HERMON, Maine — It was an uncertain preseason for Hermon Mountain owner Bill Whitcomb and other owners of small Maine ski mountains. With the COVID-19 pandemic peaking at the same time preparations were being made for the ski season, Whitcomb was concerned about how things would go.
It turns out, much like the ski conditions Saturday, everything has been running smoothly.
“The snow has been the biggest challenge this year,” Whitcomb said.
Last fall, a doctor who works ski patrol duties at the family-friendly mountain told Whitcomb people need outdoor activities this winter.
So, like every mountain, the COVID-19 protocols were introduced. The lodge now acts as a warming hut, where people can come in and pick up rentals or tickets. However, no eating or drinking is allowed. Something else that's different: skiers and snowboarders must strap on their boots from their car and make the short walk to the chairlift.
“It has been amazing how polite and curious and just everybody is determined to get along, make the best of the situation,” Whitcomb added.
Taking advantage of Saturday’s prime conditions were snowboarders Alex Briggs of Peru and Christopher Roberts of Fairfield.
Briggs is the veteran of the two riders, he’s been to Hermon twice. On Saturday, he brought a friend who took advantage of the beginner slopes.
“The powder is perfect, honestly. It’s not too icy and it’s not too soft so you got a lot of control,” Briggs said. “This is a good mountain to teach people on.”
Unlike Briggs who snowboards at other mountains in Maine, Roberts made his debut on a board Saturday.
“The beginner trails are actually really fun, there were sometimes where it was really steep, but I think that’s good in the process of learning,” Roberts added while wearing a hockey helmet instead of a traditional ski or snowboard bucket.
As Mother Nature continues to reward Maine’s larger mountains with snow, she’s forgetting about the smaller hills in eastern and central Maine.
“When we call an eight-inch snowstorm, a big storm it’s a sad day in Maine,” Whitcomb added.
The recent snow in Hermon has allowed the grooming crew to open all trails on the mountain and host ski races. While Whitcomb continues to hope for more snow, he remarks on how happy people are to be outside doing their favorite winter activity.
“There isn’t a single day that somebody doesn’t stop in, thank us, say that they had a good time and were able to get out,” he added.
Hermon Mountain Ski Area is all about serving the people in the community, and Whitcomb is happy to be offering these folks winter recreation opportunities over the past three decades.
“I’m proud to be a Mainer and I’m proud to be in central Maine with these people because we have some darn good people.”