Courtesy of Ski NH – When one thinks of the great outdoors, technology isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But three of New Hampshire’s ski areas are making it easier than ever to access the slopes by installing Radio Frequency Identification technology to their ticketing systems and chairlift portals. This technology is but one way that Ski New Hampshire’s members are making improvements for a better guest experience this coming winter.
Gunstock Mountain Resort, Mount Sunapee Resort, and Waterville Valley Resort will debut their RFID systems, which replaces the traditional lift ticket worn on the outside of a person’s jacket, with a card that can be read as they enter the chairlift portal.
At Gunstock Mountain Resort, RFID access gates will be installed at each lift location, and will be used for season passes, Flex passholders, and even day ticket holders. Tickets can be loaded to these cards online at Gunstock.com for direct-to-lift access. Mount Sunapee Resort’s Real.Easy.Card will also replace traditional lift tickets and season passes, and will be read by automated lift access gates to allow guests to use the chairlifts. Waterville Valley Resort’s RFID system will differ from the other resorts, as it will be the first gateless RFID system, which will streamline the skiing experience. Gunstock is purchasing 37 new, energy efficient HKD snow guns for the winter season. 34 of these guns will be mounted on sleds and 3 are tower mounted. The purchase of these guns completes a multi-year initiative to replace all of the resort’s snow guns with modern, energy efficient technology. This snowmaking plan is part of a resort-wide initiative to reduce total energy consumption by 15% by 2020.
Other capital improvements for Ski New Hampshire member resorts include the following:
In partnership with Ski the Whites, Black Mountain will be adding a backcountry skiing and snowboarding program to their facility. They will be offering backcountry-specific skiing and snowboarding lessons and rentals from their base lodge.
Trail maintenance will be completed in partnership with the Granite Backcountry Alliance to prune and manicure the glades this fall.
New high-efficiency snow guns will be added to their fleet to strengthen snowmaking capabilities and provide a better snow surface throughout the season.
Following last year’s $5 million snowmaking and energy upgrade project, Cannon Mountain was able to make two times the snow with half the energy. This year, they will add an additional $250,000 in upgrades to snowmaking.
Cannon will also spend $135,000 for a public warming hut on Mittersill, $200,000 on chairlift upgrades, and $150,000 for a state-of-the-art ski and snowboard tuning machine.
As part of their $50 Million Master Development Plan, the 18-unit Kearsarge Brook Condominium project at Cranmore Mountain Resort will be completed by the end of October. The Kearsarge Brook Amenities Building will be built in two phases, including a four-season outdoor pool with an indoor viewing area and changing rooms, which will be completed in December 2017. The second phase of this building, located next to Cranmore Fitness, will feature a tubing park base lodge, which is expected to be completed within three years.
Unload Zone has been renovated to include new paving, drop-off parking, sidewalks, decorative and improved lighting, plus landscaping.
86 new high-efficiency snow guns will be added to the mountain’s inventory, which were developed by Cranmore’s owners, Brian and Tyler Fairbank. They will use 90 percent of water pumping capacity and 50 percent less air, which will cut down on energy costs while producing twice the amount of snow.
Granite Gorge is grading and adding drainage to their 350-foot-wide race trail, and will be acquiring new race-specific safety equipment for that trail.
They are adding two new Demac/Lenko Titan Snow Fans to their fleet.
They will also add 50 Tube Pro Snow Tubes, new lighting for Cosmic Tubing, and they will have new rental equipment available for skiing and snowboarding.
To maintain their snowmaking infrastructure, King Pine has spent close to a $100,000 installing 5,000 feet of new larger diameter snowmaking pipe to replace older pipe. King Pine is also spending close to $200,000 to acquire 45 additional new HKD Snowmakers high efficiency, low energy tower and ground guns. In addition, King Pine sent four of its fan guns to Snow Machines Inc. (SMI) to be upgraded and refurbished to the most up-to-date snowmaking efficiency specifications.
King Pine has been working to maintain and improve its existing tree skiing areas and develop more within its existing boundary area. King Pine and Purity Spring Resort have also recently spent more than $80,000 to improve networking and customer cellular service and WiFi by installing fiber-optic cable throughout the resort.
Loon is enhancing its commitment to snowmaking this winter by installing 11 semi-automated snowmaking hydrants on Lower Rumrunner. Since 2013, Loon has installed more than 150 of these ultra-efficient hydrants on key early-season snowmaking trails. By drastically reducing the time required to turn the guns on and off, the hydrants allow Loon to open more terrain more quickly in the early season – and enable the resort to deliver better, more consistent snow all season long. In addition to installing new semi-automated hydrants on Lower Rumrunner, Loon is also upgrading other aspects of the snowmaking infrastructure in the resort’s West Basin area.
A new triple chairlift at Pats Peak will replace the old Peak Double, doubling the capacity of the lift from 800 to 1,600 people per hour. Also, they will be deploying some newer technology at the bottom of the lift with a conveyor carpet system that will make loading easier and faster, cutting down on the ride time to the summit.
With early season skiing and riding in mind, another $250,000 investment has been put into their state-of-the-art snowmaking coverage system. This year’s investment is the addition of six (6) Fan Guns from Snow Machines Inc.
Pats Peak is midway through its lodge expansion and renovation. When it is complete, it will add more seating, an elevator and new bathrooms along with expanded locker service. This year’s expansion work will be done on the middle A-frame of the lodge and by adding more seating on the cafeteria level.
Renters will find new Elan skis, boots and poles along with new Burton snowboard boots. The 9,600 square foot Starting Gate Rental Shop is Northern New England’s largest rental shop. The Rental Shop will continue to provide fast service to renters with its self-service check-in service, where renter information is stored to make each rental process quicker. This allows skiers and riders out on the slopes even faster.
Brand new deck heaters will take the edge off of that chill while skiers and riders are relaxing on the deck. These are state-of-the-art and incredibly efficient. They’ll be placed throughout the third floor deck nearest the Sled Pub.
Ragged Mountain Resort is adding a new Bison X Groomer to their snow grooming fleet. They will also have a new hardware update for their point-of-sale system.
The New Learner’s Area Experience will include the replacement of the original J-Bar with two new carpet lifts as well as additional trail earthwork and grading for a more effective teaching area. The addition of the two carpets will divide the trail into a shorter or longer run, and create a supportive experience for beginners, without the fear of challenging lift loading or conquering a full length trail before first getting comfortable on snow.
Skiers and riders can expect to see the first stage of renovations completed on the ground floor of the base lodge. The Ticket Office will be relocated and renovated for a better purchasing experience and overall better traffic flow at the base area. The relocation will also make way for an expanded Waterville Valley Adaptive Snowsports Program facility, with improved access to the base area, the courtyard, and unload.
Further earthwork and grading will mean that more of the new Green Peak terrain will be skiable this season. $1.15million has been invested in snowmaking infrastructure and more than 500 new snowmaking guns have been purchased. Guests will see new equipment and an improved snow product on Green Peak and the main mountain this season.
Thanks to grant funding and private donors, Whaleback has begun upgrading their snowmaking system, doing trail work to get ready for the season, and replacing the West-Side T-Bar.
Improvements at Windblown include drainage in the parking lot and a new snowplow to keep it clear, major brushing on all of the trails, brand new rental gear, and additions to the lunch menu.
Ski New Hampshire is the statewide association representing 34 alpine and cross-country resorts in New Hampshire. For information on ski areas, conditions, vacation planning and updated winter events at Ski New Hampshire resorts, visit SkiNH.com. For statewide travel information, go to VisitNH.gov.