AlpineZone Challenge 2005 – Martha Wilson of Bretton Woods

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. Martha Wilson, Public Relations Manager of Bretton Woods Mountain Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 8/23/2005:

Bob R:  The last few years your opening and closing dates seem to be getting further apart. Are you going to be the first eastern resort open and the last to close this coming season?

Martha Wilson: Bretton Woods tries to open as early as we can and stay open as late as possible simply because we love skiing and riding and we know that our guests do too. We like to offer a long season as a benefit to our customers. We are now offering consistently high quality skiing and riding to our loyal customers for a full six months of the year. Bretton Woods has made a commitment to installing the snowmaking capabilities that make early openings and late closings possible. We also love that we can offer overlapping skiing and golf seasons. Being the first to open or the last to close is less important to us than providing a fun time on the hill; a long season is just an added benefit.

thetrailboss:  Many Alpine Zone members have not been to Bretton Woods in a long time or have never been at all. What makes your resort stand out from the other great ski resorts in your area (Wildcat, Black Mountain, Cannon, Burke, etc?) I know that you have a good location for snow, great views, good cruising terrain, and upgraded infrastructure, but what do you consider to be your biggest asset? What can we get at Bretton Woods that we can’t get anywhere else (hey, how about an AZ Day at the Mountain?!)?

Martha Wilson: For those Alpine Zone members who haven’t been to Bretton Woods in a long time, it’s important to know that BW has grown almost exponentially in the last five years. Since 2001-2002, we’ve added over 35 trails and over 60 acres of skiable terrain. The rebuilt base lodge that was completed in the fall of 2003 increased our square footage from 45,000 to 70,000 square feet, at a cost of about 5.5 million dollars. The whole lodge was redesigned to make the skier experience more user-friendly. Because of the new base lodge, more trails, and new high-speed quads for quicker access to more time on the snow, BW offers a complete winter playground with chutes, bumps, bowls, steeps, glades, and plenty of wide-open cruising terrain. Other resorts in the area might offer part of the equation that makes for a great experience, but because of our diversity of terrain and consistency in customer service, snow quality, grooming, lifts, and weather, Bretton Woods can always deliver.

NHpowderhound: Martha, thank you for taking our questions. Bretton Woods has long had a reputation for wide mellow trails with good snowmaking and excellent grooming. Such terrain is perfect for the beginner and intermediate skier and rider. Last year was the first time in many years (probably 16) that I rode a lift Bretton Woods exactly because of that stigma. I go to Wildcat and Cannon in NH to find terrain to suit my ability level. Bretton Woods has done a great job with the Rosebrook Canyon area and West Mountain, opening more terrain geared towards advanced skiers and riders. Any plans to cut more glades or steeps to lure more experts to the mountain and get our dollar?

Martha Wilson: As Cindy pointed out last year, Bretton Woods is very proud of its identity as a mountain with great intermediate terrain, superlative service, snow quality and grooming. Knowing that some added challenges would be beneficial, last year marked the completion of the Rosebrook Summit expansion. Although there are easier options available, most trails and glades starting at the Mount Rosebrook Summit are designed to lead into the more challenging terrain of Rosebrook Canyon. As we develop more trails and glades, we are going to use as much creativity and imagination as we can to bring out the great personality of our terrain.

Bob R: How have the Cog Railway Ski Trains been received? Are the combo packages going to be available for the train and the main mountain again this season?

Martha Wilson: Although Bretton Woods and The Cog Railway have a working relationship that allows guests of The Mount Washington Resort to easily enjoy all of the unique amenities of the area, it is important to note that The Cog Railway is a separate company from Bretton Woods Mountain Resort. Bretton Woods did assist The Cog Railway in getting the Ski Trains off the ground last year with help in sharing resources such as ski patrol personnel and snowmaking equipment, but the Cog Ski Train will function now as a separate entity with its own staff.

We’ve found that although die-hard skiers may not choose to spend an entire day skiing or riding at the Cog, the Ski Train can be a fun diversion that offers some spectacular scenery from new perspective and oftentimes, opportunity to find untracked powder well into the later part of the day.

thetrailboss:  It has been a long time since I have skied Bretton Woods. I am a local who really enjoyed the resort’s homey feel, good rates, and nice cruising terrain. As much as I appreciate the improvements that the new ownership has done, the incredible increase in rates gives me and many other locals the impression that you are no longer receptive to the skiers who are in your backyard, forcing us to go elsewhere. In here an in other forums, I have heard some negative things about the ‘Woods with regards to being not as family friendly and affordable as you once were. Can you explain this perceived change of attitude? With offering the new Bode Pass at a good rate, are you changing course? Any other good local promotions?

Martha Wilson: Since Bretton Woods became part of The Mount Washington Resort in 1997, we’ve been offering a Sunday afternoon local’s special, where all ages of residents from Essex, Caledonia, Coos, Carroll, Grafton and Oxford counties can ski or ride for just $12 after noon on non-holiday Sundays. We can set our watches to the influx of cars that we see around noontime every Sunday. We have also combined efforts with Cannon for several years to offer The Bold and The Beautiful Season Pass, valid any midweek, non-holiday day, as well as any day prior to Christmas and late March until our closing in May. Our entire roster of season pass rates this year has either remained the same, or as you have mentioned, decreased considerably, making it more than affordable for locals to join us.

NHpowderhound: Martha, I am a vocal opponent of the Cog, especially for skiing. Now that it is operating in the winter/spring, are there any effective measures in place to keep skiers and riders from using the drop-off at the Waumbek Tank as a jump start to get to higher terrain or the Ravines and Gulfs? I am very concerned that the people who are not physically or technically prepared are using the Cog to cut off hiking time and thus putting themselves in a situation they are not remotely prepared for. Would Bretton Woods ski patrol be responsible and prepared to go on a search and rescue/recovery on Mount Washington if they found one of their patrons ventured from the Cog right of way? Thanks again for your time in answering our questions.

Martha Wilson: As mentioned earlier, questions about the Cog may best be sent to them directly.

As at any mountain resort, The Cog Ski Train has posted ski area boundaries, and skiers or riders who choose to cross those boundaries must take responsibility for themselves. I would guess that most backcountry enthusiasts would not pay to ride the relatively short distance that they would have hiked anyways before the train began winter operations.

thetrailboss:  Speaking of the Bode Pass, does this discounted pass program reflect increased competition from ASC’s “One for All” Pass Program considering that last season ASC and many other resorts were selling cheaper passes last season? Do you plan on keeping this discounted pass program for seasons to come?

Martha Wilson: Historically, our season pass program has been targeted to Bretton Woods homeowners who already enjoy all of the great family programs and amenities here at the Resort. We now hope that in combination with Bretton Woods’ number-one ranking for snow quality, weather and grooming in the East, an economical roster of passes for every age and schedule will make skiing and riding at the Resort the first choice of many snow sports enthusiasts. We are guessing that the new pricing will lure some new guests the BW, and that once they’ve experienced the first class skiing and riding here, we’re sure to drive some loyal customers our way.

eatskisleep:  When can we expect Mount Stickney to be open or complete and what type of terrain are you planning on offering there? I hope some nice steep chutes and glades.

Martha Wilson: We are still in the process of studying plans for expanding to Mount Stickney. It is a large project – over 300 acres – and we are approaching the project carefully to avoid making mistakes. Some of the Mount Stickney terrain will fall into the Rosebrook Canyon, some of our steepest terrain. Knowing that there is a desire for increased challenging terrain, we’ve added some great trails and glades in the Rosebrook Canyon, and will continue those efforts as we expand.

NHpowderhound: Martha, I understand that the Cog COULD use a cleaner burning fuel to power it up the mountain. Anyone who has traveled in the Great Gulf to Spaulding Lake can’t help but notice all the black soot that has been deposited in the bottom of this once pristine mountain pond. Not to mention all the greasy black rocks and discarded wooden rail ties that that litters the sides of the track. Are there any plans to clean up this ancient pollution machine known as the Cog and clean up the surrounding mountain?

Martha Wilson: As we all have been reading, The Cog does have plans to retrofit some of the trains with oil-fired steam engines.

The Cog Railway staff could better answer this question.

thetrailboss: Are there any plans to expand the night skiing operations? It seems that this is a big asset and you have virtually no competition for night skiing in Northern New England that is close by. I’ve always enjoyed night skiing, but to be honest, the one route off of the Express Quad gets boring and can get quite icy at night. How about offering more routes and maybe a quick groom of these runs in between day and night sessions (akin to Wachusett)?

Martha Wilson: Night owls will now be able to start their skiing and riding early, as the former night pass will become a Twilight Pass, with lifts available from 2:00-9:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and during holiday periods. We get a great crowd every Friday night for the local race league, and the kids of course love to ski and ride well into the evening. We have been looking at extending the night skiing to adjacent trails, but like other capital improvements, we need to prioritize our endeavors. Our Ski Magazine rating as #1 in New Hampshire for grooming is not only for our daytime operations; we pride ourselves on the great conditions that we offer to our guests night and day. We do send out up to three of our grooming machines at 4:00 every afternoon before night operations.

To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: width=