We’re enjoying a brilliant, blazing fall here in the North Country (it was 81 Saturday), and while there’s still more than just the dying embers of the golf season left, we’ll be starting our winter sports coverage imminently.
Of course we’ll be continuing our Border War Series where New Hampshire battles Vermont for northeast supremacy. Multiple trips are planned to both states, along with musical, culinary, and other exciting and adventurous diversions. Right now a New Hampshire venue holds the top spot, but as we approach the halfway point of the series, it’s too close to call who’s ahead. Here’s the standings thus far:
1. Cannon Mtn. (NH) – 9.33
2. Stratton Mtn. (VT) – 9.14
3. (tie) Magic Mtn. (VT) – 9.08
Smugg’s Notch (VT) – 9.08
Waterville Valley (NH) 9.08
6. Attitash (NH) – 8.95
7. Mt. Snow (VT) – 8.89
Editor’s Note: Attitash is dragged down significantly by the poor quality of their lifts, especially their main chair to the summit of Attitash Peak. Old, cold, and slow under ordinary circumstances, it broke down completely in early 2019, effectively erasing quintessentially Attitashian trails like Wilfred’s GAWM and others from the map.
We wrote about the woes of that chair in our mountain gazetteer and got a polite, honest, thoughtful response from Peak Resorts that was appreciated. We’ll even go so far as to say we understand the position to some extent, (even though it basically was “We know, but it’s not getting fixed right now…), as a business decision. However, one fact remains with adamantine certainty: Attitash loses points in reviews and ratings because of its poor lifts. In my system alone – reasonably scientific, consistently applied, and openly transparent – if Attitash replaced the chair in question, their score would improve so much and so immediately, they would rise to second in the rankings shown above. Moreover, they would rise from an 89 to somewhere above 91.
That’s the difference between a B+ and an A.
If Attitash is losing points for their lifts in my ratings, I’ll bet you a dollar to the donut that’s true of every major magazine ranking out there.
Rankings are reality – for good or for ill. Yes, Attitash is remote. And yes, it’s surrounded by other solid resorts closer to Boston. But there’s a primal ruggedness to Attitash (and nearby Wildcat, its sister mountain) that needs more exposure. It already has a regional reputation for excellence. The whole world will love Attitash just as much, so give it a chance. It deserves next level TLC, and the benefit to Vail is well worthy of the cost.
Next, we’ll of course be providing a primer to go over Covid rules and restrictions and what to expect on the mountain. We’ll be looking at everyone from mega-resorts to little mom and pops.
On that note, we’re starting another new series called the Mom and Pop files, where we’ll highlight the little places that are setting trends and not just surviving this age of globalization and consolidation, but thriving. Our first piece should be up this week.
For those of you culinarilly inclined we’ll be putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to food. As you know, I’ve been ruthlessly honest about the sad state of on-mountain dining. In the Border War series alone we have just one B- thus far and everyone else treads water in the C to C- range. Even my beloved Whiteface needs improvement desperately. Over the course of the season, we’ll check in with celebrity chefs who will help us have more options than just nuts, berries, and oatmeal in the car. To my colleague who was telling us that was his choice of lunch, I’m happy to say the Food Cavalry has arrived. I’m Jaygat’s, and I’m packing the best lunch on the mountain…so you will be too.
Now on that note, I talk the talk, and I’m prepared to walk the walk. These celebrity chefs will also be tasting and critiquing my dishes! I am not just some loudmouth, nor am I some out-of-touch ultra-fine dining nimrod. But I love high quality elevated food, both eating it and making it. And if I’m going to criticize, then I’m going to be able to back it up, (or at least try.) So to every chef, maitre’d, or waitress I terrorized with an honest assessment, I’m risking getting paid back big time!
Finally, we’ll also have coverage of the high peak and Himalayan climbing season. There’s already disturbing news out of Everest about climbers getting sue-happy when their climb goes awry. Speaking as a practicing attorney, we certainly know how to overdo things and ruin a lot of people’s fun. (And that’s much worse than poking fun at Cannon and Whiteface’s inedible pizza.) Speaking of Whiteface, we’ll also update everyone on plans for a new halfway house to replace the one that burned to the ground last winter.