FRANCONIA — Backcountry skiers can rejoice because on Friday the Mittersill area at Cannon Mountain opened its chairlift for the first time this season.
Skiers and riders enjoyed natural skiing on throwback New Hampshire trails and glade skiing at Mittersill without having to hike “over the saddle” from Cannon Mountain.
Mittersill is natural backcountry skiing steeped in rich history for intermediate and advanced skiers. Its ungroomed trails do not have snowmaking, so only when Mother Nature dumps a big pile of snow is the area officially opened and the chairlift at the base of Mittersill operating.
Lift service is not that important to many fans of Mittersill who hike over from Cannon Mountain to enjoy the powder and rugged terrain. On a nice day, a line of adventure skiers and riders can be seen from afar hiking up to the top of Mittersill and skiing to the bottom or taking advantage of a cutoff that allows them to ski down to the Tuckerbrook lift.
“Hiking over there is fun. As long as there is good snow, I would hike to the top and ski down,” said Holly Rivard of Gofftstown, who says it’s only about a 10-minute hike from the Upper Hardscrabble trail junction.
With 12 inches of fresh powder last week, the timing was perfect to open Mittersill where Lisa Segal was found skiing most of the morning.
“It was awesome. There was plenty of great snow, and I couldn’t wait to ski there.”Some of the old trails on Mittersill, such as Baron’s Run, are still in good condition and wide open, offering tremendous skiing. The many acres of glades adds to the Mittersill adventure.Doug Hitzeman, of Nashua, will ski Mittersill anytime, lift spinning or not, but took advantage of the ride up the mountain.
“I’m here because there is a foot of fresh powder and with Mittersill opening up, I better take advantage of it because I would rather have a lift under my butt than hiking. I love skiing Cannon, and it’s great to get backcountry skiing with a foot of snow. It’s throwback skiing, no snowmaking and no grooming, I love it.”
Hitzeman skies Mittersill about five to 10 times a year. On Super Bowl Sunday, he hiked with his 12-year-old son, Nolin, over the saddle to Mittersill. It was Nolin’s first backcountry experience.
“We’ll keep Mittersill opened as long as it is skiable,” said Greg Keeler, director of sales and marketing. Cannon and Mittersill received a foot last week.