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Welcoming Skiers of All Levels

Attitash Mountain is focused on the guest experience
Aerial view of Attitash Mountain ski runs

Attitash Mountain, located in the heart of the White Mountains and part of Vail Resorts’ network of resorts on the Epic Pass, is more than just a ski area.

“[Attitash] is the essence of New Hampshire skiing, snowboarding and the winter lifestyle,” said Deirdre Riley, senior manager of mountain operations at Attitash Mountain. “New Hampshire skiing and riding is unlike anywhere else, and Attitash provides adventure not for the faint of heart.”

Two connected mountains offer 68 trails and eight lifts for acres of diverse terrain. The original Attitash peak was cut back in the ’60s, making for steep skiing in the upper mountain, double fall in some places and the classic New England trails that twist and turn.

Snow groomer at night
Photo: Attitash Mountain

Development of the Bear Peak area in the mid-1990s and installation of the Flying Bear high-speed summit quad chairlift dramatically increased the available skiing and riding acreage while adding open glades, wider intermediate terrain and some of the state’s most sought-after alpine race trails, including the homologated Illusion. Illusion is one of four runs on the East Coast that qualify to host college International Ski Federation level Super G, GS and SL races due to the total vertical, width, versatile terrain, double and triple fall lines, and pitch.

“While we offer challenging terrain for seasoned skiers and riders, we also want to be accessible to those who are new or just learning, as welcoming new people into our beloved sport is critical,” said Riley. “We offer a robust ski and ride school and rental facility with the latest ski and snowboard gear.”

The Attitash Mountain Ski & Snowboard School is ready to teach fundamental techniques on accessible learning terrain and coach leading-edge tactics to help everyone enjoy an active winter experience. A popular après scene and entertaining events add to great experiences on the mountain.

Woman on skis spraying snow towards camera
Photo: Attitash Mountain

Riley notes that Attitash started offering uphill access to Epic pass-holders during specific morning and evening hours two seasons ago. The program has been so popular, another trail has been added to the mix this season.

Superior maintenance for a superb experience

The freestyle movement remains a vital part of the culture at Attitash Mountain and the terrain parks – from big hits to unique rails and jibs – remain a canvas for freeskiers and snowboarders wanting to hone their style and skills. The terrain parks are kept fresh by a dedicated park crew.

Attitash has a relatively young fleet of cats that includes four Prinoth Bison and Bison X and two Prinoth winch cats. This past winter, the resort donated one of their cats to a local community ski hill, Mount Eustis.

“There are two overnight shifts, and we run four to six cats per shift,” said Riley. “Our core [snow grooming] crew all have excellent skills and experience. Most of them ski and ride, which makes a huge difference in the product they create. Due to the many steep pitches at Attitash, the team will winch most of the terrain nightly.

“[Attitash] is the essence of New Hampshire skiing, snowboarding and the winter lifestyle.”

Dierdre Riley, Attitash Mountain

“Of course, thanks to the classic New Hampshire weather, rain and warm temperatures can result in us needing to keep the cats off the hill because they sink to the bottom of the snowpack. In the springtime, groomers may go out later using the cold temps of the morning to recover the snow quality from the spring freeze/thaw cycle.”

Nearly all of Attitash (98%) has snowmaking capabilities, with 50% of the fleet made up of low-energy snow guns; however, snowmaking doesn’t have a magical switch that can be simply turned off and on when temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It requires a complicated balance of atmospheric conditions over days before impactful snowmaking can happen. Last season, the snowmaking team at Attitash had a total of 100 years of experience among them to ensure the mountain opened and stayed open as early as possible.

“With hundreds of employees at Attitash, and many more throughout the state, we’re proud to be a large employer in the area,” said Riley. “We are really focused on providing a great experience, not just for our guests, but also our employees. Our team members live, work and play here.

View of horizon at dusk
Photo: Attitash Mountain

“Safety is always our top priority, and our teams receive comprehensive training for their specific roles and attend ops-related seminars that are hosted by [the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA)] and Ski New Hampshire.”

Making a difference in the world

Attitash has taken on the Commitment to Zero – a bold goal to achieve a net zero operating carbon footprint by 2030 through net zero emissions, zero waste to landfill and net zero operating impact on forests and habitat.

“As part of this commitment, Attitash Mountain initiated a robust waste-sorting, recycling and composting program,” said Riley. “Low-energy snow guns make up about half of the Attitash fleet, and we are aiming to upgrade all the snow guns to low-energy equipment within the next five years. The Attitash team also participates in a series of highway clean-up days in Bartlett, N.H., and our trail crew supports the trails at Thorne Pond Conservation Area across the street from Bear Peak.”

“Our core [snow grooming] crew all have excellent skills and experience. Most of them ski and ride, which makes a huge difference in the product they create.”

Dierdre Riley, Attitash Mountain

Like other Vail resorts, Attitash has adopted an IdleWise policy, putting a one-minute idling time limit on company vehicles to reduce emissions. Recently, Vail Resorts received the NSAA’s Golden Eagle Climate Change Impact award for achieving 100% renewable electricity in North America and 96% enterprise-wide.

“While there is still work to be done, this achievement means Attitash is ahead of schedule to meet its emissions and energy goals, and is on track to meet goals in waste and forest impact,” said Riley.

“The progress we’ve made is all thanks to our team that cares deeply about taking care of the planet and our mountain communities.”

Past challenges and future plans

“Like so many in our industry, the 2021–22 winter season was the toughest season I have experienced in my 25-plus years in the industry,” said Riley. “We decided to focus on what we could control and so made the difficult decision not to open summer attractions in order to focus on getting this place back into shape. The team at Attitash came together, created a plan and executed it, resulting in a complete 180-degree experience last winter for both the guests and the staff.”

Over the past two seasons, Attitash has invested in the guest experience with back-to-back Epic Lift upgrades, starting with the replacement of the old 1974 Borvig Double Double with a fixed-grip quad. Prioritization of “Progression Quad” as the first installation looked at the need to replace a critical beginner lift that was at the end of its years of service. The Progression Quad, which debuted in December 2022, welcomes more people into the sport with improved access to beginner and intermediate terrain.

Snow groomer against sunset backdrop
Photo: Attitash Mountain

The Attitash team, along with Leitner-Poma of America, replaced the Summit Triple, a fixed-grip triple, with a much faster, detachable quad that dramatically improved access to some of the resorts’ signature terrain located in the upper mountain area of the Attitash peak. The high-speed quad, the Mountaineer, named to honor the historic railway that travels through the Valley, reduces ride time by more than half and provides top to bottom access. It has a capacity of 2,400 people per hour with a vertical rise of 1,656 feet, its length is 6,023 feet, has 125 carriers and 22 towers.

“Together, these upgrades provide a better on-snow experience for our guests – particularly our beginner and intermediate skiers and riders,” said Riley. “Our team here at Attitash have seen the success of the first lift upgrade and are excited to debut the Mountaineer this winter as we continue to identify and invest in opportunities that will enhance the guest experience.”