areas is not going to be happy anywhere in the East IMHO. Even Brundage must have been a bit of a step down in snow vs. the two areas which belong in the conversation with Utah's Cottonwoods for best snow in North America.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby snowave » Wed May 20, 2020 5:36 pm

thanks for the insight. I wasn't really insinuating LL and SV get much rain, just the low snow numbers. My day at LL was early Feb, if I remember correctly. I also rode Panorama on that trip and conditions were quite similar there, too... hard, fast and thin. I figured I would probably be quite disappointed if I ever moved east as far as snow quality.

Brundage' snow this year was actually quite good. I found it to be lighter than expected, overall.

I actually didn't find Wolf Creek to be that great of snow.. good, yes.. great only sometimes. The avg water content at WC is reportedly around 10 to 12%, according to a class I took with the Colorado Avalanche Info Center mountain weather class (i cant remember the exact number, have it written down somewhere). Not bad, but heavier than one would expect (edit: just read your page on snow quality, and looks like your calculations show 9.3%).
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Re: Saddleback, ME to reopen in 2020 (with new owners)

Postby SheriGoddart33 » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:00 am

The conditions there are not very finite. But for fans of hardcore relaxation it is!
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