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Saddleback, ME - To reopen after being purchased


Paul
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There is news out of Rangeley, ME concerning the future of Saddleback, Maine's third largest ski area that has been sitting idle for the past couple of seasons. 

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/27/saddleback-reaches-historic-deal-for-resorts-future/

Saddleback has been closed for the past 2 seasons with financial issues and a much needed upgrade to their lift system, that they could not proceed without the necessary funding. The current owners announced back in 2015 that they needed to come up with $3 million for a new chairlift or close the mountain. The mountain has been sitting idle since then. There had been a deal in place at one time but it had fallen through.

There is a scheduled formal announcement in regards to the deal tomorrow on the future of Saddleback. More later...............

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The announcement has been released that an Australian developer has bought Saddleback, ME. No dates have been announced on opening, but this developer has plans to turn Saddleback into a 4 Season Resort that the mountain deserves to be. 

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/28/australian-developer-buys-saddleback-ski-resort/ 

Great news for the Rangeley area for a change. Saddleback had been closed for the past 2 seasons because of the lack of funding for a new chairlift to replace the Rangeley Double chair that accesses the summit. 

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Great news. I've always heard nothing but good things about this mountain. Happy to see it has been given a second life to continue on and move forward.

The news calls for a fixed grip quad chairlift to replace the old Rangley double. As well as replacement of a t-bar with a newer model, able to go faster and more wind resistant.

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Excellent. Saddleback is back. Hoping they can pull off their re-opening this season, but I guess that depends on getting the new lifts installed in time. 

Still find it odd that the old double chair was reason enough to say they couldn't open. Luckily this will be a thing of the past.

Can't wait to get back out there!

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I wonder if this will put any pressure on the Balsams Wilderness project? Balsams has been on the books for the past 2-3 years now, slated to reopen. I haven't heard about any progress or start of the construction phase yet.

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Here's the last I had heard of anything on the Balsams project: probably a whole separate topic but with Saddleback getting a new life, I see Saddleback opening before Balsams. Balsams under the original plan should have opened by now. Great project mind you but has been delayed a couple of times.

http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=568

Originally the reopening was for last season as per the first plans but I guess funding and other formalities delayed the start of any construction. I had driven by and actually accessed the area last winter (with permission) on my way to Mount Abram, ME and nothing had been done. The old Partek triples and the Riblet double are still standing with the chairs lying on the ground. Being that Partek is a "leftover" from Borvig lifts, these triples may not run again. Borvig/Partek lifts have been under scrutiny more than other lifts lately (example Spruce Peak Triple at Sunday River, and the old double at Suicide Six) and unless they pass inspection, which in New Hampshire I believe if a lift has not been active for more than 5 or 6 years without certification, they must be scrapped and replaced. These lifts haven't run since 2011. 

Balsams Wilderness: Winter 2017

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IMG_0808.JPG.4890911cb321c70043e6f4a5a61e7b90.JPG

 

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  • 2 months later...
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Great news to hear!

I'll confess, I never understood why the mountain was initially closed. The Rangley chairlift was in dire need of repairs to continue to operate. While this is a critical lift at the mountain, looking at the trail map, there is a lower mountain section served by a quad, and two other lifts that would provide elevation to reach the west side of the mountain and the lift there. All said, loosing the Rangley lift definitely affects getting up and around the mountain but doesn't prevent it, if we go by the trail map.

To me, yes it would make things more difficult but shouldn't have prevented the mountain from being open.

Anyone here familiar enough with Saddleback that can say if you can get around everywhere on the mountain without the Rangley lift, and relying only on the other lifts?

saddleback.jpg

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From what I had read was that the closing of Saddleback was due to not securing the necessary funds to replace the Rangeley Double, and that it was not viable to operate the mountain without a replacement quad lift. What I don't understand is that there is a quad chair lower down that serves the beginner terrain that was installed I think in the early to mid 2000's. Why did they install the quad there and not replace the aging Rangeley Mueller double with the new lift and relocate the double in a shortened capacity? They knew the double needed to go back then. I had read that the double is a slow and frigid ride to the top and sometimes windy, and that was a part of Saddleback's issues. It looks from the map that yes it can be possible to access the mountain without the double but it would be pretty tricky to navigate around without missing a crossover trail for ones who have not skied there before, but you'd get used to it pretty quickly. The t-bar needs to be in full operation for this to work. It looks like the only access available to higher terrain to be able to traverse over to the Kennebago Station. The  t-bar needs work as well for it to be back in operation. 

While it looks interesting to go if they manage to reopen, I am not sure if I would make the trip there until the Rangeley double gets replaced, but also it wouldn't be hard to twist my rubber arm if someone wanted me to go with them for a road trip either. The mountain that I have been waiting  to reopen for awhile now is Tenney Mountain in Plymouth, NH. This one has been a longtime coming. That is on the radar for this winter if all goes well for them.

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