The historic Western Massachusetts ski area's lifts are not yet ready to operate.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Despite having investment from new ownership, Ski Blandford remains closed and will not operate this month. A projected opening date has not been announced.
According to an early January Facebook post, the ownership has announced that "many previously unknown operational issues have continued to arise" and "We will be closed for the month of January regardless of weather conditions."
Despite its struggles this decade, Ski Blandford's opening days ranged from December 11 to January 9. The area normally closes in mid-March.
In the meantime, Ski Blandford season passholders are able to ski at the ownership's other areas, Otis Ridge and Ski Butternut.
In early December, Ski Blandford took delivery of a fleet of SMI Polecat fan guns and a PistenBully snowcat. As recently as December 9, Ski Blandford made a Facebook posting that it was "Hoping to open for Christmas Vacation week!"
Snowmaking started on December 20th and, as of yesterday, "there is already a good base." However, the area's vintage Hall double chairlifts, ranging from 39 to 48 years old, are not yet ready to roll. While a definitive timeline has not been announced, management intends to open as soon as the lift maintenance is complete, stating "new Management’s number one priority is the safe operation of the mountain."
Located in the town of Blandford, the current Blandford ski area was operated by the Springfield Ski Club from 1936 to 2017. In the spring of 2017, the club's board notified membership that "Blandford Ski Area is financially insolvent" due to enrollment falling from a high of roughly 5,000 down to 1,426 in 2014-15.
Stating that it "does not have the money to continue operations," the Springfield Ski Club told members that if the area was not sold, it would be closed. On July 18, 2017, the membership approved a prospective sale to the ownership of nearby Ski Butternut. On July 25, 2017, Ski Butternut owner Jeffrey Murdock formed Blandford Properties LLC to acquire the ski area.
On September 1, 2017, Blandford Properties LLC acquired the ski area deed from the Springfield Ski Club for $269,000. Subsequently, hundreds of thousands of dollars of mortgages were discharged.
Since the sale was finalized, many projects have been undertaken, including improving snowmaking infrastructure, installing new point of sale systems, and painting the lodges.
Located in Great Barrington, Ski Butternut was opened by the Murdock family in 1963. Ski Butternut has a history of coming to the assistance of other regional ski areas, dating back to when Channing Murdock purchased the defunct Satan's Ridge ski area and reopened it as Ski Sundown. In 2011, Jeff Murdock's Stoney Management became involved with nearby Otis Ridge and took ownership of it at the end of 2016.
The Springfield Ski Club has been existence for some 80 years, making it the longest continuously operating ski club in the country. The future of the organization is not known.
The Ski Blandford facility features three Hall double chairlifts, a surface lift, snowmaking, night skiing, and 465 foot vertical drop.