Monday, February 27, 2012

Northeast Ski Blogger's Summit, Year II - Cannon Mountain, NH

So, remember last year, when I was invited to the Northeast Ski Blogger's Summit? Well, it happened again. I must be the best blogger ever.

Anyway, today I want to talk about history. Like, when we drove up to Cannon today, we could feel the old school style of the place:

Even in the cool base lodge (with brand new bar area), the style was old school cool:

Unfortunately, the trails weren't in the greatest condition. I'm talking groomed. I'm talking packed powder. I'm talking boring. I mean, I'm up for ripping the Front Five as much as the next guy, but I've skied enough groomers this year. Like, way too many groomers.  So much so, that last weekend at Gore, I hucked myself off every stupid little bump I could find, just because I was so psyched to be skiing some natural snow. We were trying to find something good, and it didn't happen until we started looking towards the old timey trails like Hardscrabble:

It was tough . . . Real tough.  But we made our way down the icy bumpfest and liked how much the trail was able to challenge us.  In fact, I wasn't too satisfied with how I skied it, and vowed to return later.  First, though, we had to try the pinnacle of old school, the Mittersill area:  

Classic tight lines, trees, steeps, pow, and fun.  This is what skiing was all about back in the day. I've written before about how I want skiing to return to it's freestyle roots. But maybe what I really want is a return to an even earlier time.  A time of insane races down Tuckerman Ravine. A time where ski instructors were respected. A time of awesome stretch pants:

That last pic is from the New England Ski Museum at the base of the Cannon Tram (they've got a nice shot of a 60's girl skiing in a bikini, too).

It seems like a lot of resorts these days are focused on wide boulevards, constant grooming, and overindulgent services.  Condos instead of Conquests. Amenities instead of Adventure. Thankfully, Cannon has a little bit of a split personality: Groomers and Snowmaking for the masses, Natural snow and Natural conditions for people like me.  It's not that I want to live in the past (I'm definitely going to hit the hot tub in the hotel later), I just feel like part of the appeal of skiing is in its roots.

Recognize that back in the day, people skied narrow trails on long skis and had a great time doing it. They didn't have the latest rocker technology, the molded boot liners, or even sidecut skis.  They skied Hardscrabble and Mittersill with no grooming, no heelpiece, and no fear. There's something to be said for that kind of attitude - it helped me ski Hardscrabble a second time . . . and conquer it.


  1. Hah, we'll be talking about Hardscrabble for years (and I only did it once!).

  2. While skiing Cannon, I often reflect on how it was skied 70+ years ago with older equipment, narrower trails, and no snow making or grooming. Nice that we still have that option... but with better equipment. :)