Senior Vice President of Operations, Jim Quimby is so much a part of Saddleback that I don’t think I could separate the man from the mountain in my mind. I’m not sure how else to put it. It’s not just professionally, it’s more personal than that. He’s just so much a part of the Saddleback culture, the Saddleback family. He appears to be the friend of everyone who works there, and I think even those that meet him briefly feel they know him and respect him and want him to be their friend within minutes. I’m not exaggerating. I think real genuine people have that magnetic effect on others.

The last time I saw him (before the interview) was when I took a trip up the mountain during Saddleback’s Fall Festival. He was standing by a table covered with some of the cool memorabilia he had acquired over the years. Make that decades. People usually become collector’s out of love or money (or both). When you see him in his office surrounded by all things skiing, I think you can guess why Quimby became a collector.

He is one of those fortunate folks that had familial ties to the mountain from early on. “My mother and father both worked at Saddleback from the 60’s right up and through the 80’s. Even my grandfather and my father helped build the lifts and helped build the ski area. My grandfather on my mother’s side helped actually build the road to the ski area in the early 60’s or the late 50’s or whatever it was. He started swamping the Saddleback Mountain Road out by horse.”

Jimmy’s father Richard “Doc” Quimby

Quimby learned to ski at a young age, (about six or seven years old) in the early 60’s, in the program that is still being run today commonly known as Ski Tuesdays. He was sure to remind me who to give credit for this program to. “This all came under Roger Page’s direction- the Tuesday Ski program. Back then he actively had his hand on every part of that program.”

Each year, every winter, up and through his rambunctious teenage years became all about Saddleback. He happily recalled those early days. “So, my friends Colby Frost, Bobby Wilbur, Eric Sargent, Ronny Nobbs, you know Scott Johnson, a number of people that I went to school with taught up here and then on the Tuesday program most of us, a lot of us ended up on to the Masters Program which was taught by Scott Morton and Dan Dacey.”

Okay, at this I had to laugh out loud at myself as I learn something new every day. I’ve spoken to Mr. Morton many times, but I had no idea that he a) held this role and b) that he was such a phenomenal skier. Quimby proceeded to educate me. “Scott Morton was one of the best skiers in the history of Saddleback. Him and a guy named Dan Dacey taught the Masters Program and then which turned up to be the Masters Freestyle Program. That was a great time to grow up here. That was a great time to be a kid. We had a large group of us that skied together as kids. I think that we coined the name ‘Rat Pack’ way before anybody else did. There was about 35 of us that skied around and tormented everybody. Bunch of local kids and we had the best time ever.”

I wondered aloud if he thought kids today have it as good or are those days long gone. “No, I think that that’s not true. I think that it’s just that as you grow up, you get older, and some young kid takes your place and they have just as much fun and carry on some of the same traditions you did. You know, for instance the Lollipop Race has been going on since I was younger. One group of kids grows up and they race in high school and then maybe race in college and then there’s another group of kids in the Lollipop race. I have to think of my own nieces, you know Bristol and Breezy (Quimby), you know, – skied in the Lollipop Races and here they are ranked top in the state of ski racers, and you know a number of kids did that here.”

Speaking of *Ski Tuesdays, he was a part of that program for many years. “I had the older groups other people struggled with. They are all fine upstanding adults these days.” he said proudly. (*SIDE NOTE: For those of you who don’t know, it really is a great local program that not only gets children outside so that they don’t become wimps in the winter, lol, but also helps them learn how to carve early on. It requires as many volunteers as possible and it’s really so much fun. I highly recommend it!)

His passion for all things skiing and specifically at Saddleback came from not only enjoying the mountain with friends and family but from working there. He started as a Safety Officer/Ski Patrol Director and other official titles that included Risk Manager, Mountain Operations Manager, Mountain Manager, Operations Director, and unofficially he was and still is a great spokesperson for the mountain. Over the decades he got the swag that is a bonus of resort jobs. This is part of what led him to acquire the many cool posters, bumper stickers, patches and so forth. At one point he started to use his off time to purposefully collect these items.

“So, I started collecting stuff with my cousin Jonny Field. He and I started talking about it. He had some things, and I had some things and I told him, I said, ‘You know, I bet there’s so much of this stuff around that people don’t even want anymore.’ I said, ‘I bet if I looked around, I bet people would give me stuff like this.’ And I did that must be 15 or 16 years ago. So, I used to put an ad in the Highlander and then I started searching on eBay and I was just like, I couldn’t believe how much stuff that people would just give me you know and I had this in my drawer or I had this and then people started reaching out to me and all of a sudden I ended up with this huge collection of memorabilia.”

“I bought some things on eBay. I bought some actually pretty rare stuff on eBay, believe it or not. Then, I did buy a number of other artifacts earlier in life that were one-of-a-kind items that like I might have in my house or things like that. Then working through the years, when the Berry’s were here, a number of people started to seek me out and say, ‘Hey Jim, I have this, I would like for you to have it because I know that you will take care of it’ and I just got a number of things that way. People know me. I think they trust me. You know what I mean? They know that they’re not going to give me something and then go and sell it for profit.”

Looking around his office I could see just a vast array of items. “My stuff is very particular to Saddleback. I mean I have a few other things from a few other areas, but I don’t know if there is much exists that has Saddleback on it that I don’t have. I mean I’m pretty sure I have every pin. I’m pretty sure I have every patch, every sticker. I’m pretty sure I have it all.”

First Saddleback patch

Some of his favorites include a 2 ½’ x 4’ photograph of Saddleback he bought out of a camp in Madrid over two decades ago, a poster that is currently at the Outdoor Heritage Museum in Oquossoc, some pins from Bald Mountain, the first Saddleback patch and a Saddleback owners’ ashtray in perfect mint condition.

“I actually don’t even know what I’m going to do with all of the stuff. What I’d really like to do is have all of this stuff put on display somewhere. Some permanent location.”

Well hopefully he’ll have time to take care of that in the future but right now his focus is on this ski season. “We’re extremely proud of Saddleback. You know, when it was closed for 5 years, everyone had their iron in the fire of ‘Well you know I feel sorry for condo owners, I feel sorry for the businesses, I feel sorry for the employees, I feel sorry for the townspeople…’, but you know the whole time we were closed I felt sorry for the kids, the school kids. That was who I felt the worst about and with Saddleback opening, even under a pandemic, to see the kids come back up here. To see some kids that have grown. Five years since you had last saw them, and to be able to see the Rangeley school race team do as well as they had done. Yes, I’m ecstatic to be able to do this again. I’m really excited in what we’re doing. I know that we’ve bought into the town and trying to link ourselves closer to the town and be involved with the town, but I think that I’m most excited about being able to offer better jobs that have better benefits and better pay that we’ve been able to offer in the past. I’m really glad to be able to have this ski area here for our kids to grow up and be a part of as much as it was a joy for me to grow up here as a kid. And to work here, you know most of my adult life, I think I’ve spent about 2/3 of my adult life on Saddleback. I’m glad that local kids have the opportunity to work and be involved up here also. I think what I’m proudest of is to be able to have our kids and our community have the ability to part of Saddleback again. It really stung to see Rangeley school kids skiing in other ski areas and you know racing and they still supported Saddleback and they still you know “We are Saddleback!” and stuff like that and now they are Saddleback and they’re Rangeley Region School first and foremost, but this is their home mountain and that’s what we want.”

 

 

 

He was sure to express his heartfelt thanks for not only those who support Saddleback but all the organizations in this town that do so much for the sake of everyone. “The community of Rangeley and the Rangeley region made significant contributions to get Saddleback open again. There are still donors that make significant contributions to make sure that we can operate and especially in support of the town and the kids you know. You know, specifically a donor made a contribution so that the Rangeley school kids had severely reduced season passes and there’s contributions around helping the school kids with the Tuesday ski lessons and things of that nature and it kind of offsets our costs involved with that and so we’re very lucky to have a community of donors that helps us with the Rangeley Friends of the Arts and the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum and the Maine Forestry Museum and Rangeley Region Health & Wellness. We are extremely lucky to have this group of people, and this is the same group of people that are contributing to Saddleback in philanthropy. We are so lucky to have this group of people that help take care of us. We as a town would not be able to operate if it wasn’t for this generous group of people, and in the capacity that we are operating. We’re really lucky. I mean really lucky. If it wasn’t for the donors and the generosity of the business people of Rangeley and another group of people- you know the businesses really bought in and we’re really proud of that.”

There’s a lot to be said about Arctaris being an impact fund. We’re extremely lucky that an impact fund looked at us and looked into helping rebuild this ski area and invest in this ski area because we looked for five years and no one else would have done it at the capacity that they’ve done it and it’s not just that they’ve financed it but they’ve bought into the area and the Western Mountains of Maine and Franklin County and the Rangeley Region and we’re extremely lucky in that part of it too.”

We’re all lucky to have you up at the mountain too Jimmy!

 

Comments are not available on this story.