Category Archives: About The Snow

2017 Ski, Shoe & Fatbike to the Clouds: North America’s Toughest 10K Proved To Be This Winter’s Stand-Out Event

Written By Crispin Battles, Marketing Director
Mt. Washington Auto Road & Great Glen Trails

Pinkham Notch, NH — Since the Mt. Washington Auto Road first opened in 1861, it has been a proving ground for all types of adventurers. Throughout the years, many have secured their place in the history of the Auto Road, be it with a fastest time, or a landmark ascent.

History was made again with the 2017 Ski, Shoe & Fatbike to the Clouds. Held in cold, blue-sky conditions on March 5, it marked the first time that fatbikers have joined this annual winter event. First held in 1996 as Ski to the Clouds, it quickly proved to be a new and unique challenge for Nordic skiers, and at that time was held entirely on the Auto Road. In later years it was modified to increase the race distance to 10 kilometers, utilizing the Great Glen Trails Nordic system for the first four kilometers, before beginning the steep ascent up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The race finishes just before the halfway point of the Auto Road at about 3,800 feet.

In 2013, a separate snowshoe category was added to entice snowshoe racers to take up the challenge, and was so successful that in 2014 the event was renamed as Ski & Shoe to the Clouds. In 2016, a new fatbike category was added, which quickly became the largest group of racers, but was sadly cancelled due to lack of snow.

Mother Nature was kind to us this year, and the 2017 event was attended by 120 racers in three disciplines–18 Nordic skiers, 33 snowshoers, and 69 fatbikers. Whether on skis, snowshoes or fatbikes, the race lived up to its reputation as North America’s Toughest 10K, testing the racers as only Mount Washington can.

The fastest time was posted by veteran racer Tristan Williams, with a blazing time of just 48 minutes 37 seconds, winning the men’s Nordic division. Tristan was closely followed by fatbiker Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins, winning the men’s fatbike division with a time of 50 minutes 37 seconds–the second fastest time on course. Kudos to all the racers who battled the Mountain and finished, but particularly to the winners of each division:

Men’s Nordic Tristan Williams 48:37
Women’s Nordic Meredith Pietrow 1:01:42
Men’s Snowshoe Andrew Drummond 51:49
Women’s Snowshoe Hilary McCloy 1:05:56
Men’s Fatbike Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins 50:37
Women’s Fatbike Renee Bousquet 1:12:26

A heartfelt “thank you” goes out to all the event sponsors, who have helped make this annual event such a success. For 2017, those sponsors included Dion Snowshoes, Stan & Dan Sports, Polartec, Littleton Chevrolet, Hannaford, and the Old Village Bakery.

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Early Morning Bear Notch Ski Touring Center

By Kathy Bennett

I’m an early riser. There are many benefits to this, not the least of which is beating the crowds to skiing on vacation weeks. This Saturday was no exception. My dear husband and I arrived at the rustic lodge of Bear Notch Ski Touring Center at 9am. Blink and you’ll miss it on your way back from Attitash on Route 302, this Center is run by the Garland brothers and is about as authentic a north country experience as you can get.

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The Saco runs alongside Bear Notch trails.

John Garland greeted us and gave us the lowdown on conditions. “Last week I was cursing the snow there was so much of it. This week it’s inventory,” he chuckled. His groomers had gone out that morning to even out the surface, despite some of the “r” word and warm temps.

There was indeed plenty of snow in inventory on the trails. We skied out on their riverside area to see what the rising water levels were doing on the Saco River. There were no ice dams or flooding but the water was running high beside these lovely wooded trails. The trails were tracked for us classic Nordic skiers although trails were also skate groomed. These trails along the Saco River are as beautiful as other more crowded trails at better known local areas.

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Tracked trails along the river

If you are weary of crowded alpine slopes, truly you should consider trying Nordic for weekends that are predicted to be busy. We literally had the trails to ourselves for the 90 minutes we glided through the woods.

We only saw civilization when we returned to the lodge post-ski for John’s favorite homemade soup, White Chicken Chili. “You might want to grab some early because it will go fast; I’m going to make a dent in it myself,” Garland shared. Alas, we arrived to early for the fresh bread which comes out of the breadmaker at noon on weekends.

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Cozy authentic lodge at Bear Peak

Bear Notch is known for their grooming and on the day of our visit, they boasted more groomed trails than a larger area a little further north. In fact the day after our visit, they had 40 groomed km while others didn’t groom at all. It’s a good reminder to always check out the trail report before deciding where to ski.

Best of all, trail passes are only $18, meaning a family of 4 can ski and still have money for lunch (that chili was only $4 a cup!).

Think PINK 2nd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Weekend at Bretton Woods

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Bretton Woods Ski Area welcomes you to their 2nd Annual Think PINK Breast Cancer Awareness Weekend from Friday, January 13th until Monday, January 16th. The event’s goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Experience  Mount Washington Valley winter fun, including a snowshoe tour, Norris Cotton Nastar Racing, après ski parties on Saturday with AMP 103.3 and DJ Chuck Noel, and the grand finale with Mix 104.1 on Sunday. Purchase Think PINK! merchandise, enter in raffles, and enjoy Think PINK! libations, and inspire yourself and others to contribute to this worthy cause.

Although some events occur on specific days, event-goers are welcome to participate in the event’s weekend long festivities at any time during the event: Driven to Beat Breast Cancer, Tie One On For Breast Cancer, and Climb For Cancer.

Driven to Beat Breast Cancer
We will be keeping track of donations that come in during our Think PINK! weekend. All donors who give $50.00 or more in a single transaction to this wonderful cause will be entered into a raffle to win a free groomer ride!

Tie One On For Breast Cancer
All weekend long we will be offering special pink ribbons at the Slopeside Restaurant for $1.00. Donors can write a special message on the ribbon and “tie one on” to our giant Think PINK! ribbon on the Slopeside Level of the Base Lodge. Just say “I’d like to Tie One On for Breast Cancer”!

Climb for Cancer
“Beating Breast Cancer from the Bottom Up” takes on a new meaning with our Climb for Cancer special. This weekend only, when purchasing 10 minutes on the Slopeside Climbing Wall, you can get  an additional 5 minutes for just $3.00! That $3.00 will go to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center.  You must purchase 10 minutes on the Slopeside Climbing wall to take advantage of this offer.

For a full schedule of the Think PINK Breast Cancer Awareness Weekend, visit http://brettonwoods.com/activities/event.

7th Annual Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble Race

Whitaker Woods welcomes participants and spectators to their 7th Annual Snowshoe Scramble, a 4-mile race of groomed trails and twisty single-track. The scramble is a Granite State Snowshoe Series Event and serves as a fundraising opportunity to benefit the non-profit organization Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation.

The Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation is very active in our community providing ski experiences to Conway residents and youth in northern Carroll County school districts, free grooming for the Eastern Slope Ski Club’s after school ski program and for Kennett High School XC Ski Team’s training and inter-school races,  as well as providing educational programs for youth. This is only a sample of what the organization brings to our community, so let’s bring forth our best efforts in supporting the foundation while having some winter fun!

Bring your snowshoes, winter gear, energy, and community support to Whitaker Woods Meeting House, located at 2829 White Mountain Highway in North Conway, New Hampshire. The race begins at 10am sharp on Saturday, January 14th, 2017. Check-in time for participants is between 8:30-9:30am on the day of the race.

If you register in advance (prior to January 8th), the registration fee is $15 per person. Registration fees after this time are $20 per person. The last day for online registration is Thursday, January 12th, but interested parties may register after this date by contacting the Mt. Washignton Valley Ski Touring Foundation by phone at 603-356-9920 or by registering on race day using a personal check or cash.

For more information, to register online, or to download a registration form, please visit the Snow Scramble’s Event Page.

44TH Geschmossel Classic Nordic Ski Race at Bretton Woods

The 44th Annual Geschmossel Classic Nordic Ski Race will take place on the Ammonoosuc trail network at the Bretton Woods Nordic Center on Monday, January 16th, 2017. The race, originally staged in the winter of 1972-73, is one of New England’s oldest citizens’ races. Originally a 6-kilometer race on terrain groomed by a homemade track sled pulled by a rope from a grooming machine, the Geschmossel Race is currently a 15-kilometer classical style Nordic ski race and is part of the ZAK Cup Series.

The schedule for the race is as follows:

Monday, January 16, 2017

  • 8:00am – 10:00am
    Registration
    Bretton Woods Nordic Center
  • 10:00am – 11:00am
    Bill Koch League (BKL) Fun Event Registration
    Bretton Woods Nordic Center
  • 11:00am
    Mass Start
    Bretton Woods Nordic Ski Area
  • 12:00pm
    Bill Koch League (BKL) Fun Event Start
    Bretton Woods Nordic Ski Area
  • 1:00pm – 2:30pm
    Awards Ceremony
    Bretton Woods Nordic Center

Registration costs are $20 per person under the age of 23 and $30 per person over the age of 23 if you register before 5:00pm on January 15, 2017. Those who wish to register after this time can expect to pay $35 per person under the age of 23 and $50 per person over the age of 23. In addition to event entry, the registration fee includes:

  • Trail Pass for the day of the event
  • Awards celebration following the race
  • Pre-registered skiers may ski at the Bretton Woods Nordic Center for $15 a day from Jan. 2 – Jan. 15

Please call the Bretton Woods Nordic Center at 603.278.3322 for more information. To register online, please visit this page by January 15th, 2017. Day-of registration is available but at a higher cost.

The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce wishes you luck in the race, but with winter fun in the Mt. Washington Valley, we’re all winners! For more information on winter fun in the Mt. Washington Valley, visit the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce website or call Visitor Services at 800-367-3364.

Holiday Traditions on Skis

By Kathy Bennett

I was not raised in a family of skiers. I came by it as an adult and was so smitten I moved to the Valley and never looked back. So skiing was not a part of my family’s traditions growing up. But I’ve done my best to make it part of my own family’s new tradition to squeeze as much skiing as possible into my holidays.

Here’s a tip to remember for next winter – the slopes and trails are decidedly less crowded on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Compared to the crowds that come up starting December 26, you’ll do well to enjoy the time to yourself before everyone else arrives.

Christmas Eve Day I took to the trails of MWV Ski Touring Foundation’s Whitaker Woods in Conway with my husband. This year’s snow conditions are off to a wonderful start and the packed powder snow surfaces were well groomed. We even had a chance to chat with a groomer who was out doing a mid-day groom. This was our first day out on Nordic skis so we took it easy and stayed on the easier flatter terrain, going from the Whitaker House out to the Intervale Crossroads and back, cutting across the Power Line trail and then out to a trail paralleling the train tracks. It’s fun living in a town like Conway where skiing literally and figuratively connects neighborhoods. Why go further north when there’s such a nice network of trails so close to everything.

The MWV Ski Touring trails link many of the inns, hotels and restaurants in and around North Conway and Intervale including the Stonehurst Manor, 1785 House, all the way north to Tuckerman’s Tavern. Its terminus in the Village is walking distance to all of North Conway’s little shops and restaurants. Make like a local and finish up your day of ski touring and walk into town for a Maple Latte at Frontisde Grind. No one will mind your cross country ski boots.

Christmas Day, after a hearty breakfast at home and a whirlwind of opening gifts, we headed to Bretton Woods, one of several areas open on the holiday. If you are thinking ahead to next year, be sure to call ahead as not every area operates. To make the day even sweeter, Bretton Woods was offering a $30 lift tickets, so we had plenty of company on the slopes, but still decidedly less than a typical holiday date. They had been going at it with the snow making since our visit last week and also benefited from natural snowfall off and on all week – another gift for holiday skiers this week. There were even a few natural snow trails open already, which were fun to try out in the still-fresh powder. Watch out for their infamous early-season water-bars and whoop-de-doos on those ungroomed beauties and you’ll have a good time without taking any spills. A welcome break at their mid-mountain lodge allowed us to drink in both the spectacular views as well as a whipped cream topped hot mocha.

While Christmas Week is a holiday period, it is a school-break timeframe that is less frantic here than those that come later this winter. Now is a good time to take a lesson, and spend time with the kids on the bunny slope. Then figure out a way to head north a few days earlier next December to build a new Christmas tradition for your friends and family, if you haven’t already made it a habit. I’m glad I did.

Tuesday Trekker Snowshoe Tours in Jackson, NH

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The Tuesday Trekker Snowshoe Tours have returned this year with exciting changes! The tours, 2 hours in duration and lead by naturalist guide Peter Minich, give outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers of all experience and activity levels the opportunity to connect with the outdoors and enjoy the serenity of the Mt. Washington Valley winter landscape. Groups begin their venture at 10am on Tuesday mornings and return at noon for a social event by the fire. During the social event, group members are welcome to enjoy hot beverages or a glass of wine and light snacks at the base lodge. The tours are more than a way to stay active during the winter months, they are an opportunity to learn a new skill, strengthen an existing one, or meet new friends!

The tours will be held every Tuesday, starting January 3rd, 2017 and ending March 28. The tours are closed on vacation weeks and holidays. The tours are $15 per week or $45 for the entire season, and advanced reservations are suggested for this event. For individuals without snowshoes, they are available for an additional charge of $12.

For more information or to reserve a spot in the tours, please visit the Jackson XC event page or call 603-383-9355.

What’s your winter adventure? To plan your winter adventure, please contact the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at 800-367-3364.

 

 

Strong Start to the 2016-17 Ski Season

By Kathy Bennett

Skiing on Sat. 12/17 at Wildcat Mountain was spectacular, and not just because of the 7+ inches of new snow that fell throughout the day. Santa showed up to take a few turns in the powder along with the hundreds of delighted skiers reveling in what was possible the best ski conditions in 2 years.

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Not only did Wildcat offer trails blanketed with both man made and natural snow, groomed to perfect, they had many “natural” snow trails open that were left ungroomed. That’s a gift even Santa can’t top, although he could clearly be seen ripping it up on both the groomed and ungroomed terrain, clutching his jolly red hat as brisk winds raked the mountains and blew the snowflakes about.

It was a great to ski powder conditions and gentle bumps from the summit right down to the base area on trails like Lift Lion, Upper and Middle Wildcat, then down to Bobcat and Alley Cat. When my legs burned out I skied laps under the Bobcat Triple Chair – which also was a welcome respite from the high winds buffeting the Quad.

Beginner and novice skiers also lucked out as Polecat – one of the longest “green” trails anywhere – was open from the summit.  Long, groomed and topped with fresh pow-pow, it gives new and seasoned skiers alike a treat.

Skiing in a snowstorm presents some challenges but ones that are well worth overcoming for the treat of an ever-refreshing fresh powder surface. Saturday delivered classic Wildcat “everything but the kitchen sink” weather – cold (7 degrees when I pulled into the parking lot); wind (reported gusts of over 30mph) and pelting snow. Make like a boy scout and come prepared. Goggles, waterproof mittens, multiple fleece layers, neck gator, face mask, foot and hand warmers – check check check and check. Take breaks to warm up and dry off. I always try to bring a change of certain items – like fleece neck gators – which can become drenched after a few hours. Don’t let bad clothing get in the way of a great day of skiing. Frostbite warnings be damned – dress for it and you can enjoy a full day in the outdoors relishing whatever comes at you!

All local ski areas in the Valley are now open and this Christmas Vacation Week is looking to be a corker with conditions that are a far cry from last winter’s drought. Make your ski and stay lodging reservations right now as many properties will sell out in advance. Not a skier? Never fear – North Conway has something for everyone including snow tubing, ice skating, shopping, arts, culture, foodie adventures and more. Check it all out on our website – www.mtwashingtonvalley.org.

And Just Like That, It was Ski Season

By Kathy Bennett

Last weekend in the city, it was nearly tee shirt weather, with sunny skies and temps in the 60s.  Fast forward just a few days and it’s winter, As of Thanksgiving week, Mount Washington Valley saw two ski areas open – Wildcat and Bretton Woods.

The first day out for the year is always met with mixed feelings. Will you find all your ski gear. Did you remember to tune your skis. Are your legs ready for their winter work out.

So it’s always a joy when the bother of gathering all your gear is behind you and you are getting on the lift for your first run of the season.

bretton-woods-kb Thanks to some light natural snow this week, Bretton Woods featured not only snow on the trails but snow in the trees, giving skiers a true wintry feel for the day. Nothing’s worse than a thin white ribbon of snow with completely brown surroundings – not the case this first day at all.

Nice edge to edge snow coverage greeted skiers on about 5 trails. The snow guns were blasting additional terrain, no doubt with ambitious plans for more terrain leading up to the holiday vacation period. Snow surface conditions were nice – powdery at the top and firm but edgeable closer to the bottom, but still decent for early season – especially after last year’s difficult winter.

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Other skiers reported great conditions for the first week at Wildcat. Friday, it was reported to offer snow surfaces that were “some of the best conditions for opening week,” packed powder at the top and soft to bottom. Sunday saw nice weather with occasional glimpses of the rock pile.

This coming week may offer some weather challenges for lower elevation resorts striving to make snow to open; higher elevation mountains may (or may not) pick up additional white stuff. Contact your favorite resort closer to the weekend to see how they fared.

Bretton Woods is open of the season

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski area, kicked off its 43rd season today, 11/22 at 9am on Range View serviced by the Zephyr Quad. Ski and ride Tuesday and Wednesday for just $29, and $49 thereafter until further notice. Rentals, Lucy Crawford’s Food Court and Slopeside Pub will be open as well.

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Skier and riders should be geared up including goggles, as snowmaking will continue as conditions allow.

Looking ahead, the annual Bretton Woods Homecoming festivities will take place this weekend, with a Friday night showing of Warren Miller’s latest ski flick, “Here, There and Everywhere”, followed by Homecoming BBQ, Beer Tasting and first ever Slopeside Sandwich of the Year Contest on Saturday.  Learn more, and buy your Warren Miller Tickets at brettonwoods.com/homecoming.

For the latest news and conditions visit brettonwoods.com, or call 603.278.3333.

Cranmore Resort Among First in the East to Use Sustainable Snow Groomer Technology

Cranmore Mountain Resort, recognized in the past for its sustainability practices, made a major sustainability statement today by announcing that it will be one of the first ski resorts East of the Mississippi to add an electric/diesel driven snow cat to its grooming fleet. The new energy efficient Pisten Bully 600 E+ has been successfully tested in Europe and in the western U.S. and will now be used on the slopes of Cranmore, and Bromley Mountain in VT. Both resorts are operated by the Fairbank Group which has a long history of implementing sustainability projects at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, located in the Berkshires of MA.

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“The new Pisten Bully 600 E+ is the future of snow cats and Cranmore is pleased to be among the first to use this new technology,” commented Cranmore President and General Manager Ben Wilcox. “Cranmore was among the first areas to use biodiesel in our cats over 10 years ago for sustainability reasons and this new cat is the next wave in sustainable resort operating practices that we are excited to implement.”

Built by the German company Kassbohrer, Pisten Bully’s “Green Machine” 600E+ is the world’s first groomer with a diesel- electric drive. One of the most significant advancements in snowgrooming technology over the past two decades, the 600 E+ uses a diesel engine to drive two electric generators which power electric motors that turn the tracks and the snow tiller. On its trip downhill, the electric energy created from the breaking effect of the electric drive motors is used to power the snow tiller, while the engine idles.

With its cost effectiveness and low environmental impact, its high efficiency reduces the emission of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxides by 20%, produces 99% fewer sooty particles and reports a 20% fuel savings over their standard 600 model. Noise is also reduced with the engine operating at lower engine RPMs.

The new PB 600 E+ is just one of many sustainable initiatives planned at Cranmore this winter. The resort has teamed up with Tesla to add two electric charge stations in its base area. Tesla drivers will be able to plug into one of two designated charge parking spots for a free charge while they enjoy the resort.

Over the summer, the resort also purchased 25 Mckinney low energy snow guns and retrofitted 20 of their existing tower guns with state of the art energy efficient snow gun heads. With the addition of these new tower guns, Cranmore’s inventory of energy efficient tower guns now stands at 475 fixed guns on the mountain. This total is a 300% increase since 2010 when the Fairbank Group first purchased the resort.

With construction now underway of Phase One of Cranmore’s $50 million base area redevelopment, Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore will be one of the first condominium buildings in the state of New Hampshire to use an energy efficient electric heat pump system which will provide heat and air conditioning to each residence. Electric heat pumps represent the most efficient alternative to fuel, oil and electric systems when it comes to heating and cooling. The system reduces carbon emissions and has an efficient conversion rate of energy to heat.

“New Hampshire Electric Co-op has enjoyed working with Cranmore over the years to help improve the energy efficiency of their operation. These initiatives are another example of their leadership in the industry, and utilizing the latest energy efficient technologies. We look forward to supporting Cranmore with their base area redevelopment,” said Bill Johnstone, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative.

“Sustainability is a major part of our resort and parent company’s mission,” added Wilcox. “Our owners, employees and guests know that being sustainable is the right thing to do for our environment and we are proud to be a leader in this category.”

The Fairbank Group, LLC based at Jiminy Peak and co-owner by the father-son team of Brian Fairbank and Tyler Fairbank, manages and oversees Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Cranmore Mountain Resort Bromley Mountain, EOS Ventures and Bullwheel Productions. Jiminy Peak Resort is one of the few in the nation to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. A wind turbine, solar field and co-generation facility, all located at the resort makes the resort energy self- sufficient. For more information on the Fairbank Group visit Fairbankgrp.com.

4th Annual Cynthia’s Challenge 24-Hour Ski-A-Thon at King Pine

King Pine Ski Area at Purity Spring Resort is excited to announce the next beneficiary of Cynthia’s Challenge 24-Hour Ski-A-Thon to be held in East Madison, New Hampshire March 17-18, 2017. All funds raised with this year’s event will benefit Sanbornville, New Hampshire’s Faith Holt, an 11-year-old girl living with skeletal dysplasia, seizure disorder and Crane-Heise Syndrome. This year’s goal is to purchase Faith’s family a wheelchair accessible van.

Faith was born pre-maturely and spent her first one hundred days in a neonatal intensive care unit. The combination of skeletal dysplasia, seizure disorder and Crane-Heise Syndrome require Faith to wear a soft-shelled helmet because she does not have a cranial cap. Due to multiple surgeries and her daily seizures, she uses a wheelchair for her mobility. Faith is the daughter of Doug Holt, an Air Force Veteran who served in Desert Storm, and sister to older brothers, Sean (19), Devin (16) and Cody (12). Faith’s mother, Stephanie Holt, passed away when she was six-years-old. A wheelchair accessible van would be of incredible assistance to the Holt family to get Faith and his other children to their daily activities and appointments.

Now in its fourth year, Cynthia’s Challenge 24-Hour Ski-A-Thon has raised over $131,000 to benefit children and their families. Starting in 2014, Cynthia Verrill was the first benefactor and resulted in her name being used to name the event. $35,000 raised for Cynthia was used to provide a seizure detecting service dog. The second year, the event raised over $35,000 for Samantha Gillard who was in need of a wheel chair accessible van and the third year raised $61,000 for Kevin Dall to purchase a wheel chair accessible van.

Cynthia’s Challenge was created in an effort to ease the financial burden upon children and their families associated with specialty medical needs. King Pine Ski Area supports Cynthia’s Challenge with the support of local business and the surrounding community. Cynthia’s Challenge would not be possible without the generosity of major sponsors Atlas Fireworks, Bank of NH, Mad Cow Screen Printing, Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, Thrivent Financial, Yankee Smokehouse & Pepsi Co.

For those that would like to contribute to this year’s Cynthia’s Challenge, online donations are welcome at https://www.kingpine.com/cynthiaschallenge. For more information, please call Purity Spring Resort at (603) 367-8896 or email marketing@purityspring.com.