A visit to Gunstock the other day found great snow, interesting trails, and a well-balanced uphill/downhill capacity.
The view north from the trails overlooks the enormous expanse of Winnipesaukee, and extends all the way to the treeless, snow-covered summit of Mt. Washington, New England's highest peak.
Few people were in line when the lifts opened at 8:30 a.m. and, despite it being a Saturday, did not show up in force until well after mid-morning.
General Manager Greg Goddard said that's likely because a Premium Ticket is good for a full day and full night of skiing and riding, so people do not feel pressed to hit the trails first thing to get in their runs.
The longest line of the day was actually inside the Base Lodge cafeteria right at noon. (Knowledgeable folks go in for lunch around 11:30 a.m. to avoid such lines, by the way, and are back on the chairlift by noon, when most others are in the lodge.)
Gunstock is an old-time New England mountain that has remade itself over the years.
A high-speed quad was installed to the summit in 2003. The old summit chair was moved to the Pistol complex. Snowmaking was expanded. The Pistol Trail became a kick-butt terrain park with jumps, jibs, rails and bonks, and night lighting.
A snow tubing park does a lively business.
The area's three racing trails were all in use, one for the New Hampshire Special Olympics and two for Gunstock Ski Club events. The Gunstock Ski Club and the Gunstock Nordic Association are both nonprofits established to promote racing.
Penny Pitou, the first American skier to win an Olympic downhill medal, lives down the road from Gunstock. It's where she began to acquire the skills that led her to two silver medals in the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley.
Most of Gunstock's terrain is intermediate, but a couple of trails are steep, and when they get bumped up have sections that are as challenging as anything in New England.
Gunstock has 51 trails, five chairs including the high-speed quad, a fixed-grip quad, two triples and a double, and two surface lifts, and 1,400 feet of vertical. Snowmaking covers about 80 percnet of the mountain. Night skiing is available on the Pistol, Ramrod, and Tiger chairs.