If you've skiied in Maine before, you've likely seen small scale Mount Abram. It's in Greenwood, just off State Route 26 on the drive up from Portland (or down from Grafton Notch), a few miles down the road from a certain ski resort in Bethel called Sunday River. Mount Abram has long been largely overlooked by northeast skiers heading to Maine's two most notable mountain resorts, Sunday River and Sugarloaf. But thanks to a recent partnership with the sustainable skiing organization Mountain Rider's Alliance, that is starting to change.
“Am I just crazy, or does anyone else believe that skiing needs to be about skiing?” Mount Abram co-owner and native Mainer Matt Hancock asked Boston Globe correspondent T.D. Thornton. “We’ve put a lot of effort into a system we believe in that is 100 percent contrary to the way the industry operates. We’re running as fast as we can in the other direction.”
Back in the early Nineties, Hancock was the star hoops player for Colby College, earning him a shot (which ultimately proved unsuccessful) with a certain basketball organization called the Boston Celtics. With his hardcourt road having come to an end, Hancock headed home to Maine, eventually ending up at Mount Abram.
“That was the time when the ski industry was rapidly changing,” Hancock tells Thornton. “There was this chase, and everybody jumped into it. You had to have high-end real estate. Sushi bars. Starbucks. Water slides. Hundred-dollar lift tickets and $20 burgers. As an industry, this is not economically sustainable.”
That lack of sustainability, in the environmental, economic and community preservation sense, is exactly what Mountain Rider's Alliance is hoping to challenge, and to change. "The mission of Mountain Rider’s Alliance," reads their website, "is to develop values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that encourage minimal carbon footprint business practices as well as alternative energy creation, while making a positive impact in the local community."
Can the Mountain Rider's Alliance vision work? Are sustainable mountain playgrounds even feasible? We shall see. If nothing else, it's certainly an aesthetic worth considering.
For more information on Mountain Rider's Alliance, check out their promo video:
Or head on up to Mount Abram and experience it for yourself.