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Where to Ski: Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire

Posted April 21, 2012 @ 11:29am | by Beau Schwab


As much as I love a good drive into the mountains, there is something to be said about being able to shoot up to your local hill. Wake up, hop in the car with your coffee, and by 9am you’re shredding. Wrap things up by noon and make it back to the office in time to send an e-mail, write a blog, make a phone call and do whatever else makes you feel productive other than three well spent hours on the hill.

When people ask me where to ski close by I always recommend Mount Sunapee in Newbury, New Hampshire. Mount Sunapee, once a state-owned ski area is now in the hands of the Mueller family who have had a hand in drastically improving Okemon in Ludlow, Vermont. The Muellers began leasing the land from New Hampshire in 1998. The acquisition has led to numerous improvements to the facilities such as the addition of a new lodge, new lifts and more snow making. Okemo always ranks highest in the east for the best grooming, a concept which has successfully carried over to the terrain on Sunapee.

How and Where to ski at Mount Sunapee?

If you haven’t picked up on my earlier suggestion of shooting up to the mountain early in the A.M. to get some good turns in, you need to slowwwww down (Billy Madison) and re-read. I used to do this in college all the time. Be out the door by 7:45, in the parking lot by 8:45; in line for the lift to open at nine, ski till 12:30, grab some lunch and show up to class in my snow pants with time to spare. Now that I’m all grown up does not mean I traded in my snow pants and jacket for a suit and tie and it doesn’t mean you have to either! Think of it like golf…business on the course…business on the lift, it’s all relevant right?

If you only have a whole three hours to spend at the mountain I recommend getting on the North Peak Triple first thing in the morning because you wouldn’t want to have to hike up to the high speed quad that early. This also allows you to drop right into Upper Cataract, a nice little black diamond that is impossible to lap without skate skiing. Who said anything about warming up? It’s a weekday and there’s no time for that. If the snowfall allows for the Cataract glades on the left hand side to open up, they are a genuine blast, so get in ‘em and get after it! Cataract will drop you right into the Sun Bowl which faces east, so the morning light keeps cold morning air from getting too cold. The Sun Bowl is full of fun blue squares. My favorite line is Upper Wing Ding to Lift Line to Kart Wheel. Upper Wing Ding has a great pitch, is super wide and has fun rollers. As you see the lift, hug the left side of the trees to make a huge carve under the lift on the run out of Hawes’s Hideout, this will lead you into a nice bump field on Lift Line. As the bumps run out, stay skiers left to get over to Kart Wheel. Kart Wheel starts flat so make sure you carry speed to leap off the lip at the top of the pitch which you’ll see brings you right under the lift again, spot your tracks on the lift ride up and see who went the farthest, if you’re the lone ranger on this morning gallivant, then pat yourself on the back, you just won.

Now it’s time to head over to the front side. The view off Skyway Ledges is beautiful, overlooking Lake Sunapee to the north, it’s time to break out the iPhone and make the office jealous, be careful boss man doesn’t see this one or maybe you’re the boss. Upper Blast Off is narrow and steep but tends to have some super fun whales on it. The trail makes a few twists and turns from the half-way point down which adds to the excitement.

Sunapee really isn’t that big so in a few hours you’ll feel like you skied the whole place twice over which leads nicely into the bar scene, but not before I tell you Sunapee is a phenomenal place to introduce the family to a slightly larger ski area. The South Peak learning area is an entirely separate peak fully equipped with a crawling quad and a few magic carpets. The Spruce Lodge is where all ski rentals are done. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering the beginner area is on the opposite side of the main parking lot, but don’t worry, there is an old diesel pick-up-converted-to-a-ski-school, safari style dream ride that will whisk you gracefully over all the potholes to South Peak.

If your into hittin’ rails, slidin’ boxes, jibbing booters, rollin’ nollies, huckin’ backies and touching sky, the 603 park is actually really sick. Sunapee put together a killer park this past season. They always throw together a nice mix of small to super huge features for your free riding pleasure.

Après at Mount Sunapee?

If your panties are all in a bunch over the kids misbehaving, or the boss just found out your “doctor’s appointment” was at Dr. Shred’s place, or hell, maybe your just thirsty and want your feathers ruffled, The Goose Feathers pub will fix a lot of problems for as long as your glass is tall. The midday/week bartender makes a mean Bloody Mary. If you're unfamiliar with how we feel about Bloody's over here at The Ski Monster Check out my Morning Ritual Blog.

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