By Josh Deakin
Hermon Mountain has offered local skiing adventures to the greater Bangor community since the 1960s, when it was first opened by Barbara and Elbert Jackson and their son Bernie. It began as a family business and continues to be family-run today.
The mountain was once used for wood cutting and the Jackson family used the wood roads for skiing. This evolved into a ski area. Of course, back in the 1960s it was just one of many skiing venues in the greater Bangor area. The mountain continued to grow in popularity over the years, and in 1986 switched hands to a new family to operate and own the business.
Bill Whitcomb Jr. and his family rented the mountain for a year while legal matters were attended to and then purchased it to run. Whitcomb, a national ski patroller, loved the mountain and jumped at the chance for ownership. “The legal team took care of us,” said Whitcomb. “They wanted the community to have [the mountain].”
A lot has changed at Hermon Mountain since the Whitcombs took over the establishment in 1986. At first, the mountain just offered skiing, but one of the things that Hermon Mountain is known for among a younger generation today is snow tubing. The addition of tubing is one of the many changes that have occurred over the years.
One of the major improvements added in the late 1990s was a chair lift to the top of the mountain for skiers. They’ve also cut new trails and expanded on the mountain. “We’re about as big as we can go,” said Whitcomb. “There’s boundaries on the hill.”
The Whitcomb family has also been able to invest in some snowmobiles to get around the area more efficiently. “Used to be, you were running up the mountain,” Whitcomb said.
Technology has improved significantly over the years and this has helped the mountain expand as well. New grooming equipment helps keep the trails maintained for patrons. In addition, there’s been a significant change in the snow-making process. The newer snow-making guns make the process more of a babysitting endeavor instead of a more involved project. “You’d come home soaked,” Whitcomb added.
While Hermon Mountain can’t physically expand anymore due to space restraints, they fully intend to continually upgrade their equipment. “We want upgrades for the things we have to make them bigger [and] nice and comfortable for people,” said Whitcomb.
One of the constants over the years is the family atmosphere the mountain thrives on. “It’s grown. We count on being a local business that locals want to go to versus one that counts on out-of-state business,” said Whitcomb. “Local communities have to feel like they own it.”
Despite the challenges that surround this year due to the pandemic, Whitcomb remains very optimistic about this year’s business.
“[It’s the] most challenging thing we’ve ever dealt with,” he said. “Everybody has every intention of following the state rules regardless of what they are. We are going to do everything as close to the book as possible. It won’t be like it was but it could be not at all.”
Whitcomb went on to explain that hopefully the normal we were familiar with will be back in due time but for now we need to follow the guidelines and treat current times as a temporary normal.
Hermon Mountain is now open to the public and snow-making is happening to ensure you have the best experience with your family. Be sure to check their website or Facebook page for hours of operation and updates.
See this Section as it appeared in print here