"Winter's measured by ups and downs, and that was a good time to have that down," Chris Ellms said. Ellms is director of ski operations for the Omni Mount Washington Resort, which owns Bretton Woods and the historic Mount Washington Hotel.
Ellms was speaking of warm torrential rains that fell across the Northeast Monday, Jan. 25.
"If you didn't have that down, you wouldn't have the pent-up demand in February," he said.
Ellms said the season at Bretton Woods started fast in early November, and then like the rest of the Northeast ran into a warm November.Winter returned to the region in early December, he said. "December was fantastic, and you couldn't ask for a better January until Monday."
Bretton Woods sits in a cold pocket of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, southwest of Mt. Washington, highest peak in the Northeast. The resort's trails collect snow, while its gentle topography holds onto that snow cover through even busy weekends.
A morning of skiing found the trails in great shape despite the rains of Jan. 25, with fresh, groomed powder over a deep base.Temps in the single numbers encouraged skiers and riders to go into the base lodge every three or four runs to warm up. The wind rose in early afternoon, prompting a decision to call it a day around 1:30 p.m.
Ellms and Alexa Bernotavicz, assistant director of ski operations, surveyed the trails from outside the base lodge.
They discussed the impact on BW's weather of the nearby Presidential Range, which includes Mt. Washington and six other peaks over 5,000 feet in elevation, and the northeast orientation of trails.
Ellms said weather systems drop snow as they come off the Presidentials and are forced up again by Bretton Woods. "We call it the Bretton Woods flurry," he said.
Some of BW's trails can be prone to wind scour, while others are protected, he said, so it pays to know recent weather history in choosing whether to ski or ride a certain area, particularly the Rosebrook Glades.
Ellms said the resort's core offering is intermediate skiing and riding. Surveys show some visitors want more steep slopes.
"We can't make that. We are what we are. We can design in difficulty, but we're never going to have the Front Four at Stowe. We're a mountain for intermediates and families, with enough upper level terrain to keep people happy," Ellms said.
Bernotavicz pointed out the resort's zip line and canopy tour, in use year round, leading down through trees alongside the ski and snowboard trails.
Two zip line riders came zinging downhill as she was speaking. Ellms said anybody can go through the canopy tour and zip line.
"But after you come off it, you say, 'Holy mackerel'," he said.
Bretton Woods offers packages to ski or ride one day, and ride the zip line-canopy tour one day, for $99 midweek and $129 weekends.