It has not been a typical December. But Wildcat Mountain, bolstered by recent major investments in its snow making infrastructure, managed to deliver some decidedly mid-winter top-to-bottom snow conditions for hundreds of skiers today. While offering essentially two ways down the mountain (Upper Lynx and Upper Polecat but leading down to Lynx trail), the open trails were covered edge to edge and the snow guns were blasting from summit to base. They were also reporting about 5” of fresh snow in the last 24 hours.
Wildcat and Bretton Woods both have been benefiting from their relatively higher elevation in recent weeks. This weekend’s lower temperatures gave them a snow making advantage which they both jumped on to bolster their open terrain ahead of the important Christmas holiday period. All other areas have foregone ski operations until December 26, so they can focus on snowmaking and preserving snow surfaces through what will be an upcoming warmer than average week.
Skiers coming here for the holiday period should be both optimistic and realistic – there will be snow, there will be skiing (see today’s photos if you don’t believe me) – but terrain will be limited and you will have company on the trails that are available.
Some strategies for enjoying yourself skiing for the next week or two, until Mother Nature gets her act together and gives our snowmakers a break:
– Good edges make for good skiing. Wildcat reported variable conditions today. Unlike spring like variable conditions, early season variable means anything goes: ice, snow, powder, man-made snow whales and everything in between. Well-tuned skis will help you stay upright through changeable conditions. Check out the many excellent ski shops in the Valley and invest in a good tune.
– Get an early start. First chair is always a good idea, even more so now. Beat out all the other skiers by arriving early for first chair. Then take an early lunch so you can get back out there when everyone else is noshing. Limited terrain means more skiers per acre – beat the odds by being there when others are still rolling out of bed.
– Be realistic. The ski resorts and their mighty snowmakers are making the white stuff at every opportunity. If snow guns are fogging up your goggles, if trails are closed for snow making, if your favorite trail isn’t open yet – trust us – they want it as bad as you do. Keep a good attitude and a smile on your face and you’ll have a good time. And don’t forget your goggles.
– Try other activities, if all else fails. North Conway is perhaps the best possible ski town for activities other than skiing. Hit the famous outlet malls. Visit an indoor water park (there are two of them). Hit the video game arcade (remember those? We still have one). Go for a hike. Indulge in a massage. Some resorts and attractions are offering special winter editions of their summer activities. The Mt. Washington Auto Road is currently open mid-way for auto traffic. Cranmore will be setting up its outdoor ropes course, trampoline and climbing wall in addition to its other outdoor rides.
If you receive ski gear for the holidays, don’t despair. There IS skiing in the Valley, and the winter solstice is tomorrow. Be flexible and you can still enjoy your Christmas Vacation Week plans.