On Wednesday, May 25, New Hampshire’s Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA) announced that it received preliminary federal approval to begin planning for two backcountry skiing-specific clearing projects in the White Mountain National Forest—the first of their kind in the history of the WMNF. This milestone comes on the heels of a similar partnership between state and local backcountry communities in the Green Mountain National Forest of Vermont.


There was a time in recent human history when outdoor adventures were just that – adventures. If you wanted to set sail for the Caribbean, you had to know the stars and how to spot a change in the weather long before it was upon you. There was no way for a lost hiker to make a phone call. And if you wanted to ski down a mountain, you climbed it first.


Some come with pruning shears, others with a chain saw. For generations, men and women have wandered deep into New Hampshire’s mountains during the summer’s sticky heat, far from any hiking path, cutting back a shrub here or trimming a branch there. Working the hillside without any discernible pattern, they are careful not to make too large a mark, nor linger by their handiwork. A few diehards have dabbled in the illicit practice of “taking the chain saw for a walk.”


The wind howled around Owen Cassidy on the Knife Edge of Mount Katahdin. Loose snow swirled around, and he crouched to shield himself from the spindrift. It was last March, and Cassidy and his partner, Forrest Frizzell, were beginning their rappel into a couloir, dangling over a 1,000-foot abyss of ice and rock. Far below, even at the tail end of one of the warmest, driest winters in recent memory, Baxter State Park was blanketed in white.


In recent years, backcountry alliances have gained momentum as a popular vehicle for advocacy in the  skiing world. These organizations are effective, central lobbying voices for recreational interests and also serve as a go-between for government agencies and private landholders. In Vermont, one such organization—the Vermont Backcountry Alliance—has taken root, and its next door neighbor, New Hampshire, took note and jumped on the alliance bandwagon.


CONWAY — The popularity of backcountry skiing has surged in recent years, and more and more people are searching the White Mountains for untracked powder each winter. Now a new group has formed to promote the sport across in New Hampshire and Western Maine.


Responding to the booming popularity of backcountry skiing, a nonprofit formed this fall to expand opportunities in the White Mountains and ensure new entrants to the sport can get a safe start. The Granite Backcountry Alliance hopes to persuade officials in the White Mountain National Forest to permit cutting new trails – including some for beginners – in a bureaucratic stretch of woods.


There’s skiing in them hills. Though not typically thought of as a hub of backcountry skiing, the East Coast has a long history of off-piste shredding. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, created alpine and nordic skiing trails in New Hampshire and western Maine—most notably Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine. Those trails have gone unmanaged for decades, though, and have fallen into disrepair. Legal access to much potential backcountry terrain has become impassible, too. But now there’s surging effort to bring a lot more good to the people, with the nonprofit Granite Backcountry Alliance as the centerpiece. Read More.