Whaleback 2-17-20 could have been better

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  1. #1

    Whaleback 2-17-20 could have been better

    A very rare solo / adult ski day today for me. Except for two other days this season, I've been spending every day with my four year old on green terrain. No complaints there, but daddy does need an occasional fix of skiing his speed. In NH, Presidents day is not a holiday in most school districts including ours. School vacation is next week. So, with my son in preschool, I got the green light from my wife to go enjoy myself.

    Where to go? I've got an Epic Pass and could pull off a number of reasonable day trip options. Was in NYC this weekend and not skiing. Got home and heard from a buddy who went to Whaleback yesterday and said it was skiing great and everything was open except for Jonah's and YOOYM. Sweet! Perfect option for Presidents Day to escape holiday crowds.

    Whaleback is a favorite when they have their expert / natural terrain open. IMO it has the best old school natural expert terrain of a mountain its size in New England, save for Mt Abram. It has better expert terrain than many larger NH areas. I'd rather ski a fully open WB than all of its NH neighbors; Sunapee, Crotched, Gunstock, Ragged or Pat's.

    No need to rush out the door when skiing WB. I get a leisurely start and arrive at 10:30. Rock star parking next to the lift. This was what the parking lot looked like after paying $45 for my ticket and booting up.

    IMG_20200217_111159480_HDR.jpg

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  2. #2
    In the days of Uber expensive day tickets and high crowding at the major pass ski areas, I'm not sure why more people don't seek out the Whalebacks of the world when conditions are good. $45 is a steal for the terrain they offer when fully open.

    I head up the chair and find decent snow below me on the Face and over on Blowhole. The chair crests the top of the pitch and all of it is roped off. I think maybe the snow is much worse than it looks? So, I head for the short open glade Belly Up on down to Jawbone. It's firm, but very edgeable. Minimal bare spots. Some nice irregular small bumps. Totally fun. I alternate between that run and Fluke which skied very similar for 5-6 runs.

    IMG_20200217_114241750_HDR.jpg

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  3. #3
    Very enjoyable skiing. Head in at noon for a bite to eat. Bar is closed. At noon. On a holiday. I grab some food from the cafeteria. There are a few others milling about upstairs at the bar perplexed it's not open. While eating I see on Facebook the mountain boasting 28/30 trails open (not the case) and no lines. Kinda lame to over report what's available, but whatever.

    Eventually a bartender shows up and opens at 12:30. The few people waiting grab their beers. I overhear a conversation of a couple at the bar. They say they're MRV skiers who live in Boston. Had a condo up there for 20 years and ski both Suragarbush and Mad River. In all that time they had never stopped to ski at WB and decided to finally give it a shot and avoid crowds on the way home.



    I couldn't help but think they probably would love the Face and Blowhole if they skied MRG frequently. If they experienced those trails, perhaps they'd become regular WB customers on the way to or from Boston when the snow was good.

    I see no reason those trails were closed. Whalebacks expert terrain has enough natural to open so I frequently they really ought to error on the side of being too aggressive with opening on thin cover. The people who seek out that type of terrain won't mind.

    After lunch I went back to enjoy what I could. After two runs ski patrol roped off the previously mentioned Jawbone. WTF? Look at the above picture and tell me it should be closed.

    End of the day, this could have been an A- Presidents day experience that I would gloat about and tell the world to keep an eye on WB conditions. Turned out to be C+ because they roped a bunch of stuff they shouldn't have and to lesser extent can't offer a beer before 12:30PM for the dad's like me in a hall pass that might want one. And the latter is clearly not a labor cost issue. They had all four lifts open today! Not sure why the T Bar would ever be open except for when the double can't operate.

    Feel a little bad posting "bad" trip reports like this, especially with the small independent places I love. Maybe someone who works there reads it constructively and aspires to run it better.

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  4. #4
    Edd's Avatar
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    Looks great! Yeah, the bar being closed would drive me nuts. I should check it out sometime.


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  5. #5
    Newpylong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadheadskier View Post
    Very enjoyable skiing. Head in at noon for a bite to eat. Bar is closed. At noon. On a holiday. I grab some food from the cafeteria. There are a few others milling about upstairs at the bar perplexed it's not open. While eating I see on Facebook the mountain boasting 28/30 trails open (not the case) and no lines. Kinda lame to over report what's available, but whatever.

    Eventually a bartender shows up and opens at 12:30. The few people waiting grab their beers. I overhear a conversation of a couple at the bar. They say they're MRV skiers who live in Boston. Had a condo up there for 20 years and ski both Suragarbush and Mad River. In all that time they had never stopped to ski at WB and decided to finally give it a shot and avoid crowds on the way home.

    I couldn't help but think they probably would love the Face and Blowhole if they skied MRG frequently. If they experienced those trails, perhaps they'd become regular WB customers on the way to or from Boston when the snow was good.

    I see no reason those trails were closed. Whalebacks expert terrain has enough natural to open so I frequently they really ought to error on the side of being too aggressive with opening on thin cover. The people who seek out that type of terrain won't mind.

    After lunch I went back to enjoy what I could. After two runs ski patrol roped off the previously mentioned Jawbone. WTF? Look at the above picture and tell me it should be closed.

    End of the day, this could have been an A- Presidents day experience that I would gloat about and tell the world to keep an eye on WB conditions. Turned out to be C+ because they roped a bunch of stuff they shouldn't have and to lesser extent can't offer a beer before 12:30PM for the dad's like me in a hall pass that might want one. And the latter is clearly not a labor cost issue. They had all four lifts open today! Not sure why the T Bar would ever be open except for when the double can't operate.

    Feel a little bad posting "bad" trip reports like this, especially with the small independent places I love. Maybe someone who works there reads it constructively and aspires to run it better.

    Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
    Instead of going onto the Internet bitching maybe you could have knocked on the door of the General Manager or Ski Patrol and introduced yourself and aired your grievances. You are likely to not only get questions answered promptly but have them correct any issues if deemed appropriate. I was there all day as well I could have helped you out. A voucher definitely if you wanted to come again.

    I was told the closed terrain was due to lack of patrollers - not cover. For obvious reasons, a serious injury on one of the "front 3" effectively would consume nearly all patrolling resources depending on severity. It's a tough trade off. The number of available patrollers drops drastically mid-week during the day. Not so much a problem in the evening/night. If the ski report said they were open then they expected them to be open but since the Ski Patrol director was out patrolling himself he likely did not have a chance to correct it promptly. I wondered the same thing while skiing yesterday and simply asked when I saw a patroller. Those trails showed closed by the afternoon and they show closed for today. Hopefully they can find some more patrollers for after this snow storm, those trails should get a nice refresh.

    The T-Bar is open because that's where the main learning terrain is, and that's where this year's terrain park is - neither of which you can get to from the chair without skiing steeper natural trails. It always has steady ridership.

    Re: the bar, the hours on the web page clearly show 12:30-4:30. If you're that hard up for a beer before 12:30, there are two gas stations less than a mile away. I think that is a reasonable time to open at a family mountain, esp during Vacation week with campers 20 feet away watching a movie.

    So instead of writing a scathing review saying you felt bad writing it, look for answers in the right place first. I am not in management anymore but I take offense to any notion that the people currently running it have done anything but aspire to run it the best they can. You're welcome to come join us for a day and see what is like on the inside, it ain't easy and I like many others do it for free. They are light years ahead of where things were just 5 years ago. Perfect, not by any means, that's where the communication comes into play. Find someone to talk to and fix the issues, or at least get answers.

    The offer still stands, I will get you a voucher to come after a dump and pass your issues along.
    Last edited by Newpylong; Feb 18, 2020 at 7:51 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Newpylong View Post
    Instead of going onto the Internet bitching maybe you could have knocked on the door of the General Manager or Ski Patrol and introduced yourself and aired your grievances. You are likely to not only get questions answered promptly but have them correct any issues if deemed appropriate. I was there all day as well I could have helped you out. A voucher definitely if you wanted to come again.

    I was told the closed terrain was due to lack of patrollers - not cover. For obvious reasons, a serious injury on one of the "front 3" effectively would consume nearly all patrolling resources depending on severity. It's a tough trade off. The number of available patrollers drops drastically mid-week during the day. Not so much a problem in the evening/night. If the ski report said they were open then they expected them to be open but since the Ski Patrol director was out patrolling himself he likely did not have a chance to correct it promptly. I wondered the same thing while skiing yesterday and simply asked when I saw a patroller. Those trails showed closed by the afternoon and they show closed for today. Hopefully they can find some more patrollers for after this snow storm, those trails should get a nice refresh.

    The T-Bar is open because that's where the main learning terrain is, and that's where this year's terrain park is - neither of which you can get to from the chair without skiing steeper natural trails. It always has steady ridership.

    Re: the bar, the hours on the web page clearly show 12:30-4:30. If you're that hard up for a beer before 12:30, there are two gas stations less than a mile away. I think that is a reasonable time to open at a family mountain, esp during Vacation week with campers 20 feet away watching a movie.

    So instead of writing a scathing review saying you felt bad writing it, look for answers in the right place first. I am not in management anymore but I take offense to any notion that the people currently running it have done anything but aspire to run it the best they can. You're welcome to come join us for a day and see what is like on the inside, it ain't easy and I like many others do it for free. They are light years ahead of where things were just 5 years ago. Perfect, not by any means, that's where the communication comes into play. Find someone to talk to and fix the issues, or at least get answers.

    The offer still stands, I will get you a voucher to come after a dump.
    Defensive much?

    The Face is literally right under the chair. ZERO reason it couldn't have been open even with limited patrol scheduled. If an accident happened, it could easily be seen and reported by multiple people far easier than say someone having a wreck out on Fluke or even Whales tail.

    As for the bar, find me any other ski area with 9-4 holiday week hours where the bar doesn't open until 12:30. Pretty much anywhere else it opens at 11, even the smaller community type hills. I had another friend there on Sunday taking advantage of the morning special. They packed up and left at 11:30. Had the bar been open he said he and his family likely would have stayed for lunch and a couple of beers. That's a missed revenue opportunity. But, if that's the way the mountain wishes to roll, put a sign up on the bar stating Open at 12:30. Pretty simple thing to do. I saw several people walking around confused who asked me if the bar was even going to open that day. The nice guy flipping burgers downstairs didn't even know.

    Look, I love Whaleback. It's a great hill, awesome old school vibe and it has expert terrain that many of it's neighbors would be envious of. It also doesn't have that terrain open very often due to lack of natural snowfall. So when conditions permit, every effort should be made to have it open. That's how you grab business like mine. A guy with a pass elsewhere, but wants to support the little guys and help keep them going. People who show up, pay full retail on a lift ticket, buys a few beers, lunch and a hat on my way out the door. Or the couple I mentioned. MRG skiers who drove by the place for twenty years without stopping prior. Those folks probably would have loved to have skied the Face or Blowhole. Having that type of terrain open on a holiday week is critical for building the customer base and positive word of mouth marketing.

    To be honest I knew you'd respond to this thread and do so in a defensive manner. Anytime someone is critical of WB operations you get hyper defensive. The place has improved tremendously over the past decade, much credit probably should go your way for helping with that. There's still some head scratching operational issues that should be pointed out and taken as constructive criticism for the mountain to continue to improve and attract new customers.

    Quite frankly Rob, I hope the current GM wouldn't respond in such a defensive fashion on social media. Look at how Win handles criticism of Sugarbush. He doesn't crap down on a customer that just dropped their money in his wallet. People praise when they care and people also criticize when they care.

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  7. #7
    Looks like a decent pitch from the photos. Never skied there but it's looking more likely our family moves "up" to SW NH around Keene. This looks like a pretty good substitute for Berkshire East days
    2019/2020 season

    Berkshire East [12/20, 1/7, 1/10, 1/22, 1/24]
    Bretton Woods [1/3, 1/30]
    Cannon [2/19]
    Gunstock [1/2]
    Mad River Glen [1/29, 2/11]
    Magic [3/1, 3/8]
    Mount Snow [11/14, 11/21, 12/2]
    Pico [2/23]
    Smugglers Notch [2/12]
    Wachusett [12/16]

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bdfreetuna View Post
    Looks like a decent pitch from the photos. Never skied there but it's looking more likely our family moves "up" to SW NH around Keene. This looks like a pretty good substitute for Berkshire East days
    You'd love it. Even before moving, it should be on your radar, especially weekends. Barely any lines. Skis bigger than it looks. YOOYM, Kracken, Jawbone, the Face and Blowhole are all legit expert trails. Caught last year on a 10" powder day. One of my best of the season. They've got a couple of nice cruisers too. My hope is that they put snowmaking on Jonah's someday. That would be another great groomer off the top.

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  9. #9
    Newpylong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadheadskier View Post
    You'd love it. Even before moving, it should be on your radar, especially weekends. Barely any lines. Skis bigger than it looks. YOOYM, Kracken, Jawbone, the Face and Blowhole are all legit expert trails. Caught last year on a 10" powder day. One of my best of the season. They've got a couple of nice cruisers too. My hope is that they put snowmaking on Jonah's someday. That would be another great groomer off the top.

    Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
    Been dreaming to connect Jonah's for years, I have a mechanical design drawn up - but it can't be done prior to expanding capacity. They barely can get open what they currently cover, and in the past two years we ran out of time (and money) before even doing Upper Face, which stinks.

    We even reconnected Jawbone this fall on the off chance it was a good winter and we could use it, but when attempting to charge the line it blew up all over the place. That's what happens when you don't use something for 20 years. Pretty tough terrain to make repairs on too.

  10. #10
    Good to know. Not to stoke the flames here but I am exactly the "new customer" you describe above who would probably pass up skiing there for another mountain if it didn't look like I'd have at least most of the terrain available to ski. I generally try to ski "new" areas when they're fully open or at least real close.

    Not gonna happen this year as it's going to be a challenge to even use the passes I already have but I'll watch out for deals in the future
    2019/2020 season

    Berkshire East [12/20, 1/7, 1/10, 1/22, 1/24]
    Bretton Woods [1/3, 1/30]
    Cannon [2/19]
    Gunstock [1/2]
    Mad River Glen [1/29, 2/11]
    Magic [3/1, 3/8]
    Mount Snow [11/14, 11/21, 12/2]
    Pico [2/23]
    Smugglers Notch [2/12]
    Wachusett [12/16]

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