Black Mountain and Bretton Woods Double feature!
With Mass vacation week over, I am finally able to resume my normal GTNS touring schedule. I figured I would kick it back off by finishing off the last remaining mountain in the White Mountain area, Black Mountain.
Black Mountain Lodge
I knew very little of Black Mountain going in. I have several friends who said they liked it a lot, but did not really elaborate on it very much. There website showed a mountain that seemed smaller than mine (Gunstock), and had no mention of a terrain park of any kind. They really push the "Classic New England Skiing" thing on their website.
Dat "Classic New England Skiing Experience"
When I pulled in just after lifts spun up a few minutes after 9, I was one of three cars in the lot. I know it was a Wednesday, but god damn was that an empty lot. After getting my ticket and booting up, I took the rope tow lift up to make my way over to the old summit double chair out of laziness. Once I was on the summit lift, I had quite a while to contemplate just how uncomfortable older chairlifts that are made of steel and plywood are, as the trip to the top takes quite a long time to make. The other thing that really stood out to me as I rode up, was just how little snow Black Mountain has. This winter has been particularly bad for the White mountain range, and without a huge snow-making budget like most of their neighbors, they are really showing it. Patches of dirt and rock were present on many of the black diamond and higher trails.
Once I reached the summit, I headed for the nearest set of glades, off skiers right of the summit. In the short trip from the summit to the entry of them, I quickly realized that even the groomed trails were extremely icy. With the regions mid-February thaw, and now a cold snap, it really turned the mountain into an ice-cube. As I peered looked over the edge of the 'Carter Notch glades', I decided it was probably better for my skis to skip this one, as rocks were abundant. I made a few more laps around the summit lift, each time waiting at the top for someone to come so I could ask them to take a photo of me. It took 4 or 5 laps around before I finally saw another skier at the summit. I bothered them into taking my picture, and headed off on my way.
By 11 AM or so, I was tiring of the Mountain, primarily due to the bad conditions, which Black has no control over. I started down the 'LostBo Glades' but within 20 feet, I decided I would heed the warning of the trail sign at the top. It was simply too icy to ski, and judging by what I saw, the signs warning of 'Any fall WILL result in an uncontrolled slide' was spot on. This is the first trail in memory I decided to back out of, and at a smaller mountain surprisingly. There are definitely a few pretty damn hard trails at Black.
I made my way down and packed my gear. With no park and super ice present everywhere, I headed to Bretton Woods. Black Mountain is a nice little place for a family to ski I would say. It gives of a super strong Family-Run vibe (although I do not know if this is actually the case), and with super affordable tickets, it is a strong contender for a day trip with the family. As long as no one in the family has their heart set on a day in the park.
Bretton Woods is a re-visit this season for me. I skied there in early November to knock the mountain off my list. With extra time left in the day, and it being on the way home, I figured I would stop by and check out their parks. I do not think I have seen a single edit come out of Bretton this season, and I was curious what they had. For being so close to Black Mountain, the quality of Bretton Woods snow was much, much better. Although there was still some ice, it was far less....stressful lets say to ride on. Even within the glades I was able to hold an edge fairly well despite the lack of snow.
The place was absolutely packed. It looked like one of the busiest weekends I have ever seen, and it was the middle of the week. Apparently their 2-for-1 ticket deals combined with New Hampshire vacation week results in massive crowds. I made a couple runs around the edges of the mountain, and found a nice couple of cliff drops to hit under the Rosebook Summit Quad that were super fun. I also made a number of glade runs, that although were a little hard, were still doable and very fun.
Gotta love inbounds cliff drops, even if they are fairly small.
After having had my fill of all-mountain skiing, I made my way to the parks, starting with the one located on 'Bretton's Wood'. This park is, to me, the textbook definition of a good progression park. With pretty much everything you would need to learn to hit a new feature, I really wanted to stay there for awhile and hit it. They even had probably the best example of a beginners side-entry rail I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, as any park-skier knows, some days you just feel like something is not right. Like anything you try probably wont work. Its like a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that make you wonder why you haven't been able to make your boots fit right even though you have adjusted them 25 times today. With a big week coming up, I decided I should probably listen to that nagging feeling and not make today a park day.
I headed to their main park on 'Coos Caper' to check it out as well. It was a pretty nice medium sized park that plenty of fun could be had on. I took my pictures and headed down. Here are a few of the things in their park. I do think however that their beginners park is probably the highlight of the park scene at Bretton.
They also have a gladed park on the West Mountain as well, although to be honest there really are not that many features within it. Its fun, but nothing compared to the gladed parks of Killington or Sunday River. With that nagging feeling getting worse, I decided I should call it quits for the day, I just felt like something bad was going to happen if I kept on skiing, so I packed up and headed home.
Last year Bretton Woods jumped way up my list of favorite mountains I had been to. This year, even with all the new mountains I have visited, it is still one of my favorites. It really does have something for everyone. With lots of glades, lots of beginner and intermediate trails, and two very good, reasonable parks anyone will be happy skiing here. Discounting my home mountain (Gunstock), it is probably my favorite mountain in New Hampshire.
The next couple weeks will be action packed here on the GTNS blog! Coming up on Sunday 3/2 I am visiting Jay Peak with a friend. Jay has long held the title of my favorite mountain. Having not visited in 6 or 7 years now, we will see if it holds up to all the other mountains I have visited on the tour. After that, I have taken several days off from work, and will be doing a 3 day car-camping trip to northern Vermont. On Tuesday 3/4 I will be visiting Mad River Glen, Wednesday 3/5 will be Bolton Valley and finally Thursday 3/6 I will be at Stowe. Doing so many mountains so fast will put me a little behind, so expect a delay on posts starting next week. If you are going to be at any of the mountains please, let me know! I'd love to have someone to ride with!
Finally, I would like to thank all of you for reading my blog. If you do not follow Newschoolers obsessively like I do, you may have missed this little announcement.
Because of all of you reading and supporting my traveling-blog-extravaganza, I have been chosen as one nine new additions to the Newschoolers Journalism Program. I could not have done it without all of you who take the time to read my long-winded bi-weekly posts about skiing here in the great North-East. In the future, I do hope to expand into other, non traveling related articles. If you have any thoughts or ideas you would like me to write an article on, please let me know! Anyway, thanks again for all your support!
Keep on Shredding!