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Owl's Head - New Ownership and Future Plans


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News out of the Eastern Townships, Owl's Head is to be changing hands. There is an intent to purchase the mountain from the Korman Family who have been at the helm since the mountain's founding 50 years ago, by Sommet Memphrémagog lead by Gilles Bélanger. The story details on the future of the mountain and the investments to be made by the group to improve the infrastructure and renovations to the chalet. The link is from a local French newspaper La Tribune with all the details. I will keep a look out for an English link should there be one available.oh1.png.57f1343f30fcd2500bc654b8742ab8a2.png

http://www.lapresse.ca/la-tribune/actualites/201708/08/01-5123027-owls-head-change-de-main.php?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

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Wow, that's big news. I know there was speculation for some time now of Owl's Head being sold. Hope they keep the same character and feel as before. Improvements to the chalet, and infrastructure would definitely be welcome. The mountain is stunning with an unforgettable view of the lake below. Definitely plenty of potential to improve on this and fully capitalize on the surrounding nature.

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  • 7 months later...

Hey Shane, your ears must have been ringing. I received a link via messenger late last night to an update on the story from a friend of mine. Will post the link after work today. From a quick glance, it is almost completed. 

The story in in the French regional newspaper la Tribune.

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Thanks Paul. I just found it online. Going to read it now myself.

https://www.latribune.ca/actualites/estrie-et-regions/la-vente-dowls-head-bientot-completee-4b0cdc777f58f73c294a094c2599723e

The article indicates the sale will be completed on March 28th. The new owner is not revealing details yet as the sale is still in progress but has mentioned that new lifts, new snowmaking and new lodging and housing are planned in the future.

Perhaps investment by the Quebec government is still a possibility, but was delayed due to the sale transaction still in progress.

No doubt, the end of March is hotly anticipated and awaited, so we learn of more details.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest OH skier

It is official.  Owl's Head ownership changed on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.  The new administration will take the reins on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.  The mountain will close for the season on Sunday, April 8.  There will be a meeting with the employees on April 9 to roll out the plan for the mountain, golf course and marina.  Stay tuned........

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More details on La Tribune (in French only)

https://www.latribune.ca/actualites/estrie-et-regions/gilles-belanger-aux-commandes-a-owls-head-705f5820011cc355450180b72bf59ee9

As mentioned by Guest OH Skier above, there will be a staff meeting on April 9th with more details and plans. They are calling for $200 in investments, notably for lifts, slopeside condos and houses, among other things. We will have to see what gets announced over the coming weeks and months for the following ski season.

It wouldn't surprise me if a new lift was already in the works. From past experience, Doppelmayr is pretty good at keeping secrets on new lifts on order so we will have to see what Owl's Head announces...

With the green chair being what it is and the summit quad being critical to the mountain, perhaps a new lift here in the near future to assure reliable summit access, after the issues this winter. 

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My first area of concentration would be replacing the Main Quad (1986-87) with a new detachable Quad, especially with the shape the Green Chair is in. At this point there is no backup to access the summit right now. Nothing has been said about the inspection results after the slide back of the chair on the cable earlier in the year. Chalet needs work as well. so this would probably be step one in the process. 

If the Green gets replaced at some point, you can't have another quad. Say if it was busy and both were running, you would not have the space for all the traffic at the top with 2 quads spinning at the same time. You are limited at the top. I remember days when both the Green and Quad were going, it was extremely crowded and I had to not only watch my lift, I had to direct traffic as well for my people getting off. A new triple at most to replace the Green double.

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New article about the coming projects at Owl's Head (in French only).

https://www.latribune.ca/actualites/estrie-et-regions/trois-projets-dhotels-a-owls-head-35bc25bb928118f5a48bef3352e44483

To summarize briefly:

-3 new hotels to supplement the existing 40 some rooms available on site.

  1. High range hotel of 150 rooms located by the Lac Memphrémagog. A spa will be attached to it.
  2. Family oriented hotel near the ski trails.
  3. A lodging near the golf course.

The rooms located in the actual ski chalet will be renovated over the coming months, and they plan to add an additional 40-50 rooms.

-A new ski lift will be installed on the West side of the mountain.

Overall $200 million invested by Destination Owl's Head over the coming years with $40 million for 2018.

Very exciting.

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The work has already started at Owl’s Head! A little piece of history came down this week. The Baby Double Chair has been dismantled. Installed at Owls Head back in the beginning days of the mountain, around 1965-66, the Baby Chair began its life before that at the long defunct Mont Sourir at the Lantern Inn on the other side of Lake Memphrémagog just outside of Magog, QC. When it was at the Lantern this lift had the designation of being the shortest chairlift in Canada at just over 1000ft in length.

Here is a photo of the Baby Chair this past winter. Unfortunately the link to a video I had seen will not work.

69488053-0D2F-4539-9896-FA9AD1A6073F.thumb.jpeg.1f1bd205e440b82119f2acf04d7d97a8.jpeg

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Nothing as of yet on the Green Chair but one might assume it would be next. Now from what I had heard from my last visit, whether this is true or not, the Main Quad is to be realigned and brought a bit closer to the chalet so you won't have to climb the ridge any more. So by bringing the Baby chair down, this will give room to make that move on the Main Quad. The Quad is to then end where the Centennial and Peak trails begin. I am going to follow this as much as I can over the summer and see what projects are done.

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Interesting realignment if they actually do that. I would see that as being an improvement to move it closer to the chalet. I always found it was a bit on the far side from the chalet than what is normally done. The top I guess would move to the right and a bit more up from where it is if I am understanding you correctly?

Overall, alot of work to move all the towers and terminals to accomplish this. Would make more sense to level the ground down more to create the room needed lower down and just move the bottom terminal and drive. I was also thinking that if they move the top to the right from its current position that it would create room for another arriving chairlift (the one they mention in a recent article for the west side of the mountain), perhaps could end near the old green's top station.

Hopefully we won't have to wait too long to find out more details.

How did you hear about the baby Red being removed?

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The top would be over to the right and up just a touch. Levelling the ridge would most likely be apart of the work involved. I would imagine with the Baby gone, the cedars that run up that side would be cut back a bit up the hill. Yes it would be a huge job to realign the Quad. Land to be surveyed, some of the new lift line to be cut, new tower bases, and to level the old ones. When I was too lazy to climb the ridge, I hopped the Baby double and ski down to the Quad! 

As for the Green, my theory is that it comes out and is replaced by another quad, possibly fixed grip. With the top of the Main Quad being relocated, then there would be enough space for traffic at the top from both lifts. There you would need a back up lift for the summit should there are problems with the Main Quad. The new lift may only go as high as the big corner on Lilly's Leap or in that general area, like what was on the mountain model all those years ago.

A buddy of mine who works at OH posted a video of them pulling the tower down on FB. 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey Shane, I haven't heard of anything since the sale of the Green Chairs from a couple of weeks ago. Nothing publicly anyway. If the chairs are off the Green line, one would suspect the tear down of the lift is not far behind. Nothing firm yet. 

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Owl’s Head Update: There have now been 2 chairlifts that have been removed. Not only has the original Baby Chair been taken down, the Green Chair has now been taken down. No formal announcement from OH on the subject though. Everyone had known about the sale of the Green chairs off the line, but as for the dismantling of the rest of the chair was not mentioned but was assumed at that point. No photos yet as it was a message from a friend of mine this morning. 

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    • By Paul
      With the forecast for the next couple of days not being the best it could be, I decided to take advantage of a sunny day to head down to Owl's Head. I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, and I left Sherbrooke at 7:15 for the hour drive. I arrived at the mountain at a touch after 8, and got ready to roll. Got my RFID card reloaded then it was go time! The lifts opened at 8:30 with the Main Quad, Baby Quad and the Magic Carpet. I had heard news that the new Lake Quad was to open later in the morning. One of the main reasons for heading down there today. There were 16 announced trails open. The temperature was around -8 and no breeze, so it made for a comfortable morning. The first rides up the Main Quad were to ski Lilly's Leap, Centennial, and the Crossover to the Lower Standard. Shady Lady was also open, however the Blue Chair was not spinning. The conditions were of a fine machine groomed granular over a hard base. Coverage was pretty good all over. There was a little inversion happening today as the peak of the mountain was gleaming in the sunlight while the base of the mountain was a little fogged in. 
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      Centennial, and Lower Standard:


      After the first couple of warm up runs it was onto the upper sections of Korman's Dive onto the Kamikaze. At this time I was about to take some pics of this section, my phone froze from the chill and died........was not impressed. So I headed down the mountain to the chalet and head to the car to warm up the phone and get a charge into it. When I arrived at the bottom, I had the very pleasant surprise of running into an old buddy of mine Jeff, who had worked at Owl's Head at the same time I was there. He and his family were there as well. His dad was my Grade 6 teacher! We all frequented Glen Mountain back in the day when it was opened. After a chat, and a bit of catching up I headed off to the car to get the phone back up and alive. Then it was back up the hill to get the shots of Korman's Dive and Kamikaze. 
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      By 11:00 I noticed that the rope had been dropped on the Traverse leading over to the Lake. The New Lake Quad was open! The latest in the long list of projects that Owl's Head has on the plate for the next little while. A lot of people were waiting for this day! The Upward trail was of groomed made made snow over a firm base. Pretty good coverage with a few touch ups to be done. Other than that it was fine. The loading area of the New Lake Quad is situated on the end of the flat where the Couloir trail exits on to the Upward Trail. The last pitch down into the bowl where the old Lake Quad started is now lost, and no longer accessible. The new lift has a loading carpet. It was time for the first rides up the new lift. The ride up is nice and smooth, and more comfortable now than it once was. I managed to catch up with Jeff's mum and dad, his sister and husband for a couple of runs.
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      By noon it was time for a break, and then it was back out for the last runs up the Baby Quad, over to the Main Quad for the last run down Lilly's Leap, and over the the Lake for one last ride. The day ended at 2:00 as the legs were telling me they had had enough. Today was a great day of skiing seeing some people I had worked with back in the day. The conditions were pretty decent considering the weather we have had in the past couple of weeks. Coverage was good, and nothing poking through the snow to run over. Highlights of the day were running into Jeff and his family, and riding up the new Lake Quad. Well worth the early departure from Sherbrooke. It's still early in the season, and it should only get better. Thank you again Owl's Head for another great day of skiing!
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