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Whaleback Mountain, NH - February 19, 2017


Paul

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IMG_1531.thumb.JPG.d431da586e683ff3627c408d683c4385.JPGToday's Destination was Whaleback Mountain located in Enfield, NH, about 15 minutes south of White River Junction, VT right on Interstate 89, to meet up with a friend who had been skiing in the region the past couple of days. I left Sherbrooke this morning at 6 am for the journey, 95% all autoroute for this trip. Whaleback is very easy to find and easily accessible. Whaleback has 1 double chair, and magic carpet serving 31 trails and 700 foot vertical with a variety of different levels of ability and glade skiing. You will notice the trail names named are in relation with a sea and the whale theme. The mountain has seen a number of closures over the past number of years, at least 3, but this latest group, the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation, is running it as a non-profit organization. Originally opened as Snow Valley in 1956, it operated under that name until it's first closure in 1968-69. The mountain re-opened under the Whaleback name in 1970. This past summer they had a successful fundraising campaign where the raised enough money to purchased a used t-bar that has been refurbished and should be installed this summer to be ready for next season.  

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I arrived at the mountain at 8:30 am to beautiful blue skies and a pretty full parking lot. Today was day 2 of their mogul and rail jam festivities. The competition was of mostly kids from the region competing under the double chair on the Lower Face trail.

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The conditions on the first few runs was on groomed granular on a firm base. When I arrived the temperature was -3 degrees Celsius. A big difference from the +6 degrees and clouds when I left Sherbrooke. The temperature rose very quickly during the first 4 or 5 runs and the conditions changed to mashed potatoes and the snow softened up rather quickly. Still they had a decent coverage on the trails that were groomed and the natural snow trails started to get a bit thin in places. Spring skiing in the middle of February! I skied mainly on the left side of the mountain as the right side was not exposed to the sun in the morning. The Upper and Lower Ivory trail had been groomed but was a little tricky as there were some little natural obstacles and you had to be aware of. Nice trail though. There was an adequate amount of snow in the woods after the dumps they had earlier in the week but with the warm temperatures yesterday and today made for some tricky skiing. I didn't chance the glades today and stayed on trail.

The Upper Ivory Trail:

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I skied from 9:00 to 12:30 and made 13 runs. The lift line was pretty much non-existent and only once during the morning where there was a small rush where we had to wait 5 minutes at most. Mostly everyone there were the kids competing with their parents watching and cheering them on. It's the beginning of the school holidays in the region this week so the mountain will be open all week operating on their holiday schedule Monday to Friday. When I left to head back, the temperature on the car display was reading 12 degrees Celsius! Overall it was an excellent day of skiing, and another nice discovery.

Here are some other photos of the day:

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Very nice mountain. The layout of the trails is also very good. Thank you for sharing another relatively unknown mountain with us. It's amazing how we all know the larger and more storied mountains, but just like Quebec, the Eastern US does have plenty of smaller secrets in store. The last and 4th last photos are my favorites. Views and sights I really enjoy.

Do you know where the t-bar may be installed for the upcoming season?

Are there lodging options nearby or other ski areas in close proximity to make a longer trip out of it?

 

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Yet another mountain in New Hampshire I've never heard of. The scenery in this region truly is beautiful. 

3 hours ago, Shane said:

Are there lodging options nearby or other ski areas in close proximity to make a longer trip out of it?

 

 

Looking on Google Maps, this place seems a BIT isolated. It's in a small town so there would definitely be lodging, but there doesn't seem to be many other ski areas nearby. Places like Dartmouth Skiway and Mount Sunapee are in the region, but definitely not next door. If you don't mind moving around and are looking for a less commercial ski trip, it's definitely something to consider.

A more popular skiing destination in New Hampshire is the Mount Washington area: In a 20-mile radius there's Attitash/Bear Peak, Bretton Woods, and Cranmore. Expand to 40 miles, and there's Loon Mountain and Cannon Mountain as well. There's also the town of Conway, which is popular for tourists and shoppers. Many years ago, we stayed at Attiash Resort for about 10 days and skied this region, and there's no way you'll ever be bored. 

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Where my friend stayed was in the town of White River Jct., VT which is about 15 minutes away. There is the town of Lebanon, NH on the other side of the Connecticut River, which is practically the border between the two states. That is about 10 minutes away right on the 89. If you are looking in the 45 minute to 1 hour drive, there are Dartmouth, Sunapee, but there is also Ragged Mountain that has a vertical of about 1100 feet. There is also in VT, about 30 minutes is a place called Suicide Six, the name is scary but the hill isn't. Granite Gorge is about an hour away on I-91 south of White River. Depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking to ski the not so well known areas, this would be the region to be. If you are looking for the bigger and more popular ones then North Conway would be the place where there is Cranmore, Black Mountain, Wildcat, Attitash, King Pine, and Shawnee Peak in Bridgeton, ME, all within a decent travel time. I like the smaller out of the way places mostly, but I also like the bigger areas as well. I like to discover new places that not everyone would think of travelling to.

There is an unnumbered trail between trails 16 and 20 where an old Poma lift was years ago. This is where they are planning on installing the t-bar.

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  • 3 weeks later...

What a difference a couple of weeks make!  Whaleback announced on their Facebook page that they are closed for the season after tonight. The rain and the warm weather recently took its toll on the mountain.

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Wow, that's crazy. Very unfortunate. Amazing how we had such a great start and the past month has been extremely challenging and unstable for weather.

Let's hope things get under control so the season can last as long as possible.

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Bummer, its a sign of the future, very inconsistent weather.  Snow making was tough this year with a lot of warm weather early in the season, even though we got a lot of snow, it was hard to make snow.  I don't think you can survive anymore without a major man made snow base.  Lets hope we get some good snow storms in March to help us through till mid April.  Mont Ste-Marie has already called the last day as April 1st, which is very early for them.  

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