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NH ski safari plus Sunday River Dec. 15-17, 2018

marzNC

Angel Diva
I'm finishing up a little ski safari in NH that included Loon, Wildcat, Attitash, Bretton Woods, and Waterville Valley. Also a long weekend at Sunday River which involved sharing a condo with a couple friends. Along the way I met up with a few Divas, which was great fun as always. Got pretty lucky in terms of weather conditions. In particular, not too cold, no rain, and no need to worry about driving my NC minivan in bad road conditions. For this type of trip, I’m interested in exploring new places so having a view is almost more important that snow conditions. Although it’s obviously more fun if the skiing is good. The bonus was that more terrain open than usual in mid-December. I'm headed to Boston soon to pick up my daughter from school for her winter break.

Did miss out on one ski day because it was too cold and windy. When I stopped by Cannon just to look around the base, it was 14 degrees and the top of the mountain was closed due to high winds. Even though I could’ve skied at Loon again without paying for a lift ticket because I have an Ikon pass, it wasn’t worth the effort. The gondola was also closed due to high winds.

Keep reading for a few pictures and impressions of the places I went for the first time. Got to see Mt. Washington from several different angles.

Mt. Washington Hotel and Mt. Washington with blue sky
NH Mt Washington hotel Dec 2018.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
First ski day was at Loon. Conditions were quite nice on the groomers. Not much ungroomed open in any case. They were saving the snow for the weekend in some cases. The Ikon pass made it easy to decide to stop by on the way to North Conway where I had a timeshare unit for a couple nights.

Bonus was making new friends with a group of four seniors who are locals. They ski Cannon when conditions are decent there, and also have passes for Loon. Turned out to know @canski who is also a Cannon regular. I was encouraged to introduce myself because they had Hot Buns and were clearly advanced skiers. One of the men apparently skis every weekday. He likes to go pretty fast on groomers.

Loon 12Dec2018.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Since Wildcat and Attitash can be skied on the same day even with a day ticket, the idea was to go to both. I'd spent a day at Wildcat a few years ago but it was early Dec and only the summit lift was open. This time a triple was open, and there were more trails to explore. Nothing ungroomed was worth doing. But the groomers were in good shape in the morning. Temperatures were in the high 20s and no wind so quite comfortable for Wildcat.

What I enjoyed the most was getting plenty of good views of Mt. Washington and Tuckerman's Ravine.

NH Wildcat Dec 2018.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Attitash is made up of two mountains. Attitash is clearly the older section, with relatively slow lifts. The snow surface wasn't quite as nice as at Wildcat. The Bear side has a high-speed quad and the race training area. Definitely trails for all ability levels. The steeper sections on Attitash were pretty steep. Short trails, but makes a good backup if conditions aren't good at Wildcat because of low visibility or high winds.

Since I arrived around 2:00, there were parking spots in little parking area next to the Attitash lodge. The main lot is across the road and access is via a pedestrian tunnel. The turn off for Bear wasn't that obvious.

View of Attitash base
NH Attitash Dec 2018 - 1.jpg
Mt. Washington in the distance
NH Attitash Dec 2018 - 2.jpg
NH Attitash Dec 2018 - 3.jpg

Bear base
NH Attitash Dec 2018 - 4.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Over the course of the past week, I've come up with a new way of thinking about a ski area. The question is how long I need to ride enough lifts and check out enough trails to get a sense of the place. Doesn't need to be every lift and every trail. Since I check out new places in the northeast during early or late season, rarely have 100% of the terrain open. Also like to check out the base lodge and mid-mountain lodge(s). Can learn a lot just looking at restrooms.

The categories are 1/2 day, 1 day, or 2 days. I spent about 2 hours at Attitash and that was enough. So Attitash is a 1/2 day ski area. Same is true of my home mountain, Massanutten. Wildcat and Bretton Woods are 1 day ski areas. Loon during early season needs 1 day, but if all sections and most black trails are open then would be good to have 2 days. 1 day is enough to get a good feel for Waterville Valley. Sunday River needs 2 days if all eight mountains are open.

Didn't have a chance to ski Cannon, but did stop by and walked around the base lodge. I think 1 day is enough. That's assuming the tram is running.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Bretton Woods
 

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marzNC

Angel Diva
For Bretton Woods, @canski joined me for the morning. Always fun to meet a Diva in person for the first time. We took a tour of all the open lifts. The snow coverage was good. There were clouds over Mt. Washington but I could see that BW has great views. The green and blue groomers were very nice. Really good for practicing quite short turns, which canski can do a lot better than I can. Easy to see what BW is a great area for families and seniors who like cruising groomers. The snow surfaces and chairlifts were better than at Attitash.

The construction of the new lift and summit lodge is clearly way behind schedule. Definitely will make BW that much more fun for midweek skiing. After lunch I found the glades over by the T-bar. They weren't open but looked like fun.

The unique feature to the BW lodge is the climbing wall. It's a decent height. There is also a bouldering section. What makes the wall more impressive is that it's "fake rock" along the lines of what I've seen at the NC Zoo in the large cat enclosures. So it looks like a cliff inside a building. The overhang in the middle of the wall is pretty impressive.

Bretton Woods trails come off a ridge
NH Bretton Woods Dec 2018 - 2.jpg

Tree skiing exists when conditions are good enough.
NH Bretton Woods Dec 2018 - 1.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
After Bretton Woods, I drove to Bethel to meet up with @diymom and a friend, Dave, from DC. We shared a 3BR/3.5BA condo at the Bethel Inn that I got using timeshare points. I'd stayed at Bethel Inn several years ago for a Diva meetup. However, this time there was a lot more terrain open at Sunday River.

I got lucky and snow conditions were quite good all three days (Sat, Sun, Mon) that I skied. Sat was a Diva meetup (MOTH thread). diymom and I had a chance to meet and ski a few runs with @LA Coombs on Sat afternoon. On Sat evening, @BackCountryGirl came to the condo and we had a nice dinner together. Even had several inches of snow Sunday night that made the skiing on Monday really fun when I got to ski with BCG.

It takes a while to get the hang of going between the different mountain peaks at SR. I've skied SR before, but this was the first time Jordan, Locke, and White Cap were open. Also had a chance to walk around the lobby of the Jordan Hotel and eat at Camp inside the Grand Summit Hotel. Must say that the food at SR is pretty good. It's nice that each eating place has it's own specialties.

Views of Sunday River Dec. 15-17, 2018
Sunday River Dec 2018 - 1.jpgSunday River Dec 2018 - 2.jpgSunday River Dec 2018 - 3.jpgSunday River Dec 2018 - 4.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Since I skied at SR three days in a row, with no rain or frigid temps, I felt quite lucky. The bonus was a few inches of snow on Sunday night. I saw the sun all three days.

On Sat morning, we managed to get parking in the few rows of free parking available right in front of South Peak Lodge by arriving around 7:45am. SR lifts open at 8:00am on weekends. On Sun, I arrived about the same time but there were fewer people around on Sunday in general. diymom and Dave had to head out on Sunday so only skied on Saturday. We all have the Ikon pass. To use Ikon at SR, have to get a sticky ticket. Can either get one each day or can get a multi-day ticket for consecutive days. It's possible to get a ticket for the next day after 3:00pm the afternoon before.

On Sat morning, a Maine resident who Dave knows drove over for a day trip. He knows SR well and likes to ski fast. The blue/black groomers the three of us skied were pretty frozen. Conditions were much better on Barker in the afternoon because that mountain was in the sun and warmer. That's were I was skiing with @diymom. Heard from Dave that Locke and White Cap never thawed out in the afternoon.

Sunday morning the groomers were in pretty good shape. I met a mother who grew up skiing SR on the White Cap lift and did a few runs with her, including a run down White Heat, which is was groomed and is rated double-black. White Heat is certainly on the steep side, and was pretty slick but skiable. The runs I did following her down Obsession were more fun. Her son is doing the seasonable program, which ends at noon on Sundays. Like many of the people I talked to at SR, they live in the Boston area. Pretty much all the groomers were pretty slick in the afternoon even though there weren't too many people around. I never waited more than a few minutes.

Monday was the best day in terms of snow conditions. The Jordan blues that were skied off the previous afternoon were great run. The snow was just wet enough to form a good base and deep enough that I wasn't hitting the hard pack below very often. Since I had the opportunity to follow BCG (Level 3 instructor), I got a lot of good practice. We even found some decent bumps in a few places.

Over the three days, I skied all the blues at least once, did the groomed blacks that were open, and had a look at the tree terrain. Also had fun on the long green Lollapalooza off Jordan and Dream Maker on North Peak. SR has a good variety of terrain for all levels.

Heard that the T-bar for the Race Arena has been ordered. It will be installed in 2019. That will be better for race training, and will mean less people waiting for the Locke Triple.

For SR regulars, they talk about the lifts by number. The chondola is #7, Aurora is #12, Jordan is #14. The numbers are what show on the trail map.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I was lucky to ride the Attitash triple before Dec. 17. Apparently the problems that started that day are persisting in spite of a full re-build Dec. 28-29. It's the only way to the summit of the Attitash side so has a big impact, especially for advanced skiers.

https://www.attitash.com/blog/lifts/summit/
December 17 , 2018 - Power Outage
  • An ill-fated squirrel decides to run across a 3-phase power line feeding power into Attitash. Attitash & NH Electric Co-Op worked through the outage and power is restored that morning.
  • After the outage, we noticed the first indication of a power supply issue at the Summit Triple. During that day, two fuses blew within the drive control system, which were replaced, along with the drive control board.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Some news that I heard while at Sunday River is that the money has been raised for a surface lift for the race program. That will not only be better for race training, it will mean that the racers won't be buzzing down as often from the top of a chair lift to get to the race arena. Gould Academy has been fundraising for a while. It's a joint effort of Gould, Sunday River, and the SR Ski & Snowboard Club. The T-bar is going to cost around $1 million to buy and install. It will be read for the 2019-20 season.
 

MaineSkiLady

Angel Diva
For SR regulars, they talk about the lifts by number. The chondola is #7, Aurora is #12, Jordan is #14. The numbers are what show on the trail map.
I was a regular there for quite a few years (5?), and I just could never get the numbers straight (pre-Chondola, so there was a triple and a double at South Ridge, in addition to the HSQ). We just called the lifts by the region they served. Easy enough.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I was a regular there for quite a few years (5?), and I just could never get the numbers straight (pre-Chondola, so there was a triple and a double at South Ridge, in addition to the HSQ). We just called the lifts by the region they served. Easy enough.
The only time it was an issue when I was getting advice from a local about how to get over to Jordan. All he used was the numbers. Took me a while to realize that the numbers were on the trail map.

My home mountain only has a few lifts, and the chairlifts are #3-6. But we end up saying Lift 5 and Lift 6 for the upper mountain and call the two base lifts by the green trails that they are on.

Taos uses numbers for lifts. Not confusing when only the numbers are printed on the trail map.
 

MaineSkiLady

Angel Diva
The only time it was an issue when I was getting advice from a local about how to get over to Jordan. All he used was the numbers. Took me a while to realize that the numbers were on the trail map.
That's crazy. Why didn't he just call the lifts by the region they serve? The only way to get to Jordan is via Aurora, meaning you have to take the Aurora chair at some time or other. We called the lifts by the regions served: Whitecap, White Heat, Tempest, Locke, Barker, Spruce, North Peak, Aurora, Oz, Jordan. Also: Jordan transfer double (rarely in operation, only busiest days) now Chondola, South Ridge quad, and there used to be a South Ridge triple and double. Done.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
For notes and pics about Waterville Valley, check out the separate trip report. I really liked WV.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/i...e-valley-nh-first-impressions-dec-2018.23572/

On the way to WV, I stopped by Cannon just to look at the base. It was too cold and windy that day to make it worth skiing. The summit lift at Cannon was closed and so was the gondola at Loon.

A few diehards were in the Cannon lodge, but not many.

Clearly an old school way to communicate lift and trail status
Cannon Dec 2018 - 1.jpgCannon Dec 2018 - 2.jpg
 

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