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Diva Safari, Day #8: Bretton Woods

After a solid week of excruciatingly cold weather, we’re finally out of the ice box And what a relief. I never thought the 20’s could feel so tropical. When you go from -20 to postive 20, it’s paradise. Seriously, where are the palm trees? On top of that, we had about 4 inches of snow overnight. The result: Four happy Divas!

Today we skied Bretton Woods. I was here a couple years ago with my husband, and we had a fantastic day. It was dumping snow and we had a blast in the trees. In fact, I wrote about it here.

So of course I had to come back. And am I glad I did, since it proved that my last visit wasn’t  a fluke. Once again, a fabulous day.

Bretton Woods isn’t the biggest ski area around, nor the gnarliest. But the groomers here are a blast, and the glades — ah, the glades. There’s tree skiing here for all abilities. Since my last visit, the mountain has expanded to include the Mount Stickney Glades, 30+ acres of tree skiing served by a T-bar with a sweet little warming hut.

Here we are at the warming hut, with our guide for the day, Alexa, the mountain’s assistant general manager:


Here’s a better view of the hut’s exterior. A great place to stop on a cold day:


And here’s SkiSailor, in the glades. See the smile? That pretty much sums it up, for all of us.


The views from the mountain are amazing. Here’s what you see, pretty much from everywhere at Bretton Woods: Mount Washington, the largest mountain in the northeast:


Bretton Woods has some other cool stuff, too, which we didn’t have a chance to do. There’s a zip line canopy tour which descends over a thousand feet of elevation. And yes, it’s open in the winter (we did see someone zip by overhead). And there’s a slopeside indoor climbing wall, also open year round.

Once we were done skiing, we took a side trip over to the magnificent Omni Mount Washington Hotel, which is right across the road. The hotel was built in 1902, and has to be seen to be believed. It’s gorgeous!

And inside the hotel:


And this, from the hotel’s back porch. I’d love to unwind here, at the end of the day:

Okay, back to the mountain. For those who want to know, here are some stats for Bretton Woods:

Vertical drop – 1,500 feet
Base elevation – 1,600 feet
Trails and glades – 102 total, including 71 trails and 31 glades
Skiable acreage – 464 acres, with 25% Easiest; 29% More Difficult; 30% Difficult; 16% Expert
Annual snowfall – 200+ inches on average
Snowmaking – on 92% of trails
Exposure – East/Northeast
Terrain Parks – 4

I love this place. Bretton Woods is so, so, so much fun. I will definitely be back.

Seven mountains down, three to go. Tomorrow, Wildcat!




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Ode to Joy

I just had one of the best ski days of my life. And it wasn’t at the gnarliest hill on the planet, nor one that’s particularly exotic or remote.

It was at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

For those of you who don’t know, Bretton Woods is a mellow, modest-sized ski area tucked in the shadow of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States.  The area is known for the magnificent Mount Washington Hotel, site of the historic Bretton Woods conference of 1944, which established rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major industrial states (To find out more, go here. But since this is a ski blog, let’s move on.).

Here’s the hotel:

Impressive, isn’t it?

The ski area, not so much. Though the sign to at the entrance to Bretton Woods proclaims  “The largest ski area in NH,” it’s really fairly small. The vertical is only 1,500 feet and it’s a mere 464 acres. But the size of the place — or lack thereof — wasn’t the reason we chose to come.

We came on account of the trees.

For those of you who don’t know me, let me confess: I’m a bit of a wuss. You know that risk gene that causes people to huck cliffs and hurtle down 90° precipices? I don’t have it. I’m a decent enough skier, but let’s just put it this way. I know my limits. And skiing in densely packed trees is one of them.

For me, Bretton Woods was perfect. There are glades for all sorts of abilities. You want steep and dense? Check. Prefer something tamer ? Check on that, too.

At Bretton Woods, I became a tree fiend. Plus conditions were amazing. It was absolutely dumping snow. Our tracks filled in almost as soon as we made them.

We were giggling. Howling, Chortling with glee.

In short, we experienced pure, unadulterated,  joy. One of the best ski days I’ve ever had.

As I said before, size isn’t everything. Don’t turn up your nose if a ski area isn’t the biggest one around. You may have your own Ode to Joy.


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