Sherman Adams’ Loon Mountain

Sherman Adams, the former governor of New Hampshire and President Eisenhower’s chief of staff, was key to making Loon Mountain Resort what it is today. After Eisenhower left the presidency Sherman returned to his beloved White Mountains in New Hampshire. During his college years he spent many a day and night hiking the mountains and trails as a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club.

Adams’ love of the mountains actually started 40 years before leaving Washington when he worked for Lincoln, New Hampshire’s Parker-Young Company. Sherman’s job was to ensure the steady flow of logs to the Lincoln lumber mill. The rivers, streams and lakes provided the power needed to move and process the logs. The mill did last forever and essentially closed after World War II.

It was upon his return to New Hampshire that Adams’ vision of Loon Mountain began to come into focus. While snowshoeing among the huge boulders and inclines Adams realized that Loon Mountain could become a destination for people to ski and enjoy the mountains in winter.

Adams knew from his stint in Washington that Eisenhower’s Interstate System was not only key to the defense of our country but was part of the critical infrastructure that would drive tourism allowing people from large population centers to travel to destinations relatively easily.

The proximity of the planned Interstate Highway 93 to Loon Mountain would be key to its success. The coming together of the anchor town of Lincoln, a viable transportation system and the geography and topology of Loon Mountain would be key to its success making it one of the first destination ski areas in the East. Today, Loon is an easy two hour drive from the Boston area marrying both day and destination winter enjoyment.

In order to complete his goal of “skiers first” Adams teamed up with Sel Hannah, a fellow Dartmouth graduate and Olympic skier, on a development concept for Loon Mountain. Hannah had significant experience in developing ski areas with over 100 under his belt.

In December of 1966, after two years of development and preparation, Loon opened. Over 30,000 skier visits were made that first year. Loon was on track to becoming a success story.

Successive improvements occurred over the next several decades with an effective doubling of it size in the 1980s with more terrain being developed. A master development plan penned 1983 sought the development of South Peak which included the construction of private homes and condominiums. After almost 25 years this portion of Adam’s vision was completed when Loon Mountain Resort opened South Peak for skiing and riding adding another 60 acres of terrain and two new lifts.

Today Loon touts the biggest skiing in New Hampshire with 2,100 feet of vertical with 47 trails, six tree skiing areas, six terrain parks, a superpipe and a half pipe. Loon has the only gondola in New Hampshire that services skiers and riders.

Loon has several great long and wide crusiers on like Flying Fox, Cross Cut and Basin Street. On South Peak skiers and riders enjoy the groomers of Cruiser and Boom Run.

Those seeking more of a challenge can indulge themselves on Upper Flume on North Peak and Ripsaw, Upper and Lower Twitcher and Ripsaw on South Peak. If you looking to get some vertical done in a short time this is the place to be as there are generally shorter lift lines for the high-speed quad.

There are three lodges on the mountain including the Camp III Lodge on the North Peak which is only accessible by taking a lift or shoeing or skinning up the hill.

The entire mountain is easily accessible from different parking and lodging areas thanks to the Tote Road Quad that carries skiers and riders to South Pear and back.

It is uncertain if Sherman Adams would have fully envisioned what Loon Mountain is today. Snowboarders, high speed quad lifts, super pipes, magic carpets were probably not what he had anticipated.

What is consistent with Adams’ vision was people getting out and enjoying the outdoors and in the White Mountains where he hiked and snow shoed during his days at Dartmouth.

For more information go to www.loonmtn.com

 

LEARN TO SKI THIS JANUARY ALL OVER THE NORTHEAST

There is no better place to learn a new winter sport than in its original state. For just $29, beginners in Vermont can rent equipment, gain access to beginner terrain, and take a ski or snowboard lesson from a professional instructor. This offer is available throughout January (except holidays) and lessons must be reserved in advance at skivermont.com/learn. Limit one per person.

It is also learn to ski Month all over the ski country here are a few examples of what is being offered. If you are interested in Skiing in Maine or New Hampshire there are plenty of great learn to ski deals as well. Go to the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month website to find out more information for all the states offering learn to ski programs this January.

Here are a few examples in Vermont and New York

Go to skivermont.com.

Click on the link above to reserve your $29 package today at these Vermont resorts:

 Bromley Mountain Resort

The covered magic carpet at Bromley Photo by Mike Roth
The covered magic carpet at Bromley
Photo by Mike Roth

Start Fun, Start Free is another great Bromley Mountain program. Beginners to the sport are invited to join the Bromley Ski & Snowboard School this winter on December 21, 2014, January 19, 2015, or March 15, 2015. Bromley will offer 75 completely free spots to beginner skiers and snowboarders on these three days. Participants will receive a Learning Zone lift ticket, equipment and instruction. Ages 6 and up; must register in advance.

Check the Bromley web site for more information,  as well as my earlier blog entry.

Killington

Adults enrolled in Killington’s 4-day Discovery programs receive free Elan skis or a Burton snowboard, with mounted bindings, prior to completing their fourth lesson. Then, those who want to further hone their new skills with additional consecutive days on the slopes can continue learning with the MORE Discovery program discounts on ski and stay packages.

For kids ages 4–6, Ministar Discovery Camps offer four consecutive full-day lessons, equipment, lift tickets and lunches. At the end of the program, new skiers keep their boots and Elan skis. Plus, every Ministar Discovery Camp enrollment includes a complimentary adult lift ticket to be used each day in conjunction with the program. Inventory is limited.

Check the Killington web site for more information.

Sugarbush Resort

Follow up your $29 January Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month lesson with the First Timer to Life Timer program at Sugarbush Resort. Learners who finish three lessons in the First Timer program get a free Sugarbush all-mountain season pass for the rest of the season.

Smugglers’ Notch

Smugglers’ Notch Resort’s learn-to-ski or snowboard week January 4-11, 2015 includes free rental equipment and group lessons for entry level or beginner skiers or riders staying three nights or longer on the resort’s ski and stay package priced at $119 per night/adults and $89 per night/children 3-17 years old. Go to smuggs.com

Jay Peak

Jay Peak makes the beginner experience as intuitive and fun as possible. It starts with a complimentary two-hour group lesson with every rental package. The lessons are offered three times a day to guarantee time on snow with a professional instructor.

And for the third year in a row, all beginner lessons are taught through terrain-based learning. Terrain-what? It’s a learning technique that utilizes sculpted snow in the beginner area to help in the learning process. The resort uses a mini-halfpipe, rollers, banked turns and more to create an environment where the terrain helps guide the skier or rider so they can progress faster and focus on having fun. With the terrain helping, students can relax, learn faster and not be afraid of falling. Go to Jay Peak Resort for details.

And there’s more! Don’t miss these Bring a Friend, VT Offers…….

You ski or ride but your buddy doesn’t? That’s cool. Introduce that friend or family member to your favorite snowy slope this year and you could be rewarded for sharing your love of the freshies.

You can Discover NY Skiing this January 8th, 2015 with Discover NY Ski Day! You can purchase vouchers starting at $12 each that will entitle you to a lift ticket at participating mountains. Purchase up to 8 vouchers for you and your family. Just choose the mountain! These vouchers are good for a day or night lift ticket depending when you go skiing. ** Also Learn To Ski Packages available starting at $25 each!

You cannot order from multiple mountains on the same day and those will be void if you do. No refunds!

  1. Click the BUY NOW link at the bottom to start your order – scroll down to the ISKINY Discover NY Ski Day options.
  2. Select the ski area voucher and how many.
  3. Enter Guest Names- Tickets are transferable, so you’ll need to just enter the guest name or simply use Skier 1, Skier 2, etc., if you are unsure who will be using the tickets later on. It’s just a way for the system to store where each of the tickets are going. If you are purchasing as a gift or unsure if you will transfer the ticket this is the way to go.
  4. Complete your sale by entering in your payment information.
  5. If you wish to purchase a voucher for another mountain for 1/8/14 after you’ve completed the first purchase, click Keep Shopping, then select All Tickets to continue on with your next mountain purchase. ISKINY will verify all purchases and contact you with any issues.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for all the mountains you’d like to purchase. Remember we are offering only one Discover New York Ski Day this year.
  7. Be sure to bring ID with you to the ski area ticket window in case they ask.

Reminder: Save your confirmation emails; you’ll need to print your tickets before heading out to the slopes! Also print what’s shown on the screen too!

Below is a sample of other New York programs. Go to the Iskiny.com web site for additional information

Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Learn to Ski or Ride for $35 – Greek Peak gives you the knowledge, skill and fun memories of going downhill, for the best deal possible! LEARN TO SKI OR RIDE FOR $35.00! Greek Peak Mountain wants you to see how much fun it is to hit the slopes and learn to turn. For $35.00, we will take care of everything! We provide skis, boots and poles or a snowboard and boots, a lesson and a lift ticket for the beginner slope! Phone: 800-955-2SKI

Here’s a great Learn and Lodge Package for YOU! Package Price….$428.00 double occupancy plus taxes and feesIncludes:

2 Nights Accommodations in a Northwoods Suite @ Hope Lake Lodge

2 Days of Breakfast for Two at the Acorn Grill

Learn to Ski for Two – This will include your lift ticket for the Alpha slope, ski or snowboard rental and your lesson.

Pool & Hot Tub Access

Shuttle Service to Greek Peak Ski Resort (Located adjacent to Hope Lake Lodge)

Rules: Subject to Availability

Valid Sunday thru Thursday Only

Excludes Weekends and Holiday Periods

Blackout Dates:  February 13 – 21, 2015

Reservations:  844-783-5289

Web: http://greekpeak.net/lessons/learn-to-ski/mountains-of-fun

 

Holiday Valley – Ellicottville, NY 

Explore Our Mountain Beginners Package: $60 during the day, $40 at night.

Holiday Valley is offering a beginner 1.5 hour lesson with rental equipment and lift ticket for beginner’s area (magic carpet, handle tow and Creekside quad). Boot fitting, and explanation of how to use the equipment is available. The program is available to those age 12 and up. Night lessons originate in the main rental shop and lesson is 1 hour.

Link to package: http://www.holidayvalley.com/explore-our-mountain/snowsport-lessons-beginners-guide

Special January Package – Holiday Valley has two offers.

1) “Bring a Friend” – Buy one Learn to Ski or Snowboard Package and get the second package free, age 6 and up.

2) Stay at the Inn at Holiday Valley midweek during the month of January and get a free learn to ski or snowboard package for all beginners in the room, age 6 and up. Available for up to 2 adults and 2 children. Includes continental breakfast and use of indoor/outdoor heated pool and hot tub. Lodging nights include Sunday through Thursday, excluding January 18, 2015. Link to package: http://www.holidayvalley.com/explore-our-mountain/snowsport-lessons-beginners-guide .Package Price: $60 for two people

Hunter Mountain

Adult Progression Sessions™ – Single Sessions are $35 or you may purchase a multi pack for $149 which will give you 6 opportunities during the 2013-14 season to work from Refresher to Extremes depending on your ability and comfort zone. Snowboard -First Time -Control – Discovering green terrain -Linking Turns – Making turns on green terrain -Refresher – Used to ride Blue Squares but it’s been a while -Dynamics – Can turn well but want to become more dynamic -Performer – Perfecting advanced riding -Extremes – Can ride well but want to master the entire mountain Ski -First Time -Control – Want better control of your wedge turn -Parallel – Can turn and control speed but want to ski parallel -Refresher – Used to ski parallel on Blue Squares, but it’s been a while -Dynamics – Can ski parallel but want to be more dynamic -Quick Feet – Can ski parallel, but want to make shorter turns – Extremes – Can ski well but want to master the entire mountain

Phone: 518-263-4223

Web: http://www.huntermtn.com/learning/progression-sessions/

Swain Resort

Second Turns Learn to Ski or Board – $89 (Novice to Intermediate Skiers or Boards)

One-day all inclusive package that includes: – All Day All Access Lift Ticket – Rentals – 1 1/2 Hour Novice to Intermediate Lesson For January Learn a Snow Sport Month This Package is discounted 20%!

Phone: 607-545-6511

Web: http://www.swain.com/lessons-programs/

Titus Mountain

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Package

Only offered during the month of January – 1 Full-Day Lift Ticket – 1 Full-Day Rental – 1 Hour Open Group Lesson – $49 for ages 13 – 21 – $69 for ages 22+

Phone: 518-483-3740Web: http://www.titusmountain.com/snow-sports-school/lessons/lesson-programs/

Never Ever Program : Titus Mountain’s offer includes a Learning Hill Lift Ticket (learning hill only instruction), a Full Day Rental  and a Never-Ever Lesson (1 hour) – $5 Discount on Full-Ticket Upgrade – Available at 10am or 1pm every day – Ages 13+ – $59 ($49 during January LTSSM)

Phone: 518-483-3740Web: http://www.titusmountain.com/snow-sports-school/lessons/lesson-programs/

Again there are many more programs all at many of the ski areas so pick one and get out there and learn to ski, it will change your attitude towards the winter months

Holiday week at Mount Snow

In the past years I have avoided skiing on the holiday weeks. The main reason was that there would be long lift lines and crowded slopes. Over the past couple years I have found that not necessarily to be true. On Friday January 2, 2015 I went over to MountSnow with my grandson Alex. I have never seen so many cars in the parking lot and found myself parking in Wilmington ( or it seemed like that). However Mount snow has it figured out with their cow black and white buses otherwise known as MOOvers transportation from each parking area that drops you off right at the main entrance rather than having to schlep all your gear and hoof it.

The 10 minute wait at the Bluebird Express photo by Alex Johnson
The 10 minute wait at the Bluebird Express
photo by Alex Johnson

That being said what would you expect to find on the slopes and at the lifts? As an older skier I certainly am tainted by long lift lines of yesteryear during the holiday week but no longer! As you can see the Bluebird Express, a blue bubbled 6 pack high speed lift, appeared to be jam packed but what you see here in the picture was no more than a 10 minute wait and the Grand Summit Express lift had more like 5 minutes or less that takes you to the same place on the top of the mountain. The lift system at MountSnow gets skier out and away from the base area very quickly, there are plenty of other lifts to access once you are up on top.

It was snowing lightly all day with the temperatures in the low 30’s. The snow guns were blowing on many of the unopened trails of which I would say about 50% were opened (or closed) depending how you want to look at it. The snowmaking capacity of MountSnow is real good but it looks like next year it will be getting better with the approval of a new snowmaking pond that has been in the approval stages of Act 250 for years.

The trails that were opened were all machine groomed packed powder with plenty of great cover. Admittedly there were areas that wore down quickly but the temperature was right to allow you to bite into it with your edge if you needed to. As the day progress the trails did degrade slightly but taking into consideration of lack of trails, numbers of people and snow conditions, the mountain held up real well.

Being with my grandson, he wanted to immediately go over to Carinthia to ski the terrain features that are permanently build there all season. We skied primarily over at the terrain park which was Nitro to Lower Fools Gold. Now I really don’t mind skiing along on a terrain park because all the snow on the sides basically never gets touched and unless you ski across below a feature from side to side  of the trail it is actually quite safe, if you cross you are taking your life in your own hands. It is amazing to see these skier and boarders one after the other hitting the feature with little or know concern of who is on the bottom of the landing zone ( no spotters). I am surprised that there are not more accidents there, but hey that’s another story in itself.

Skiers and Boarders waiting their turn to hit the big jump on Nitro at Carinthia Photo by Mike Roth
Skiers and Boarders waiting their turn to hit the big jump on Nitro at Carinthia
Photo by Mike Roth
Alex Catching some air off a feature on Lower Fools Gold Photo by Mike Roth
Alex Catching some air off a feature on Lower Fools Gold
Photo by Mike Roth

On the our return from Carinthia you have to take Long John, basically the only way to get back from there. Long John is the only beginner trail from the top ( with a couple cut offs like Deer Run and Little John) . It is a very nice long run but due to the lack of other trails it seemed to be the busiest trail on the mountain. Maybe that is a good sign that there are more people learning to ski and that is good for the ski industry. Don’t forget January is learn to ski month all over the east coast.

Just a few people at the end of Long John Photo by Alex Johnson
Just a few people at the end of Long John
Photo by Alex Johnson

For that matter when I went on other trails there seemed to be no-one there. I took Exhibition and Cascade to Snowdance myself (because my skiing companion’s feet were cold). The better skiers had there choice of plenty of terrain with fewer skiers on them even on a busy day.

I can’t end this without saying something about lunch. We always used to grab something in the cafeteria like soup and a burger which did cost a bit more than usual and it was all premade or should I say precooked, usually well done. However at Mount snow there are numerous dining choices with sit down fair and quick service, assuming you have made a reservation when you arrive at the mountain. Our choice is always 1900” Burgers. They serve specialty hand made angus beef patties made to your specification (I asked for Pittsburgh and that’s how it came out) that was around $12 which you would say seems high (not for a ski area) but it also came with a generous helping of fries and another side of your choice, I chose mac and cheese which was one of the 7 choice of sides on the menu. If you compared that to the food in the cafeteria lines it seems to be a much better option.

They also had haute dogs, numerous choices of grilled cheese and to top it off a delicious milkshake for desert. After eating that you may not want to go out and ski again so make your reservation for later in the day, ski through lunch and you can sleep on your way home from the big lunch (unless you are driving of course).

What a great ski day we had and Alex did sleep on the way back. I can’t wait till he gets his license so I can drive instead of me and I can sleep. Pretty soon!

One other thing I forgot to mention. The drive from Clifton Park to Mount Snow takes anywhere from 1 and a half to one and three quarter hours to get there. If you thrust your Garmin it will take you over Haystack Road, which avoids route 100 out of Wilmington. That is a big mistake. It may be a bit shorter but most possible the worst road I have ever been on, with potholes, glare ice and single lanes because of poor plowing. It may save a minute or 2 but the damage to your car is not worth it. Leaving MountSnow you do run the risk of a long wait at the light in Wilmington, which backs the traffic on route 100 for a mile or so depending on when you leave and the day you went, but taking the alternate route is not an option as far as I am concerned.