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NH
ski areas implementing new features, improvements

By
JOHN KOZIOL

Union Leader Correspondent


August 26. 2017 10:05PM





EAST MADISON - As the summer winds down,
the pace is picking up at many of Ski NH's 34 member resorts, including the
modestly sized King Pine Ski Area, where they're spending big bucks on
infrastructure improvements.




King Pine is spending about $100,000 to install
5,000 feet of 4-inch diameter snowmaking pipe to replace older 3-inch pipe, and
is upgrading and refurbishing four snow guns. 




King Pine and Purity Spring Resort also are
spending more than $80,000 to improve networking and customer cellular service
and WiFi by installing fiber-optic cable throughout the resort, owned by the
Hoyt family.




Many other Ski NH resorts are working on
improvements, said Karolyn Castaldo, communications and marketing manager for
the Conway-based industry group.




"Last season, we saw a nearly 30 percent
bump in skier visits from the season before across alpine, cross country and
snow tubing," Castaldo wrote in an e-mail. While stressing ski areas are
at the mercy of the weather, she said improvements New Hampshire ski areas are
making "are using state-of-the-art technology to be able to combat the
elements."




Some Granite State resorts are offering new
season-pass products or learn-to-ski programs, Castaldo said. 




Castaldo said member resorts are working on the
following:




• Gunstock Mountain will install radio-frequency identification
(RFID) access gates at each lift. 




Guests will be issued an RFID card that will
automatically be read by the gates. The cards are reusable and reloadable and
will let guests skip ticket lines by loading their card online. 




Eventually, guests might be able to purchase
other goods and services at Gunstock with the cards.




Gunstock is installing 37 new HKD snow guns as
part of a larger initiative to reduce the resort's energy consumption.




• Black Mountain is adding more high-efficiency snow guns. Under
a partnership with Ski the Whites, which has a ski shop in the base lodge and
offers rentals and lessons, Black Mountain will offer a new backcountry
program.




• Loon Mountain is installing 11 semi-automated snowmaking
hydrants on Lower Rumrunner and upgrading other aspects of the snowmaking
infrastructure in the West Basin area.




•  Pats Peak has invested another $250,000 in its snow-making
system; added six new fan guns and is installing a new triple-chair lift with a
conveyor loading system that will double the lift capacity from 800 to 1,600
guests per hour. 




The Pats Peak lodge expansion and renovation is
ongoing and when done will add seating, an elevator and bathrooms, along with
expanded locker service.



• Whaleback is celebrating successful fundraising by
improving snow making and installing a new T-bar.




• Waterville Valley has added $1.5 million worth of snow-making
equipment onto Green Peak; is replacing the J-bar in the learning areas with
two new carpet lifts and is completing the first stage of renovations on the
ground floor of the base lodge.




• Ragged Mountain has added a Bison X snow groomer to its fleet;
updated its point-of-sale system and is continuing the BeBe Woods learn-to-ski
program, which is free and includes three lessons.




• Windblown XC has improved parking-lot drainage, added a new
snowplow and tweaked the lunch menu in addition to bringing in new rental gear.




Thomas Prindle, the director of marketing at
King Pine and Purity Spring Resort, on Tuesday said resorts have to continually
invest in infrastructure.




Skiing has been part of the Purity Spring
experience since 1938 when a tow rope was installed and Milt Hoyt invited
guests to try the sport. The following year, Hoyt began what is now the Ski
& Snowboard Camp for boys and girls, believed to be the oldest ski camp in
the country.




The first trails for King Pine were cut in 1962
and since then, the ski area - which Prindle admits has one of the smallest
vertical drops in the state - has become a place where skiers and snowboarders
first try snow sports.




"We introduce people to the sport. We're a
feeder mountain and a great mountain for families," Prindle said.




Many guests return with their children so they
can learn at King Pine and to accommodate those guests, the resort is adding
more intermediate and advanced terrain, Prindle said.




Prindle is bullish on the upcoming winter.



"Having come off a very strong season last
winter and with the extended forecast for cold weather and snow, we're hoping
for another great season," he said.

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