The ski season is off to a quick start thanks to an abundance of natural snow and aggressive snowmaking. So make the best of it by trying a few things — some old, some new — in 2018-19.
Gondolas have a strong tradition and history in New Hampshire’s White Mountains with various types at ski areas like Loon, Wildcat and Cannon (if you count the tram). Construction continues at Bretton Woods on a new eight-person gondola.
When completed, the gondola will travel uphill at more than 13 mph with an estimated ride time of just under five minutes. It will have some 2¼ miles of cable with 17 lift towers that if laid end-to-end would measure some 841 feet.
Look for updates as supply chain delays coupled with the five feet of snow Bretton Woods received this November have delayed the delivery date for the gondola, according to Bretton Woods. Ride it when it’s done.
Stay at the new trailside Glen House Hotel at the base of Mount Washington. The fifth rendition of the fabled hotel — the others were lost to fire — opened earlier this fall on the west side of Route 16 in Greens Grant and is a welcome boon to Great Glen Trails and downhill skiers and riders.
The eco-minded hotel has a boutique vibe with its sharp woodsy bar and Notch Grille featuring a glorious look outside to the Rockpile. The 68 rooms also have mountain vistas while the outdoor fire pit offers a unique apres ski experience for all kinds of snow disciples.
Go to a ski area apres ski. Slopeside live entertainment abounds when the lifts shut. Not only is it a time to highlight the day’s skiing and riding with friends and family at a resort watering hole but it’s also a music matinee with no cover charge.
Even if you’re not skiing that day, it’s a fun way to grab a cold one or a bite while relishing a ski culture that often features local musicians at establishments like the Wildcat Pub, Black’s Lostbo, Zip’s at Cranmore, Bears Den and Ptarmigan’s at Attitash, King Pine’s Trail’s End Tavern, the Slopeside Pub at Bretton Woods, Sunday River’s Foggy Goggle and Blizzard’s Pub at Shawnee. Concert series rock, too.
Red-line a ski area. Hikers around here know about red-lining, that practice of hiking every trail in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s “White Mountain Guide.” So why not ski every trail at your favorite ski area? Do it in a day or the season. Better yet, red-line as many ski areas as you can in the valley and beyond. There’s no patch, but, oh, the bragging rights.
Head uphill without a lift. The valley is New England’s outdoor center for the alpine touring explosion. Evolving from the old Civilian Conservation Corps cut trails, the Granite Backcountry Alliance is enhancing the backcountry experience with reviving and expanding terrain around the Whites. Resorts have also embraced the movement with limited uphill access, passes and races.
Introduce a friend or family member to skiing or riding. January’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is a surefire way for beginners to get introduced to going downhill and Nordic skiing at an affordable rate.
Many valley ski areas and touring centers will take part in the group lesson, lift ticket or trail pass and rental equipment packages that’s $39 for downhill skiing and riding and $19 for cross-country. Make reservations. Check skinh.com to find out participating properties, age restrictions and reservation information.
Soar above the snow in a valley terrain park. Unleash that adrenaline rush by hitting a kicker, taking to the air and stomping the landing. The beauty of the parks is that there are features of all sizes for all abilities so while many can take flight on huge advanced jumps and rails, others can hover a bit closer to the snow and still feel the thrill on the smaller stuff.
Watch the Kennett High School Eagles take flight at its annual home meet along the Kanc on Jan. 25, 2019. The competition is always festive with a roaring bonfire, hot chocolate and history as New Hampshire is the only state with high school ski jumping. The Eagles are winners of the state ski jumping title. Not only can you watch, but you can get an up-close look at the athletes while volunteering as a hill marker.
So make your mark this season.