The recently appointed Executive Director of Whaleback, Jon Hunt, chatted with Stuart Winchester of the Storm Skiing Podcast this week about his plans for improving the non-profit Whaleback Mountain. Before taking this position at Whaleback, he was the Major Gifts Officer at Colby Sawyer College in New Hampshire. Before that, he was the Advancement Officer at Kimball Union Academy and was also a collegiate and private school Lacrosse coach. The podcast discusses his background, what makes Whaleback special, and the future plans for the mountain.
Although their new master plan hasn’t been developed yet, some of the major plans that are being discussed include:
- The addition of a surface lift, potentially a T-Bar, in between the Lower Spout and Scrimshaw Trails. This lift would help lead to earlier openings and easier access to racers. Lower Spout is their race trail, while Scrimshaw is home to their terrain park.
- Continued renovations for the summit double chairlift so that it can make it another ten years. They are currently putting in a new electrical and diesel system to help push its long-term sustainability.
- Replacements of the current lights for night skiing, and an eventual expansion of the trails available for night skiing hours.
- Eventual glade thinning and expansion. Expanding the trail network past its current boundaries is not likely, as this land is controlled by private landowners.
- Continued snowmaking upgrades and improvements. They currently have four fan guns on order that can blow snow at higher temperatures than their current machinery.
Whaleback has had a tumultuous history, as it has gone through many owners, multiple foreclosures and bankruptcies, and many challenging snow years. After a foreclosure took the property away from Olympian Evan Dyvbig and his financial backers in 2013, a group of Whaleback skiers and riders formed the non-profit Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation (UVSSF). Millions in donations have kept the mountain afloat since, with a new t-bar being added, the lodge being renovated, new night lights being put in, and snowmaking improvements. Challenges still remain though, as the mountain to struggles to open even in December, and its sole chairlift frequently has mechanical issues that shut it down for long periods of time. The strength of this hill though is its varied and steep terrain, along with being literally a minute off I-89. Hopefully, Whalebacks comeback story will continue to roll on.
Image Credits: Whaleback