Ski Season at UNH
Now that October has comes to an end, there is a distinct change in the air; a slight nip in the wind that chills your nose and fingertips. The earthy smell of dead leaves and the refreshing scent of cold rain is carried around campus on a breeze that promises the first flakes of the season. Pumpkin spice lattes will soon be replaced with peppermint mochas and fashionable fall shoes will have to be traded in for functional and sturdy snow boots. Winter is just around the corner and for students at UNH that can mean one of two things:
• Four or five months of shorter days, brutally cold weather and slippery roads OR
• Four or five glorious months of powdery snow, cozy fires and carving down freshly groomed trails. In other words, ski season.
I definitely fall into the second category as I am a true New Hampshirite at heart and revel in the bitterly cold winter months. I find the snow magical and the dark days and nights cozy. I knew how to drive through a blizzard before I even had my license and I know the cure to any snowball fight or long day of sledding is a warm blanket by a fire with a big, steaming cup of hot chocolate. With mounds of whipped cream, of course!
However, of all the joys in winter, skiing is by far my favorite. I started cross-country skiing when I was 8 or 9 years old and my grandparents bought a condo in Jackson, NH. Shortly thereafter I learned how to downhill ski and by the time I was a senior in high school, I was a ski instructor at Wildcat Mountain.
Ski culture is a huge part of my life and my family’s. Every weekend of every winter at least ten of my closest family members gather in my grandparent’s condo for a weekend of skiing, singing, eating, racing and laughing. Therefore, when I was looking at colleges, I knew I had to be somewhere near the mountains. Nothing quite excites me as much as feeling the cold wind in my face as I race down a slope, speeding to the point where my legs ache with the effort to carve through to packed snow and ice and my stomach clenches and drops as I fly over mounds of snow. I knew I could never give up that feeling, that freedom. Luckily for me, I chose a school where I didn’t have to sacrifice my love of skiing for my education.
UNH is conveniently located in Durham, NH, a mere hour or hour and a half away from my home mountain- Wildcat Mountain, on Route 16 in Jackson, right across the street from the infamous Mount Washington. However, once you get up North, you can easily reach ski resorts such as Loon Mountain, Bretton Woods, Cannon, Cranmore, Black Mountain, Gunstock and Attitash.
Luckily for all my fellow ski addicts at UNH or coming to UNH, we have some options when it comes to fulfilling our obsession need for corduroy trails, powdery glades and bumpy moguls. Whether you’re looking for a cheap season pass or just a ride up to some mountain every weekend, UNH has got you covered.
If you’re looking for something with commitment, a season pass per say, college students can get great deals with mountains in the area. As a ski instructor at Wildcat Mountain, I know they offer a college ski and ride season pass for $299. The pass covers three different mountains- Wildcat, Attitash and Crotched. I bought this pass last year when I wasn’t able to instruct and it was so easy! All I had to do was prove I was a college student taking 12 or more credit hours for the semester. Apparently a bank statement showing my dwindling funds and rising coffee addiction was not enough to prove my status as “poor college student” so I had to provide a photo ID and a letter from the Registrar’s Office verifying my enrollment status. After that, I was gifted my very own season pass, awkward portrait photo and all!
This season pass deal worked out really well for me because, like I said, I have family up in Jackson pretty much every weekend and I was able to hitch a ride and crash on a couch whenever I was itching to get back out on my skis. However, if you don’t have a car or a place to stay, fret not, you have options!
Opportunities to Ski or Snowboard at UNH
The UNH Ski and Board Club, which is part of Campus Recreation, provides rides to Loon Mountain and Sunday River every Saturday in the winter while school is in session. If you’re looking for a ride to hit the slopes every weekend you just need to pay a $60 club due for transportation fees, grab your gear, grab some friends and shred it up.
The New Hampshire Outing Club will have a few trips up to the slopes every winter as well. These trips are always a blast but they fill up fast, so you have to be sure to sign up early.
So, whether you’re looking for a great deal on a season pass or just a casual weekend up in the mountains, UNH has options for all its skiers and riders. Store away your flip flops, shorts and fall sweaters and get ready for boots, helmets, poles skis and a whole lot of layers.