I have never been so happy to be wrong.
For years, I drove right past Mt. Abram in Greenwood/Locke Mills, Maine, thinking (as you probably have) “why not just drive another 20 or 30 minutes and go to a Bigger Mountain?” That “Bigger Mountain” of course is Sunday River in nearby Bethel. I live in Portland, Maine, so Sunday River always gets consideration. But then I found out what I was missing out on at Mt. Abram!
Everyone knows what School Vacation is like for almost any resort: Families are out in force and lots of younger kids are discovering the advantages of snow. At most ski resorts during holiday weeks it feels like you park in the next town, trudge miles to reach the base lodge, wedge yourself into a space to change your boots, then face chairlift lines that are longer than the lines for rides at Disney World.
Mt. Abram is a wonderful exception. In the middle of a busy Christmas holiday week, I was able to park so close I could ski to the chairlift, lines were almost non-existent and people weren’t running each other over.
Conditions were absolutely terrific, too. Due to its orientation, Mt Abram was not as affected as some other mountains by the high winds and cold temperatures that plagued some other areas that week. While not all the trails were open, those that were had more than enough powder to go around.
The formula here for a good time was absolutely perfect: The chairlift ride took about 10 minutes to the top, and, in the soft powder, it took me 10 to 15 minutes to get back down. For skiers who were a little slower, a run could stretch into the 20 minute range–a good return for a 10 minute lift ride.
On one of the chairlifts rides, I met a ski instructor named Buzz. Without telling him I’m a correspondent for EasternSlopes.com, I asked some questions about the mountain. He was very enthusiastic, told me how great the place was and how the people skiing and working at Mt, Abram genuinely love to be there.
But he also told me about the mountain’s struggles over the last couple of years. Mt. Abrams has gone from being open all week and having night skiing every night to just being open Thursday through Sunday and all week on vacations, with occasional night skiing. Wednesdays are “earn your turns” day when the mountain is open to Telemark and Randonee skiers who want to skin up and ski down. Fridays are carload days where a carload of legally seatbelted passengers gets in for $75.
Mt. Abram’s got the terrain to cater to almost anyone’s taste. The focus here is clearly on skiing, riding and having fun, not on turning everyone into a dollar sign. The people I ran into like Matt, Buzz, and all the other staff were friendly, courteous, and clearly loved being there . I did, too.