Whaleback Will Reopen After Raising $100,000 in Two Weeks

Enfield — Whaleback Ski Area will reopen for another season.

The Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation, a nonprofit group set up to keep Whaleback in operation, said Thursday it raised the first $100,000 it needed in order to reopen the ski mountain on Dec. 26.

The money marks the initial phase of a $2 million capital fundraising campaign that the organization launched this month in an effort to put the winter recreation facility on a firm financial footing.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work up until now to get to this point,” said John Schiffman, chairman of the foundation. “We’re pleased that the community has responded very positively. We have a lot of work to do, but we are one-third the way along to achieving what we need to.”

Burdened by debt, Whaleback’s previous operator shut down in March. The ski area had been open for eight seasons under a group led by former Olympic skier and Tunbridge native Evan Dybvig. A succession of owners have tried their hand at running it since 1955. Randolph National Bank foreclosed on the property earlier this year and failed to attract bidders at an August auction.

On Thursday, the foundation reached an agreement with the bank to lease the ski area through next October, at which time the foundation plans to purchase the property. But Schiffman said he would like the sale to happen sooner than that, possibly by May.

The foundation recently hired Dick Harris as its new general manager. Harris has 30 years of experience operating ski areas, including the Balsams in Dixville Notch, N.H. His first day will be Nov. 1.

Schiffman, a longtime Upper Valley accountant, said upgrades are planned this season in snow-making equipment and trail lighting. About a third of the $100,000 raised over the last two weeks came from online donations through Whaleback’s website. The rest of the money was collected through a fundraising letter campaign that was sent to people who either used Whaleback or value the ski area, Schiffman said.

The next phase, a capital campaign to raise the remainder of the $2 million goal, will begin soon. Donations and season passes can be purchased at www.whaleback.com. The foundation is already about halfway to its goal of selling $85,000 worth of season passes, Schiffman said.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.


Letter: Whaleback, Meet Slebogganing

Monday, October 21, 2013

To the Editor: I would like to introduce the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation to slebogganing, which is a new winter sport and fun family activity. Slebogganing could very well be the answer to turning Whaleback into a viable area this winter and for years to come. For starters, Whaleback would generate a lot of free publicity as the first …

Letter: Whaleback Is an Important Asset

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To the Editor: The focus of the Ford Sayre Ski program is to provide young people of our community with opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in the winter and to learn and develop skills that will help them enjoy a lifetime of snow sports — whether alpine, Nordic or both. For many years, the Ford Sayre Ski Council has used …