Also, some of the state’s larger areas and resorts recognizing the value of skiers created by Lost Valley’s learning programs came through with donations as well. As a result, the area will open and money will be spent in more efficient snowmaking and lighting to help with expenses. Make a note to ski Lost Valley this winter.
Elsewhere in Maine, the biggest news is out of Camden where the Snowbowl is half way through a major upgrade. After a fundraising campaign that combined a match by the town with other donations raised over $6 million, work began at the end of the last ski season.
In place are a new summit triple chair, a new beginner area with a conveyer lift, a double chair lift for new beginner terrain, 50 percent more night skiing, 85 percent snowmaking coverage, and 40 percent more skiing and riding terrain. Next summer, a new base lodge will be constructed as this town-owned area becomes a true year-round facility as part of the Parks and Recreation department.
In Rumford, Black Mountain has increased space in the base lodge and added air conditioning to increase its value as a year-round facility.
Mount Abram is upgrading its snowmaking to the tune of $300,000. The upgrade will increase coverage and enable the area to open earlier and recover faster from adverse weather events.
Saddleback continues to expand glade skiing with a new glade off the red Devil trail.
The biggest project at Shawnee Peak is replacing the Rabbit Run double chair with a triple which will move more skiers faster. The area between the new lift and Pines Quad has been re-graded for easier movement between the lifts. New fan guns and 40 high-efficiency snow guns are key factors in increased snowmaking.
At Spruce Mountain in Jay, volunteers had a busy summer mowing the trails, replacing the rope on the tow lift, upgrading snowmaking and repairing and painting the buildings.
Sugarloaf is in the midst of an ongoing 2020 ten-year plan which has already seen four years of upgrades and expansions. This year’s projects included snowmaking upgrades with additional high-efficiency snow guns and 6,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe. A new winch cat has been added to the grooming fleet and the expansion of the glades on Burnt Mountain continues.
At Sunday River, a conveyer loading system is part of an upgrade to the Spruce Mountain triple that will allow for a faster ride and easier loading. Sixty more high-efficiency snow guns will add to the capacity of the snowmaking system and two new Pisten Bully snowcats have been added to improve grooming efficiency.
At Titcomb, lights have been added to a kilometer of cross-country ski trails allowing school ski teams to continue cross-country training after sunset.
These are the highlights of this year’s investments at Maine’s ski areas and resorts. Today’s ski resorts invest hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in routine summer maintenance just to stay at a workable level. A lot of the maintenance we don’t see once the slopes are covered with snow, and we may not notice how new rental equipment has made it easier and faster to get on the slopes for beginning skiers and guests. It’s all part of keeping up with the competition for an industry that adds over $300 million to Maine’s economy every year.