Some observations from a week that brought me and my three children wandering around New Hampshire on skis…
— Truth be told, if we were creating this itinerary prior to the season, it probably wouldn’t have been this diverse. Alas, it was somewhere in the midst of the first-day showing of “Rise of Skywalker” last December when I suddenly recalled I had failed to register the kids’ season passes at Bretton Woods, a benefit of the junior lease program at Country Ski. I faintly remembered something about a Dec. 21 deadline before the cost to submit increased from $35 to $129. It was something I’d have to attend to the next morning.
The deadline was Dec. 20. I was eight hours late by the time I logged on.
Real smooth, Dad.
So, while a cost of $387 for three season passes is still a steal, I had to also balance that price against my son’s Ski New Hampshire passport, an offering that gives fourth-and-fifth graders a lift ticket to each trade group member for only $30. That opened the door to giving the three of them a glimpse of the variety they could find in the Granite State.
So, we hit five different ski areas together over a six-day period.
— My failure to read a calendar didn’t keep us away from Bretton Woods though. I hit the resort on my own earlier in the week to tend to an interview I had lined up, then again a few days later when my son wanted to use his passport while his siblings slept in.
It was our first experience with the new gondola, which made us wonder…is there any better way to corral the queue? The combination of skiers and riders lining up for the gondola and the adjacent Bethlehem Express in front of the busy base lodge creates quite a confusing cluster. The mass of people didn’t affect wait times, but it did create a wall of uncertainty as to where everybody was headed.
—My daughter is now seven and is in her third year on skis. She spends some days tucked away in ski school, and some days — much to the chagrin of my boisterous middle child, eager to conquer every black diamond on the hill — with me and her brothers.
She was with us the day after the Mount Washington Valley saw up to a foot of snow last Tuesday. That led us to Black Mountain, where I wanted to display the sort of vibe a powder day delivered in Jackson, where the uncrowded slopes promised a wealth of unmarred freshies.
It was a hit, a factor sealed by her remark while we pulled out of the parking lot: “Well, that was a magical day.”
— She did spend the day in class the next day when we visited Cannon Mountain, a frigid, gray day that sort of defined New England skiing, particularly in the wake of the previous day’s bluebird powder. The mountain was firm in the morning, but eventually loosening up to deliver a fine day of speed and exploration on the Mittersill side.
My daughter’s group lesson ended up upgrading to a private session during the afternoon, at which point, she is adamant she went on the “zoo trail,” likely meaning Zoomer. This revelation came after she had already departed her instructor, so its veracity is in question, but her rise in confidence after the day in lessons was certainly not.
— I immediately realized this during a Saturday night session at King Pine, where she tired of hearing her brothers tell her she “couldn’t ski down this trail” or “shouldn’t tackle that terrain.” There was one particular ungroomed section that she eyed under the Black Bear Triple that she wanted to hit. Her oldest brother shied away from it, imploring her to do the same. She would have none of it.
They are not going to like when she surpasses them in terms of her prowess on skis. And that point is coming quickly.
— Sunday led me and the boys to out first-ever visit to Gunstock Mountain on what would become a pristine, spring-like day with temperatures blossoming into the 40’s. Gunstock became an instant favorite with features that suited all of us — a top-rated park for the daredevil, smooth glades for my oldest, who loves to glide through the trees, and a layer-shedding sunshine that harkens to the best days just ahead on the calendar.
My oldest son, who can be fickle from time-to-time based on what’s in front of him to ski, repeatedly voiced how much he liked the ski area. His brother and I joined in that refrain, no doubt eager for a return trip.
— Of course, this being my first time at Gunstock, I was unaware of the issues the flooring in the lodge can create, something I understood when my ski boot slipped on the hardwood, and down I went. Hard.
That sparked a bevy of concern from resort personnel. “I see it happen 10 times a day,” one Gunstock worker told me.
In lieu of wall-to-wall carpeting, the lodge only has various runways laid out, creating a slippery surface that has seen its share of tumbles. Just be forewarned, and definitely, watch your step.