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. Chris Bradford, Director of Marketing at Crotched Mountain Ski Area in Bennington, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 7/26/2004:
thetrailboss: Great to see Crotched come back! We would have visited, but, to be honest from the information I saw, your pricing structure was not attractive to us. I’d love to ski from open to close, but this is not realistic or feasible and that is why we purchase half day, day, or night tickets. With this said, what will the rate structure be for this season? Will you offer day/night/half day tickets as opposed to “one rate”?
Chris Bradford: Ticket prices and structure have indeed been refined for the upcoming season – a “half-day” ticket has been added, but with a unique twist. We’re calling it the “6-hour pass” – $35 weekends/$29 weekdays you can ski/ride for any 6 hour block you wish, so you’re not limited to just a pre-defined 12:30-4:00 “half-day” like other ski areas. Besides the new “6-hour pass”, the full day pass has lowered to $39 weekends/$35 weekdays which is good for 12 hours 9:00am – 9:00pm. $45 is the price of the X-treme Pass which is valid on Fridays and Saturdays beginning in mid-January – ski from 9am until 3am the next day! Midnight Madness, unique to Crotched, runs from 9pm – 3am and you can ski that session for only $29! I could easily go on and on, but I think you’ll agree that our ticket/pricing structure this year will offer skiers a “breath of fresh air” compared to typical ticket structures elsewhere in New England. Keep an eye on the web site for details on all the rate packages and specials.
thetrailboss: I heard that you do have promotions, but that they were not well advertised or organized. Are there any on the horizon for this season we should be aware of?
Chris Bradford: I’m not quite clear on what you mean by “promotions”, so I’ll lay it out into two categories: ticket specials and events. Crotched hosted several well organized events last year, including the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, and the event schedule for the upcoming season is very healthy! We even have a few night-time terrain park events on the schedule.
Regarding ticket specials – Monday is Carload Day ($60 up to 5 tickets), Tuesday and Wednesday are 2-for-1 days, Wednesday is ‘Learn to ski’ day, Thursday is Student Day ($15 w/ student ID). Monday-Friday is 50% discount for military. These are only the regular weekly specials… during the season we’ll likely announce extra specials and promotions, so stay tuned!
thetrailboss: Are there any plans to reopen the original Crotched Mountain, once referred to as Crotched East, with trails that interconnect the two?
Chris Bradford: It does remain a possibility, so perhaps at some point in the future. Right now with this part of the ski area (the old Crotched West / Onset) having just been completed, we need to “let the dust” settle a bit to make sure everything is perfect. Brand new lodge, lifts, snowmaking, etc. were a lot of work and the construction crews last year pulled off an Olympic feat! Even this summer, maintenance crews are still putting the finishing touches on everything. I myself would like to see the other side of the ski area re-open, and I’m sure it will in a few more years if business is good.
Joshua B: What will happen to the summit t-bar lift line and the actual lift itself. It’s interesting that it’s still in place when the other lifts were replaced. Will there be any interesting/challenging terrain on that side of the hill?
Chris Bradford: The summit t-bar is still there and it comes up in conversation every once in a while. That little “pod” of skiing up there around the t-bar area is likely to re-open well before an expansion over to Crotched East. Having conversed with the GM about the t-bar, he was unsure if it could be made to run again or not. If in another year or two (or three) it’s decided to attempt a re-opening, the t-bar lift would be assessed and the expansion would proceed from there. Beyond that, I really don’t know much about the current state of the t-bar – nobody really does. Of course, skiers made tracks over in that area this past winter anyway… apparently it’s a nice little stash.
ski jay: I skied at Crotched last January. My first time and I thought the place was great. Is there any way to place more “signs” on the New Hampshire routes pointing to Crotched Mountain Ski Area? As a newbie to New Hampshire skiing the signs pointing to the rehab center with a similar name were more abundant. I was a little confused and ended up heading to Crotched Mountain Center. I even saw signs that said recreation so I followed them.
Chris Bradford: When I first arrived here at Crotched, road signage was literally the very first subject of conversation! From what I understand, the brown state signs which point toward ski areas have very tight limits on where and how they are placed. These signs are entirely erected by the state, not by the ski areas. In Crotched’s instance, although the ski area isn’t very far from major population centers (Manchester, Concord, Nashua, Peterborough, etc.), getting here can still be tricky for those not familiar with the area. We do provide a map and directions in our brochure and on the web site. Mapquest directions are always an additional option. Once you understand how to get here, your ride will be enjoyable because it’s beautiful country over here. However, I’ll just mention that we are working to get additional signage from the state – it’s just a tough beaurocratic process that takes time, patience and persistence.
Greg: Last season there was a sign in the Dining Room: “No Coolers or Picnic baskets allowed in Dining Room”. Technically, it doesn’t say anything about “brown-bagging it”. I interpreted this sign as an effort to keep people from having to trip over bulky items such as boot bags and coolers while using the dining room. What is Crotched’s position on “brown-bagging it” in the Dining Room?
Chris Bradford: This is a great question and you’ve hit the right answer. There has been a bit of confusion about this – people are certainly welcome to “brown-bag”. The “No Coolers or Picnic Baskets” signs are intended to encourage use of the downstairs lockers and prevent the main lodge area from being obstructed by piles of personal belongings. Of course, with ticket prices as affordable as they are this year, we hope you’ll want to spend a few dollars on food. It’s not a trick…food prices are very reasonable too! The large food court has a great variety of foods and beverages that’ll probably make you want to grab something anyway, regardless of whether or not you’ve brought your own brown bag. Skiers and riders who were here last year already know that unlike other ski areas, we have employees who constantly take care of the main dining area by cleaning tables, clearing garbage, etc. This level of attention to cleanliness, combined with a lack of personal gear piles/obstructions, makes the dining area a comfortable place to be.
Greg: Do you have any plans to open a forum or chat room on your website? Do you read web forums like AlpineZone.com? If so, do you ever want to reply to posts about Crotched or other ski areas?
Chris Bradford: Yes and Yes. A Crotched Mountain community site is in the works – discussion forum, photo galleries for Crotched skiers/riders to upload their pictures, perhaps even video. We’re adding live webcams and the site is going to be a place for Crotched fans to interact with each other and the ski area. I do indeed read forums like AlpineZone.com, SnowJournal.com, EpicSki.com, and others. I do engage in discussion about the ski industry where appropriate.
hammer: Are there any plans on having a “beginners only” ticket rate? Last season’s Sunday lift ticket rate was very reasonable for access to all of the trails, but that rate was a bit more than I wanted to pay for my daughter since she was only interested in using the beginner’s area.
Chris Bradford: Referring back to question #1, we’ve added a bunch of new ticket prices and structures for the upcoming season. Among these are a few items that are of interest to families and young skiers. For example, we have an all day kid’s “SnowKamp” which runs on the weekends, several different lesson plans (most include rentals), and even Sunday Family Nights for $25 including rental! We’re also working with local schools on programs for young school students, so be sure to ask your school’s sports/activities coordinator about ski & ride programs at Crotched.
teachski: Are there any plans to extend to the summit (either with the old t-bar or another lift) in the near future?
Chris Bradford: The summit quad already reaches near the actual summit. When the ski area was constructed last year, it was decided that the lift would terminate just below the old Crotched West summit to protect from wind exposure. Referring back to question #4, the old t-bar has a few of it’s own expert trails and could make for a cool expansion someday.
teachski: I know that a lot of money has been invested in snowmaking, but because the area was not completely ready, the grand reopening occurred later than originally planned. What is the projected opening date for this season if all goes as planned?
Chris Bradford: First, since you mentioned snowmaking, I’ll share a quick fact about it: Crotched’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system has the highest snow production capacity per ski-acre in New England. Computer controlled 100% fan-gun technology means that this snowmaking system can very efficiently make a lot of snow in a short amount of time. If you’re a snowmaking junkie, you’ll have to come check it out because it really is an amazing system. Obviously, with a system like that, we want to put it to good use as soon as it’s cold enough to make snow for a reasonable amount of time and not have it melt a few days later. Besides snowmaking, there are several logistical challenges that are going to determine the opening date of the ski area. Right now, we’d like to open sometime in the first half of November, although we’ll probably crank up the snowmaking system as soon as it’s cold enough in late October and will open as soon as we’re able.
Thank you Greg: and patrons of AlpineZone.com for taking a moment to ask questions about Crotched. Any of you can feel free to email me at any time to ask a questions or discuss any of the answers to this challenge. I also invite all of you to pay us a visit this winter to see what a brand new ski area is all about!