Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Supreme Snow Conditions Continue at Cranmore

I am running out of hyperbole for snow conditions this winter. We got another foot of snow Sunday night, adding to the foot we got on Thursday. Today was another blue bird beauty and the combination of sunshine and powder was irresistible.

I went out with sales manager Krissy Fraser to do some product testing, you know, all the better to tell the many boy scout troops who come to our mountain every weekend. Here she is at the bottom of Jughandle, which was chock-a-block full of pow-pow. Yummy!

Next came a run through Red Pine Glade to Ledges, which was unexpectedly left ungroomed for a change. Don't let anyone tell you Cranmore lacks challenging terrain - this steep beauty left my heart beating fast as I finished up the run. Sweet!

And is there anything better than a run down the East Slope to the classic East Double Chair on a sunny day? You can still find untracked powder on skier's left on lower East.

Speaking of untracked powder, I skied as many glades as I could today - Beech, Treemeister, Black Forest, Pipeline - all wonderful, all full of stashes of powder still today, 48 hours post-snow storm.

This week's forecast shows more fair weather which should hold up conditions nicely throughout the period. New Hampshire school vacation week is in full swing. Grab a few days in the winter sunshine snow while you can!

Kathy Bennett

Monday, February 16, 2009

Snowmaking Resumes at Cranmore

I spent just about all day yesterday on the mountain and had the pleasure of skiing nearly every trail. I am happy to report that Cranmore's groomers are miracle workers and the mountain has rebounded in spectacular fashion from last week's precipitation event, or as some of you call it, the "R" word.

Saturday night I went for a ride down and around the mountain with Snowcat Johnny, Supervisor of Cranmore's grooming and snowmaking team.

These massive machines with knowledgeable hands at the wheel till the snow surfaces the way a plow carves through soil. There is still a TON of snow out there, and with the right people at the helm like Johnny, the snow transforms to corduroy every night.

And just to sweeten things up even more, Johnny and the crew hit several of our most popular trails with snowmaking last night, including Middle, North and South.

When I came in from my long day on the mountain yesterday I saw for the first time the tell-tale sign that the sun is now higher in the sky than before - freckles and rosy cheeks from the sunshine on my face, which I did not have to cover in fleece and neoprene to survive my day outside. Time for sunscreen once again! Break out the sunglasses and Tan More at Cranmore!

For those of you who are fans of Facebook, do yourself a favor and after you add Cranmore as a friend, seek out the Cranmore Geese who have somehow waddled around and set up their own Facebook profile. I honestly do not know who set up this profile but the Geese have an uncanny ability to capture the true essence of a day at Cranmore. Break out the bread crumbs!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Reach the Peak

Because I work at a ski area, I work with a lot of really, really good skiers and snowboarders. I know this sounds obvious but as someone who learned to ski as an adult, I am a little self-conscious about my skills, even though by most standards I'm not bad. I get to ski more days in a month than most people do in years.

Considering I work with all these great skiers, and have access to lessons on a daily basis, one would think that I would have taken a lesson or two over the years. But in the 7 winters I've worked here I have rarely done so. That changed yesterday when I made a visit to the Sunday morning ladies' group that our ski school offers every non-holiday period.

There were about a dozen of us coached by our ski school director Karen Dolan, instructor Sally Anderson and seasonal program coordinator Mary Miller. I work with Karen every day but had never taken a lesson from her. What a treat!

All of us were intermediate to advanced skiers looking to move to the next level and improve our technique. Personally, I am growing fond of bump skiing and hitting the glades. I can make it through a mogul field or tree run, but it ain't pretty.

Our first run together focused on getting forward and getting on edge. Like many other women in the group, my turns skid and put pressure on the tails of my skis. We practiced skate skiing on flat areas to build awareness of how your legs should extend on the turn and how keeping the skis flat on the snow slows you down.

Next run was down the bumps on Schneider. Half way down, Karen stopped me and told me to aim for the snow, turn on top of the bump and drive my tips into the snow. "When you approach a bump, your skis point upwards, putting you in the backseat. By concentrating on pointing your tips down into the snow, you avoid this. Keep your skis on the snow," Dolan instructed.

I tried it and it felt totally different - much more in control. I can't wait to get out there later today to work on this some more!

I also got advice on keeping forward - something I hear every time I have ever taken a lesson and something I should really work on. Feel your shin against the front of the boot; press down your big toe to initiate a turn; keep your feet hip width apart.

Cranmore has been a teaching mountain since Hannes Schneider came here 70 years ago. While we may not have the highest elevation or vertical drop in the state, we do have a ski school that can measure against the best in the country, and teaching terrain that can challenge all abilities.

If you haven't taken a lesson in years or think you're all that, try taking one of our "Reach the Peak" group lessons for intermediates, or better yet, take a private lesson. The thrill of making progress after many years of status quo is worth the effort.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wide Open

Photo taken February 6, 2009

With the all-important February vacation week coming up in just a week, you might want to know what the straight scoop is for snow conditions at Cranmore and I'm glad to oblige.

I skied for a few hours here both yesterday and today and hit a variety of trails to taste test the product. I'm happy to report I wasn't disappointed. I can't remember another year where we had so many perfect blue sky days and such beautiful packed powder conditions. No freeze thaw cycle here. In fact, no January thaw at all, and looking halfway into February, nothing ominous looks to be coming at us anytime soon.

Here's a Kats-eye view of conditions at Cranny:

East Bowl to Gibson Pitch - Packed powder, great little lip at the bottom of Gibson Pitch down to lower East -- woopie-dee-doo!

Arlberg to Jughandle to Bandit - Arlberg remains a cruiser's paradise as usual. Jughandle's powder has packed down to nice moguls. Look out for some ice and dirt on the backs of some of the bumps but you can easily fly through Juggie. Bandit's cool little banked turns are always a hoot.

Red Pine to Ledges to Darkside - You need to pick your way through Red Pine Glade but everyone knows a little challenge is fun. Ledges is in as good a shape as I've ever seen it. The Darkside - what can I say; the terrain park crew has been out there for weeks grooming and perfecting the best park in the Valley.

Skimeister to Bandit - Another of my favorite classic New England style trails on the north side of the mountain. Skimeister is a dream; cut over on Bandit to avoid the traverse by the condos at the base back to the Quad.

East to Artist Falls to Oompah to South - This is fast becoming my favorite last run of the day because it's a cruiser that dumps right down to my office in the base lodge. Lovely views of the Moats and the Saco River Valley.

I hope you join us this week for what continues to be a stellar season with pristine conditions. We're wide open. Come and get it. :)