Bretton Woods is going retro. In an age of high-speed lifts, meticulous grooming, and expanded snowmaking, the ski area in New Hampshire’s White Mountains is unveiling an old-school T-bar lift that provides a dose of nostalgia for parents and grandparents with the thrill-seeking spirit of younger skiers and riders.
The 2,000-foot surface lift takes riders to a wooded natural snow area on Mount Stickney with steeps, cliffs, and trees. Dubbed the Telegraph T-bar, it got its name from pieces of old telegraph cable found during installation that once linked a tower on a neighboring mountain to a hotel.
Near the summit there is a rustic, solar-powered, 600-square-foot cabin set on a ridge with inside and outdoor fireplaces, food service, and mountain views. “You really get a sense of place for the backcountry,” said Chris Ellms, director of ski operations.
Intermediate and advanced snow lovers can hit terrain that increases in difficulty on both sides of the lift line. A groomed bail-out path allows those with second thoughts to glide elsewhere. Ski resorts aren’t all following the lead of Mad River Glen, the eclectic Vermont area known for its natural snow trails, stingy snowmaking, and wild terrain, but some are providing a taste of the sport’s hardscrabble beginnings. Pockets of glades, ungroomed runs, and off-piste skiing are opening across New England with easier access than the hiking up the mountain of the early days.
Though advanced skiers and riders relish the challenges, even newbies skiing in control can take to gentle woods runs with trees spaced not too tightly and errant branches removed. Ski schools provide lessons and guided backcountry tours such as the one at Sugarbush with ski legend John Egan.
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