The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Amy Bassett, Director of Marketing of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 6/22/2004:
trail biscuit: Opening Mittersill, or not opening Mittersill? Please separate the truth from the rumors. Please, also comment on this member’s post: “Regarding Mittersill, the most I would do with it is set up a double chair to the top. I would leave it as all natural terrain with no snowmaking or grooming. Give it that Castlerock (Sugarbush) or some sort of a Mad River Glen feel to it. I think it would be very popular.”
Amy Bassett: Mittersill is not officially opening anytime soon. Currently, skiers/riders enjoy the backcountry feel of using the terrain on Mittersill. There is no plan to do any improvements to Mittersill until most changes have been made at Cannon Mountain. I have to agree, most skiers/riders love the appeal of the natural terrain on Mittersill. It is an adventure that they don’t get at most areas. Some feel as though they are sneaking the good conditions and make it more exciting.
riverc0il: The Links/Middle Cannon has been a nightmare location on the hill in regards to people moving and scraping/icing. Are there any plans to alleviate this problem area?
Amy Bassett: If you look at a trail map you can see that the natural shape of the mountain is hourglass. The only thing that makes the links better is more snowmaking and less traffic two things we didn’t have in that location last year. Middle Cannon has had major improvements over the last few years. The snow coverage in these areas still needs to be improved. These are things that we hope to improve in that location by making changes in our mid station pump house to increase pressure in the Middle Cannon area, The Links and Middle Cannon were not the best last winter due to a frozen pipe in our snowmaking line and that kept us from making additional snow in that area.
riverc0il: The bump situation on the trails improved tremendously this past season with many trails not being groomed on the sides (Rocket, Gary’s, Zoomer, and Avalanche come to mind immediately) and a good portion of trails not being groomed at all. With the expansion of the Tuckerbrook area for beginners/intermediates, will Cannon skiers continue to find great (and maybe possibly more?) bump and natural snow conditions throughout the mountain as we did this past year?
Amy Bassett: We received good feedback about the grooming and the bumps last season. We hope to continue to listen to our guests. The trails that were left ungroomed were left that way because at times because all we had was natural snow. When we did groom those trails it was very limited.
riverc0il: Rumor was there was a problem with the snow making system this past season. Could you address what happened and plans to fix the system before next season?
Amy Bassett: The snowmaking pipes froze in several locations on one line. The freezing of the pipes was caused mainly because of us being too aggressive in making snow at –30 degrees. Currently, the pipes are being fixed and we are testing the systems.
riverc0il: Will the rumored trail between Paulie’s Extension and the Banshee Slopes materialize any time soon?
Amy Bassett: Currently, there are no plans for that trail.
riverc0il: What is the status on the recently cut glade trail between Zoomer Lift Line and Rocket? Will that be thoroughly cleared and brushed out by the next season?
Amy Bassett: There will be more work on that trail over the summer.
salida: Will first track trams continue on weekends next year?
Amy Bassett: We are planning on continuing this program. It has been a popular program.
Greg: Cannon is unique in that it is a state-operated ski area. How does this fact benefit and/or hinder Cannon as compared to the other private and corporate owned New Hampshire ski areas?
Amy Bassett: Being state operated is certainly unique. Our main downfall is that we have to follow the state procedures for purchasing, hiring and spending in general. With good planning we are able to make the procedures an easier process. One of the biggest difference is that we are being watched by a Governor, Executive Council, state politicians and citizens of NH to make sure that we stay in the black. In all other aspects we are like privately owned ski areas, trying to attract and maintain skiers/riders with good customer service.
Joshua B: Is the cost of running and maintaining an aerial tram significantly higher than the cost of running and maintaining a chairlift?
Amy Bassett: The costs are much higher but in the long run it is worth it. The average life of a tramcar is 50-60 years compared to a lift, which is about 20-30 years.
riverc0il: With Cannon’s well known reputation as being a challenging area with icy slopes, it seems like the expansion plans have gone a long way towards removing this no longer warranted stigma. Has the expansion of the Tuckerbrook Area affected Cannon’s appeal to a broader base of skiers? How will Cannon continue to diversify its ski experience to a wider range of skiers while also retaining its true expert heritage?
Amy Bassett: The addition of the Tuckerbrook Area has really just made Cannon more rounded. We have always had the challenging terrain but the novice area was limited. This gives more opportunities for a family with different ability levels to enjoy Cannon has a family. The fact that Mittersill isn’t developed is a bonus for all those who enjoy backcountry skiing/riding. The addition of Kinsman Glade and the Tram Line has kept the expert skier/rider happy. By having a terrain park and tubing park is just adding to the entire experience. The fact that we do not have slopeside lodging and the terrain on Cannon will keep it a true skiers/riders mountain. You can’t really take the true expert heritage away – there is too much history and natural features.