The cold and snowy weather didn’t keep us from getting together last week to ski and snowboard. In fact it made us want to hit the slopes even more knowing that super snow conditions would be there waiting for us.
The cold weather has been perfect for making snow and combined with a few inches of snow here and a few more inches of snow there gifted by Mother Nature most of New Hampshire’s ski areas are snow covered and groomed. King Pine, Pats Peak and Crotched were the first to open 100% of their trails last week! Nordic Centers are grooming more kilometers and every day the trail counts continue to rise.
Sure feels like winter now.
I arrived at Crotched just before lunch to meet up with some friends who just so happen to be ski writers. We were there for the second day of our gathering of NASJA-East, the Eastern members of the North American Snowsport Journalists Association. The previous day we were at Pats Peak.
This was all rather convenient for me. My adult racing league team races on Monday nights at Pats Peak. Yesterday I had arrived just in time for lunch and skied right into the night. Today at Crotched I had similar plans—get lunch and then ski into the night.
I was the only one in our group that regularly skis at Pats Peak and Crotched Mountain. For most this was their first visit to either ski area. Our group gets together a few times every winter to learn about and experience different places. There is a good chance that when these writers get home they’ll tell their readers about their adventures and what fun can be found here. Research is the best part of writing about snowsports and spending the day with your friends.
We met for lunch in the renovated Onset Pub. A wall with lattice work now separates the pub from the rest of the lodge and the new couches and tables make it a cozier place to have lunch or celebrate après ski. We took over a corner of the pub and chose comfy seats. There are good choices on the menu and at the bar New England micro-brews are served. Our food came out all at once. Sitting with me, David had a yummy burger and fries and Lori had a salad with grilled chicken. They appeared to enjoy lunch. I can vouch my hot chocolate was chocolatey and hot and I enjoyed my chicken tenders with a side of coleslaw very much.
After lunch we enjoyed lounging around and talking about all things winter. Soon we noticed that the snowstorm was really starting to kick into high gear. I was ready to hit the slopes while some people had to hit the road early to get home.
The skiing in the heavy falling snow was fun as the snow accumulated and the snow conditions just got better. Crotched’s trails are lined with fan guns and they were blowing lots of man-made snow too.
The Rocket high-speed quad is speedy and it is easy to get in a lot of runs. Pluto’s Plunge, the steepest trail, runs straight down the mountain under the Rocket lift and is the fastest way to fly down 1,000 vertical feet. Later in the afternoon high school racers were training, running a brush gate course on one side of the trail.
There is good terrain for all abilities. There is a nice gentle route all the way from the summit that follows the blue square trail Milky Way, connects to the green circle trails of Super Nova and Comet for a long ride of 1 ¼ mile back to the chairlift.
After all my writer friends left I hung out in the lodge and waited for my night skiing friends to arrive. Becca, Jeremy, Steve and I are trying to make night skiing on Tuesday nights a good habit. A couple weeks ago we skied Pats Peak and I am sure we’ll hit Gunstock soon.
Becca has a season pass at Crotched and was the first to show up, she came straight from work in southern New Hampshire. We got in two runs before Jeremy and Steve showed up at the lift. Night tickets are just $30 for the 6pm to 9pm hours. More deals can be found on-line at CrotchedMtn.com.
We told jokes on the lift ride up and skied all the trails by making many turns. We took a hot chocolate break and I believe more chicken tenders were consumed before going back out for more skiing. I didn’t quite make it to closing, I was tired; but my friends made it to closing!
Crotched does something that no other ski area in New England does—it is open until 3am every Friday and Saturday night now through February. I stayed up to mid-night once but this is for the amusement of college students and young people. They have live music and a bonfire along with freestyle events and skiing and riding until 3 am. They even do a re-groom of the slopes at 9 pm.
Did I tell you Fridays and Saturday night until 3 am?
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: email@example.com.