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Waterville Valley, NH, first impressions Dec 2018

marzNC

Angel Diva
Waterville Valley doesn’t get mentioned very often, but it clearly has a loyal following of regulars who rarely ski anywhere else. At the end of a NE ski safari in NH that included a long weekend at Sunday River, I enjoyed checking out WV for the first time. Had a chance to wander around the WV “town” as well as ski most of the slopes when they were empty midweek. I liked WV quite a bit and can understand why it would be popular with multi-generational families. Reminds me of Jiminy Peak in some ways, but WV is bigger both in terms of terrain and non-skiing activities. I didn't know WV is also a major nordic center.

The rest of the ski safari trip report is here:
https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/i...afari-plus-sunday-river-dec-15-17-2018.23345/

Mt. Tecumseh above the valley
Waterville Valley town Dec 2018 - 2.jpg

Base lodge is uphill from the parking lots
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 9.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
One reason I ended up skiing Waterville Valley instead of Cannon was the weather. After a great day at Sunday River on Mon, 12/17, I had to decide which direction to go next before heading to Boston to pick up my daughter for winter break. The weather forecast for the next day was for frigid temps (single digit daytime high) and high winds. I opted to skip skiing that day. I drove from Bethel to Franconia for the night. The bonus was that Mr. and Mrs. @canski were free for dinner. It was snowing when I pulled into the Best Western in Franconia. canski came to pick me up for the short drive to Littleton. We had a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant.

The next morning, I called the Valley Inn at WV and booked a room for the night for a good rate since it was early season, midweek. After the weather cleared out, I drove the back way from Franconia to Cannon just to check out the base. The upper mountain was closed at Cannon due to high winds. That was the case for the gondola at Loon too. After six straight days of northeast skiing, relaxing for a day felt like a good idea.

Hand written notification about wind hold at Cannon

Cannon Dec 2018 - 1.jpg

Top of Cannon hidden from view
Cannon Dec 2018 - 2.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Waterville Valley lodging is all in the valley, which is a short drive from the ski slopes. There are a couple of resort hotels, lots of condos, as well as several independent hotels and inns. There is a fitness center with an indoor pool that can be accessed if lodging includes a Freedom Pass. The Freedom Pass also includes the resort bus around the town and up to the ski area. The top of the road near the parking lots and base is a bit steep and was snow covered. I didn’t have a problem with my 2WD minivan, but would not want to make the drive without AWD during a snowstorm.

The Valley Inn room was comfortable. Plenty of room for two beds and a little alcove with comfortable chairs and a nice view. The lobby is split by a 2-sided fireplace and comfortable chairs. There was a supply of games and books.

After walking around the town center, which includes the indoor skating rink, I had a good dinner at the Coyote Grill. It’s easy to see how WV can host major events such as the U.S. National Freestyle Championships. Things will be busy in March 2019 with three national championships scheduled.

Valley Inn
Waterville Valley town Dec 2018 - 1.jpg

Town center, lodging on upper floors, retail on ground floor
Waterville Valley town Dec 2018 - 4.jpg

Ice rink on one side of the town center (to the right)
Waterville Valley town Dec 2018 - 3.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Skiiing on Mt. Tecumseh dates from 1934 when the first trail was cut by the CCC. WV installed the first high speed detachable chair in 1988. It’s was a rocky road for a while but with the opening of Green Peak after ten years of planning and construction, WV seems to be on an upswing. The nordic trails cover over 40 miles.

Several major upgrades were finished for the 2018-19 season. Waterville Valley had a really big booth at the Boston Ski Expo in November. After checking the place out, it makes sense that they are working hard to attract new guests. The total price tag for planned improvement is $7.5 million. Would’ve been a couple million more if Green Peak had a high speed quad instead of re-using a triple from elsewhere at WV. That’s a lot of investment for a small ski resort.

Green Peak feels “old school” with a slow lift and narrow winding trails, especially in comparison to most of the WV groomers that are popular with the racers. That's not necessarily bad. The triple will probably be a good way to get away from lift lines on busy weekends. Green Peak has green, blue, and seriously steep black trails that are visible from the lift.

WV is using an RFID system that does not require gates.

Impressive terrain park, enough to host the U.S. National Freestyle Championships
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 1.jpg

High speed lift almost to the summit. Original lift went to the top, but then was often on wind hold.
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 3.jpg

Mid-mountain lodge actually pretty close to the top. Double chair at the top being replaced with a T-bar, which will have less wind issues. The main blue run is really wide!
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 4.jpg

View of Mt. Tecumseh from Green Peak
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 5.jpg

Nice wide beginner trail
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 6.jpg

A little terrain park in the woods, with a "sugar shack" to ski thru, with or without catching air when exiting, snow was nice and soft
Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 7.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The White Mountain Superpass includes WV, Bretton Woods, Cannon, and Cranmore. A pretty good deal, especially for college students or seniors who are more or less locals.

The Silver Streak program for over 50 folks is like nothing I’ve come across before. For about $100, members not only get a season locker and prime parking, there is a host in the lodge Mon-Thu, 9:00-12:00 with coffee/tea. There are also free clinics and weekly social gatherings. Every member has a name badge. Even holdings a few clinics about uphill travel for the members with plenty of energy. With a membership of almost 200, there is always someone to ski with, at least from 9:00-11:00. Most of the seniors were long gone by noon, which is typical of small ski areas in the northeast in my experience.

It was clear that many of the seniors have been skiing WV with their children and grandchildren for quite a few years.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The lifts that were running were White Peak Express, Valley Run quad, and Green Peak triple. That covered most of the terrain. When busy, the Sunnyside and Northside doubles are probably a way to avoid lift lines.

The Schwendi Hut near the summit is a good place to warm up. The cozy lower floor has a stove in the corner. There are good views from the deck of the entire valley.

Waterville Valley slopes Dec 2018 - 8.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I had a chance to continue exploring Waterville Valley on March 13, 2019. I skied a full day after making the short drive from Lincoln in plenty of time to make first chair, and did the 2-hour drive to Waltham in the afternoon.

After getting a feel for WV in December, I was very interested in skiing more of Green Peak. Also got a chance to check out the new T-bar at the summit, which opened in late February. The addition of Green Peak and a more reliable way to access the summit blues when it’s windy makes WV that much more interesting in terms of variety of terrain.

Given that it was a nice blue sky day with no wind, the seniors who are members of Silver Streak were anxious to get on the fresh corduroy. There was a line by 8:45 and at 9:00 most of the people on the first 15 chairs were seniors. Heard from the Silver Streaks' host of that their 10th Mountain Reunion Day went well. The idea is for the even to become an annual tradition.

Took a ride on Sunnyside, a slow triple (not double as I said in Post #6) that runs along the side of True Grit (double-black) and ends close to the mid-mountain lodge. Can imagine people lapping black runs off Sunnyside on a busy weekend. The blacks and double-blacks at WV are sufficiently steep to challenge advanced/expert skiers, especially if on the icy side or bumped up. I skied one of the new blacks on Green Peak, Wayne Wong Way, after watching how someone else handled the icy initial section. Made it okay but definitely made my heart race a bit since I usually avoid icy conditions.

WV has 265 acres, with snowmaking on the trails. It skis bigger in some ways. It’s possible to ski the entire 2010 ft vertical in one run, assuming the T-bar is running. It’s clear seniors and intermediates have a variety of blues to enjoy. Other terrain includes steep groomers good for racers to practice carving, terrain parks large and small, black bumps, or trees, along with miles of nordic trails. WV has a lot to offer mixed-ability groups or multi-generational families who can stay overnight on a semi-regular basis. Even offers a free kid pass for an adult who buys a full season pass. Seniors can save starting at age 65, but have to wait until 80 to ski for free.

If I lived less than three hours from Waterville Valley, I could see spending a few days there every season.

Riding up the new plastic T-bar that access three blue groomers at the summit
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 2.jpg

Double chair for green trails only
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 3.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Most of the time midweek, can count on WV to have three chairlifts running from the base plus the beginner double. Not sure how often Sunnyside and the T-bar run midweek. Northside is a slow mid-mountain double that probably only runs on weekends.

Apparently the chairlift at the summit took up more space on the trail. It was often closed due to wind gusts. The hope is that the T-bar will stay open more often is less than ideal weather. It actually runs faster than the old chairlift.

View from the summit after riding T-bar, the three blue trails are nice and wide. Green Peak in the distance (center).
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 1.jpg

Looking up at summit trails, T-bar on the far right
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 5.jpg

View from Valley Run quad of bumps on Rock Island (blue)
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 4.jpg

Bumps on left side of Ciao, Green Peak in the background
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 6.jpg

Looking towards True Grit and Sunnyside lift
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 8.jpg

Mt. Tecumseh trails, view from Green Peak triple. Oblivion (blue) on the left is a favorite first run for Silver Streak seniors.
Waterville Valley slopes Mar2019 - 7.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The expansion of the top floor (3rd) of the lodge wasn't quite finished. But the interior was fully functional for booting up. There are glass garage doors that will clearly be used during the summer season. It's nice that there are restrooms on this floor, in addition to the large restrooms on the ground floor. The free boot check (when busy) and cafeteria are on the second floor. There are plenty of cubbies along the walls.

Waterville Valley lodge Mar2019 - 1.jpgWaterville Valley lodge Mar2019 - 2.jpgWaterville Valley lodge Mar2019 - 3.jpgWaterville Valley lodge Mar2019 - 4.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Didn't register that the second floor of the lodge was also renovated recently.

›› BASE LODGE RENOVATION
Last year we began Phase II of our projects and this winter we will see those to completion, with a 12,000 square foot renovation project to the Base Lodge. Last season guests saw the first phase of this multi-year process which made for better flow from car to snow, but this winter is all about the views and elbow room.

Upon entry, the first thing guests will notice is higher ceilings, a more spacious feel, and better access to the slope. We installed a wall of glass windows facing the slope which allows for more natural light and we regraded the slope outside of the lodge giving better views of the mountain. We’ve opened up more room for seating, with 3,000 square feet of expansion which will give you more elbow room during the lunch time rush. We’ve also added direct access from the second floor to the slope making getting on the lifts faster and easier.

The third floor, previously home to Buckets, is getting a complete face lift that will reflect our freestyle skiing heritage along with a new name, The Freestyle Lounge. We have removed the old, underutilized deck which stood 12 feet off the ground with the support of a steel structure. The new and improved third floor will feature the best view of the mountain. The expansion will also allow for additional seating on the third floor, creating a more pleasurable dining experience along with more opportunities for lounging while you enjoy your favorite brew or hot cocoa post skiing and riding.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The stories behind the naming of the Green Peak trails give a glimpse into the history of the place and some of the long time staff who took care of guests for decades.

The Silver Streaks contributed a name for one of the black trails. Calvert was still around in February 2017 when Green Peak opened. However, the trail wasn't open during his last season before his passing because there wasn't enough natural snow or snowmaking capacity during that low snow winter. He was the inspiration for the 10th Mountain event.

"TRAIL 59: CALVERT'S CROSSING
Named in honor of Richard "Dick" Calvert

Born on June 11, 1923, and one of the oldest ski racers in New England. He is also the last of his WWII 10th Mountain Division to continue ski racing. He has been a member of the Waterville Valley Silver Streaks for over 30 years and continues to bring his lovely wife, Millie, to the mountain weekly to participate in the Silver Streaks. Dick is a wonderful human being with a joyous heart that brings energy and inspiration to everyone around him. He reminds us all what to aspire to, at any age."
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
For future reference, here's the WV pass prices for 2019-20. The cost of the adult Plus Pass is around the same as Full Ikon. However, for families it's possible to get a free kid pass. That certainly makes a difference for a family with a place to stay for weekends and holidays with 2 skiing adults and 2 kids.

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