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White Mountain National Forest Approves Two New Hampshire Glading Projects

New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) made history on March 30, when they approved two backcountry glading projects within their boundaries. The projects, spearheaded by the nonprofit Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA), are located on Bartlett Mountain (2,661 ft.), which sits northeast of Intervale, New Hampshire, and Baldface Mountain (3,566 ft.), which lies on the border between New Hampshire and Maine. Combined, the two gladed areas will encompass more than 1,000 acres.

Mining New Hampshire’s glades. [Photo] Tyler Ray

After primary approval for the projects in May 2017, GBA Granite Chief Tyler Ray is looking forward to officially moving forward. “It’s an exciting time and a historic decision, and we’re really excited about announcing this to our user base,” Ray says, noting that it’s especially important to increase skiable terrain as backcountry skiing continues to grow—a major reason behind his organization’s push for sustainable glading.

Another driving force that led GBA to pursue terrain management, Ray says, stemmed from a need to manage skiers and riders in the region. “[The Baldface and Bartlett developments] will hopefully curb some unauthorized cutting, which is the underlying rational for a lot of what we’re working on with the National Forest,” Ray says. “Folks don’t need to go out on their own and try to accomplish things on someone else’s property.”

All glading will be approved by the WMNF before implementation, and GBA has enlisted help designing their conceptual plans from Sustainable Trailworks LLC, a trail design company based in Morrisville, Vt. that’s previously helped develop glades for the Vermont-based Rochester/Randolph Area Sports Trail Alliance (RASTA).

“It’s important to point out that the National Forest restricts us. It’s not like we’ll be glading the allotted acres like ski resort glades,” Ray says. “We’ll incorporate a graded ski design, utilizing islands of softwoods, and this protects the natural resources. It’s a sustainable forestry method.”

On Bartlett Mountain, GBA already has a leg up; the Maple Villa Ski Trail, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) trail established in the 1930s, runs through the designated glading zone. Ray intends to revitalize and use the Maple Villa Trail as a main skintrack, with glade design flowing around it. On Baldface, GBA hopes that the mountain’s alpine zone will offer skiers and riders an opportunity to familiarize and test themselves above tree line before heading into the bigger, steeper Presidential range, home to Mt. Washington (6,288 ft.), the northeast’s tallest peak. And now there will hopefully be an easier way to access Baldface’s turns up high.

“The alpine zone is certainly skiable,” Ray says, “but there’s no outlet without wearing a hockey mask.”

According to an April 4 press release, Granite Backcountry Alliance expects to commence trail development this summer, continuing throughout the fall. Dates for glading work will be announced later this spring, after conferring with WMNF.

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Comments

  1. Don Mosely says:

    The alpine zone of bald face is rarely skiable in any decent fashion. On big snow years it’s a somewhat reasonable ski. We don’t get many of those. Isn’t the proposed gladed terrain Southeast facing? Not ideal if it is.

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