(Photo: Ski Divas at Bretton Woods)
TheSkiDiva is known for lots of things: our all-women membership, our great conversations about skiing, and our tremendous sense of community, both on and off the site.
One of the ways we foster the latter is by having two gatherings each year: one in the West (Diva West), and one in the East. (Diva East). It’s always fun to get to know the women behind the user names. And it’s great to be away from our roles of wife/mother/girlfriend/whatever it is we do in real life and just have a blast on the hill.
Most of our meet-ups take place at one or two ski areas. For example, we’ll go to Aspen and ski Snowmass and Aspen Highlands. Or we might ski both Killington and Okemo. But this year, we did something different. Our Diva East gathering hit three separate mountains: Bretton Woods, Sunday River, and Saddleback. And yes, it was three times the fun!
What a way to start Diva East! Bretton Woods is New Hampshire’s largest ski resort, and it’s gorgeous. And while it’s not the gnarliest mountain out there, it’s still a great place to ski. There are nice, rolling groomers, lots of glades, and fabulous views, like this one of Mount Washington:
The glades are SO. MUCH. FUN. Not too steep, not too tight. Just the way I like them.
Bretton Woods is owned by Omni Resorts, which operates the historic Mount Washington Hotel on the opposite side of the road. Built in 1902, it was the site of the Bretton Woods Conference. For you history buffs, this was a gathering of delegates from 44 nations after World War II to develop a new international monetary system.
We had fabulous conditions, excellent weather. and two truly memorable days.
Here are some stats for the mountain:
- Summit Elevation: 3,100 feet
- Vertical Drop: 1,500 feet
- Base Elevation: 1,600 feet
- Trails and Glades: 98
- Skiable Acreage: 464 acres
- Snowmaking: 92% of trails
- Average Annual Snowfall: 200+ inches
- Season Length: Early-November to Mid-April
- Exposure: North/Northeast
- Lifts: 10
- Uphill Lift Capacity: 14,000 skiers per hour
If you go, don’t miss the Enchanted Bear and Stickney Glades,
Sunday River is W-I-D-E. It spans across 8 peaks and covers 870 acres, and there’s something in it for everyone. Glades? Check. Long groomers? Check. Fun? Double check. The Ski Divas only spent one day there, but it was absolutely excellent. We had a Diva East at Sunday River in 2020 (right before Covid hit), so we’d been there before. And thanks to two Sunday River regulars in our group (thanks, Melissa and Lisa!), we had excellent guides to shepherd us around the place.
Stats for the mountain:
- Summit Elevation: 3140 feet
- Vertical Drop: 2340 ft.
- Skiable Acres: 870 Acres
- Longest Run: 3 miles
- Total Trails: 132
- Difficulty Easy: 25%, Intermediate: 32%, Difficult: 44%
- Average Annual Snowfall: 167 inches
- Snowmaking: 616 Acres
- Lift Capacity Per Hour: 30,000
- Total Lifts: 16
This was the one place of the three that I hadn’t skied before, and lordy, lordy, am I glad we came. Sure, it’s waaaaaay up in the remote wilds of Maine. And yes, it was damn cold (-22F one morning when we woke up, rising through the day to a final high of 11°F), but oh my gosh, it was so worthwhile.
Saddleback has a history of financial problems — so much so that it closed in 2015, only to re-open in 2020 after being purchased by Arctaris, a Boston-based economic impact firm that targets underserved rural and urban communities for investment. The mountain has made quite the resurgence, investing more than $26 million in improvements including the new Rangeley Express Hi-Speed Quad, Cupsuptic T-Bar, a complete base lodge renovation, $3 million in expanded snowmaking capacity, and new eco-groomers. A new condo village and mid=mountain lodge are currently under construction.
Probably because of its remoteness and the extreme cold, Saddleback was empty the first day we skied and nearly empty the second. If you go, ski the Americana Trail down to Blue Devil. One of the best runs ever!
Also, be sure to get one of their chocolate chip cookies as an after skiing treat. These alone are worth the trip.
Here are some stats for Saddleback:
• Summit elevation: 4,120’
• Vertical drop: 2,000’
• Annual average snowfall: 225”
• Number of lifts: 6
• Named runs: 68
• Skiable acreage: 600+ acres
• 88 acres of glade skiing
• Longest run: 3.1 miles
All three mountains were great, but the best part of the trip was skiing with members of TheSkiDiva community. Even though many of us had never met face to face, it’s like skiing with old friends. Needless to say, we had a blast.