Ask just about any skier this side of the Appalachian Mountains who has the best snowmaking in these parts and the answer will most likely be “Sunday River.” As a Sunday River regular for these many years I would be hard-pressed to disagree.
The mountain always manages to please despite the very challenging conditions presented by Old Man Winter in recent years. December or April or anywhere in-between, when you want to count on good snow, you can count on Sunday River.
I was up at the River recently for a couple of days sampling the early season stuff and enjoyed skiing on something like a quarter of the mountain. Nicely groomed swaths of man-made white were found on South Ridge, North Peak, Spruce Peak, Barker Mountain and Locke Mountain, plenty of skiing for my taste at this time of year. And it’s not like the place just opened either. I think it was at least Sunday River’s third full week open and probably their sixth weekend.
Nice work folks.
Sunday River is wide open for great skiing and riding. Carey Kish photo.
On my visit I got to catch up with several of the mountain’s big mucky-mucks for the skinny on what’s new at Sunday River for the 2013-14 skiing and riding season. As it turns out there’s quite a lot, with something to please just about everyone.
“Sunday River has come a long way, said Dana Bullen, President of Sunday River and a Maine guy from not too far away in Sharon, who is now in his 10th year at the mountain. “We’ve expanded from 50,000 skiers to 500,000 annual skier visits.”
The resort could actually expand across 11,000 acres and four more peaks, Bullen said, but the focus for now is on the existing area, which encompasses 3,000 acres.
“We’re making improvements,” noted Bullen. “We’ve worked to improve snowmaking, develop a new terrain park and cut 60 acres of new glades.”
Sunday River’s Dana Bullen describes the mountain’s capital investments. Carey Kish photo.
Sunday River has invested $5.7 million into capital improvements this year, according Dana Bullen. One million of those dollars has gone into snowmaking, 224 new HKD SV10 Impulse snow guns to be technically exact. These high-output, energy-efficient guns now account for 35% of the mountain’s snow guns and have been a huge help in opening up more terrain a lot faster.
The new arsenal of guns has been placed on four particular trails: Lollapolooza, Rogue Angel, T72 (the new terrain park) and the upper section of Risky Business. 95% of Sunday River’s trails now have snowmaking.
Here are a few impressive “did you know” facts from Sunday River, besides the fact that it takes a whopping $2.5 million of snowmaking to open the mountain for skiing. In 48 hours, the mountain’s snowmaking system can:
OK then, I think we get the picture now!
$1 million a year in new snowmaking equipment means Sunday River can open more terrain faster each winter. Carey Kish photo.
The new T72 Terrain Park is situated between the 3D and Dream Maker trails at South Ridge. The park features a long jump line (I counted three monster jumps), a bunch a rail tricks and an 18-foot super pipe. T72 is serviced by two high-speed lifts, the Chondola and the North Peak Express.
The new T72 Terrain Park is already a wildly popular spot on the mountain. Carey Kish photo.
Sixty acres of new double-diamond glades means lots of new terrain for tree skiers and riders. Hardball on Whitecap has been expanded from 3 acres to more than 13 acres. Nearby Chutzpah is now 29 acres, up from 6 acres. At South Ridge, the new 6-acre North Woods glade is located between 3D and Northern Exposure. And over at Oz, you can take Kansas to just past Emerald City, then drop into the 16-acre Poppy Fields. The exit is to Cyclone.
Between the new 15-acre terrain park and the 60 acres of glades, Sunday River has expanded to 825 total skiable acres, effectively making it the second largest ski resort in New England, right behind its sister mountain, Sugarloaf.
On the food side of the skiing equation (besides the fact that I had to do the mandatory gorge on a world-famous cinnamon buns at North Peak Lodge), over at the Grand Summit Hotel the venerable Legends is gone. Replacing it is the new Camp restaurant.
There’s no finer way to start your ski day than with a cinnamon bun at North Peak Lodge. Carey Kish photo.
“The Camp menu will feature comfort food,” said Jim Largess, the VP of Food and Beverage. “It’s recognized food with a twist.” There’ll be light fare dishes like Slow and Low Maine Pork Bellies and Merlot and Blueberry Venison Sausage, plus dinner items like Duck and Dumplings and Prime Rib Shepherd’s Pie. And for dessert? Whoopee Pie S’mores, of course. Yum!
“Everything at Camp will be fresh and made to order,” said Largess. “Hospitality is defined as how you make people feel,” and the Camp experience is designed to make you feel warm and cozy, just like upta camp. Camp is slated to open sometime between Christmas and New Year’s.
In addition to the new Camp restaurant, there’ll be two food trucks operating at the mountain this winter, a lobster truck with fresh Maine lobster rolls and a cupcake truck. Look for ‘em.
“The changes are as exciting as they are dramatic,” said Darcy Morse, Director of Communications. “And I invite you to come and experience it all for yourself.”
Well, I’ve been up once and plan to get back there again soon. As for you all, take Darcy up on her invite and make a trek to Sunday River real soon for some great skiing and riding and a whole lot more. Especially given this latest snowstorm, which dropped more than a foot on the Bethel area. Yeah!
Mother Nature has added a good foot to the man-made stuff at Sunday River, so come and get it! Carey Kish photo.