The double chairlift (2014)
Whaleback Mountain
Enfield, New Hampshire
Status: Open
First Season:1955-56
Vertical Drop:700 feet
Standing Lifts:1 double, surface lifts
Past Lifts:Surface lifts
Left: The double chairlift (2014)
Recent News:
3/5/2020: Whaleback Season to End Early Due to Lif...
1/19/2020: Upper Valley Ski Areas Struggling
1/8/2020: Chairlift Chatter
10/16/2019: Lodge Construction in Progress Across Ne... Profile
Located just off Interstate 89 southeast of Lebanon, Whaleback's skiing history dates back to a small operation called Snow Crest.

Snow Crest Ski Area

1956 Snow Crest advertisements
1956 Snow Crest advertisements

Local ski coach Ernest Dion began development of what would become Whaleback in the 1950s. A Vermont native, Dion won many ski racing and jumping championships across New England in his youth. Dion was set to compete in the 1940 Olympics, however the games were cancelled due to World War II. Though he would continue to compete well into his 50s, his focus shifted to coaching and instructing. In addition to coaching at Dartmouth, Dion helped his sons and nephew to become prominent skiers in the 1950s, being featured in national magazines and television shows. Meanwhile, Dion undertook business ventures in ski equipment and ski area development.

In September 1955, Dion acquired property along the Stony Brook in Enfield from Lyle and Irene Prior. Dion announced the construction of the unnamed ski area in mid-October, adding that the planned expert slope was "better than Suicide Six, to me anyway." In describing the new area, Dion stated that, "everything is ideal there. The slopes, the nearness to town. There are two big parking lots, one right next to the blacktop road, and the other just across a small brook. There will be plenty of room for both the expert and the novice - and for the average skier, too."

Assisting Dion were Kimball Union Academy coach Ira Townsend, Lebanon High School coach Al Merrill, and Arthur Pickering. Though it was not known if the area would open for the 1955-56 season, trail clearing commenced, as well as the installation of a J-Bar.

By January of 1956, the name Snow Crest emerged. It is not known when the area opened, but it hosted the slalom portion of the New England Interscholastic Schoolboy Ski Championships in mid-February. More formal operations commenced in March as Snow Crest advertised an expert trail, a novice trail, and an open slope, plus a ski school directed by Dion. Future plans for "more and wider trails," a rope tow, and a base lodge were advertised. Boston's WBZ-TV visited the area on March 10 to capture footage of the new area.

Snow Crest skiers enjoyed base depths in excess of two feet for the remainder of March. The season extended into the first full weekend of April, albeit with limited parking due to issues with mud.

The base area during the Snow Crest days
The base area during the Snow Crest days

Snow Crest was advertised as "new" for the 1956-57 season, adding an intermediate trail and a base lodge (called the "Snow Crest Ski Hut"). The J-Bar was likely retrofitted as a T-Bar, which operated on weekends and holidays. Two rope tows were also initially advertised, but it is unlikely that they were actually installed. The season likely started in early January, but generally only had a few inches of base, likely ending at the start of calendar spring. Following the 1956-57 season, Snow Crest began hosting events at its base lodge.

The 1957-58 season did not get off to a good start, as Dion lacerated his leg while working on the mountain in late November, resulting in a multiple-day hospital stay. Improvements for the season included a new power unit for the T-Bar, a new novice trail, and a rope tow. Dick Wood possibly became involved in the business around this time.

Winter finally arrived in January, with Snow Crest likely opening during the second weekend of the month. Unlike the scant snowpack of the previous winter, January ended with two to three feet of base, growing to nearly four to five feet in mid-February. Popularity of the ski school grew, resulting in Sonny Demers and Raymond Kelley joining Dion's staff.

Skiing continued into April, with the Valley News noting "there wasn't a single bare spot anywhere to be seen" yet "the only disappointing thing about it [was] the lack of crowds." Local children enjoyed a costume contest and torchlight parade, presenting Ernest Dion and Dick Wood with a pair of skis with their names etched. The 1957-58 season continued for one more weekend, wrapping up on April 20.

The first Christmas week skiing at Snow Crest likely occurred with the 1958-59 season. Snowpack wasn't as deep as the latter part of the prior year, but events continued to be held, including the "Snow Crest 600" downhill race in early March. The first race to be held on the expert trail, the Snow Crest 600 was named after event's vertical drop.

In advance of the 1959-60 season, Dion announced that he had purchased the lights from the Alto Ski Tow in Norwich and would be installing them on the slope at Snow Crest.

The Spout rope tow was replaced with a 1,000 foot T-Bar circa 1961. Also around this time, Enfield selectmen chose 'Purmont' as the name of the fictional town to be used for a future Interstate 89 exit adjacent to Snow Crest.

The 1961-62 season spanned from Christmas week to April 1 for a total of 45 days of weekend and holiday operations. The area reportedly moved to a six-day-per-week schedule in 1962-63.

First Closure

A group led by Adirondack Timberlock Camps owner Richard Catlin purchased Snow Crest in December of 1967, with Dion holding the mortgage. While Interstate 89 opened in 1968, Snow Crest ski area closed and Dorothy Jean Miles assumed the mortgage. In December of 1968, Catlin sold the ski area to James Griffiths' Whaleback Mt., Inc.

Snow Crest Reopened, Renamed

The Poma lift during the 1980s
The Poma lift during the 1980s

Snow Crest reopened for the 1970-71 season with a new 2,520 foot long Heron Poma double chairlift. Replacing the original T-Bar lift, the new chair served new upper mountain trails. The ski area was formally renamed Whaleback for the 1971-72 season. Meanwhile, Ernest Dion drove the redevelopment of nearby Storrs Hill.

A lower mountain Poma lift was likely installed for the 1979-80 season, serving Blubber and Lower Ivory Run.

As was the case for many ski areas with little to no snowmaking, Whaleback struggled during poor winters in the early 1980s. The 1982-83 season did not get underway until the second half of January.

Citing a 40 year ski jumping career and his development work in the industry, founder Ernest Dion was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1984.

In November 1984, Thomas Kent, David Clark, and Jeffrey Reed's Hephaestus Corporation purchased all outstanding shares of Whaleback Mt., Inc. from James and Martha Griffiths, who issued the group a $700,000 mortgage. Investments were made in snowmaking for the 1984-85 season and in top to bottom night skiing for 1985-86. In addition, a brief experiment with providing a laundromat for busy skiers was started in 1985. The property was transferred to Stoney Brook Trust in December 1985.
In the fall of 1985, the Orca Corporation was formed by David Clark, Thomas Kent, Jeffrey Reed, and Leo Rabinovitz for the purpose of operating the ski area.

In September 1987, Stoney Brook Trust agreed to sell a tract of land (including some of the ski area) to Richard Bueschel and Peter Jordan (later under the name of Methodist Hill Properties) for $730,000. The company's plans included building a hotel or motel at the height of land on Methodist Hill Road. In conjunction with the buyer's plans, the ski area planned to construct a chairlift and from the base of the mountain to the lodging facility, as well as to install snowmaking and lights on Ivory Run.

Second Closure

1990s night skiing at Whaleback
1990s night skiing at Whaleback

While the owners were able to expand Whaleback's operations and skier visits, they found themselves in financial trouble. As the 1980s continued, Whaleback's debts grew. What started as a $500,000 loan from First Twin-State Bank in 1987 escalated to $860,000 by the start of 1989-90. Another note was issued in January 1990, reportedly pushing the debt over $900,000. As a result, the area closed following the 1989-90 season and was placed on the market for $1.3 million. Liens began to add up and foreclosure proceedings commenced.

The winter of 1990-91 started with an auction, as First Twin-State Bank protected its interests by acquiring the property for $575,000 in December. There would be no skiing at Whaleback.

In April of 1993, Jim Griffiths' daughter Sarah and her husband Tim Herbert purchased Whaleback from Green Mountain Bank for a reported $280,000. Instead of trying to compete for the population centers down south, the young couple made a conscious effort to keep advertising local to save money. Apart from mowing the brush on the trails, getting the equipment functional, and replacing the lodge deck, no major changes were made in advance of the 1993-94 reopening season.

The late 1990s did see some changes, however. A half pipe and terrain park were constructed for the 1995-96 season, four glades cut for 1996-97, and snow tubing added for 1997-98. The double chair was converted from diesel to electric for the 1998-99 season, while the base lodge was expanded by 15,000 square feet. The Herberts' Ski Whaleback Ltd. acquired additional land near the base area from Griffiths in 1999.

Founder Ernest Dion passed away near the end of the 1998-99 season at the age of 82.

Third Closure

An idle Whaleback during its third closure (2002)
An idle Whaleback during its third closure (2002)

Despite the changes in the late 1990s, operational costs were outpacing operational income. As a result, the Herberts closed Whaleback following the 2000-2001 season.

In September 2005, a group led by Olympian Evan Dybvig named Whaleback Mountain LLC purchased the idle ski area. Ski Whaleback Ltd. held a mortgage. With a new focus on freestyle sports, the ski area reopened for the 2005-2006 season. Year round activities were subsequently developed, including paintball, summer jibbing, and bike camps.

Back to the Auction Block

In March of 2013, owner Evan Dybvig announced that the ownership was over $1 million in debt and would be forced to liquidate the ski area. An auction occurred on August 1, 2013, at which mortgage holder Randolph National Bank placed the only bid, purchasing the area for $848,000.

Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation Takes Over

The double chairlift at night (2014)
The double chairlift at night (2014)

Meanwhile, John Schiffman created Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation as a New Hampshire Non-Profit Corporation on June 3, 2013. The organization signed a lease and purchase agreement with the bank in mid-September 2013 and took control of Whaleback in November 2013. An initial $100,000 fundraising campaign was executed in two weeks time, generating enough money to get the ski area up and running for the 2013-2014 season. Last minute base area work, such as a new kitchen, septic system, and well, was conducted to get the facility back up to code. Using some equipment purchased from Balsams Wilderness, Whaleback was able to fire up its snowmaking system and reopen in December 2013.

After a successful 2013-14 season, Whaleback struggled to get out of the gate during mild weather at the start of the 2014-15 season. Though it was unable to open until mid January, Whaleback was able to attain its latest closing day in recent memory, wrapping up operations the last weekend of March.

Following a bad 2015-16 season in which Whaleback was only open for 50 days, the UVSSF completed a fundraiser to reconfigure the mountain's novice area. One year later, a refurbished T-Bar was installed between the two beginner lifts, roughly following the lift line of the former Pomalift. Reports
Month Average Percent of Terrain Open
December29%    (5 reports)29 Open
January44%    (7 reports)44 Open
February53%    (5 reports)53 Open
March93%    (6 reports)93 Open
Recent Conditions Reports
Jan. 26, 2020 by nhalex
Spring Snow, Variable Conditions
Mar. 12, 2019 by rocket21
Packed Powder, Packed Powder
Jan. 22, 2019 by rocket21
Packed Powder, Packed Powder
Jan. 22, 2019 by nordicgal
Packed Powder, Packed Powder
Jan. 4, 2019 by rocket21
Loose Granular, Variable Conditions
Whaleback Mountain on

Expansion History
Methodist Hill
Upper Mountain
1970-71 News
Recent Articles
Whaleback Season to End Early Due to Lift Issue - Mar. 5, 2020
Upper Valley Ski Areas Struggling - Jan. 19, 2020
Chairlift Chatter - Jan. 8, 2020
Lodge Construction in Progress Across New England - Oct. 16, 2019
Multi-Year Lift Installations: The New Norm? - Aug. 4, 2018
Management Changes Announced at Whaleback - Jan. 23, 2018
Lift Construction Season Enters Final Phase - Oct. 29, 2017
Whaleback Postpones T-Bar Installation - Dec. 7, 2016
Lift Installation Projects Continue as December Approaches - Nov. 27, 2016
Lift Installation Projects Continue as Ski Season Approaches - Nov. 13, 2016
Whaleback Mountain News Page

Image Gallery
1957-58 Eastern Ski MapNovember 26, 1972 Boston Globe
View All Images in Whaleback Mountain Image Gallery

Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
The base terminal (February 2012)
Double Chair
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
The base terminal (January 2018)
West Side T-Bar

Past Lifts

The Pomalift circa the 1980s



2021-22 Whaleback Trail Map
1957-58 Snow Crest Trail Map1962-63 Snow Crest Trail Map1964-65 Snow Crest Trail Map1979-80 Whaleback Trail Map1985-86 Whaleback Trail Map1996-97 Whaleback Trail Map
View All Whaleback Mountain Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2020s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2021-22$50.002021-22 Ticket Price Graph$250.002021-22 Season Pass Price Graph5.0 daysDecember 26March 182021-22 Skier Visit Graph
2020-21$45.002020-21 Ticket Price Graph2020-21 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 23March 212020-21 Skier Visit Graph
2019-20$45.002019-20 Ticket Price Graph2019-20 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 20March 82019-20 Skier Visit Graph
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2018-19$45.002018-19 Ticket Price Graph$350.002018-19 Season Pass Price Graph7.8 daysDecember 14March 242018-19 Skier Visit Graph
2017-18$45.002017-18 Ticket Price Graph$399.002017-18 Season Pass Price Graph8.9 daysDecember 16April 12017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$45.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$420.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph9.3 daysDecember 17March 1813,0002016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$43.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$399.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph9.3 daysDecember 31February 282015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$45.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$399.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph8.9 daysJanuary 13March 292014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$40.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$399.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 daysDecember 30March 162013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$40.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$399.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 daysDecember 28March 172012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$40.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$370.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph9.3 daysDecember 26March 1810,0002011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-112010-11 Ticket Price Graph$370.002010-11 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 18March 2012,0002010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-092008-09 Ticket Price Graph$350.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph2008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$39.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph$350.002007-08 Season Pass Price Graph9.0 days2007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$39.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$399.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph10.2 days2006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$35.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$300.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph8.6 days15,0002005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$29.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph$379.002000-01 Season Pass Price Graph13.1 daysDecember 152000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$29.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph$379.001999-00 Season Pass Price Graph13.1 days1999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1998-99$27.001998-99 Ticket Price Graph$339.001998-99 Season Pass Price Graph12.6 daysDecember 211998-99 Skier Visit Graph
1997-98$25.001997-98 Ticket Price Graph$339.001997-98 Season Pass Price Graph13.6 daysDecember 121997-98 Skier Visit Graph
1996-97$22.001996-97 Ticket Price Graph$319.001996-97 Season Pass Price Graph14.5 days1996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1994-95$20.001994-95 Ticket Price Graph1994-95 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 17March 121994-95 Skier Visit Graph
1989-90$22.001989-90 Ticket Price Graph1989-90 Season Pass Price Graph1989-90 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1988-89$20.001988-89 Ticket Price Graph1988-89 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 111988-89 Skier Visit Graph
1987-88$18.001987-88 Ticket Price Graph1987-88 Season Pass Price Graph32,0001987-88 Skier Visit Graph
1986-87$16.001986-87 Ticket Price Graph1986-87 Season Pass Price Graph35,0001986-87 Skier Visit Graph
1985-86$15.001985-86 Ticket Price Graph1985-86 Season Pass Price Graph1985-86 Skier Visit Graph
1984-85$13.001984-85 Ticket Price Graph$200.001984-85 Season Pass Price Graph15.4 daysDecember 221984-85 Skier Visit Graph
1983-84$10.001983-84 Ticket Price Graph$150.001983-84 Season Pass Price Graph15.0 days10,0001983-84 Skier Visit Graph
1982-83$9.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph$160.001982-83 Season Pass Price Graph17.8 daysJanuary 181982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1979-80$8.001979-80 Ticket Price Graph1979-80 Season Pass Price Graph1979-80 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1976-771976-77 Ticket Price Graph$115.001976-77 Season Pass Price Graph1976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1971-72$6.501971-72 Ticket Price Graph1971-72 Season Pass Price Graph1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1967-68$3.501967-68 Ticket Price Graph$45.001967-68 Season Pass Price Graph12.9 daysDecember 301967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1965-66$3.751965-66 Ticket Price Graph$40.001965-66 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 days1965-66 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$3.501964-65 Ticket Price Graph$40.001964-65 Season Pass Price Graph11.4 days1964-65 Skier Visit Graph
1963-64$3.501963-64 Ticket Price Graph1963-64 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 281963-64 Skier Visit Graph
1962-63$3.501962-63 Ticket Price Graph$45.001962-63 Season Pass Price Graph12.9 days1962-63 Skier Visit Graph
1961-621961-62 Ticket Price Graph1961-62 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 24April 11961-62 Skier Visit Graph
1960-611960-61 Ticket Price Graph1960-61 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 231960-61 Skier Visit Graph
1959-601959-60 Ticket Price Graph1959-60 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 311959-60 Skier Visit Graph
1950s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1958-591958-59 Ticket Price Graph1958-59 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 201958-59 Skier Visit Graph
1957-58$2.751957-58 Ticket Price Graph$30.001957-58 Season Pass Price Graph10.9 daysJanuary 11April 201957-58 Skier Visit Graph
1955-561955-56 Ticket Price Graph1955-56 Season Pass Price GraphApril 81955-56 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"I grew up at SnowCrest in the late 50"3 and 60"s. I am presently the Snowsports Director at Cannon Fountain in Franconia NH. I have very fond memories of the ski area."
Irv Fountain, Aug. 15, 2019
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External Links
  • Whaleback - official site
  • Last updated: August 23, 2022

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