Just like the rest of New England, ski areas in New Hampshire got off to a terrific start this season. The abundant cold weather, tons of snowmaking and a little help from Mother Nature in the form of, yes, snow, allowed the resorts to get lots of terrain open early.
Of course, we skiers and riders know what happened next.
Prolonged rain and warm temperatures. Just plain icky wet. Not just one time, but several cycles of the yucky weather.
“We’ve had to deal with adversity,” said Karl Stone, marketing director at Ski New Hampshire, the industry association representing New Hampshire’s alpine and Nordic ski resorts and areas. “But after every instance we’ve bounced right back. And those cold snaps allowed us to get the mountains into good shape again.”
New Hampshire ski areas, probably like Maine, are a little behind in skier visits, but there’s plenty of snow in place and a long winter ahead of us.
“There’s still three months of the season left,” said Stone. “But we do need some natural snow to serve as a motivator to get people to the slopes. Snow is the best marketing.”
I haven’t made the trek to ski in New Hampshire yet this year, but a plan is in the works for a long weekend first-time visit to Mount Sunapee in Newbury early in February. Sunapee boasts 1,500 feet of vertical, 66 trails and 11 lifts, plenty for a fun few days, never mind the gorgeous scenery in and around the western NH mountain.
I’m expecting the conditions to be good, just as I’ve found them every time I’ve skied this season in Maine. Groomers and snowmakers everywhere are just rocking it with great snow and sweet trails. Amazing really.
There’s a lot been happening at New Hampshire ski resorts as far as capital improvements, which always translates into a better skiing experience for you and me.
One of the big NH stories this season is the new Cascade Basin at Pat’s Peak in Henniker. The expansion at this family-owned ski area is on a completely new area of the mountain and includes a new triple chair plus six new trails on 20 acres.
Snowmaking has seen some big investments at six NH areas. Cranmore in North Conway added 45 new high-efficiency tower snow guns. Loon Mountain has added new pumps that increase snowmaking capacity by 40%. They’re also working to add 100 semi-automatic snowmaking hydrants. Count fifteen low-energy, high-efficiency tower snow guns too.
Sunapee invested in 52 new HKD SV-10 snow guns, while Granite Gorge added more snowmaking fans. Black Mountain in Jackson rebuilt the drive motor on one of its snowmaking pumps and replaced its main water distribution station for higher efficiency and greater capacity. Forty new high-efficiency tower snow guns (see a pattern here?!) were also added. And Gunstock added a new snow cat and new snowmaking capacity.
“Snowmaking has become an essential part of this competitive environment,” Stone said. “You have to invest in order to compete.”
The new equipment produces more and better quality snow at higher temperatures with increased efficiency, allowing the ski areas to maintain a much better cost to snow ratio.
As for grooming, the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson purchased a new grooming machine, as did nearby Cranmore. These big ticket items are “critical to bringing trail quality right back.”
New terrain and trails is another big area of investment in NH. In addition to the expansion at Pat’s Peak, several other areas added acreage. Bretton Woods continues to expand its Nordic trail system high on Mount Stickney, and now offers some of the only lift-serviced high elevation Nordic skiing in New England. Granite Gorge added new downhill and x-c trails. And Waterville Valley will be developing neighboring Green Peak, a permit that has taken 30 years to obtain. The Green Peak expansion will include acres of ski trails and glades and a high-speed quad.
The folks at SkiNH are always busy when I contact them, clearly doing their very best to represent all the great downhill and x-c skiing opportunities, plus a wealth of lodging, that New Hampshire has to offer.
Stone was busy creating a new web page highlighting NH athletes that are heading for the Sochi Olympics, as well as editing the weekly video of New Hampshire ski resorts. Then there’s media relations, government relations, marketing and promotion, and a variety of programs, like the 4th and 5th grade Passport Program.
Stone, now in his 12th year with SkiNH, sure seems to enjoy it all. Nice work Karl.
See you on the NH slopes soon!
MORE INFO: SkiNH.com, (603) 745-9396.