Ice CastleLoon Mountain will be home and host to the East’s first Ice Castle this winter. The brainchild of artist Brent Christiansen of Utah, an Ice Castle was first displayed at a small spa and resort in 2009. The idea took off from there and has continued growing. Last year there were two – one at Steamboat Springs, Colorado and one at the Mall of America near Minneapolis.

What is an ice castle? Brent’s creations are complex structures up to 25 feet tall with towers, arches, tunnels, caverns and pathways which visitors can navigate and explore on foot. It usually takes visitors at least a half hour to wander through the castle and take advantage of all the photo ops.

The castle is built of many thousands of icicles which are “grown” and sculpted together over a base of ice, then sprayed with water to create these giant structures. Water, wind and temperature are all part of the equation and cause the castle to be continually changing and evolving. During the day the fortress exudes an icy blue hue. At night it is illuminated by multicolored lights embedded in the formations, lending a dramatic aura to the scene.

Loon’s Ice Castle is expected to be ready and open to the public by mid-to-late December and continue until mid March.

Cold Temperatures and High Pressure Allow for Snowmaking

The current high pressure and its accompanying low temperatures are making daytime snow making possible in the Northeast.

Snow making begins in earnest at Willard Mountain
Snow making begins in earnest at Willard Mountain

Willard Mountain in Easton in Upstate New York cranked up its guns  and they are belching the white stuff.

Continued cold temperatures a and a potential Noreaster this week could add up to sooner than expected openings and a jump on the season’s activities.


New Hampshire ski areas continue to move forward after enjoying the fifth best ski season on record in New Hampshire. This summer brought a lengthy list of capital improvements and news from across the state with new lifts being installed, extensive snowmaking improvements, year-round attractions added and many other additions.

Pats Peak, Henniker – installed a new triple chairlift as part of their Cascade Basin Expansion. Other upgrades include the installation of 6 additional snowmaking fan guns and an electrical capacity upgrade to improve output. In the base lodge and on walkways guests will find geothermal heating that will lessen the ski area’s environmental footprint.

Cranmore Mountain Resort, North Conway – added a new BR 350 snow groomer to its grooming fleet. Improvements to the snowmaking system were made and include 45 new high-efficiency tower snowguns.

Loon Mountain, Lincoln – invested heavily in New Hampshire’s most powerful snowmaking system including two new pumps which increase the snowmaking capacity by 40%. They are also beginning a conversion to a semi-automated snowmaking system, by adding 100 semi-automated snowmaking hydrants, that drastically reduce set-up and shutdown time. An additional 15 low-energy, high-efficiency tower snowguns were added as well.

Mount Sunapee, Newbury – added 52 new HKD SV-10 snow guns and a variety of other improvements to the system. The rental shop is got $100k in new equipment. On the mountain guests will find two new loops added to the Aerial Challenge Course.

Granite Gorge, Keene – added new downhill and cross country ski trails and glades. Additional snowmaking fans were added to the snowmaking arsenal. Two new parking lots are in place with one offering front row “beach layout spaces”. A new drop off area and round-about are located adjacent to the lodge for easy in and out.

Bretton Woods – recently opened Mount Stickney area. Additional Nordic terrain was added offering cross country skiers with early and late season terrain at higher elevations. These trails circle along the ridge to the summit of Mount Stickney and connect into the Stickney trail system and are some of the first that require lift service.
Black Mountain, Jackson – finished improvements to its snowmaking system including a complete rebuild of one of their snowmaking pumps and drive motors and replacing the main water distribution station, resulting in higher efficiency and greater capacity. 40 new, high-efficiency tower snowguns were added as well.  A new trail was cut to accommodate giant slalom racing with courses of up to 40 gates.
Waterville Valley – has been granted a long-term special use permit allowing for the first major expansion of the ski area in over 30 years by the U.S. Forest. Over the next few years the terrain will be developed on Green Peak, southeast of Mount Tecumseh, and will include construction of about 44 acres of ski trails, glades and a high-speed detachable quad chairlift.

Ragged Mountain, Danbury – has added a new tubing park and expanded the learning terrain. The new tubing park is over 650-feet in length, with ten lanes. Ragged also purchased an additional eight new low energy/high efficiency snowmaking fan guns, two new carpet lifts, and two new snow groomers.

Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford – added a terrain based learning center that will utilize a variety of terrain to duplicate what skiers and riders will experience once out on the main mountain.  New snowmaking and lighting were added along with extensive earthwork and the extension of the surface lift.  Other improvements include a new snow cat for grooming, and snowmaking and trail improvements.

Jackson XC, Jackson – added a new grooming vehicle and early season and detailed grooming implement were added that will supplement the grooming fleet. Improvements to the trail network was made on a prioritized schedule including securing land use access through a program of deed easements. A new bridge has been added to connect two major beginner areas.

Windblown XC, New Ipswich – added a new snowmobile and snow bucket for the tractor to go along with trail improvements. In the lodge quests can get warm by a new woodstove. The rental fleet was upgraded replacing half of the skis with brand-new equipment.