SKOWHEGAN — Geoff Nosach decided to try out his new snowboard Tuesday on opening day at Eaton Mountain Ski Area.

Nosach, of Mercer, was on snowshoes while his friend, Jarret Haiss, of Palmyra, on skis, hiked all the way up the 2,000-foot mountain with a vertical drop of 520 feet and then rode down.

They made the journey up using snowshoes and special “skins” on the skis for traction — about a 40-minute trek. The ride down was a crooked 15 minutes of twists and turns down the middle of the mountain and a trial called The Moose.

“It’s my first time on the new board,” Nosach said, fitting the snowshoes to his feet for the hike up. “I’ve never used snowshoes before, either.”

Once down at the ski lodge, Nosach, covered in snow from a couple of face plants on the way down, said the ride was a blast.

“I rolled around in the snow a little — it was fun,” he said. “It was good. Conditions are great — it was worth it.”

Recent weather events, coupled with the Christmas holiday, forced Eaton Mountain staff to delay the official opening for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing by a couple of hours Tuesday.

“We delayed opening by one session to allow us more time to take care of all of the excess snow we got from the blizzard,” mountain manager Julie Keaten said. “And the ice storm just before that set us back a little, cleaning up and grooming the trails.”

Skiing in Maine got a welcome Christmas present on Monday, with about 12 inches at Eaton Mountain, 10 inches of new snow with 88 trails open at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley and 59 groomed trails at Sunday River in Newry.

Over at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley, a woman who answered the phone Tuesday said the resort has not reopened since a purchase agreement with an Australian company was announced in June. “We’re doing our best to open in some capacity,” the woman said.

At Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, skiing and snowboarding is underway with several trails open this week for school vacation. Baker Mountain in Moscow is not open to the public yet this season.

Jarret Haiss said he’s been coming to Eaton Mountain ever since he was a kid. Now at age 34, he comes with his wife Johanna and their almost 3-year-old daughter, Tiger.

“Eaton Mountain is good — the terrain is really good,” he said, noting that owner David Beers is “really passionate about his mountain.”

Beers purchased Eaton Mountain in 2008. He suffered broken bones and skull fractures Dec. 4, 2011, when an 18,000-pound snow groomer rolled over him at the mountain. His jaw was broken in three places and left him deaf in one ear, but he perseveres.

Contacted out of state on Tuesday, Beers said his passion for the mountain is very real.

“Anybody with a lick of business sense will tell me not to be trying to do what I’m doing there, but I haven’t given up on it,” he said. “The mountain is near and dear to my heart and I’m continuing to do everything I can to keep it going.”

Keaten agreed, saying Beers has met every challenge from the cost of remodeling to electrical problems in the past. She said Beers has plans for a chairlift at Eaton Mountain, but that still has not materialized.

“One challenge that we always have had in this industry is we have the ability to make snow here at the mountain, but if mother nature hasn’t helped us, some people don’t start thinking about the snow until they have it in their own back yard,” she said. “This is wonderful that this early in the season we already have this much natural snow.”

The mountain has two tow lifts that bring skiers to the Lower Bowl of the mountain and another lift for the snowtube park. There is no access to the upper mountain, unless someone is among the “extreme skiers” who are willing to trek on foot to the top, as Haiss and Nosach did Tuesday.

Eaton Mountain will be open for snow tubing every day this week starting at noon and for skiing in the Lower Bowl on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, also starting at noon.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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