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MA / NH skiing 2019-20

#1
Seems early in some ways to start this thread before July is out, but is it really too early to start thinking and planning for this upcoming season? I've been getting so many ski related emails in my box lately too. Skis.com has been running their Christmas in July specials. This week my local ski shop, Country Ski and Sports, opened up again with new stock. Ken Jones in Manchester, NH opens again on August 12. I was filling in dates and info on my new calendar, and looked up the dates for the Boston Ski Expo so I could put those on too. It will be from Nov 14- 17 this year. Wachusett sent out an email about prices going up soon, but I'm pretty sure that you can still get these early season prices at the ski show. At least you could last year. Nothing like dreaming of skiing to get you through the dog days of summer!
 
#2
Now that Wildcat is Epic, I’ll be very curious to explore. I’ve read a lot about how amazing the terrain is on that mountain. Does anyone have recommendations on where to stay and what to eat in that area?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
Now that Wildcat is Epic, I’ll be very curious to explore. I’ve read a lot about how amazing the terrain is on that mountain. Does anyone have recommendations on where to stay and what to eat in that area?
Paging @liquidfeet . She knows the North Conway area well.

Wildcat is well worth checking out. It's a steep mountain with long runs and a high speed lift to the summit. Even the long winding green from the top isn't exactly for pure beginners. But there is good learning terrain on the lower mountain. The tricky part is that it's a lot more fun with good visibility so that you get views of Mt. Washington. But with Attitash close by, can always ski there instead of already committed and it's too windy or foggy or icy at Wildcat.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
Now that Wildcat is Epic, I’ll be very curious to explore. I’ve read a lot about how amazing the terrain is on that mountain. Does anyone have recommendations on where to stay and what to eat in that area?
Wildcat does not have lodging attached to it. It's across the street from the most travelled trail (Tuckerman Trail) that ascends Mt. Washington via Tuckerman Ravine. That trailhead and Wildcat are located in Pinkham Notch, so think "wilderness locale."

If you're into rugged lodging, the Appalacian Mountain Club has its visitor center and a bunkhouse at the base of that trail. Family-style dinner is served at 6:00 365 days a year. This is 3 minutes from Wildcat's parking lot. Call ahead for reservations.

Lodging and food are exceedingly plentiful in North Conway. It's down the hill 20 minutes from Wildcat. That's the best little ski town anywhere in New England. And NH keeps its roads plowed well in the winter; driving up to ski in the notch is no big deal.

Parking at the mountain is fine. The walk to the lodge is flat! The lodge is spacious, although the water supply for the bathrooms smells of sulphur and is a little discolored for that reason as well.

The cafe is inexpensive, and the small bar scene is great, with entertainment on weekend afternoons.

The mountain has a main lift that's out of this world fast. 7-8 minutes get you to the summit. Turn left as you get off the lift and stay right for the long perimeter run Polecat all the way down the hill. It's a green. Wild Kitten over on the other side is the other long green run; it starts half way down the mountain and is so flat you may have to skate a bit at the bottom. There's a small beginner area at its bottom with a dedicated chairlift, and some other short greens. That's it for green terrain.

The rest of the mountain is labelled blue/black. Wildcat makes the choice to label almost all the groomed trails blue, and leave the designation black for the ungroomed trail Wildcat, the ungroomed lift lines, and the glades. Exceptions: there are a very few short groomed steepish pitches that appear as black on the trail map.

Those blue groomers can be icy. Will be icy when skied off, which happens frequently. So they feel steep. Be forewarned. Many New England skiers will be used to skied off conditions, so no big deal if you are one of them.

If you're interested in bumped up terrain, Wildcat has it all, from low baby bumps to very big ones nestled next to huge boulders sticking up out of the snow. Enjoy! One can almost get all the way from the top of the summit lift to the bottom on bumps. Almost. Also check out Thompson's Brook trail, which is well-known but not on the map. It pulls off to the right of Polecat near the summit.

When it snows, Wildcat is fantastic.
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
Those blue groomers can be icy. Will be icy when skied off, which happens frequently. So they feel steep. Be forewarned. Many New England skiers will be used to skied off conditions, so no big deal for them.
During my ski safari last March, I had a great time at Wildcat in the morning. Had planned to check out Attitash in the afternoon any way. So once the blue groomers were icy, I headed into the lodge.

Like most NE ski areas, Wildcat is what I call a 1-day place. Meaning if it's fully open, only takes one day to figure it out in terms of terrain and vibe. Attitash takes half a day, assuming all lifts running.

Will be watching to see when Wildcat fires up the snowguns.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
The tricky part is that it's a lot more fun with good visibility so that you get views of Mt. Washington. But with Attitash close by, can always ski there instead of already committed and it's too windy or foggy or icy at Wildcat.
Wildcat is not often foggy. Icy, yes. Windy, yes (upslope winds happen frequently). Snowy, yes. But not frequently foggy.

And yes, on a clear day the views are super. You can see Tuckerman Ravine across the street. Very cool.


For adventure, hike up Tuckerman Trail and ski the bowl, or ski down the Sherburne trail (no, it's not groomed). Do this in spring. Why not in winter? Too cold, too windy, too dangerous because of oh-so-fickle weather. Mt Washington is known for the highest measured wind speed on the planet.
 
#8
I’ve stayed at the Nordic Village a few times, and really like the condos there. Have also stayed at the Comfort Inn in North Conway which was fine as well. North Conway is such a fun place and great launching point, lots of shopping and restaurants to explore in the area. Some of my fave places to eat are the Red Parka, Moat Mountain Brewing, and Muddy Moose. I haven’t been in quite a few years now though, so others might have more up to date info!

On a clear day, Wildcat’s views are hard to beat, absolutely spectacular!
 
#9
@liquidfeet @marzNC thanks for the excellent beta on Wildcat! Sounds like the Appalachian Mountain Club’s bunkhouse is the way to go when traveling solo and frugal.

I mentioned wanting to visit this next season and my husband was skeptical (why travel and pay money to ski somewhere with fewer trails) - and this gives me some excellent ammunition. Plus, we’ve never been to North Conway and we ought to go visit to the birthplace of North American skiing.
 
#10
I mentioned wanting to visit this next season and my husband was skeptical (why travel and pay money to ski somewhere with fewer trails) - and this gives me some excellent ammunition. Plus, we’ve never been to North Conway and we ought to go visit to the birthplace of North American skiing.
Did you see my TR from last Dec? Since it was my daughter's last year in school near Boston, I wanted to check out as many ski areas in NH as possible. Wildcat, Waterville Valley, Bretton Woods are places I would go again. Loon and Cannon are worth experiencing but I wouldn't buy day tickets to ski there again. The Sunapee Ladies Day with demos was definitely worth attending, even with a registration cost.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/i...afari-plus-sunday-river-dec-15-17-2018.23345/

Paging @canski for reasons why Cannon would be worth a visit.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
Cannon is awesome when it's not icy.

But on a normal skied-off day, it's not for the shy. The main lift goes up a ridge and has no easy way down. Any way you go after getting off that lift puts you on high-travel narrow trails -- and they are not skier-friendly since they get icy very from traffic. And yes, you better watch your back on weekends - that traffic thing is always an issue on those narrow trails. If your ice skiing skills are high and you're confident anyway, you won't mind.

A second lift takes you the rest of the way to the summit. The climate is different up there. Unbelievable views across the street to Mt. Lafayette greet you if you head to rider's left along the perimeter of the mountain. Two old winding trails remain from Cannon's early days. People love those trails, but I don't ski them because of the fast skiers coming around those bends blind to what's in front of them. I don't want to get hit by those people who think they are experts because they ski Cannon's old trails fast.

If you're a lover of tight glades, Cannon is for you. If you want a very long steep glade (Kinsman Glade) that runs from close to the summit all the way down to the highway below, got it. How about a very challenging run beneath the tram (DJ's Tram Line)? Got that too. If you like difficult bump runs, Cannon's got them in abundance.

Cannon has a "family ski area" at the bottom near the main lodge. It has easy and challenging runs, and it has two lifts. Cannon has no dedicated beginner area, however. I left to teach at Bretton Woods partly because of that.

Cannon is known as a "skier's mountain." Do with that what you will. I worked as an instructor there for 8 years. Ask me questions and I'll try to answer.
 
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#13
In case anyone in the Boston area would be interested in multi-week lessons at Blue Hills and missed this thread last March, be good to let @marymack know in the thread or via PM. I gather it would be at night, midweek. @MissySki , @knolan12 ?

Who'd be interested in a Women's Clinic at Blue Hills in Eastern MA?
The last company I worked for was 10 mins from Blue Hills, so that would have worked well. Now that I’m in Cambridge, the commute down to that area makes it very difficult to commit to anything at a particular time each week unfortunately. So it would depend on the specific details once they are known. I’ll keep an eye out though.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#14
Well, well, well, Wachusett has been busy setting up partnerships with other ski areas. Not just in New England either. @MissySki found out when she was in touch with Wawa for something else. I know the Mountains of Distinction collection has been around for a while with the ski resorts/areas near Pittsburgh and other mid-Atlantic locations involved.

Very interesting to see Stratton and Sunday River working with Wachusett. Stratton is part of Alterra and Sunday River is part of Boyne Resorts.

https://www.wachusett.com/Tickets-Passes/Ways-to-Save/Perks-for-Passholders.aspx Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 12.16.41 PM.png Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 12.17.41 PM.png
 
#15
Well, well, well, Wachusett has been busy setting up partnerships with other ski areas. Not just in New England either. @MissySki found out when she was in touch with Wawa for something else.

https://www.wachusett.com/Tickets-Passes/Ways-to-Save/Perks-for-Passholders.aspx
Thanks for posting!! I wanted to add pictures, but it’s too much of a pain from work since I have to use a converter for file size. :smile:

Now I’m trying to find out from Sunday River if I can get any discount at Wachusett. I’m not too hopeful though as I didn’t really get a straight answer from Wachusett when I asked, they said some do have reciprocal benefits, but they are all different.

ETA: Sunday River responded to my question by saying to ask Wachusett since it is their choice to give discounts to their mountain.. Weird. I guess that answers the question though.
 
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#16
I don't remember right off which are new, but Sunday River, Taos, and Alta all stand out. I'm curious to find out what the deal will be for those. I miss when Sunapee had a deal for Wachusett passholders, before it became Epic. I think Killington, Pico, and Whiteface are new too.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#17
I don't remember right off which are new, but Sunday River, Taos, and Alta all stand out. I'm curious to find out what the deal will be for those. I miss when Sunapee had a deal for Wachusett passholders, before it became Epic. I think Killington, Pico, and Whiteface are new too.
I don't remember any connection between the ORDA mountains and Wachusetts except the last year of the MAX Pass. The Boston Ski Expo would be a good time to ask about these perks, both at the Wawa booth and the other mountains.
 

MsWax

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#18
Cannon is awesome when it's not icy.

But on a normal skied-off day, it's not for the shy. The main lift goes up a ridge and has no easy way down. Any way you go after getting off that lift puts you on high-travel narrow trails -- and they are not skier-friendly since they get icy very from traffic. And yes, you better watch your back on weekends - that traffic thing is always an issue on those narrow trails. If your ice skiing skills are high and you're confident anyway, you won't mind.

A second lift takes you the rest of the way to the summit. The climate is different up there. Unbelievable views across the street to Mt. Lafayette greet you if you head to rider's left along the perimeter of the mountain. Two old winding trails remain from Cannon's early days. People love those trails, but I don't ski them because of the fast skiers coming around those bends blind to what's in front of them. I don't want to get hit by those people who think they are experts because they ski Cannon's old trails fast.

If you're a lover of tight glades, Cannon is for you. If you want a very long steep glade (Kinsman Glade) that runs from close to the summit all the way down to the highway below, got it. How about a very challenging run beneath the tram (DJ's Tram Line)? Got that too. If you like difficult bump runs, Cannon's got them in abundance.

Cannon has a "family ski area" at the bottom near the main lodge. It has easy and challenging runs, and it has two lifts. Cannon has no dedicated beginner area, however. I left to teach at Bretton Woods partly because of that.

Cannon is known as a "skier's mountain." Do with that what you will. I worked as an instructor there for 8 years. Ask me questions and I'll try to answer.
This is a fair assessment. My family calls Cannon "home," but we ski a fair bit at Bretton Woods as well. Comparing the 2 with regards to skiing ability, I find...

Never Evers: Cannon wins. Their Tuckerbrook area offers a lot more "bunny slope" options for people who have never skied before vs. Bretton Woods "learning quad" area

Beginner trails beyond bunny slope thru Intermediate skiers: Bretton Woods is the clear winner. This is their "bread and butter," and they do an amazing job grooming, so even if mother nature has not been kind, the conditions are decent at Bretton Woods.

Strong Intermediate and Experts: Cannon wins here. They have more challenging trails and more variety to their trails (pitch, curviness, groomed vs. ungroomed, trail width) than Bretton Woods, where many of the trails have the same feel. However, even in good conditions, the mountain has "pinch points" that get skied off early, so we rarely ski past 3pm (usually call it a day sometime after 2).

Glades: I love Bretton Woods glades, probably because I'm not a strong skier in the trees. They have a variety of steep vs. tame, but the tree spacing is always "reasonable" to me. I've gone into some of Cannon's "easier" glades (Lost Boys), and still find it too tight for my liking! However, my kids and husband love the glades at Cannon, so this is definitely a personal preference (or ability) kind of thing.

Lines: Cannon almost never has lift lines. If I have to wait more the 5 minutes to get on a lift it's a busy day. At Bretton Woods, you can wait up to 30 minutes (or more) on any weekend.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
I confirm what @MsWax says above, with one exception.

Teaching never-evers requires that the beginners walk uphill, turn around without taking off for Vermont, then skiing down a very short distance and stopping. This early learning experience works best if the turn-around point at the top of the walk is flat. Cannon has no such thing; they have to learn to turn around on a pitch, which involves teaching them a bullfighter turn; this takes time out of the short lesson (1.5 hours) and some don't learn it and take off down the hill, out of control. Those who don't take off are filled with panic. Those first straight runs also work best if the stopping area at the bottom offers the beginners a bit of unobstructed flat space to coast to a stop. Nope, Cannon does not have that; beginners have to stop with a braking wedge before hitting the fence with all the skis on it, and there is cross traffic (a lot of it on weekends) going in both directions where they need to stop. Did I mention that there is traffic where the beginners need to do this first stuff? They cannot be taken to the Tuckerbrook area until they can stop, turn left, and turn right. There is NO protected, beginner-friendly terrain for this essential step. Never-evers have to deal not only with technical challenges, but real danger and fear that's justified.

For this reason I left to teach at Bretton Woods. There the beginner terrain for that first straight run and their first turns is flat at the top, has a flat area at the bottom long enough for beginners to coast to a stop if they fail to hold a wedge, and it's completely protected from cross-traffic. The factors contributing to fear (adult first-timers, that is) are limited at Bretton Woods, and multiplied beyond reason at Cannon. Fear is why aults have difficulty learning to ski. 85% of first day skiers across the USA don't ever return. I don't know the statistics at Cannon, but I bet they are higher.

But MsWax is right; once beginners learn to turn left, right, and stop by turning to the side, the next level of terrain in the Tuckerbrook area is somewhat better than what Bretton Woods offers. There is really only one run at Bretton Woods for that first venture onto the mountain. It's long, but is a narrow "road" that involves multiple trail crossings that involve waiting for traffic to clear.

Cannon's Tuckerbrook area, on the other hand, has a long circular route they can repeat all day long that starts with one trail from Tuckerbrook's top. If they venture down any of the other trails from that top area, they encounter a "headwall" that scares the bejeebers out of them. Best to try those headwalls first time with an instructor. Once they can do those, they are ready, sorta, for the Eaglecliff lift, if it's open. Which it often isn't.

As an isntructor who has to teach beginners, I'll take Bretton Woods' limitations for beginners over Cannon's.

Everything else I totally agree with. It's good to know others here on this forum frequent the places I ski so often. Maybe, MsWax, we can take a few turns together this upcoming season.
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#20
As an isntructor who has to teach beginners, I'll take Bretton Woods' limitations for beginners over Cannon's.
As someone who learned on a relatively steep slope as a teen long ago (rope tow, blue pitch these days) and then was a parent with a child who started at age 4, I would be more inclined to take a never-ever adult or nervous child/teen to Bretton Woods over Cannon for the first few lessons. For a kid under age 8, would depend a bit on the timing. During early season, BW would be the first choice. Mid-season, probably Cannon if have to go on a weekend. Late season, would depend on which the kid liked better.

Have only skied a day each at BW and Cannon. My inclinations are based not only on the beginner terrain but also the lodge and environment. Also assumes that the first day was planned somewhat in advance, before it's known what the weather and snow conditions will be. Of course, pricing is different between the two as well and that could be a factor.

Must admit I'm also nervous about the potential of a snowy road getting to Cannon from the south. Have driven in a blizzard on the 2-lane section of I-93 from Lincoln on a day that was clear everywhere else. Was headed to Sunday River and was very glad when I took the exit for US3 and the road was perfectly dry with no snow in sight.
 

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