|Ossipee, New Hampshire|
|Vertical Drop:||1300 feet|
|Past Lifts:||Gondola, surface lifts|
|Left: Looking down the gondola line (2015)|
|Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
|12/15/2017: New Owner Seeks Proposals for Defunct Mt...|
Last updated: December 19, 2017
Once a major ski area, Mt. Whittier is perhaps best known today for its old gondola cables crossing Route 16 in West Ossipee, as well as the old lift tower standing near the West Ossipee McDonalds drive thru.|
The origins of the name of Mt. Whittier date back to the 1800s, when poets John Greenleaf Whittier and Lucy Larcom frequented the The Bearcamp River House in West Ossipee. While the inn burned in 1880, their influence on the area was preserved by the naming of local peaks. A peak near the inn was named after Whittier, complete with a mountain top ceremony. However, due to some confusion, the USGS called this 1,700 foot peak "Nickerson Mountain" and labeled a 2,205 foot mountain to the west "Mt. Whittier."
Mt. Whittier ski area from high above (2008)
As the twentieth century unfolded, the greater Tamworth area became an increasingly popular winter sports destination. At some point in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a ski trail on the 2,205 foot Mt. Whittier. Around this time, Nickerson Mountain was considered as a possible location for the state aerial tramway project. The tram ended up opening at Cannon Mountain in 1938.
Lift Served Skiing in West Ossipee
Following World War II, multiple rope tows were installed on Nickerson Mountain. Adding to the confusion, the operations were known as various names, such as Mt. Whittier Slope, Taylor Slope, and Mittlebirge Slope. Henry Taylor's area, which likely operated in 1946-47 and 1947-48, was likely located just west of the Mittlebirge Slope. Both areas may have been referred to as Mt. Whittier at various times.
In 1952, the two year old Platter Lift at nearby Red Hill was to be relocated to the Mittlebirge Slopes. The project may have been delayed, as Mittlebirge remained a rope tow area that winter and subsequently went through an ownership change. It is possible that the area may have closed briefly prior to the 1954-55 season. A 2,000 foot platter lift was in place for the 1955-56 season, serving a rather steep slope.
First Expansion Attempt
A three year expansion project was announced starting in 1957, at which point the area likely became known as Mt. Whittier. An upper mountain rope tow was added for that season, as well as a new lodge.
The first gondola proposal
The second year of the project brought a T-Bar to the area, using parts from the recently dismantled Thorn Mountain chairlift. The Platter Lift may have been relocated to the Hobbs novice slope at this time and possibly converted to a T-Bar later.
The third year of the project called for a Disneyland-like bubble lift for the 1959-60 season. For unknown reasons, the project would not come to fruition for a few seasons.
Momentum picked up again in 1962 when new management took over and launched a $400,000 expansion program, backed through the State of New Hampshire Recreation Plan. Amongst the upgrades that year included the installation of the Bearcamp T-Bar, serving slightly more tame terrain. Two new trails were also added, as well as a base lodge expansion. Night skiing was featured for the first time. Harry Baxter, who would later manage Sugarloaf, took over the ski school.
The Age of the Gondola
The largest portion of the expansion program came the following year, when the first four person gondola in New Hampshire was installed at Mt. Whittier. Not only did the 6,300 foot long lift open the upper mountain, but it also gave Whittier an off season attraction. While ski operations based around a mountain station south of the main lodge, the base station was located east of the ski area, on the other side of Route 16. As a result, sightseers could park off Route 16, then board the gondola and ride over the highway and river to the summit.
The gondola (1960s)
While the lift put Whittier on the map, the ski area had some challenges to attempt to overcome. While the extremely steep terrain was attractive for experts, it tended to scare away novices and intermediates. In addition, without any snowmaking equipment, snow coverage on the steep trails was often an issue. Finally, two interstate highways were being built on the other side of the state, which would soon result in a dramatic shift in skier traffic.
A T-Bar was constructed adjacent to the gondola for the 1965-66 season, possibly using parts from the Hobbs Slope T-Bar. Revenue increased by 42%, making it Whittier's strong season to date. Unfortunately for Whittier, struggles were just around the corner.
The base area circa the 1960s
Lacking snowmaking, poor winters pushed the ski area into rough financial shape in the early 1970s. The area failed to open for 1973-74 and ended up in the possession of the Federal Economic Development Administration.
Ski instructors Bob King, Don McDavitt, and Alan Skelley purchased the ski area and put Ed Mallett in charge, reopening for the 1974-75 season. While the area was able to operate for the balance of the decade, it still lacked snowmaking when Mario Chiaravelotti purchased it. At some point during the 1970s, Whittier Hang Gliding School was advertised.
Rather than install snowmaking during the snow drought at the turn of the decade, Chiaravelotti installed summer attractions such as summer roller skiing and water slides. The summer business did not work, nor did subsequent bad winters. As a result, the area closed in 1985.
The gondola top terminal (2008)
After sitting idle for nearly two decades, part of the area reopened in the early 2000s as Mt. Madness. While there were attempts at four season activities, no major ski operation took place.
The famous McDonalds lift tower (2014)
Subsequently, snowmobile races were held around the base area, while the former gondola line was still periodically cleared for a utility line right of way.
On November 1, 2017, Mario Chiaravelotti sold the ski property to a firm owned by John Kenney, who subsequently began requesting proposals for resurrecting operations of some sort at Mt. Whittier.
Click on lift name for information and photos
Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
||Season Pass Price
||Season Pass Price
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|1961-62||December 22||April 1|
||Season Pass Price
|"I loved this mountain. So many great memories. We were a family of 6 kids. My baby sister would be in the lodge in a crib while each family member would come in and watch her for an hour so we all still got a full ski day in. My older brother and I would cram our pre-made lunch in our pockets, eat on the Gondola ride up as to not have to ever stop for lunch. One year someone collided with my father, broke leg in 3 places. one year my mother broke her leg on the slope. 2 Years later she fell in front of ski school/ski patrol hut and broke her other leg... that was it, parents out.
We would crouch down on the big T bar and up weight at the steep part, the T bar would pick us up about 3 feet in the air. It would scare the bajesus out of me. We did that till once, while about 4 feet off the ground the T bar abruptly turned 180 degrees and we made quite a mess for the skiers behind us.
Once I fell at the top of the larger T bar slopes and both skies came off. in an attempt to get them back on i had to undo the safety strap. Unfortunately the skies got away from me, one went into the woods, the other straight down the slope finally making it through the lift line at about 150 mph. It was a long hike down with many tears, anticipating the explanation I was going to have to give my father. He had recently bought me the package at Marshals.
We used to steel the lunch trays at the end of the day and walk up the slopes for post ski sledding. People were being taken out like bowling pins constantly. Ahhhh, those were the days before "Liability" became an american past time.
God Bless you Mount Whittier, you are the happiest of my childhood memories bar none."|
|Glenn Comeau, Jan. 1, 2019|
|"Taught skiing there for 5 years starting in 1964 for Harry Baxter Ski School and then Willy Kalinuk's ski school. I still have a handmade sign that says " Remove ski poles from wrists". Stayed at the Harmony Lodge bunk bed (Now Northway Bank) for $7 a week incl dinner with the family. "|
|Dave Dunham, Apr. 15, 2017|
|"Skied here while at UNH in the late 60s and early 70s. My roommate was from Tamworth. Season pass was $25 for county resident students and $40 for other students. I recall great skiing on the top half of mountain but lower tended to get more rain with icy, hardpack conditions at times. Great times though. "|
|Bob Jarrett, Mar. 9, 2017|
|"I remember Mt Whither when I was growing up.My Grandparents took me there. What a great time. I loved the monrail alpine slide. The water slides, and go carts. What a great time and a great memory. Thank you so much for the great memory "|
|Marty Thibodeau, Jun. 25, 2016|
|"I learned to ski at Mt. Whittier as a boy in the Kenneth A Brett Elementary School Thursday Ski Program. The Outing Club picked up your skis at the school and took them to the slope. Great childhood memories! I remember riding the T-Bar up to the run called 'The Saddle' that connected the two main slopes. It seemed like the top of the world up there. I recently found in an old drawer an orange and white Whittier Ski Program patch. I wish that place had more success than it did...."|
|Tim Anthony, Jun. 4, 2016|
|"Learned to ski at Mt Whittier in about 1958. I went to the top and I remember being scared out of my mind. I remember a series of 2 rope tows. I was warned to stay near the lower slope and practice my snow plow, but I was always all guts and no brains as a kid. My whole family skied there until it closed. Mike Jacobsen, Willis Varney, Tim Varney, Michele Jacobsen. Miss it."|
|Jeanne Varney Grover, May. 5, 2016|
|"Being from a small western MA town, we rarely got up there, but I can remember when I was REALLY young (lol) taking the lift .... now I have a cabin, about seven miles from that ol' ski area, and every time I drive past it, the good memories come flooding back ~~~ .every time."|
|Norma Miarecki, Dec. 15, 2015|
|"skied here every winter in the early sixties. the pitch from the top of the big T-bar was the best mogul run around!!Took that slope straight from the top to the bottom once as well!"|
|Tim Goodson, Dec. 15, 2015|
|"Being a young boy at Camp Marist for all my childhood, Mt Whittier was a much anticipated day trip for us. As an adult I swooshed those slopes many a winter while staying at the Flanders Inn across the street (and a great family owned an operated it).Ah, memories!:)"|
|Bob Miressi, Aug. 12, 2013|
Mt. Whittier Ski Area - New England Lost Ski Areas Project
Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains - Amazon.com
Mt. Whittier Ski Area - Wikipedia