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Campton Mountain celebrates grand re-opening after eight years

Campton Mountain Ski Area is back, and business is booming! (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
February 22, 2011
CAMPTON — With a quick snip of the scissors by none other than Councilor Ray Burton, the red ribbon across the Tailspin double chairlift was officially open and the celebration began.

Kool and the Gang could be heard emanating from the base lodge speaker system. "Celebrate good times...Yahoo!" It was the biggest party of the Presidents Day weekend in New Hampshire.

"This is the place to be tonight. We've been waiting for this for nearly a decade," said Burton. "Mother Nature has been good to us this year, and Campton Mountain is open. Congratulations!"

Saturday night, hundreds of excited Waterville Estates residents gathered together for a big party to usher in a new era for Campton Mountain Ski Area. After eight long years of waiting and more than a year of very hard work by the dedicated Board of Directors and staff, Waterville Community Estates is showing off its spirit, with family friendly skiing at reasonable rates and lots of fun.

It's skiing the way it used to be —a $12 lift ticket ($10 for members), hearty food and drink, with a view of the slopes and a roaring fireplace in a cozy base lodge — and, perhaps most importantly, great company.

Councilor Ray Burton receives a trendy new Waterville Estates T-shirt from board President Dennis Kahill during festivities celebrating the grand re-opening this past Saturday night at Campton Mountain Ski Area. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
"We love it," effused Waterville Estates member Joe Coman, who brought his entire family up from Long Island for the occasion. "We can have a great meal, a couple of drinks, and the kids can ski all day and all night, all for under $100. How can you beat that?"

But nobody was more excited than board President Dennis Kahill, who headed up the big push to get the mountain up and running again.

"I couldn't be any prouder," said Kahill. "I feel like I am walking on air tonight."

Kahill said that when he purchased his home at Waterville Estates eight years ago, he was excited about the prospect of skiing at Campton Mountain when he came up for the weekend with his family, only to find that the mountain has been closed due to serious financial difficulties. While the community has been trying to find a way to reopen the mountain for years, it finally all came together for the 2011 season, with a "soft" opening in late January and the triumphant official celebration this past weekend, just in time for the Massachusetts school vacation week.

It was no small feat. The resort had been originally built in 1969. The base lodge had been sitting, rotting away for years, and needed all the loving care that could be provided. It was completely renovated, a new deck was built, the walls replaced, and the entire structure filled with beautiful hand hewn, locally produced, heavy timber tables and chairs. Good old fashioned "Flexible Flyer Sleds," wooden skis with cable bindings (remember?), and other memorabilia adorns the walls.

The old trail groomer had been sitting idle for eight years, but somehow, miraculously, the staff, under the guidance of General Manager Cory Smith, got the machine back into service again. The lights for night skiing were repaired, and suddenly, the entire ski area was back online again. It was a triumph of epic proportions.

The base lodge hosts the Campton Mountain Grill and the Tailspin Lounge. It was packed wall to wall with happy revelers for the grand re-opening party, celebrated with fireworks, a bonfire, entertainment, good food and great company this past Saturday night. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
"We have been waiting for so long," said Kahill. "It is like magic."

Saturday night's party was punctuated with a fireworks display and filled with music by popular songstress Jackie Lee, night skiing, snowboarding and family fun. Kids of all ages tried out the slopes, beautifully groomed to loose granular and packed powder. While the wind chill factor drove many of the "veteran" skiers inside, the grandkids, once again joyfully engaged in the business of learning to ski at Campton Mountain, could not have been dragged off the slopes.

Inside at the Campton Mountain Grill and Tailspin Lounge, over a specially prepared dinner of prime rib or pan seared haddock, the "seasoned" residents of Waterville Estates reminisced about learning to ski at Campton Mountain years and years ago and rejoiced that they could now pass the experience on to a new generation.

A trip to Campton Mountain is sure to remind many of the way skiing used to be, when skiing was fun and affordable for the whole family. There are three trails, from easy to intermediate to difficult, and no waiting in lift lines. In addition to the double chair, Campton Mountain has probably the only rope tow still in existence in New Hampshire, and it was getting a lot of use this past weekend.

"What I love about the mountain is that it is not intimidating at all," said beaming former board member Tom Forbes, who was enjoying the weekend with his two young girls. "It's a great place for the whole family."

Campton Mountain is open for day skiing from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and for night skiing from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. At present, there are no snow making capabilities, so it is wise to call ahead for conditions. This week couldn't have been more perfect, as everything and everyone came together to make for a grand re-opening celebration.

For more information, call 726-3349, visit the Web site at www.waterville-estates.com, or visit the mountain at 24 Parker Rd., Waterville Community Estates in Campton. From exit 28 off I-93, follow Route 49 to the set of lights at the Campton Dam. Take a right at the lights and travel six tenths of a mile to Winterbrook Road (on the left) and follow the signs. The ski resort is 2.6 miles up Winterbrook, to Donovan Farm Road, then right onto Parker. Enjoy!

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