• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Whaleback 2-17-20 could have been better

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
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

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
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

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
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
 

Edd

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
5,448
Points
48
Location
Newmarket, NH
Looks great! Yeah, the bar being closed would drive me nuts. I should check it out sometime.


Sent from my iPad using AlpineZone
 

Newpylong

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2005
Messages
3,298
Points
38
Location
Upper Valley, NH
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:

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
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.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

bdfreetuna

New member
Joined
Jan 12, 2012
Messages
4,300
Points
0
Location
keep the faith
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
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
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.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

Newpylong

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2005
Messages
3,298
Points
38
Location
Upper Valley, NH
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.
 

bdfreetuna

New member
Joined
Jan 12, 2012
Messages
4,300
Points
0
Location
keep the faith
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
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
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.
Air, water or pumping capacity the issue?

In a perfect world it would be great if the mountain could acquire the funds to have snowmaking infrastructure for the Face TTB and Jonah's in addition to what they already cover. That would guarantee terrain for all levels even during bad snow years. If they ever got there, I think they could steal a fair bit of business from Pat's, Sunapee and Ragged.

Just need a few more really wealthy and benevolent Dartmouth grads with fond memories of skiing there. haha

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

Newpylong

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2005
Messages
3,298
Points
38
Location
Upper Valley, NH
Air, water or pumping capacity the issue?

In a perfect world it would be great if the mountain could acquire the funds to have snowmaking infrastructure for the Face TTB and Jonah's in addition to what they already cover. That would guarantee terrain for all levels even during bad snow years. If they ever got there, I think they could steal a fair bit of business from Pat's, Sunapee and Ragged.

Just need a few more really wealthy and benevolent Dartmouth grads with fond memories of skiing there. haha

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app


Water, Air and more actual equipment on the hill once those are increased. We usually do make snow on Face T2B but with one hiccup, either equipment, weather or manpower related it becomes a stretch. With low capacity every day counts. That trail is the first to be sacrificed because while it's awesome, they have to cover trails that serve more ability levels unfortunately.

My "plan" was once more capacity is achieved would be Jonahs (since it already has pipe and thus is low hanging fruit) and then Whaletail. They lack a true top to bottom beginner run with snowmaking and lights, which sucks. Dorsal is a pretty big step up from the Learning Area and Whaletail has a perfect pitch and dumps out already into Scrimshaw which is both lit and has snowmaking. Of course, that could all change depending on what the Board wants to do whenever that occurs.

That place has so many capital needs I really don't know where they are going to begin. You could drop $2M and not know where it went. The lift should be replaced, or least have even more work done to it. The lights all need to be replaced, all of the snowmaking pipe besides the upper mt feed needs to be replaced. They need more pumping and air, etc and so on. It's daunting. They have tons of great supporters (grants, donors, etc) but nothing of the level that say the Camden Snowbowl, Big Rock, etc and other areas have received for total rebuilds. It's been a little bit every year mixed with trying to operate.
 

180

Active member
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
1,792
Points
38
Location
mahopac, ny
DHS, gotta say you did your best to get your negative review on the radar having seen it here and on social media. And you got your expected response from NewPy. Feel better now i'm sure.
 

Edd

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
5,448
Points
48
Location
Newmarket, NH
He gave it a C+, with potential for an A-. Hardly a scathing review. Also, got me interested in visiting.

Seriously, though, that bar needs to be open at 11.


Sent from my iPhone using AlpineZone
 

180

Active member
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
1,792
Points
38
Location
mahopac, ny
its only scathing because he posted it as many places as he could, it even appeared on my tap talk feed
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,727
Points
48
Location
Southeast NH
its only scathing because he posted it as many places as he could, it even appeared on my tap talk feed
Excuse me?

As many places as I could? You mean one comment on Facebook and then my trip report here? So, a whole two online spots? I saw a friend on FB had linked a post where they were claiming 28 of 30 trails open while I was there, which was not factual.

This is what I said on FB

I must be at a different Whaleback today. 28/30 trails are not open today. Skiing is good though. No bar open is a disappointment.

So very scathing! lol

I think anyone who saw and skied the conditions I did with those great trails being closed would be a little disappointed. Even more so when they were claiming them to be open on FB.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

Newpylong

Active member
Joined
Dec 20, 2005
Messages
3,298
Points
38
Location
Upper Valley, NH
Despite my knee jerk reaction think I got my point across and so did DHS. All's well ends well.

They picked up at least 6" and they're planning for hopefully 100% tomorrow after patrol checks it all out. I'm going over tomorrow evening to help groom the low angle naturals and runouts. Should be some good skiing wish I didn't have to work.
 
Top