Three Ski Areas, Three Uncertain Futures

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SAM Magazine--October 30, 2013--Foreclosures, bad economy and more have taken their toll on all industries worldwide, and the mountain resort industry is no different. But, let's start with some good news. In New Hampshire, Whaleback Ski Area announced its closure this year after the owners were foreclosured on. In August, the bank tried to auction the area, but failed to attract any bidders. Enter the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation, a nonprofit group set up to reopen Whaleback this season. According to the Concord Monitor, the Foundation raised the first $100,000 it needed in order to open the mountain on December 26 and reached an agreement with the bank to lease the ski area through next October, at which time the foundation plans to purchase the property.  The Foundation views the $100,000--raised through donations--as the first installment in a goal of raising $2 million in order to make Whaleback a viable operation. The Foundation recently hired Dick Harris as its new GM and is already about halfway to its goal of selling $85,000 worth of season passes.

Moving south, West Mountain in New York, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, faces an uncertain future after an attempt by the Utah bank that owns the first mortgage on the ski area, failed to sell the $390,000 loan it holds in an on-line aution. According to the Times Union, the highest bid was $200,000. The bank, Zions First National Bank of Salt Lake City, announced a second auction set for November 19. In the meantime, Apex Capital, the owners of the resort, have been moving forward with pass sales, but say they will reimburse purchasers if the area doesn't open. For more on this story, check out

Lastly, Hidden Valley Ski Area in Wisconsin announced that it will not open this year. The area's website simply states: Hidden Valley Ski Area WILL NOT BE OPEN FOR THIS COMING 2013/2014 season! We would like to thank everyone for their support for the
last 7 seasons. Hidden Valley is owned by David Lodl. Further north in Michigan, the fate of Norway Mountain looks to be the same. The owners shuttered the area last season after 20 years and have been unable to find an operator.


Highlands of Olympia Ski Area

The ski area , as part of a resort complex, permanently closed this summer with the removal of all ski area asociated equipment including removal of chair lift tower footings. Highlands of Olympia Ski Area was located in Oconomowoc Wisconsin


Sadly, this will not be the end of such woes in the industry. Aside from rising operational costs, the continual increase in average daily winter temperatures is only going to increase the need for more snowmaking. With utility costs rising constantly, this will unfortunately spell the end for more and more small areas who simply can't afford the growing cost of doing business. The fortunate ones will be purchased by larger companies, such as Vail Resorts, Inc. and the other will fall by the way side if they cannot develop alternate uses.