Improvements in snowmaking, faster chairlifts, and refurbished base areas highlight the many new wrinkles being added to ski areas and resorts across New England this season.
Here’s a rundown of everything new to expect this winter when you make your first turns in New Hampshire.
Officials at Cranmore Mountain Resort had hoped to utilized the first floor of its new Fairbank Lodge, which will house the North Conway resort’s new base lodge and condominiums, at the start of this season. But a delay in the delivery of construction materials has pushed the open date back to next winter, leading Cranmore to seek other options for this season. Thus, the resort will introduce a temporary tent for guests in 2022, bringing in facilities that include heated portable restrooms, seasonal locker space, and a temporary 3,000-square-foot cafeteria structure off Zip’s Deck. “It’s exciting to watch the daily progress of the construction of Cranmore’s new era. I know guests will be in awe when it’s completed,” Cranmore president and general manager Ben Wilcox said. “In the meantime, for this winter, we want to make sure guests are comfortable, and to ensure they will have a seamless ski and ride experience on the mountain.”
The lodge is part of Cranmore’s $60 million-dollar base area redevelopment plan. The ski area also just completed a $1 million lift upgrade on the Skimobile Express Quad that included a full-system modernization.There’s also a new Fairfield Marriott currently under construction.The 89-room hotel, located next to the Artist Falls Lodge, is projected to open this winter.
Gunstock Mountain Resort’s recent improvements have focused on snowmaking. Thirty-five new snow guns have been added, as has a new snowmaking pipe for the length of the Cannonball trail. A new well at the summit will also provide a better water supply for snowmaking. Other improvements include base lodge air conditioning, 100 new parking spaces, a tubing park welcome building, and lighting upgrades for night skiing.
Attitash faithful will have to wait another year for a lift improvement they’ve really been waiting for — the replacement of the painfully-slow summit triple — but the Vail property in Bartlett will debut another new lift this season. The East and West Double-Double chair lifts have been upgraded to a single, fixed-grip four-person chair. The “Progression Quad” will provide access to terrain for all ability levels as well as cutover trails to Bear Peak. Sister Vail Resorts property Wildcat Mountain has made a number of improvements to its snowmaking system this offseason. Pump upgrades and new lines will help deliver snow to key terrain, including Lower Wildcat. The terminals and drive system on the Bobcat Triple lift were revamped to provide better access to the wealth of intermediate runs available mid-mountain.
Black Mountain is restoring its historic J-Bar lift, the oldest overhead cable lift in the state. It was originally installed in 1935. The Jackson ski area has plans to utilize it more this season for its learning area. Black is also reconnecting and replacing its snowmaking pipes in the Whitney Field near the J-Bar to improve early-season snowmaking on that side of the mountain, and is also in the midst of upgrading the control panels for the East Bowl Triple Lift and Platter Pull Surface Lift.
Bretton Woods Resort continues to improve its top-ranked grooming and snowmaking capabilities (the mountain earned top honors for grooming and lifts in Ski Magazine’s annual reader survey) with a new Pisten Bully 400 and new high-efficiency snowmaking tower guns. King Pine Ski Area, celebrating its 60th anniversary this season, improved its snowmaking capabilities with a new waterline pipe to feed the Jack Pine trail.
Pats Peak also turns 60 this winter, and will debut a new, outdoor seating area, complete with igloos and heated pavers. The ski area increased its snowmaking capabilities by adding energy-efficient fan guns to an arsenal that already gives the mountain 100 percent snow coverage. Pats also completed major upgrades to its rental shop and added a new stone fireplace in the valley lodge, providing a cozy ambiance.
The Kancamagus 8, the first eight-person lift in the East, made its debut last winter at Loon Mountain Resort. This season, the Kancamagus Express Quad, which preceded the new lift, will replace the Lincoln resort’s only fixed-grip triple chairlift—becoming the Seven Brothers Express Quad. Loon also made major snowmaking upgrades on the Sunset, Coolidge Street, and Seven Brothers trails this summer. They’ve added three fully-automated fan guns, and 52 semi-automated KLIK hydrants.
Ragged Mountain Resort will have improved snowmaking equipment and a new lift attendant shack at the top of the Summit Six Express chairlift. Waterville Valley Resort is in the midst of installing its brand new six-pack, high-speed, bubble chairlift in time for the 2022-23 season. It is the first chairlift of its kind in the United States, specifically designed for Waterville.
Whaleback Mountain, a non-profit ski area, recently reached its fundraising goal to update and add more lighting. Known primarily for its night skiing, the new and better lighting will help provide a safer experience at the ski area.
Eric Wilbur can be reached at [email protected].