Squaw Mountain overlooking Moosehead Lake in Maine is a special place. The views from the ski area of the Lake, Mt Kineo and Katahdin are spectacular and the people here are the real deal (read: no fancy ski suits, just hearty skiers and snowboarders). I would add that the local skiers are resilient, despite their lousy luck. You may recall that Squaw's summit chairlift, which delivered skiers up an impressive 1,700' vertical to some classic and challenging ski terrain, broke in 2004 injuring four skiers and never reopened.
Greenville locals referred to their situation as Grimville without the ski area as an attraction and a place for their families to ski. Volunteers managed to operate the lower mountain triple sporadically since 2004, but Squaw remained closed entirely the last two seasons.
Well The Friends of Squaw Mountain have mounted a valiant vertical effort to get the triple spinning again. Talk about earning your turns. They have spent countless hours, raising money via facebook and pay pal, painting, pruning, and they plan to open Squaw's lower mountain lift and trails for skiing Martin Luther King weekend. In a $1 year lease from the current owner, this nonprofit group has revitalized the base lodge, got the triple chair operational, and even leased a groomer.
A little history behind Squaw Mountain: the Greenville ski area opened in 1963. Scott Paper company owned it in the 70's, then Maine Bureau of Parks & Rec took ownership in the 80's. Subsequently Squaw went through a series of ownership changes and a bankruptcy, until 1995 when the current owner, James Confalone, purchased the ski area. He made news with his refusal to rename the resort Moose Mountain - as other Maine names were being changed from the controversial "squaw" name. There were rumors of big plans to improve the ski resort, which never came to fruition. The summit chairlift lies in disrepair, and is now likely too old to revitalize.
Its inspiring to see what a passionate group of skiers can accomplish. Check out the Friends of Squaw Mountain facebook page to keep tabs on their progress, their pot luck fundraisers, for opening day photos at this incredibly scenic ski hill, or to donate to their paypal account.
I have skied Squaw, and it is a very special place. I wish the Friends of Squaw the best in their efforts.
Photo of Squaw Mountain Ski Area from 2004 by Greg Burke
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.