Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to Skiing - Gunstock - 1/28/12

Hi everyone, this is not a hiking trip report, this is a ski outing report! Well, the plan for Saturday was to hike Whiteface, East Sleeper and Passaconaway, but when you wake up two hours later than planned, it certainly makes a difference when it comes to winter hiking, and we would be up against time all hike. In addition, two friends of mine need these peaks, so we opted for skiing and snowboarding at Gunstock.

I can remember the first time I was going skiing with family at Sunday River, fifteen or more years ago. I did not take lessons that day because Sunday River required the students to wear a balloon on their head. Even at ten years old, I would not be seen with a balloon on my head, so I sat in the lodge and never learned to ski that day. I skied one other time at Nashoba Valley when I was a young teenager, and then the last time I skied was about seven or more years ago at Ragged Mountain in NH with family. I remember doing well that day, but still was a little nervous. 

Over the last couple of years, I have been trying to teach myself how to snowboard. I've tried about four times at places like Sunday River, King Pine, and Gunstock, and can remember two being good trips of decently controlled snowboarding, but I can not seem to get the technique down to where its fun for me. Therefore, I decided that its time to see about skiing again, so instead of two plus hours late for our hike, we we're at Gunstock after an hour drive for opening!

I tried snowboarding once here last year, so I went through the rental process pretty quickly, and was provided with some decent equipment in good condition from the manufacturer Head. I met Bill outside, and we were off to the summit of Gunstock via lift haha!

The weather was great, it was around freezing all day, I'd say; the sun took a while to poke through the clouds, but was present and it provided for great conditions. Those ground conditions were basically groomed loose granular and not very icy until it was noticeably icier at the top on my last two runs. The low amount of skiers there made it a pretty enjoyable day for a place with such short runs. Early in the day, we had unobstructed views to the beautifully white-covered Mt. Washington with Lake Winnipisaukee in the foreground.

When we were on the lifts, the trees were thickly coated with ice and the trees were shedding that ice in the bright sunlight as we made our way up the lift each time, which sounded like very heavy objects crashing onto the crusty snow. How was hiking on the trails yesterday with all of this falling ice? Did anyone have any close calls? We almost did as we stopped along-side the ski trail once. Yikes!

I definitely picked skiing right back up, I didn't fall all day long, which was sweet. I loved zig zagging and whizzing past everyone so I could get to the bottom and go do it all again. I picked up some amazing speed at some points, and one time I had enough speed coming down one side, I was able to sort of cross-country ski across the base of the mountain to get to the far lift! My last two runs of the day were sweet, and both had a combination of all 3 levels, including a couple of black diamonds, Middle Trigger and Redhat, which were steep and icy at the end of the day. With the headphones cranking all-day, I was whizzing down the mountain as fast as I can like Bode Miller.
Bill did just as well as me on the day after a 2-year hiatus 
A bistro chicken sandwich, fish and chips and a couple of Samuel Adams' for lunch filled in the day in between at the Pistol Pub in the main lodge. We departed around 5pm with the desire to ski more this year! I'm ready to buy some skis!

Later, I will post a video of a few clips on the day. Look for that on my YouTube channel.

A quick blurb on the value of going to Gunstock. Gunstock is a smaller easy-to-get-to peak, and is ideal for beginners. After waking late, we didn't want to drive too far north on Saturday, so this was the best choice, plus we're familiar with it, but in the future, I'm going to consider going to the larger mountains slightly more north, such as Loon, because the price is only approximately ten dollars more. This really makes Gunstock's prices seem pretty high. Thankfully it was a great day, and it was justified. Its time to invest in some skis now to cut down the long term costs! :)

Adult Prime Time Lift Ticket - $72
Skis, Boots, and Poles Rental -$38
Bistro Chicken Sandwich and Sam Adams - $20 including tip
Total Cost - $130


  1. Dan,

    If you are going to take up skiing, you should consider telemark skiing. I'm sure you'd love backcountry skiing once you got used to tele skiing. That way you could do lift serve or head for the woods. There are some great mountains for backcountry skiing as well. Mount Marcy was a blast on skis.

    1. Mike, thank you. I definitely want to try with backcountry skis. I already want to go hike and then ski down some mountains, but hopefully I ski a few more times this winter (along with hiking), and get into it next year by scoring an off-season deal on some backcountry skis or something. I wish I could do everything at once! It was nice to get back into some hi-speed action.