‘The Friends of Squaw Mountain’ seek to resurrect Greenville ski resort

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    GREENVILLE — It just didn’t seem right to have a beautiful mountain in their own backyard and not be able to ski on it. So a group of hearty ski enthusiasts decided to combine their resources to bring back downhill recreational skiing to the Greenville area.


Contributed photo

    FRIENDS OF SQUAW MOUNTAIN — Ski enthusiasts from near and far are excited about the efforts of “The Friends of Squaw Mountain” to bring back skiing to the Greenville area. About 30 volunteers participated in the cleanup day in preparations to reopen the resort in time for the Martin Luther Day Weekend. Among those involved in the efforts to resurrect the ski resort are Amy and Stephen Lane, Anthony Cirulli, Tarun Johns, Jessica Hargraves, Bill Fling, Mary Watson, Marilyn Goodwin and family, Rich Maley, Dave Rideout, Rodney Folsom, Kevin Springer,  Shanna and Dylan Owens, the Bodemer family, Gary Dethleson, Mel Morrell, Brittany Boucher, Rebecca Knowlton, Abby Freethy, Dan MacFaden, Lauren Fling, Jim Dunton, Mark Gilbert, Jr., Vanessa Folsom and Noel Wohlforth.   

    Their efforts resulted in the creation of “The Friends of Squaw Mountain” that has the goal  of revitalizing the Greenville ski industry. The “Friends” are busy preparing the ski resort, which has been dormant for the past two seasons, ready to reopen this month. “The Friends” are in hopes of opening the resort in time for the upcoming Martin Luther King holiday weekend on Jan. 18-21.

    The “Friends” sprang into action  earlier this winter when a couple major snowstorms blanked the mountain. Amy Lane, of Rockwood, started a Facebook page in an effort to publicize the group’s effort to re-open the ski trails for the winter. She created the Facebook page on Dec. 26 and a few days later the group already had over 850 friends.

    “The Friends of Squaw Mountain” were inspired by what other non-profit groups around the country were doing. Several groups were operating ski resorts as non-profits as a way to revitalize an industry struggling to survive during poor economic times.

    Lane and her husband, Stephen, believed a similar effort could be successful in the Greenville area. The two had been involved with Blue Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club in Rockwood for 14 years. The Lanes believed operating a ski resort as a non-profit wouldn’t be any different from a snowmobile club which inspired them to create the “Friends of Squaw Mountain.

    “James Confalone had made it clear he’d give permission to anyone who was interested in operating the resort,” Amy Lane said. “We talked to some friends, started the Facebook page and now we are about to bring back local skiing to Squaw Mountain.”

    The “Friends of Squaw Mountain” have over two dozen volunteers who are working diligently to prepare the lodge for the Jan. 18 opening. The volunteers are working to open as many as seven trails on the lower mountain, priming the ski lift for an inspection and preparing the lodge for renting ski equipment, snowboards and provide lessons.

    The “Friends” believe all of their hard work will be rewarded by having access to an “iconic” skiing facility in their own backyard.

    Many of the “Friends” have been forced to travel great distances to enjoy their ski hobby in recent years. Re-opening the Greenville ski resort will mean the long trips to Sugarloaf, Saddleback and Cranmore mountains will no longer be necessary for local skiers.

    “We love to ski with our kids. So recently we’ve had to drive 5-6 hours to ski,” Amy Lane said. “It’s a lot of work preparing the lodge, but you know it’s worth putting the time up here preparing the lodge. I’d rather spend my time working on re-opening Squaw Mountain than spending it driving all day just to ski somewhere else.”

    Even though the mountain’s name was officially changed in 2000 to Big Moose Mountain, the “Friends” unanimously agreed to incorporate the more familiar “Squaw Mountain” name into their organization. They believe it will better resonate with people all over the region and country in attracting attention and dollars to their efforts.

    The “Friends” have an estimated $100,000 budget for the season and need about $15,000 in order to open this month.

    “When you say ‘Squaw Mountain’ and ‘skiing’ it just creates a great deal of emotion for parents who want to share those experiences with their kids,” Lane said. “We all agreed it was important to use Squaw Mountain in the name to create that same type of excitement and brand name recognition to make our efforts successful.”

    The “Friends” are encouraged from the response their efforts have generated in such a short period.

    They believe the recent snowfall and volunteer efforts will  continue to create a flurry of activity for a new generation of Squaw Mountain skiers.

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