‘A jewel for this area’: Big Squaw ski resort wants people to ‘ski the view’
Phil Adams spends three days a week in a heated, wooden structure at the top of the chairlift at Big Squaw Mountain near Moosehead Lake. The 72-year-old has been making sure everyone gets safely off the chairlift for six years. He loves his job. He loves the clean air and the views from his “office.”
“We have excellent scenery looking over Mountain View Pond and Moosehead Lake,” Adams said. “You can probably see for 30 to 40 miles.”
Adams doesn’t listen to music, unlike the guys who work at the bottom of the lift. He enjoys the silence and just hearing the clicking of the bullwheel as the chairs go by.
He describes Big Squaw as a friendly mountain and a great place for families to ski. “I think we make everyone feel at home here,” he said. “A lot of people come here because they can learn to ski without a mass of people.”
Squaw Mountain originally opened for skiing in December 1963 with just a T-bar to access four trails, according to the Ski Big Squaw website, but it closed in 2010 after years of falling into disrepair. Since 2013, the nonprofit Friends of Squaw Mountain has leased part of the mountain from owner James Confalone and operated the lower portion of the mountain as a ski area with one chairlift. The state is suing Confalone, claiming that he used the property to secure more than $4 million in loans but failed to use that money to reopen the ski lift, trails and lodge.
The chairlift serves 28 trails from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“I think if the big mountain could ever start back up,” Adams said, referring to the upper portion of the mountain. “I think it would be a destination for a lot of people. This is a jewel for this area.”