Chris Pinchbeck of Hope skis up the slope using “skins.”
Chris Pinchbeck of Hope skis up the slope using “skins.”
In a year of unexpected winners and losers, the Camden Snow Bowl landed very much in the winning column. As of mid-March, the town-owned ski area, which makes the unusual claim to ocean views, was on track for what one town official called its best year ever. At the very least, records kept by the town's finance director suggest the balance sheet will look better than the last two years.

“I don’t know if I would call it the best year ever, because, you know, it’s all kind of relative,” Holly Anderson, assistant manager of the Snow Bowl, said last week. “But we have certainly done exceedingly well, which is really amazing.” Season passes, day passes and rentals are up, she said. Another town official mentioned fall chair lift rides as a larger draw this year.

The Toboggan Nationals, which typically bring in around $75,000, were canceled this year, but regular use of the toboggan chute on Saturdays and Sundays was booming — the town planned for $6,000 in revenue and has made $23,000. “Like 300 people a day,” Anderson said. “It was crazy.” She chalked up some of the bump to a video produced by L.L. Bean about firefighters participating in the 2020 Toboggan Nationals, complete with drone shots and now-enviable scenes of human camaraderie.

In another strange turn, uphill skiing is a thing, and it’s becoming more popular in Camden. Skinning, as it’s known, involves attaching strips of directional fabric called “skins” (the texture is similar to a lint brush) to the bottom of each ski and climbing up the hill. A hybrid binding allows the foot to pivot, like a cross-country ski binding, on the way up and lock in for a regular downhill ride, sans skins, to the bottom.