Two of the best things about Ragged Mountain in Danbury, N.H., are the ease of getting there — it’s close to I-93 with little secondary road travel — and what a good place it is to learn and practice.
At 1,250 feet of vertical and 250 skiable acres, Ragged sprawls with an array of big blue cruisers that roll along nicely through New Hampshire’s hardwood forest. I last skied here with a lawyer friend from Boston who figured he could “sneak away” and spend a few non-billable hours making some turns with me, then get back for a few billable ones to end his day. That’s how close and convenient Ragged is to the Hub of New England, about 1 hour, 45 minutes.
If one word applies to Ragged, it’s diversity. Slide off the new six-pack lift and the experienced skiers likely will head off to some good, but not killer glades, such as Pel’s Pass, which is steep in spots but fairly forgiving in tree density, with lots of rocks and jumping opportunities.
But that morning we were more wanting to take advantage of Ragged’s flawless grooming on intermediate terrain — also known as hero runs. And if the challenge was not exactly breathtaking — OK, it’s downright plush — it was the kind of snow that, if you did screw up, there was no one else to blame.
We took the Summit Six Pack to the summit on a midweek morning of undisturbed corduroy. There are several ego runs here, and we tried them all, focusing on deep-carved GS turns. The warm afternoon the day before created a bit of melting, which had crusted up just a bit, but without death cookies frozen in. The surface was smooth and quite fast.
The Sweepstakes trail off Summit Express has nice steepness, moreso than Exhibition under the lift, though it runs down the same ridge. Fairly wide, we were quickly up to speed with a broad right turn followed by a lefty, then a thrilling drop that reminded me of the Chicken Pitch face on Sugarloaf’s Tote Road or Waumbek trail at Bretton Woods.
Again, this run was just off the main flow and was totally empty every time we ran it. It’s a perfect run to introduce intermediate skiers to terrain somewhat steeper than most blues, without being overwhelming. And there’s always the width to give newer skiers bailout room.
Later we ended up in the glades, most of which, while rated black, would be perfect for intermediate-level skiers who want to plunge into the world of glade skiing. Rags To, finishing as the trail Riches, affords just such a descent, with a long top-to-base series of natural soft-snow bumps, perfect for practice and just plain fun.
While it won’t make experienced expert skiers and riders forget Cannon or Wildcat farther up the road, the diversity of terrain makes Ragged a perfect family mountain that will appeal to skiers of all levels.