New Hampshire’s Largest Ski Resort – Grandest Hotel

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire is the setting of New Hampshire’s largest ski and snowboard resort.  It is also home of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.  Together they offer arguably one of the best ski and stay experiences in the East.

If you are looking for a stay in a grand hotel that is over century old, steeped in history, yet well-maintained and cruising wide trails during the day and night the Omni Mount Washington Resort (OMWR) is the place for you.

The Mount Washington Hotel

Even though Bretton Woods is the largest ski area in New Hampshire, it has a modest vertical drop of 1,500 feet. The trail and lift layout is such that one can easily traverse peaks to access almost all areas without much poling or skating.

The mountain operations staff really knows how to lay down the snow and groom it with natural snow for an enjoyable experience. We found some stellar early morning corduroy on the “groomers” like Range View and Big Ben, Bigger Ben and Coos Caper.  The many wide trails with gentle slopes make for a great on mountain experience.  My favorite trails are Granny’s Grit and Herb’s Secret just below the top of the Zephyr Quad.

If you don’t get enough runs in during the day, Bretton Woods offers night skiing off of the Bethlehem Quad.

The OMWH is one of those grand hotels of a bygone era where many of the rich and famous of the late 1800s would spend their summers.  There is so much history that goes along with the Hotel, that you could easily spend an awe filled day just walking around.  The Historic Hotel Tour, which is offered daily, provides insight into the visionaries who built this first of its kind hotel and buildings, and the later rehabilitation, should not be missed.  There are rumors that a ghost rooms the grounds too.

Even though the Hotel is over a century old it offers many modern amenities including several very nice restaurants, a spa, heated indoor and outdoor pools and workout facilities.

Located about two and half hours from Boston and about six and half hours from New York City on interstate highways the OMWR is a spectacular getaway experience.  No five star resort in the East that is coupled with a snow sports venue can compare.

The Hotel itself is worth the trip.  It boasts impressive views of Mount Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, and rest of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range.  Walking into the lobby of the hotel is an awe-inspiring experience.  High ceilings, ornate furnishings and architecture, and Tiffany glass give the feeling of stepping back in time.  In a sense you are.

Courteous staff are available to meet your every need from parking your car, carrying your bags, to checking your skis and board or shuttling you between the Hotel and the base lodge, or local restaurants.

After the shuttle drops you off in front of the Bretton Woods base lodge it is an easy walk to inside for booting up and getting ready to hit the slopes.

Immediately outside the base lodge three lifts are easily accessible.  The Bethlehem Express Quad will take you almost to the summit Mt. Rosebrook.  On a clear day the vista from any of the ski area’s peaks back over the valley floor and past the Mount Washington Hotel with the Presidential Range beyond is breathtaking.  It has to be one of the prettiest views in the East!

A short run down to the Rosebrook Summit Express Quad will bring you to the summit where green and blue trails provide easy access to the back to the base, West Mountain and the rest of the 460 acres of ski terrain.

Bretton Woods Ski Area

If Nordic skiing is on your agenda there is easy access to one of the largest cross country ski regions on the East Coast with over 100 kilometers of trails on the OMWR grounds and the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. The trail network crosses open fields, meanders through woods of spruce and fir, passes beaver ponds and mountain streams, and traverses open hardwood stands.

Nordic skiers can even ride the Bethlehem Express detachable quad lift to the Mountain Road, a five-mile Nordic trail located at the Bretton Woods alpine ski area, and enjoy T-bar rides and high elevation groomed Nordic trails at the Mount Stickney Cabin.

Whatever your taste for outdoor adventure at the end of the day one can always return to the Hotel and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or coffee in in the lobby, visit, read or play cards or just enjoy the ambiance of this grand old lady which is the Mount Washington Hotel.

For more history or to book your reservation please visit:
https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/bretton-woods-mount-washington

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End of Year Storm Brings Crowds to Bromley

A late December Northeaster that dumped almost a foot of snow throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine added to the natural and machine-made base at many areas. The snow coupled with the holiday crush brought out the skiers and riders. Better than last year conditions continues to bring people to the mountains.

On the final Friday of 2016, the eve of New Year’s Eve, one day after the storm passed, the pent up demand from last season manifested itself in hundreds of snow seekers getting out and on the slopes.

All over the Northeast resorts were reporting the best single day in years.Alm

Almost resorts were geared up with most all lifts and much of the terrain open. Skiers and riders exercised patience in managing holiday week lift lines.

At Bromley Mountain in Peru, Vermont ines at the ticket windows busy with patrons exchanging pre-paid tickets for day passes. Many were picking up their seasons passes.

While waiting in line Assistant General Manager, Michael Van Eck approached a cashier and said that the Ski School phone was ringing off the hook and asked for more help. This is a great sign.

One skier from Long Beach, New York remarked, “What a difference a year makes?” He continued on saying that last year on this day it was raining and they gave up after a run or two and took off for other pursuits. This year he was hanging on the mountain while his under ten kids traversed the mountain with their instructor.

Despite a two-hour wind hold on the Sun Mountain Express Quad, visitors dispersed throughout the mountain. Lift operators worked to ensure that lines were moving and were orderly.

There was almost a foot of un-groomed natural powder on some of the eastern trails, including Corkscrew, were getting bumped up after a few hours.

Although it was a bit breezy temperatures were in the twenties and those who were prepared were able to stay out on the mountain and enjoy the end of 2016.

Once the Sun Mountain Express Quad came off of wind hold the crowds began to disperse throughout the mountain and lift lines decreased. Still, it was crowded but manageable and skiers and riders were having an enjoyable time.

Mountains across the Northeast are hoping that interest continues as they look forward to and prepare for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and the rest of the season.

 

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Mount Snow Ready for the Holidays

Skiers and riders heading out to Mount Snow in Southern Vermont this Christmas week will not see anything like they did last year.

There is snow and plenty of it!

In addition to the almost two feet of natural snow in the past few weeks, the snow making crew has been hard at work covering the trails. Fan guns and ground-mounted guns were belching the white stuff all over the mountain leading up to the holiday break.

One skier remarked on the lift that right before Christmas Eve last year there was a small path of snow about two feet wide from Cascade to Canyon. Not so this year; full coverage.

Plenty of exceptional corduroy was prepared for those lucky enough to get out early. Long John from top to bottom was all “corded up” and held up all day.

Over in Carinthia, the coverage was also good with many features and jumps in place. “The Farm” seemed to bloom over night and was packed with its barnyard best features.

Guns had been blazing over on the North Face with over a foot of man-made powder on Challenger which made for some great bumps late in the day.

More work was needed Sunbrook Area but it was coming along. There was full coverage on Cloud Nine and Thanks Walt.

Let us all hope that the weather we have had so far continues. There is still significant pent up demand after last season.

Great out and enjoy the skiing and riding where ever you can!

 

 

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This year getting the right start

top on the gondola at Whiteface Dec 14,2016 photo by Mike Roth

top on the gondola at Whiteface Dec 14,2016 photo by Mike Roth

It’s been snowing as we all can see and the ski areas are getting lots more snow than we are seeing here in the capital district. It seems the higher in elevation you get the more snow they are getting; even if it rains here there is always a good chance for snow in the mountains. Don’t let any rain dampen your spirits to go ski because there is some pretty good skiing here in the east.

Last week on Wednesday the 14th of December I went to Whiteface. Granted again not great amounts of snow on the roadsides during the drive up but when you looked up at the Whiteface terrain everything was covered and the skiing was FANTASTIC!

top of Excelsior

top of Excelsior

There were about 12 trails open but again everything was covered and as the day progressed more trails and lifts began to open. I am sure they are trying to save and make as much snow as they can for their big holiday week.

Thanks to the many weeks of early season snowfall, Vermont’s resorts have welcomed over 8 feet of natural snowfall to their slopes; they have expanded their terrain offerings and snowmaking coverage as the conditions have been on a positive note for this early season.

Jay Peak in Northern Vermont was reporting 5 feet of early snow in one week

In Southern Vermont, Mad River Glen opened on December 10th, and said it was one of the earliest opening days in years thanks to Mother Nature and the four feet of snow she’s brought to the Mad River Valley. Nothing like last year’s snow mounds

Bromley Mountain Resort has already received about a quarter of their average annual snowfall so far this season, and Killington Mountain Resort continues to see large increases in coverage. They are rapidly approaching last season’s total snowfall with 66” already fallen, including 18” in the last week. The holiday period in Killington is an exciting time, when operations are expanding with new trails, activities and attractions coming on line daily. They have lots of news this week, but most importantly, the skiing and riding conditions are the best we’ve seen in more than a year.

Consistently wintry weather, coupled with a healthy dose of natural snowfall, allowed the operations team to make serious expansion progress this week. They opened an engaging mix of natural snow trails, glades and snowmaking terrain, including the Needle’s Eye area, which boosted the Beast’s tally to more than 80 trails covering 359 acres. Future goals include Bear Mountain, within the next week, and Skyeship Base by the holiday. Check the Daily Report to follow the expansion progress.

With 18 inches of natural snowfall last week at Mount Snow, three more inches so far today the 22nd, and ideal snowmaking temperatures this week, they are prepared to make your holiday wishes come true.

If you’re planning on going to Mount Snow this holiday season you can expect snow-covered trails for every member of the family, from beginner to expert to park-lover.

They’re snowmaking team has been going to town and They’re planning to open Chute, Fallen Timbers, Milky Way, Ego Alley, and Roller Coaster by the weekend. Park builds are happening now in Prospector, The Farm, and Junkyard, and Grommet just reopened with a fresh build.

You can also enjoy a variety of events throughout the week, from Grommet Jam to the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks to live music at Snow Barn. If you haven’t made plans yet, there’s still time to save on lift tickets as well as vacation packages at Mount Snow.

great view from the top of Okemo 12/ 20/16 photo courtesy of Okemo

great view from the top of Okemo 12/ 20/16 photo courtesy of Okemo

Over at Okemo there is a beautiful snowy topping for your winter fun today ( 22nd)  dropping 2” around the resort! Reporting it’s some of the best early season skiing and riding they’ve seen in years!”

They are planning on opening Sprout, Promenade, Side Out, Rising Star, Day Break, Line Drive, Zip, and Moonshadow tomorrow the 23rd, which will bring their trail count to 70, which is over 60% of the mountain. In addition to our 371 skiable acres, they also have a variety of off-hill activities available for your holiday week. The Ice House is open for skating from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. almost daily with the option to rent skates and helmets at the rink. The Okemo Valley Nordic Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well with options ranging from snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and an indoor golf simulator. The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster opens today and tomorrow from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Check Okemo’s website for further time frames.

All in all there is plenty of snow to be skiing on at most ski areas in all of New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Everyone have a great holiday season and hope to see you on the slopes!

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Whiteface Cruising to a Great Season

Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, New York has great snow and conditions. Check out the video I shot this past Wednesday.

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SKI FREE AS SANTA!

Santa's in mass on slope

Santa’s in mass on slope

It’s getting whiter out there but with lots of red showing up early in the season

Last weekend nearly 200 Santa Clauses took over Sunday River Sunday morning for a holiday tradition.  Sunday River had their 17th annual Santa Sunday where skiers and riders who dressed up as Santa Claus got an additional free lift ticket for the day if they made a donation to the Sunday River Foundation.

The event is meant to draw skiers to the slopes early in the season.

There were Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’s everywhere as you can see by the photo. And it’s all for a good cause.

The money raised from the event will go to the Sunday River Foundation which helps fund community projects near the ski area. In years past upwards of $3000 was raised .

Since you missed the event at Sunday River or just did not want to drive to Maine from the Capital District there are 2 more opportunities to get to ski and ride for free as Santa coming up the next 2 weekend.

santas at whitefaceAt Whiteface Mountain resort, Tis the season for snow, skiing, and Santa, and Whiteface Mountain is celebrating with Santa’s Ski Free Day on Sunday, Dec.11. Skiers and riders who dress as Mr. or Mrs. Claus, participate in a group photo and arrive by 10 a.m. will receive a free lift ticket. Those who don’t have a jolly red suit can donate a gently used winter coat or a new toy (valued over $10) and receive 50% off a lift ticket for the day. Contributions will be a gifted to someone in need this holiday season.

Weekend festivities also include the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll from Dec.9-11. With a skating party, Santa meet and greets and a bustling Main Street filled with holiday shopping deals, live music, and a tree lighting ceremony, the holiday tradition makes for a spirited and merry occasion at Whiteface Lake Placid.

Visit www http://www.whiteface.com/events/santas-ski-free-day or contact Jon Lundin at jlundin@orda.org or 518-523-1655 ext. 5313 for more information.skisanta

And if you don’t want that Santa suit to go to waste you can do it again  the following Sunday , December 18th at 10am at  Windham Mountain Resort welcomes all skiing and riding Santa’s in head-to-toe costumes. A free lift ticket will be given for anyone dressed as Santa for the day, plus 1 additional midweek non-holiday voucher. All skiing and riding Santa’s will be required to pre-register. A minimum donation of $30 is requested at the time of registration. 100% of the registration fee will be given to the local food pantry at Hope Restoration Church in Windham, NY. Limited to 300 pre-registered guests. 8:00am: Pre-registered Santa check-in on the 2nd Floor, mountain side. 9:45am: Santa’s to meet at D-Lift for donation presentation. 10:00am: Group chairlift ride, followed by ski or ride down What’s Next. Check with Windham for more specific and pre- registration details.

I have attended numerous Santa days and the atmosphere is always exciting and great fun to participate or just watch all the Santa’s struggling to ski in the baggy Santa outfits.

Photos and cartoons by Mike Roth

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Killington Opens the 2016-17 Skiing and Riding Season in the East

With help from Mother Nature in terms of five inches of natural snow and cold temperatures and the work of an outstanding team of snowmakers, The Beast of the East, Killington Mountain Resort, kicked off the 2016-2017 on October 25th.  For several years Killington has had the longest season in the east.

The heros of opening day

The heroes of opening day

Killington had hoped to open at 9:00 AM but Mother Nature was not completely cooperative. The opening was pushed back to noon with the first gondola loading at 11:58 AM according to one skier who could just wait to get out. Many skiers and riders were queuing up at before the 9:00 scheduled opening. Those who closely monitored Killington’s Facebook page caught up to the minute details of the schedule.

Opening day was the annual Season Pass and Express Card holder appreciation day. Killington provided lunch for those who got out as well as free hot chocolate all day. Killington planned to open to the public on October 26th at 9:00 a.m. The Killington Parks season was scheduled to open on Wednesday as well, opening the early season Reason Terrain Park with six features.

A gondola heads for the top on opening day

A gondola heads for the top on opening day

Snowmaking continued throughout the day  on Tuesday with temperatures and humidity right at the margins. It was 34 degrees in the parking lot and there were snow flurries in the valleys.

Skiing and riding was limited to Upper and Lower Rime and Reason and the North Ridge Triple was the only upper mountain lift operating. Limited terrain for sure, but, heck, it’s October!

Those exiting the gondola after downloading showed their enthusiasm for the sport. One skier said it was “wet but good, one and done”. Another said it good to get out and they were glad they did it.

A wet and happy skier wraps up opening day at Killngton

A wet and happy skier wraps up opening day at Killington

Who can blame them after last season? The pent up demand after last season’s drought was just too much.

Staff in the ticket office was busy selling passes for those who had not gotten them before the opening day.

All of this will be good practice because in a little over five weeks Killington will host the Audi FIS Ski World Cup. The World Cup event will include the women’s giant slalom and slalom races and is expected to bring U.S. Ski Team superstars Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn to compete against the best women’s technical alpine skiers in the world.

Conditions are bound to get better in the coming weeks and months as the Beast of the East looks to set another record for the longest season in the East.

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Killington Pond Skimming – 2016

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Winter’s Last Day Certainly Wasn’t

This winter has been anything but in the northeast.  No surprise there.

What is a surprise is when you can find good conditions despite the lack of snow and the yoyo temperatures we have experienced all season long.  The abundance of human made snow seems to had held up better than mother nature’s.

Good conditions are exactly what we all found at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont on the last day of this winter, or shall I say the winter that wasn’t.

We found wide open trails with few skiers and riders on the last day of Winter
We found wide open trails with few skiers and riders on the last day of Winter

Cold weather returned on winter’s last day.  Temperatures were in the forties on morning the day before and dropped throughout the day bottoming out in the low twenties at night.

The low temperatures gave the groomers at Okemo something to work with.  And work with it they did.

In this writer’s opinion no resort grooms better than Okemo.

The forecast for the last day of winter was for sunshine and high temperatures in the low thirties all day. With the colder temperatures we had to add a few extra layers to what we had been wearing the past several times out. We had to get the mittens back out as well; hand warmers too.

It was a demo day at Okemo and skiers and riders were taking advantage of the opportunity to test out the equipment that would be available in the fall.  This added to the buzz and enthusiasm that abounded around the base area at Jackson Gore.

Crisp temperatures and blue skies always make for a great ski day and this day was no exception. The sun was apparent on our faces and my black ski pants were warmed by the sun’s radiance.

With fresh corduroy all over the place the pace was fast, the runs a joy.  Even though only about half the trails were open there was still plenty of cruising to be had.

Starting out at Jackson Gore to took a few runs on the Quantum Four lift.  Despite the cool temperatures the bubble was not needed.  We ripped down Sunset Strip, Blue Moon and Lower Limelight a few times and then headed south down Mountain Road to the Main base area.

There were still plenty of skiers and riders at Okemo
Skiers and riders were still queuing up for the Sunburst Six at Okemo

Up the Sunburst Six we went.  We were early enough to beat the crush that would come.  A couple of runs on the South Face Express found some bare spots but the patrollers had been out to mark them.  By late morning the almost equinox sun had turned to corduroy into frozen granular but not too heavy.  No mashed potatoes were served.

Some video from the last day of winter at Okemo

We trekked North and East to over to Solitude and took several great runs on Coleman Brook, Sidewinder, Heaven’s Gate and Boomerang.  These trails are just far enough north that the sun, which had reached its highest point in the sky in the past six months, had not done its damage.  With few skiers and riders on the trails and non existent list lines we were able to make several laps adding to our vertical for the day.

Deciding to call it a day we headed back to Jackson Gore where we started.  The demos were winding down but skiers and riders were basking and enjoying the last of the winter’s sun.

Okemo is scheduled to be open to April 3rd, but as always it is best to call or check before you go so you can be prepared for

 

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Spring Skiing at Stratton Mountain Resort

We headed over to Stratton Mountain in Vermont on March 9, 2016 to take in some spring skiing.  It was a great day.

Despite temperatures into the lower 60s the snow held up and the conditions were good. Too many skiers and riders stayed away and missed out. The lack of activity made for a surface that was not too churned up making it gripable and not too heavy.

Upper and Lower Standard were in good shape

Upper and Lower Standard were in good shape

Even though this season had been warmer that normal there have still been some cold days so I was looking forward to higher temperatures. Gone were the layers of clothing that kept me warm throughout the season. It was a pleasure to be able to move without my bulky parka and mittens.  A light shell and a thin pair of gloves worked best.  I was able to open to the vents on my helmet for the first time.

Great carving snow

Great carving snow

We started out in the Sunbowl which lived up to its name.  After a few runs we headed over to the “main mountain”.  A couple a runs on the Ursa Express banging on the bear, runs, Polar, Grizzly, Black and down.

It was cold in Vermont as recently as three days before and the base was still firm. Only the top two inches had softened up and which made for good skiing and riding.

By the end of the day a few “brown spots” began to emerge but patrollers were out marking them.  Upper Standard was in good shape with its top to bottom run.  The bumps were gone from Upper and Lower Liftline which allowed for good coverage and fun sliding along.

Rain is forecast for the end of the week so it unknown so it is best to check conditions before heading out.  Check out www.stratton.com for the latest conditions.

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