By David Schissler – I recently learned that a long dormant ski area in Plymouth, NH is open for business again. Tenney Mountain Resort was abandoned by its previous owner and the infrastructure suffered mightily. The snowmaking system was little more than rusted out pipes, the lifts were in disrepair and the lodge had been vandalized. In short, it was a sad mess. New ownership is slowly but methodically returning the mountain to a functioning, full service ski resort with all of the implied amenities. The condos that line the access road tell a tale of rebirth.
I last skied Tenney Mountain back in the ‘70s when I was racing for Franklin Pierce College. I had to check it out again. It’s a substantial mountain with 1400 feet of vertical, a couple of dozen trails, and some glades which are still under development. Tenney has no snowmaking so their season is totally reliant on natural snow, making for a short season for now. The mountain opened December 1st of 2018 and will go as long as the bottom has cover. The area worked extensively with local welders and some from the Portsmouth Naval Base to repair and pressure test the system in the summer of 2017. All that’s needed to cover 90% of the mountain next season is to bring one more pump online.
Steve Murray is the head of Lifts & Forestry at Tenney. He’s a seasoned veteran of the ski industry having worked at Tenney when Hall of Famer Dan Eagan operated the mountain and also did a stint at Waterville Valley before returning to Tenney when new management took over. Bringing the trails back to life after 9 years of dormancy was his biggest challenge. He explained that early on his priority was deciding where to widen or narrow the overgrown slopes. Some places were widened to take better advantage of the terrain and on other trails pucker-brush was allowed to grow in order to narrow some areas.
Admittedly, the ride up on the fixed-grip double summit chair is slow at 15 minutes. But the lift is long too, making for long runs. The ride up is more than compensated by nearly empty trails, all natural snow, good grooming and no lift line. The terrain is classic New England winding through the trees and rolling down the mountain. Trail signs almost don’t matter since every intersection just leads you to another groomed blue square. You can start on a trail at the top and choose from various routes all the way down. You find yourself looking down multiple routes and selecting your option.
You hear the term “authentic” used a lot these days. Tenney is not only authentic New England but right now I believe it’s the best value in the region. Tickets start at only $45, just $30 for seniors. Hours of operation vary during the week so check the website before going https://www.skitenney.com Given the cost and the quality of the experience you can’t go wrong.