The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Whitecap Mountains nostalgia draws regulars to winter get-away


December 26, 2017

Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

BRETT NOVAK on the left and his son Shawn on the right were relaxing at cards while the other four members of the family were out on the slopes skiing. Shawn is considering pursuing neuroscience as an undergraduate at the University of Washington before going to medical school. He did not have any interest in Washington State University on the other side of Washington.


UPSON, Wis. - David Lundberg, owner of the Whitecap Mountains Ski and Golf Resort in Upson said he bought the location in 1965 when all it had was two "T-Bar lifts and a building." Lundberg was fresh out of Fuller Seminary in California as a 28 year old husband and father of three, but he had enough faith to move Whitecap's three mountains over the last 50 years.

Lundberg said he bought a chain saw first and went to work clearing ski runs and remodeling the existing building from its pink cinder blocks to the wood décor it still has. In the 1960's according to Lundberg, Christian ministries like Young Life were really kicking into gear as was the idea of busing kids to events. Those two things came together at the right time and Lundberg knew the language from seminary to attract the Christian leadership. With that in mind, Whitecap catered to and pursued young Christian youth groups in the Chicago and Minneapolis areas, bringing them in by the hundreds for skiing and fellowship off the beaten path.

With this clientele, Lundberg said he pulled out the bar that was upstairs, at the same time Jack English was putting in his second bar at Indianhead in Wakefield. Whitecap had an image to uphold for the market they were pursuing, as they could not compete with the lifts at Powderhorn and Indianhead. The Christian groups provided Lundberg the niche clientele he needed to build Whitecap.

Lundberg said they, "put in chair lifts in 1969, 71, 73, 80, and 1990, while developing 400 acres of trails for wooded downhill runs. Back then, cross country skiing was just getting started and they "ate raisins and nuts and raised a stink over a $1.00 ticket." Todays cross country skier Lundberg said is much different than the skier of 50 years past as the sport is developed and entrenched.

Barb Halverson, bookkeeper and manager, having relieved Lundberg's wife Evie of chalet management duty, said the resort is booked to 80-90 percent capacity for the Christmas to New Years time frame and they are very happy to have good snow, especially compared to last year. Halverson said they have people from Illinois, Green Bay, the Twin Cities, and Milwaukee coming to Whitecap for the skiing and holidays and that there was even an automobile from Florida in the parking area.

Brett Novak has brought his family of six to Whitecap for 5-6 years in a row from Chicago. The Novak's love coming to Whitecap before Christmas because you can get on the slopes and find yourself all alone. Novak's son Shawn was sporting a University of Washington sweatshirt, having visited the campus and its medical school as a potential destination after completing his senior year of high school. The other four members of the family came in off the slopes and began ordering chow and having family time in the bakery/cafeteria.

Lundberg said Whitecap has grown over the years and he has been hands on as an owner the whole time. To this day Lundberg is still the head groomer, even into his 80's. Lundberg described the ski hills as a circus. A skier might ride one lift up, but come down in an entirely different location at a different lift, as there is such a large variety on the three mountains.

Lundberg said he enjoyed the work of building the resort, constantly learning and building relationships in the business throughout the midwest. While most of the people Lundberg used to ski with have waxed their ski's for the last time, many of their kids are still coming and even bringing their grandkids to the resort. Lundberg is looking forward to retiring and turning the reins of the resort over to a new ownership group.

There are 10 key returning employees that come back every winter to keep the place running, and Lundberg said Halverson as the Executive Secretary runs the resort and works with the accountants and attorneys. The resort is a family affair and after 52 years, Lundberg and his wife are looking forward to relaxing and seeing what direction the resort and golf course go in the future. Lundberg said he had his run, it is time for someone else to move the resort into its next phase. Until then, Lundberg is expecting huge waves of people to start showing up on Dec. 27 through the New Year to enjoy their winter vacations and ski.


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