West Mountain On Life Support; No Pulse At Whaleback, NH
UPDATE 7/5/13: Whaleback Mountain’s future will remain unsettled for at least another month, reports the Valley News, after Randolph National Bank postponed the auction of the ski area until Aug. 1. The sale was previously scheduled for July 11.
ORIGINAL STORY: West Mountain in Glens Falls, N.Y. is touting its Summer Jam July 3, but the recent news of a hovering foreclosure has the southern Adirondack facility in a different kind of jam. Meanwhile, Whaleback in New Hampshire goes on the auction block July 13.
West Mountain owes Zion First National Bank in Utah nearly $5 million, according to several published reports in upstate New York. As the lender intends to begin foreclosure proceedings against West Mountain, resort ownership has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.While West Mountain reorganizes its finances, the Albany Times newspaper says it has found a backer to infuse $225,000, thus allowing it to welcome skiers and riders in 2013-2014.
“That would be big for all of us,” Drew Higley, manager of Sports Page Ski and Patio, a Glens Falls four season retailer, told SnoCountry.com. “West definitely has a big impact on our business. We’re a close community and it would be huge to pull this off. People in town want to know that it’s going to happen. There’s lots of loyalty to West.”
But that’s not the only ski center feeling the financial pinch this summer as Whaleback Mountain goes to auction July 13. The dream of U.S. national team mogul skier Evan Dybvig and his two partners came to an end when the 2012-2013 season concluded.
The trials of small, struggling ski hills, not backed by parent companies, are nothing new. But such sites have more of a “hometown feel” to them, said Higley. That makes the struggle very impactful to their skiers and riders.
In the case of Dybvig, Frank Sparrow and Dylan Goodspeed, there was no hope of funding to keep "the Whale" alive, and they said as much in a farewell post on Whaleback’s website. Several phone calls to their main phone number seeking comment didn’t even ring.
West’s filing in a U.S. court in Albany, N.Y., meanwhile, stayed Zion’s move, while also preventing National Grid from cutting off electrical service to the mountain. The Saratogian newspaper reported that West Mountain is $198,000 in arrears with the power utility. In fact, National Grid shut off the power supply for a period last season, forcing West Mountain to employ back-up generators.
Higley felt the issues may have had their genesis two seasons ago. “They may have been hit by bad luck with the weather that season, followed by a slow start to last year,” he stated.
West Mountain is conveniently located several miles from Interstate 87, but has competed in the market with state-run Gore Mountain, a reality that has rankled West management.
As the drama plays out, West Mountain’s July 3 event begins at 4:30 p.m. and features Bruce Springsteen cover band Tramps Like Us performing from 7-10 p.m.. A fireworks display will conclude the night. The price is $3 at the gate.
No activity, however, will be seen at dormant Whaleback.Night skiing at West Mountain (I Love NY)