It was the weekend before Christmas and I knew I had to get on the snow Saturday. Granted I had not even started shopping yet, my apartment looked like a tsunami tore through it, and I was running low on clean undergarments (especially those used for skiing). Nevertheless, I knew I had to get on the snow.
Why so necessary? Meteorologists were calling for a tremendous shot of warm water on Sunday night. If correct that would effectively end the unbelievable December skiing all mountains in New England had experienced (eerily similar to the 03/04 season). More on this coming later, stay tuned for a weather/conditions update in the near future.
My friend J.L. knocking the rust off his edges – first day of the season – soft chop to deal with under the Spear Mountain chair.
Saturday was shaping up to be the last call to make runs on soft packed powder and still hunt fresh lines tucked away out of sight from the general skier traffic. At least in the near future until another snowstorm takes shape.
The Plan: Simple –> A day trip to Southern NH!
I picked up a friend in Chucktown and hit 93N. We kicked around options as we approached the toll. The 89N junction is where you have to make a decision, at least between resorts like Cannon, Waterville, and Loon or Pats Peak, Sunapee, and Ragged.
That day the winner was Ragged Mountain.
I had never been to the area before. Most of what I knew was of the financial troubles the mountain has been having in the past few seasons. Rumors and bad weather made it difficult for the place to get up and running with any consistency. This year Ragged has new owners and with them comes with a new pot of cash. The $$$ inflow breathes new life into not only the mountain, but also the surrounding community.
Getting to Ragged: The drive will take you a little under 2 hours from Boston, cake. Once exiting the highway (89N) you will have to navigate about 15-20 minutes of back roads. Just be careful because the mountain road is only marked with a street sign, which appropriately reads, “Ragged Mountain Road.” I sailed past it and had to bang out a U-turn.
(S.G. thought: The new money may want to consider new signage.)
The Mountain: There is an enormous new base lodge and facilities, always a nice touch. I experienced no issues with parking. Form car to chairlift was a breeze.
Ragged’s new base area is top notch.
The area only had about half of its lifts open, but honestly we only road one. The main method of reaching the summit is a high-speed detachable six-pack (6-person seat) and it did not have a line to wait in once. In fact, there were more employees directing folks in the maze then there were visitors actually going through it most of the day.
Ragged Mountain has about a 1,200 foot vertical drop (think Bromley) and you can rip off top to bottom runs fairly easily without stopping for a break.
The terrain was interesting. The mountain operations did a nice job with grooming and left a few trails untouched. The first couple of runs were on the Reggae Glade and Sweepstakes (a blue square and black diamond respectively). These two trails still had a lot of natural powder tucked along the edges and soft, small bumps littered the centers.
By the third ride up the six-pack, I was giving the mountain a thumb up. By then I was ready to do a little more exploring. We were riding with a pinhead (telemark skier) who claimed there were a ton of tree shots on the skiers left coming down the hill. That was enough for me.
My friend and I followed a few tracks into the woods from the summit and actually found a very enjoyable expanse of steep tree skiing. The amount of snow in there was unbelievable and if courage allowed you to venture form the tracked out areas the powder was just waiting to be devoured.
untouched lines on Saturday!
I am not really even sure if most of the spots we hit had trail names. If you pull up the map from the ski areas website, all of this skiing was accomplished in what they call “The Ravine.”
On the map there are few named gladed runs, e.g. – Rags to Riches, Miss Behavin’ and Not Too Shabby. But in the woods going downhill it did not seem so organized. Still, one could negotiate their way through pretty much all of the ravine (it actually is one) and the lines to pick from are plentiful.
Note: I am sure once the Spear Mountain Triple Chair gets spinning a lot more of this premium skiing will become accessible.
The Verdict: After a half dozen or so more runs in the woods, Two Thumbs Up!
The Vibe: Ragged was genuine. It is a friendly, affordable, fun skiing experience. All in all a great Ski Guru recommended day trip form the Hub.
Think Snow, we need a fresh shot!
pics ~ S.G.
Ragged also has Pattitude.