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Sunday, August 10, 2014

With early skiing just three months away, NH ski areas are upgrading

August is no time to be thinking about skiing, at least not in the Northern Hemisphere, but the state’s ski areas are preparing for the upcoming winter with a variety of expansions and upgrades.

This past winter was the sixth-best ski season on record in the state, in terms of paid attendance, largely because winter started early and stayed late. ...

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August is no time to be thinking about skiing, at least not in the Northern Hemisphere, but the state’s ski areas are preparing for the upcoming winter with a variety of expansions and upgrades.

This past winter was the sixth-best ski season on record in the state, in terms of paid attendance, largely because winter started early and stayed late.

Locally, Pats Peak in Henniker plans to open two more trails on its Cascade Basin, the expansion opened last winter. It was the first expansion of the resort’s overall “footprint” in it 51-year history.

These new trails will have 100 percent snowmaking coverage – virtually a requirement for downhill skiing these days. The family-owned resort also said it is adding snowmaking equipment, wireless Internet access and new LED lighting in the base area.

Crotched Mountain Ski Area in Francestown continues to profit from the high-speed detachable quad chair it installed in 2012, unusual for a mountain with less than 1,000 vertical feet.

McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, a small city-owned site, is adding lights and increasing snowmaking capacity.

Other upgrades announced this summer, according to Ski NH, an industry group that represents most downhill and cross-country areas in the state, include:

Ragged Mountain, Danbury: The old Spear Triple chairlift was replaced a new Doppelmayr high speed detachable quad chair. The Elmwood Lodge is being improved, part of some $5 million in total changes.

Mount Sunapee, Newbury: A high-speed quad chairlift in Sunapee’s Sunbowl area will replace the four-person lift that previously serviced that area, cutting ride time to the summit by more than half.

In the coming years, Mount Sunapee plans to replace the North Peak triple chair with a fixed-grip quad chair, installing a triple chair from the base of the Sunbowl to the summit of North Peak plus additional trails and snowmaking.

Cranmore Mountain Resort, North Conway: The first phase of Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore is expected to begin this fall, with 18 condominium units at the base of the South Slope; completion is expected by next summer.

Granite Gorge, Keene: A paved, two-lane entrance directly off Route 9 makes it easier to get to the parking lots. Snowmaking has been added as well, and a glades area for skiing amid trees. Cross country skiers will have over half a mile of new terrain.

Cannon Mountain, Franconia: Cannon is spending nearly $2 million in improvements for 2014-2015, including roughly $1 million towards Phase I of the Mittersill improvement project which involves trail work. Trail expansion and a new snowmaking compressor that will add 28 percent more snowmaking capacity.

Black Mountain, Jackson: The platter pull at Black Mountain is being upgraded for this winter with $25,000 in improvements.

Loon Mountain Resort: Snowmaking improvements continue. Last year’s snowmaking upgrades were part of the reason why Loon opened top-to-bottom on Nov. 8 of 2013, the earliest such opening in the resort’s history.