Big Squaw, the Greenville, Maine, ski area known for classic, old-school New England trails and stunning views of Moosehead Lake, is set to reopen on a limited basis within a week after being out of business since 2010. A fervent, nonprofit group of volunteers has secured a one-year lease for $1 dollar to manage lift-serviced skiing on the lower half of the mountain, and donations of money and manpower have been pouring in since a December blizzard coincided with the launch of an online fund-raising campaign that is gaining considerable momentum.
“I knew that the landowner was willing to let an organization or a municipality run it,” Amy Lane, president of the Friends of Squaw Mountain, told the Bangor Daily News. “I was thinking over the past couple of winters, ‘Can’t a group of people come together just like our snowmobile clubs?’ Once we got all that snow, I approached my team and said, ‘Are we in or are we out?’ and it was unanimous. They don’t have a lot of money, but they have time, so it’s awesome to see them all come forward and say, ‘How can I help?’ ’’
Located 260 miles north of Boston, Big Squaw opened in 1963 and was a major player in Maine skiing through the 1980s. According to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (www.nelsap.org), the 1,650 vertical-foot mountain was known for a trail system that was “narrow and winding, with lots of character.” But Big Squaw couldn’t keep pace with rapidly expanding competitors Sugarloaf and Sunday River in the 1990s, and its neglected infrastructure eventually led to an accident, and abandonment. In 2004, the summit double crashed off its cable, injuring two skiers. The closure of that lift sliced Big Squaw’s lift-serviced ski terrain in half, and while under ownership of Florida businessman James Confalone, the ski area ceased operating in 2010.
There are no immediate plans for lift access to the summit, but that news doesn’t seem to be dampening the spirits of the volunteers and skiers awaiting the reopening of this rural gem. Donations are being sought for everything from power washers to firewood to fresh paint, and 60 or so workers have recently offered time and skills to get the base lodge up and running and the trails cleared. Old ski poles have been converted into curtain rods, a local snowmobile club has lent the use of grooming machinery, and volunteer lift attendants, instructors, and patrollers will staff the mountain once it’s open. Various inspections for lift safety, fire code, and health compliance are ongoing.
The days and hours of operation are still being figured out, but the Friends of Squaw Mountain have announced that lift tickets for January will be handed out in exchange for donations. In February, the full-day adult price will be $25.
Bode Miller will skip the rest of the World Cup season to rest his surgically repaired left knee.
The two-time overall champion had microfracture surgery nearly a year ago and has been taking a cautious approach to recovery, not wanting any sort of setback with the Sochi Olympics just a year away.
And while the 35-year-old has missed some races, he hasn’t sat out a full season since his debut in 1997.
Miller called the decision ‘‘tough,’’ but ‘‘easy for me when I look at my opportunity next year. I have said many times that motivation is a key trait for me when it comes to my racing — I am super-motivated to do great things next year.’’
Deals and deadlines
Bolton Valley has $19 skiing for college students this Thursday (ID required) . . . The Patriots’ defense on Sunday will determine lift ticket prices at Waterville Valley on Tuesday, when the dollar amount of a ticket will equal the amount of points scored by the Ravens in the AFC Championship game . . . Cannon will feature 2-for-$70 pricing on Super Bowl Sunday; numerous other mountains will be rolling out promotions for that day in the coming week . . . The Jan. 25 deadline is looming for the 2013 National Toboggan Championships at Camden Snow Bowl in Maine. The spectator-friendly Feb. 8-10 competition will feature teams from two to four people competing in contests of both speed and creativity. Register online at www.camdensnowbowl.com.