-NH Slopes Are Wide Open!
By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer
Skiing and Snowboarding with friends and family is a wonderful way to enjoy season. Time spent together on chairlifts and enjoying the snow blanketed trails will make a lifetime of lasting memories.
If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard please sign-up for a program at your local resort. They want you to learn and they offer affordable and enticing offers including everything you need—rental equipment, lift ticket and lessons. Check out SkiNH.com Learn to Ski/Ride Deals. If that still doesn’t appeal to you than you can always have fun snow-tubing.
New Hampshire resorts have been blowing snow, grooming it out and spinning their lifts since Thanksgiving. After every cold night of snow making more trails open. I am betting by Christmas resorts will be boasting near 100% coverage. I hope Mother Nature kicks in more snow soon too.
Last Thursday morning I met up with a friend for a couple of hours of skiing at Waterville Valley. We arrived at the lodge early so we would be ready to ride the first chair when the lifts opened.
At the ticket booth we presented our lift ticket vouchers, purchased on-line the previous day. Pre-buying your lift ticket ahead of time at the resort’s website can save you money. Additionally we had to pay $5 for the new RFID pass. If we returned the card at the end of the day our $5 would be returned but if we chose to keep it we can reload them on-line and avoid the ticket booth our next visit.
Waterville Valley (as well as Mount Sunapee and Gunstock) installed new RFID lift ticket systems. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags (lift ticket) that are attached to objects (Snowsport enthusiasts). All we had to do was pop the card in our jacket pocket and the reader would find it.
I have had experience using these types of lift tickets before at large resorts out West and at Stowe, VT, where the lift line passes through a gate that is opened when a valid card is read. Waterville’s system is different because it has a gateless entry. The cards appear to be read while we were on the chairlift and those attempting theft of services will be apprehended at the top of the lift. The advantages are that the lift line moves smoothly, monitoring of tickets is continuous and poachers are going to get caught.
The trails were covered with great snow and it was easy to turn my skis on the freshly groomed loose granular snow. The day was lovely with clear views to all the mountains near and those far away. The Waterville Academy set up a slalom course on one side of Tommy’s World Cup Run but we had plenty of room to enjoy the trail too.
We skied non-stop for just over two hours and completed 10 runs off the White Peaks Express quad-chair. I confess I was ready to take a break after 7 runs but with our limited time I was convinced to keep skiing. I still dreamed of having a hot chocolate in the mountain top Schwendi Hutte.
When our time was up we hustled into the lodge to grab an early lunch in the cafeteria before packing up and heading to work. We ate ski area comfort food at its finest, fries, chicken tenders and hot chocolate! It was yummy. But I will go back later this season and get my hot chocolate in the Hutte.
On Saturday, I met Becca Snowboarder at Cannon Mountain. At 7:45am I pulled into the parking lot and ended up parking right next to her, talk about good timing. Becca bought a season pass earlier this season at the best NH resident discounted price. I bet she doesn’t miss any Saturday mornings.
The previous year’s five-million dollars investment at Cannon Mountain for snowmaking improvements continues to reap benefits. The mountain is able to make twice as much snow with half the energy and this season an additional 250 thousand dollars were made for snowmaking upgrades. Cannon’s investment and increased efforts to make snow are really obvious and have produced super results! On their opening day the summit was open; Cannon made snow for runs from top to bottom.
Cannon and Franconia Notch had a nice gift of 2 to 5 inches of fluffy white snow earlier in the week. The Notch’s nearby peaks had frosted white tops but the floor of the notch had some snow too. While we were at the ski area, my husband Charlie took out his most beat up pair of cross country skis and was able to kick and glide on the bicycle path from the Tram to the Lafayette Place Campground. It wasn’t ideal but he had fun.
Becca and I joined the lift line with all the other excited skiers and snowboarders. Cannon has a well-earned reputation for having one of the larger first run seeking crowds.
We rode the Peabody Express quad-chair round and round while most zoomed right over to ride the Cannonball to the summit. The dramatic views of Mount Lafayette and the Franconia Range were outstanding while we had By-Pass to Cannon Trails nearly all to ourselves for several runs in a row. You could have fooled me this wasn’t mid-winter.
Good snow and lots of trails made for a fun time. Being on the summit of Cannon is always nice and Tramway and Upper Cannon Trails were covered with snow edge to edge. Rocket and Gary’s were open too and snow guns were blasting on other trails.
The season is off to a good start and it is just going to keep getting better. Don’t forget to get your team together for your favorite adult race league! Sign-ups are happening now and if you can’t find a team contact the race program and they’ll help you find some teammates.
I am all set to race Monday nights at Pats Peak.