Resort Snapshot: Sunapee, Christmas Eve, 2010

Mount Sunapee on Christmas Eve had lots of snow, not many people. Perfect way to celebrate Christmas a little early. (Tim Jones photo)

Something to keep in mind for next year: Christmas Eve is a perfectly wonderful day to hit the slopes. Lift tickets are probably cheaper than they will be over the holiday. And many people are apparently “too busy” to get away . . . Sad for them, great for the rest of us. The slopes will have more people than a typical weekday, and many more than on Christmas Day, but many fewer than the day after Christmas. Kind of an early Christmas present . . .

My son Justin and I were at Mount Sunapee in Newbury, N.H. on Christmas Eve. We got a late start and missed the first chair by a good 20 minutes. It really didn’t matter . . . it was a perfect blue-sky day (so rare in December!) and there weren’t that many people around. The entire mountain was freshly groomed; conditions were absolutely marvelous.

Sunapee will have all their snowmaking trails open for the week after Christmas, and, with their signature grooming, good snow conditions are pretty much guaranteed as long as Mother Nature doesn’t play any nasty tricks on us.

Here’s a hint for getting the best of Sunapee: First, get there as early as possible. Be in line for the first chair if you can. But don’t start at the “new” base lodge. Instead go to the “old” Spruce lodge (to the left as you drive into the main parking lot). If you’re ready early, head for the North Peak Triple, but if a line has already formed their, head left to the Spruce Triple (which services the “603” Terrain Park).

From the top of this short lift, take Duster across and warm up on the steep pitch at the bottom of Eggbeater. That gets you to the North Peak triple without any uphill climb.

From the top of the North Peak Triple, head straight and drop into the SunBowl on Upper Cataract—it’s one of the best trails on the mountain and only accessible from the North Peak Triple. Make a couple of runs in the morning sun at the Sunbowl, then take any trail you want (Skyway to Westside is a good option) back to the North Peak Triple and make some runs on Goosebumps, Flying Goose and Lynx.

By then, the folks who started off on the high speed Express Quad will have burned themselves out and you can yo-yo that until your legs cry quits. That doesn’t take long this early in the season, especially on Tele gear.

That’s basically what we did (sadly, Lynx and Goosebumps weren’t open, yet . . .) and it made for a wonderful morning of skiing. Oh, and because Sunapee’s so close, we were home in plenty of time to enjoy Christmas Eve with the family.

There’s snow on the slopes. What are you waiting for?


About Tim Jones

Tim Jones, Founder and Executive Editor, started skiing at age 4 and hasn't stopped since. He took up Telemark a few years ago and is still terrible at it. In the summer, he hikes, bikes, paddles and fly fishes. In addition to his work at, Tim also writes a pair of syndicated weekly newspaper columns.