We, as skiers and snowboarders, all have our favorite place to ski or ride. After spending the last 30 plus years traveling around the country in search of the best pow or my favorite terrain, Mount Pleasant of Edinboro still holds the number one spot in my book. Why you may ask? Mt. Pleasant doesn’t boast the largest vert or the gnarliest terrain, but while skiing there you will always find a ton of stoke! This place is so rad, in fact, that local skier John Alcorn shredded 3 pairs of bibs in as many visits while getting after it last season! Located just minutes from my home, and less than 30 minutes south of Erie, Pennsylvania, there’s always time for a great day spent skiing or riding at Mount Pleasant. With affordable lift tickets, great snow, and even better people, I have never spent a bad day or even a couple hours after school or work at this local gem.
Owner’s Doug and Laura Sinsabaugh treat this place with more care than most do their own homes. Their nearly 100 employees, thousands of guests, and grounds are always treated with the utmost care and respect. Sinsabaugh and his wife spend countless hours attending to all operations and improvements year-round. There are no words kind enough to express the gratitude our local community has for this duo and all their hard work. It’s obvious to all that owning a small ski resort in backwoods Pennsylvania is not a get rich quick venture, so I recently sat down with Doug and Laura to ask them why they do it.
Coming from a background as a shop teacher at Meadville High School, and a contractor during summer months, Sinsabaugh said, “I like a challenge, and I love to build things.” Doug, Laura, and all their great staff have done just that, met the challenge, and continue to build a great local ski resort.
He added later that “I get paid when all the wheels are spinning smoothly, the mountain is covered in snow, and I can stand back in the corner and soak up all the satisfaction that shows on all the smiling faces of the guests.”
It was evident by the look on their faces that is the sole reason why they both do it. Mad props Doug, Laura, and staff! We love our little mountain, and none of it would succeed without any of you!
Mount Pleasant’s ski school doubles as both a National Leadership Academy for its instructors and a great place for skiers and riders to learn and hone their skills. Many of the ski and snowboard instructors here are still attending High School or College. Not only do they learn how to teach the sports of skiing and snowboarding, but they take with them many other skills not related to snow. They begin to understand how to lead a group, interact with students and/or parents, while also learning how to juggle a busy schedule between work and school.
I recently spoke with local ripper and ski instructor Katie Johnson. Katie started instructing at the age of 16 and has also earned her PSIA level one certificate at a nearby private resort, Holimont. Katie told me that “the best part of being a ski instructor here is that I get paid to ski with cute little ski bums!” Many high schools and colleges also partner with Mount Pleasant after school and offer “learn to ski” programs at a very affordable rate, making it possible for just about anybody to learn to ski or ride here. They also chose to be a part of Pennsylvania’s Snowpass Program this year!
I spoke with a couple of old friends and industry pros to get their take on why Mount Pleasant of Edinboro is such a great place to ski or ride. I spent many of my winter months as a kid chasing both of these gentlemen around the mountain. It just never got old bombing chestnut or proving ourselves, hucking the “oak tree jump” onto the flattest of landings, but we ALWAYS had fun. After moving away from the area and working his way through the industry, Rick Shimpeno now coaches the US Pro Halfpipe team, where he had the opportunity to enjoy his first Olympics in Peyong Chang.
I asked Rick how Mount Pleasant influenced his choice in pursuing a career in snowboarding. He stated that “It really taught me to love the outdoors. It was the first glimpse at a bigger world that I desperately wanted to be a part of. I can’t imagine not being involved in winter sports.” He then added, “Years later, I realize how special the small ‘mom and pop’ resorts are. You can count them on one hand, but there are some good ones. I might not have been able to get involved if lift tickets were $100.” Shimpeno also included that “you have to be pretty tough to make it through a PA winter still smiling,” and that’s why he thinks Mount Pleasant, and the rest of the East “produces a special kind of skier and rider.” Another old friend and my childhood ski instructor Matt Boyd also started his amazing career in the industry at Mount Pleasant.
After graduating college and leaving town, Boyd landed in Lincoln, New Hampshire, where he worked his way up the ranks of PSIA. In 2008, he made the National Team and has represented American Ski Instructors all over the world. Matt said, “None of this would have been possible without the love for skiing, and passion for teaching skiing that I developed at Mount Pleasant.” He then added, “Mount Pleasant offers an environment where children can ski by themselves and with their friends to form lifelong bonds with each other and with the sport.” Both Boyd and Shimpeno would tend to agree that some of the most passionate skiers and riders they’ve encountered around the world come from small resorts like this one!
Guests who don’t enjoy charging down the mountain on skis or a board have plenty of other options to get out and enjoy the winter at Mount Pleasant. Activities such as snow tubing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing are also offered for very reasonable rates so that all can have fun for the day here. They also offer affordable parties in the upstairs loft in the lodge.
In the offseason, many small ski resorts choose to stay idle and just await cold temps and snow to return. That’s certainly not the case at Mount Pleasant of Edinboro. With the go-ahead from Doug and Laura, ambitious volunteers have put a lot of blood, sweat, and effort into creating a vast network of mountain bike and hiking trails. Currently, there are more than 5 miles of wooded and open sections of trail. Guests who want to come out and enjoy some fresh air can gain full access to the mountain all summer long by obtaining a summer access pass for just $25. The trail network is pet-friendly if you care to bring your pooch along. All they ask is that you are respectful of other users when it pertains to your furry friends by using leashes when necessary, and of course cleaning up after them.
I think my favorite part about visiting in the offseason is keeping track of all the improvements Doug and Laura are constantly working on. In very recent years, they have added a chairlift, built a warming hut up top, improved snowmaking, built a much larger reservoir to store water, built a new pump house to further improve snowmaking, and soon plan to erect another building at the bottom of the mountain so they can meet the requirements of serving alcohol. There’s never a dull moment around Mount Pleasant, all year long!
There are several events that I urge anyone to watch for on their website. Since most events at Mount Pleasant are weather permitting, there are currently no dates set for most of these. Here are several of my favorites to keep an eye out for.
- Open house with Santa – Dec. 7th
- Annual Winter Carnival and Race Day
- Live Music – All Seasons
- 5K Run/Walk and 5 Mile Mountain Bike Race
- Fall Fest – 2 Weekends in October
- Annual Ski Swap
If Doug and Laura get their way, memories will continue to live on at Mount Pleasant of Edinboro for many years to come. When I spoke to him last week, he said, “I strive to build a sustainable business for the future, so that long after Laura and I are gone, someone can continue to operate my dream for the years ahead.” Many great skiers and riders would never have the skills and the passion for the sports we love if it wasn’t for this local treasure. Everyone at Mount Pleasant is family, even if it may be their first time there! No matter how much you spend on skiing and snowboarding, you’ll never get the same experience you get every time at Mt. P!