---- — ENFIELD, N.H. (AP) — After emerging from a mountain of debt, New Hampshire’s Whaleback ski area is opening in a limited capacity on Monday.
The ski area in Enfield was more than $1 million in debt when it shut down in March. Since then, the nonprofit Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation has purchased it, and had hoped to open for the season on Saturday. That got pushed back until Monday, and even with the delay, there’s a lot of work remaining to get the mountain fully operational.
Foundation board member Peter Krass told the Valley News that Jan. 20 is the target date for having all of Whaleback’s runs covered with snow and open, and the lodge kitchen cranking out its menu at full strength. General manager Dick Harris said Whaleback will start with one run and the learning area covered in snow and will offer half-price, $20 tickets until it reaches full capacity.
“We knew our backs were against the wall because of how late we got started and then all sorts of issues popped up that we weren’t aware of before,” he said. “I’m amazed, quite frankly, that we’ve gotten as much done as we have to this point.”
Four new snow guns have been purchased, along with 25 sets of new rental skis and boots. Safety fencing is being installed, a new deck is being assembled, a new snow grooming machine is prowling the grounds and the entire kitchen is being remodeled.
A succession of owners has run the ski area since 1955. Randolph National Bank foreclosed on the property earlier this year, and after failing to attract bidders at an auction in August, reached a year-long lease agreement with the foundation in October. The group planned to buy Whaleback by May, but earlier this month, the bank offered to reduce the purchase price to $320,000 if the group could close the deal by month’s end.
The foundation, which had just ended a $100,000 fundraising campaign, raised another $50,000 in less than two weeks.
“Now we’re busting our humps to get this place ready and we’re determined to give people a really good experience,” said Krass.