Ski Resorts Report Bumpy Ride This Season and School Vacation Week

Print More

King Pine photo

King Pine reported being open Thursday with groomers out early in Madison.


CONWAY – To say it has been a hard, double black diamond mogul field of a week – or for that matter, a season – for the New Hampshire’s ski industry would be accurate, officials say.

Those venturing out Thursday to find trails akin to a frozen surface of the moon on any ungroomed surfaces after a warm rain and shot of very cold air are having a rough ride.

The good news business-wise is that Massachusetts school vacation week was a great success last week with numbers still coming in. 

That was because great weather abounded.

The bad news is that has not been the case for this New Hampshire school vacation week, nor the rest of the season, which was just about washed away by Dec. 18, 2023 flooding.

It has been a long, hard slog to regroup since, ski area operators said.

And with snow base depths at where they should be for a typical mid-March, the season might not last as long.

Still most ski areas are planning for events through March and hope to stay open as long as into April.

On Wednesday, three ski areas were closed to preserve their snow base depths, including Crotched Mountain in the south on the Bennington/Francestown line, King Pine in Madison, just south of Conway and Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch.

Jessyca Keeler, president of Ski NH which represents most all alpine and Nordic centers across the state,  said in an email “the season has definitely been a mixed bag – this certainly goes for the weather we’ve experienced, and that has been reflected in our skier visits from week to week. 

“While visitation numbers are still coming in for last week’s vacation week, generally speaking the trends look pretty positive overall statewide.”

Keeler said February turned out to be a great month “in a season that started off with a bang but has had some challenges since then. While I don’t get daily reports from ski areas, I suspect that the weird weather we’re having this week won’t do the ski areas any favors, but we’ll see if sunny skies and warmer temps this weekend draw skiers to the mountains, despite the fact there there’s no snow south of the mountains.”

On Wednesday at about noon, there were about 70 cars in the main parking lot at Mount Sunapee, with snow-eating fog shrouding the summit. Sunapee lists a base depth of 24 inches, but staff said that the lucrative Massachusetts school vacation week was a success there, and they have events planned out through the month of March.

Base depths are key because snowmaking operations are for the most part, done for the year. Anything that adds to it in the form of natural snow will not last as long because it is not as durable as man-made snow.

On Thursday morning, some ski areas, like Attitash in Bartlett, were opening late, at 10 a.m. due to the howling winds, westerly at 15-25 miles per hour with predicted gusts up to 50 miles per hour, according to its website. The website said the strong winds may impact lift operations urging people to stay tuned for updates.

“We kindly ask for your patience and understanding during this time as we work to make the slopes safe and enjoyable for everyone,” with groomers working hard to grind up the hard freeze overnight.

Nordic Centers seemed to be holding on in the woods and high elevations with Bear Notch in Bartlett offering 65 kilometers and Jackson Ski Touring, which now has snowmaking, focused on grooming its man-made snow loop in the center of the village Thursday.

Ellen Chandler, executive director at Jackson said last week was “reassuring and necessary” with lots of skiers providing needed revenue.

The season started strong but after a Dec. 18, 2023 flooding event took out much of 50 hours worth of snowmaking and in some cases moved flows of snow across the golf course, it has been a challenge, she said.

Chandler said she was looking forward to seeing how long the more durable man-made snow lasts. While she spoke, groomers were out on the snow surface covering part of the town’s center. 

A capital campaign by the non-profit focused on a sustainable future allowed for the snowmaking equipment, with groomers also providing the snowmaking. 

Right now, she said high elevation trails have plenty of snow and will be ready for Friday and the weekend. In the low-lying areas, the lack of snow is making it hard to access some trails.

Still, Chandler said, it feels like it is late in the season, advanced by two weeks because of the “weird winter.”

Base depths at alpine ski areas vary with up to 80 inches at Cannon, 48 inches at Bretton Woods, and 54 inches at Gunstock.

Tubing is also available for weekend use at many of the ski areas with the cost of a session about $35 at McIntyre in Manchester. There are also night skiing options for families who want to get out. 

For more information visit

Comments are closed.