[FOR SALE] Forgotten New Hampshire Ski Area Hitting the Market for Just $3.2 Million
An iconic but long-abandoned New Hampshire ski area has been put on the market, presenting an intriguing opportunity for a buyer looking to resurrect a historic mountain. The 797-acre property that was once home to the Mt. Whittier ski area has been listed for sale at $3.2 million by owners who have struggled to restart lift operations there.
Mt. Whittier, located in West Ossipee, N.H., operated as a ski area from the 1940s until 1985. The mountain became known for its steep terrain and a unique gondola that crossed over Route 16, according to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project.
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The ski area ultimately shut down due to a lack of snowmaking capabilities, construction of major interstates that diverted skiers elsewhere, and several warm winters, according to Jeremy Davis of the Lost Ski Areas Project. Attempts were made to revive Mt. Whittier in the early 2000s, including adding summer activities like mountain biking and waterslides, but they were unsuccessful.
Bringing A Mountain Back From The Dead
The current owners, who purchased the long-dormant property in 2017, attempted to attract investors to reopen it but were unable to find financing for the estimated tens of millions of dollars in necessary upgrades, according to Gina Marie, whose family is selling the land.
"We pay over $40k in insurance annually due to trespassers potentially hurting themselves," Marie told ski news site SnowBrains. "We tried raising capital to get skiing there again but would need several tens of millions, maybe more, because the tram is trash and would need to be completely torn out and rebuilt."
While the gondola towers crossing Route 16 still stand today near a McDonald's, the lift equipment on the mountain itself would need a complete overhaul to operate again, Marie said.
New Vision For An Old Ski Area?
The rise in popularity of backcountry skiing has led some industry experts to speculate that Mt. Whittier could be reborn as a backcountry-focused ski area. Lower-capacity lifts combined with a limited base lodge could allow for a more affordable redevelopment.
"Backcountry-specific resorts are popping up more frequently and might be the best chance of bringing this iconic mountain back from the dead," wrote ski reporter Kenneth Condon.
However, the Prospect Mountain ski area just one hour away in New Hampshire was only able to reopen on a small scale after a 15-year hiatus, showing the difficulties of restarting a shuttered ski operation. Prospect reopened this past winter with limited beginner terrain and a renewed focus on real estate sales.
Any buyer will have to weigh the redevelopment costs and challenges against the nostalgic draw and attractive steep terrain still found on the mountain. The family selling Mt. Whittier says they remain open to all options to see the historic ski area revitalized.
"We're hoping that whoever buys it can afford to maintain its natural environment or invest in a skiing operation there again someday," Marie said.