CONWAY — The ski season is ongoing at Wildcat Mountain and Bear Notch Ski Touring, and Black Mountain might squeeze in one more weekend, but with the season ended at all other alpine areas and ski touring centers in New Hampshire, operators are reporting a good and snowier than average season.
“We’re still going strong,” said Doug Garland of Bear Notch Tuesday. "We’ve got plenty of snow, at least a foot and a half and we expect to go at least through Easter Sunday and then we will assess where we’re at.”
Total snowfall in North Conway according to local weather observer Ed Bergeron as of Tuesday stood at 110.2 inches, well above the 30-year average of 85 inches. The season got off to an early start in November with 21.6 inches (compared to the 30-year average of just 4.9).
That led to an early start to the season, with many areas opening in November and Wildcat opening on Oct. 27 — one day earlier than its previous record.
As of Tuesday, Wildcat had received 184 inches of snow this season and had 24 of its 48 trails open. It is open daily through Easter Sunday, April 21, then plans to reopen the weekend of April 27-28 and may reopen for May 4-5 before calling it a season.
Attitash and Wildcat CEO and President John Lowell said Attitash opened Dec. 8 and closed April 7 with plenty of cover.
“It’s been an extremely successful year for both resorts financially; pass sales are strong and we’re hoping to close out the season as the best on record,” said Lowell.
The downside for Attitash was its troublesome Summit Triple Chair, which experienced numerous problems throughout the season.
Lowell said his staff is exploring options for the lift’s repairs but vowed that it will be up and running for next ski season. He said crews are also working on rebuilding the gearbox and bullwheel bearings on the Flying Yankee lift.
He said immediate work is to install new snowmaking pipe on upper Attitash and the lower part of the mountain, replacing old pipe that goes back to the early 1980s.
Summer operations for its ziprider and other attractions will start Memorial Day Weekend, although the pipe and lift work may delay the start of the Alpine Slide, serviced by the Flying Yankee, until Father’s Day.
Black Mountain, meanwhile, is closed for the week, but plans to reopen for Easter Weekend, conditions permitting, notes general manager and owner John Fichera.
“We opened Nov. 30 and were open daily through April 7 and weekends since then. We’ve had no complaints for this season,” said Fichera.
Cranmore had a record-breaking season, according to resort officials, with snowfall totaling 107 inches and consistent cold temperatures allowing enhanced snowmaking, to help Cranmore to register the longest ski season in its 81-year history.
The resort opened Nov. 17, one day earlier than ever, and continued until April 8, beating its latest closing on record by two days, offering top-to-bottom skiing for 118 days.
Since 2010, Cranmore, under the ownership of the Fairbank Group, has invested nearly $2 million in snowmaking improvements, which includes the addition of over 500 energy efficient snow guns. Upgraded pipes have increased water capacity and flow on the mountain, according to resort officials.
Work is now underway to open Cranmore's summer operations Memorial Day weekend.
Thomas Prindle said King Pine opened its season a week ahead of schedule on Dec. 8, had 100 percent of its trails open Christmas week and closed with all of its terrain still open March 31, thanks to the ample snowfall total of 100 inches this season and its modern, high-efficiency snowmaking system.
He said total skier visits this season greatly exceeded year-over-year as well as the previous five seasons.
Bretton Woods opened in early November and ended its season on Patriots Day this past Monday, April 15, with the resort getting set to restart construction on its a new eight-person gondola, expected to be completed in July. Craig Clemmer, director of marketing at Bretton Woods, said with 244 inches of snow, Bretton Woods had one of their best seasons ever. "I'd give it an A-plus rating, and it was one of the top seasons for skier/riders counts," said Clemmer.
“I would say overall the season was good for everyone,” said Jessyca Keeler, executive director of Ski NH, the Conway-based marketing non-profit for 33 alpine and cross country areas in the state. “It was a solid year for snowfall, with pretty consistent snowfall, at least in the mountain areas of the state, and although we have not done a final wrap, skier visits were up.”
In addition to Bear Notch, all local touring centers reported a strong season, with Great Glen Trails, the Reserve at King Pine, Bretton Woods, Jackson Ski Touring and the MWV Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center all giving it a big thumbs up.
Nate Harvey of Great Glen Trails said “it was our longest season on record,” with the center opening in November and closing April 7. “We had super strong rentals, and the SnowCoach season was the best ever for sure, and our ski school was also way up; our 190 inches of snow was good, but not a record,” said Harvey.
Cort Hansen of MWVSTA said the season started in November and ended April 2, the longest ever. The season was also a long one at JSTF, starting in mid-November and remaining open through March 31, with executive director Ellen Chandler, noting that skiers are still enjoying courtesy groomed skiing at Prospect Farm.