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Summer upgrades help ski areas lure visitors: more N.H. mountains capitalize on tourist season.

There's not a snowflake to be found in New Hampshire right now, but area ski mountains are still bustling with activity.

More and more New Hampshire resorts are capitalizing on the summer tourist season in the Granite State, which sees double the foot traffic that the winter months do, said Karl Stone, marketing director at Ski New Hampshire.

"In the summer, kids are out of school," Stone said. "There's so much to do, between the mountains and hiking and the lakes. People are here vacationing in the backyards of the ski areas. There's an opportunity to add some attraction."

For instance, Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway installed its Soaring Eagle Zipline this summer, which will run through the winter, joining its snowtube park, mountain coaster and giant swing as alternative winter activities.

Bretton Woods recently constructed a Canopy Tour, Williwaw Racing Zip and indoor climbing wall, which also will be available to guests this winter.

And Mount Sunapee added a new year-round Canopy Zip-Line Tour, a 2 1/2-hour guided tour with eight zip lines, three rappels and a rope bridge.

Though the 2011-12 ski season was slow for ski business nationwide, Stone said, New Hampshire mountains made the most of the mild winter and they are planning a number of capital improvements looking forward to their next opening in early November.

"From a business standpoint, one of the big challenges of a winter like that is our markets of southern New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts did not have much natural snow on the ground, and having snow on the ground is something that gets people motivated to come skiing and riding," Stone said.

Area resorts have planned lift replacements, trail changes, lodge upgrades and snow-making improvements regardless of last year's dry season, he said, planning to see a sharp increase in business after a slow winter, whether it's driven by weather bouncing back or skiers and snowboarders returning to the resorts craving the slopes.

Black Mountain in Jackson is investing more than $500,000 in snow-making improvements, including two new electric air compressors, which will more than double its snow-making capacity and reduce the area's carbon footprint, including 35 low-energy, high-efficiency tower snow guns.

Ragged Mountain in Danbury also is making more than $1 million in snow-making upgrades, including 100 new low-energy, high-efficiency tower snow guns and five new fan guns on the mountain.

Other unique tweaks include new airbags at Mount Sunapee and Pats Peak that will allow skiers and riders to practice jumping or learning tricks, a new terrain park at McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, and a new lodge, "Great Room," grill and tubing park at Granite Gorge.

Not all state ski areas are members of SkiNH, notably the three owned by Peak Resorts, including Crotched Mountain in Francestown. Crotched Mountain has installed a new high-speed detachable quad chairlift.


Now it's just a question of whether temperatures will cooperate.

"Everybody has their own theory, but it's not a perfect science," Stone said, looking at weather the upcoming winter. "It's weather in New England."

For a full list of capital improvements at New Hampshire mountains, or to see summer activities going on, visit

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Title Annotation:MEETINGS; New Hampshire
Author:Gill, Mary Alice
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Aug 24, 2012
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