AlpineZone Challenge 2011 – Bill Quigley of Gunstock

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. Bill QuigleyDirector of Marketing at Gunstock in Guilford, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 1/5/2012

bobbutts: Any chance the Panorama chair will ever be light for night skiing?

mlkrgr echoed this: I second that; as long as there is a couple ways down lit toward existing night skiing terrain from the top of the HSQ, Gunstock would become a pretty good option for night skiing. From what I’ve seen, you can make people pretty happy by running just the HSQ for night skiing Tues-Thurs and maybe add an additional chair Fridays and Saturdays.

Bill Quigley: Probably not as there is not enough demand. Additionally, when we open the summit it exponentially increases our staffing requirements making it dffucult to be profitable. We are increasing the lights this year on the penny slopes to meet the needs of the school groups that come all season.

When we open the Pan Lift it almost doubles the need for staff, Additionally, the project to light the upper half of the mountain would be enormous. We already offer the largest amount of night skiing in the state, and currently meets the capacity of our traffic. Bringing lights to the top of the mountain is not in our current thoughts, but we are always open and adapt due to user traffic.

Night skiing and riding is a different product with a different feel and target market. We cater to many school groups, race teams and people that want to get out and play. To light the would require more than just turning on 1 lift. The electrical, grooming and staffing needs would be enormous. With the largest amount of night skiing and riding in the state, we would have see a pretty dynamic shift in user participation to justify that kind of commitment.

cannonist: I skied Gunstock two years ago after a foot of fresh powder and noticed that there were a lot of runouts that could stop you dead in the middle of a run (it was a powder day)… I don’t really know anything about the work involved in this, but would there be any way to even out these dead areas?

Bill Quigley: If you know of a way to stretch the mountain from the top we could work on some of those run out spots. One of the ways is to just get here more often and ski where there are no runouts on those beautiful powder days. The snowmaking and grooming crew looks at those often for several reasons and works on the terrain each year to make it easier for the groomers and require less snow to fill in some of those holes.

deadheadskier: While I know Gunstock is owned and operated by the county, has a combo pass ever been considered with State run Cannon?

In today’s age of multi-mountain passes, I think having a combo pass with a larger area like Cannon would make Gunstock more competitive in the market.

Riverc0il echoed this, stating: That would be a great pass. Day skiing at Cannon and night skiing at Gunstock. Actually, Gunstock would be a good alternative to Cannon after a rain/freeze when the name of the game is intermediate groomers only.

Bill Quigley: All of the multi mountain passes have common ownership. With Cannon and Gunstock not sharing similar ownership it makes it very difficult.

We actually lowered the pass price 4 years ago. We used to offer a county discount and the low price was actually higher than it is now. We now offer the early season price no residential requirments and it pays for itself in just over 5 visits! For those that took advantage offered an unlimited no black out season pass if you bought by May 1 for just $379.00. We offer the longest ski day in the state and as you said we are the most accessible.

We certainly hear you but we were in a college pass share with Cannon and Sunapee and Cannon dropped out. We currently do offer a college pass with Sunapee. Remember the college pass between Sunapee and Okemo is due to share ownership and management of CNL and the Muellers.

Shared season passes between other entities gets very sticky, and rarely increase skier days for the areas. We certainly understand your view of how it would be beneficial. Look at the old ASC pass as an example of a pass that hurt the ski area. When Killington opened 23,000 people would show up to ski on Superstar!

deadheadskier: Any future plans to open the terrain back up where the Mt. Rowe Single chair used to be?

Bill Quigley: Actually that area is pretty bony and did not have much skiing on it except the current work road. We just finished a new master plan 1 year ago and there are other places that have been identified that would be from the summit to the backside of Pistol.

OldsnowboarderME: Any plans to put permanent snowmaking and lights on stonebar? It would be a nice addition to the night offerings.

Bill Quigley: That’s a great idea and something we do discuss often. With the amount of snowmaking upgrades we have installed in the past several years we now can push up to 6,600 gallons of water a minute, the entire system is high efficiency and high volume. This summer we removed the Gunshy lift and are doing lighting increases in the Penny Complex which supports a large number of skiers and riders in our group and outreach programs.

OldsnowboarderME: Any new trails in the mountain’s future?

Bill Quigley: Take a look at the master plan we unveiled about 1 year ago. This summer we opened the new Gunstock Mountain Adventure Park with the largest aerail obstacle and zip line course in New England, additionally, we are opening the longest ziplines in the continental US. We are expanding our offerings to meet the varied recreational demands of the guests that do visit the Lakes Region year round. Here is the link to the Master Plan, we do have trails marked out in a couple of different areas. Click HERE for the plan.

HD333: Plus 1 on the combo pass with Cannon.

Will you let half of Redhat bump up again this season?

Any plans to expand the number of glades? Even moderately low pitch ones like the Parallax Glades? Those were great for beginners.

Will you be setting up the mini park again in addition to the Pistol Park?

Bill Quigley: Take a look at the master plan, we do have thoughts of where some new trails would go. The Parallax Glades was a big hit by giving a chance to explore glades at the intermediate skier level. We will certainly have bumps somewhere. Redhat seemed to work well.

Regarding the mini park, we will certainly have multiple options for parks. With the addition of the BigAirBag last year, then the progression parks, it gave people a great way to do a move and improve before they moved into the bigger elements.

Morwax: Regarding terrain,

I would have to second or third the questions about new or improved terrain. The runouts at the bottom were created I believe some time in the late seventies or early eighties to make the mountain more family friendly. It gets old quickly on a heavy snow or wet day when you have to skate to get to the lift base. Any plans to improve on this, possibly by reverting to older routes? It would really enhance the experience and Ive spoken to many who feel the same way.

deadheadskier echoed this; the run outs are the result of where the lodge’s are positioned. It’s already a fairly far walk to get to the lifts from the lodge. The main lodge I believe has been around for over 50 years. If you were to relocate those lifts further up hill to remove the run outs from the trails, you’d either need to build a new lodge further up the hill (expensive) or you’d have to install a lift to get from the lodge to the upper mountain lifts (think Okemo on a smaller scale) which is totally annoying.

Bill Quigley: The main lodge was actually built in 1937 so its quite older that 50 years. If you look at the old pictures the area between the lodge and the lifts was actually parking lot because the skiing and riding was done on Mt Rowe, not on Gunstock. Trails to the top were not put in till the 60s. The Stockade lodge is less than 70 feet from the RamRod lift and a ski down to the Panorama lift. We do have a Master Plan that does address some of that and is certainly worth taking a look at.

deadheadskier: Any plans for expanding the amount of glade skiing in coming years. This upcoming season will be my first as a pass holder at Gunstock. I made the switch there from Ragged as it’s a bit more convenient to where I live, has night skiing and superior snowmaking for a very fair price. I will say, one thing I will definitely miss about Ragged is their glades. I’d love to see more glades in the future at Gunstock.

Bill Quigley: This year we would just take some snow! We did cut a new glad a couple of years ago, and if you look at our future plans in the other threads you will see the new trails that have been proposed. We will certainly bring up the expanded glade skiing when we start planning for next year!

deadheadskier: Does Gunstock have a midweek evening race league? If there is a league, what night of the week do the races fall on? Are there ‘open teams’ where individuals who are unaffiliated with a local sponsor business can group up and participate? What is the seasonal cost?

If you do not have a league, has it been recently considered? My understanding is Pat’s Peak has a fairly popular evening race league, so a league at Gunstock might also be viable.

Bill Quigley: We do have a very active Race League. I would guess that many teams are looking for members. You can find all the information about the race league at the Gunstock Racing page The corporate leagues run Monday afternoons, then Wednesdays and Thursdays. They are great groups and have a great time!

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