As the mercury falls, snowmaking rises up 

  • FAR LEFT: Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, drives a four-wheel vehicle up Pats Peak as he and a crew turn off the snow making equipment on the first day of snow operations.

  • Pats Peak snow maker Aaron Jenness  turns off the snow-making fan gun on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, drives a four-wheel vehicle up Pats Peak as he and the day crew turn off the snow-making equipment on the first day of snow operations on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The temperature went down to 26 degrees allowing the snowmaking equipment to run all night. However, when the morning temperatures went above 32, the day crew shut the snow guns down for the day. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, drives a four-wheel vehicle down Pats Peak as he and the day crew turn off the snow-making equipment on the first day of snow operations on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The temperature went down to 26 degrees allowing the snowmaking equipment to run all night. However, when the morning temperatures went above 32, the day crew shut the snow guns down for the day. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak snow maker Aaron Jenness helps turns off the snow-making fan gun on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak snow maker Aaron Jenness helps turns off the snow-making fan gun on top of the mountain.

  • ABOVE: Pats Peak groomer George Dean gets ready to turn off the snow making fan guns on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night, allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak groomer George Dean gets ready to turn off the snow-making fan guns on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The snow-making fan guns on top of the mountain put out snow on Pats Peak for the first time this season as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak groomer George Dean helps turn off the snow-making fan guns on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak groomer George Dean helps turn off the snow-making fan gun on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak groomer George Dean gets ready to turn off the snow making fan guns on top of the mountain as the temperture went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow makinging. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak groomer George Dean (left) and Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, get ready to turn off the snow-making fan guns on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, walks down a trail on Pats Peak as he and the day crew turn off the snow-making equipment on the first day of snow operations on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The temperature went down to 26 degrees allowing the snowmaking equipment to run all night. However, when the morning temperatures exceeded 32, the day crew shut the snow guns down. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, (left) and another Pats Peak employee walk down a trail as they get ready to turn off the snow-making equipment on the first day of snow operations on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, walks down a trail on Pats Peak as he and the day crew turn off the snow-making equipment on the first day of snow operations on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The temperature went down to 26 degrees allowing the snowmaking equipment to run all night. However, when the morning temperatures exceeded 32, the day crew shut the snow guns down. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pats Peak groomer George Dean (left) and Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, get ready to turn off the snow-making fan guns on top of the mountain as the temperature went down to 26 degrees Monday night allowing the crews to start the snow making. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jacob Bashaw, assistant director of mountain operations, unhooks a water hose down a trail on Pats Peaks to turn off the snow-making equipment on the first day of snow operations on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. The temperature went down to 26 degrees allowing the snowmaking equipment to run all night. However, when the morning temperatures exceeded 32, the day crew shut the snow guns down. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/17/2022 2:17:16 PM

Thanksgiving turkeys and early Christmas carols are all very nice but for a certain segment of the population, there’s only one New Hampshire tradition that really matters right now: Firing up the snowguns.

“It’s our favorite time of year,” said Lori Rowell, director of marketing at Pats Peak.

The family owned ski mountain in Henniker began snowmaking Monday, taking advantage of plunging temperatures following a long and, to them, annoying stretch of balmy weather. Temperatures in the 20s and relatively low humidity allowed them to put down several inches of snow and a forecast of cold means they’ll continue as fast as they can.

“It was our first night. We’re getting all the kinks out,” said Rowell. Pats Peak has snowmaking on 100% of its alpine trails, an amount of coverage needed as New England’s winters become shorter and more erratic.

No New England ski areas have announced definite opening dates yet although several are hoping to start chairlifts operating as early as Thanksgiving weekend, if weather permits. Killington Resort in Vermont will be hosting the women’s World Cup Tour on Nov. 25 so at the very least its signature Superstar trail will be ready by then.

New Hampshire ski fans will be paying special attention this year to several ski areas due to issues from last year.

One is Gunstock Ski Area, which is owned by Belknap County. It was shut for two weeks this summer in a dispute between management and members of the Gunstock Area Commission who were associated with the anti-government Free State Project. The existing management seems to have won the dispute.

Also of interest will be the local mountains of Colorado-based Vail Resorts, including Crotched Mountain Ski Area in Francestown, which it bought in 2019, and state-owned Mount Sunapee, which Vail operates under contract.

Some of Vail’s properties struggled last year with insufficient staffing and equipment problems – Crotched didn’t open fully until after the all-important Christmas week was past – worsened by a flood of skiers drawn by Vail’s national Epic pass, which covers 38 resorts throughout the nation. Wildcat and Attitash, two large New Hampshire ski resorts that Vail also bought from Peak Resorts in 2019, experienced problems that drew numerous complaints.

Finally there is Tenney Mountain Ski Area in Plymouth, which has been undergoing fitful reopening efforts for several years. It was bought last year by Northcountry Development group, affiliated with Timberline Construction and Timberline Communications of Canton, Mass., which have operations in New Hampshire.

Tenney’s previous owner Michael Bouchard, who reopened the long-closed area in 2018 only to be shut again by COVID, is still associated with the resort. According to the site’s Facebook page, extensive work continues and it may open this year.

As for Pats Peak, it will be gearing up for a special event: Jan. 5 will be the 60th anniversary of the resort’s opening. The ski area was started by the four Patenaude brothers on land owned for logging by their father. One brother, Wayne, still owns it.


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