UNION LEADER (February 28, 2019)
Winter Notes: Back country offers skiing alternatives

GATHERED in the library at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Cardigan Lodge is a group of fledgling backcountry skiers. We range from 20-somethings to 50-somethings, from relatively cautious skiers to those comfortable on the steepest slopes. What we share is a desire to get off-piste and into the woods — and a common need for knowledge.

NORTHERN WOODLANDS (January 25, 2019)
Backcountry Zones: Where Skis Meet Trees

But a new wave of backcountry skiers is coming out of the shadows to work with the US Forest Service, municipalities, states, land trusts, and private landowners to create ski runs that are fast and fun but also fit within forest management plans. They are looking to build community and collaboration, to return to skiing’s roots while forging a new backcountry path.

CALEDONIAN RECORD (January 19, 2019)
Backcountry Skiing Gets Boost, Collaboration In North Country

Going back to the region’s ski roots. That’s what a new nonprofit and groups of North Country residents and volunteers are doing as they revive the ski hills that once saw flocks of skiers a half century and longer ago, and are now experiencing a resurgence as residents and visitors seek a form of recreation that offers a sense of community and doesn’t break the bank.

A Lifetime of Loving Land

When I first met Dick Ware in 1996 as a newly arrived Forest Society land agent, he proudly produced the thank-you card the Forest Society had sent to his mother and him in 1929, acknowledging their one-dollar donation to help conserve the once threatened Franconia Notch. The card confirmed that their contribution had “bought” them one tree in this now-protected, iconic part of New Hampshire. Dick would go on to live a long life “buying” many more trees in many other special places in the White Mountains.  

AMC MAGAZINE (November 29, 2018)
Where to Glade Ski In New Hampshire

A frigid northwest wind greets me as I near the summit of North Doublehead Mountain in Jackson, N.H. The temperature is hovering in the mid-20s, but the fierce gusts make it feel much colder and will keep me from lingering too long at the top. No sweat, I think. I’m not here for a picnic. I’m here to ski. 

CONWAY DAILY SUN (November 23, 2018)
Granite Backcountry Alliance film fest draws 350

BARTLETT — More than 350 people thronged to the Theater in the Wood in Intervale last Saturday night for the Granite Backcountry Alliance’s third annual Film Festival, which followed a work day on the nearby Maple Villa Trail off Route 16-A behind the New England Inn.

GOOD TO-GO (October 31, 2018)
Glades for the Backcountry

Intervale - Our winters have earned a reputation for brutally harsh weather and variable conditions, to say the least. Travel away and you'll hear folks refer to it as "the ice coast". To New Englanders, we shrug it off and take it in stride, because we know this is a special place.

CONWAY DAILY SUN (April 25, 2018)
The New Ski Mountain

This weekend brought sun, blue sky and the first real spring temperatures since sometime in February. After a month and two weeks of snow, it felt like a final reprieve — the yoke of winter has snapped, and we might finally move forward now...

CONWAY DAILY SUN (April 13, 2018)
Land Trust Joins Backcountry Ski Project

The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and Granite Backcountry Alliance this week announced a partnership to purchase 48 acres of land on East Branch Road that will provide guaranteed, ongoing public access to the White Mountain National Forest on the northwest side of Bartlett Mountain in Bartlett....

New Hampshire Group Gets Approval to Create 1,000+ Acres of Glades

Turning the proverbial page to another topic, we caught word this week that a group called the Granite Backcountry Alliance has just received permission to develop and maintain over 1,000 acres of glades in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It’s a pretty big success for the group, although they’d likely readily admit that their work is just getting started.

U.S. Forest Service approves two glade ski zones in White Mountain National Forest

Backcountry skiing enthusiasts have more than spring snow to celebrate this season.  The U.S. Forest Service has approved the creation of two glade skiing zones in the White Mountain National Forest.  "It's been a long time coming," Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA) board member Andrew Drummond said Thursday of the decision issued March 30 by Jim Innes, district ranger of the Saco District of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF).  Proposed by the GBA in the fall of 2016, the projects will encompass backcountry ski development on a 410-acre zone of Bartlett Mountain in Bartlett, and a 600-acre zone on Baldface Mountain in Chatham, on the border with Maine. They are the first authorized tree skiing zones in the WMNF.

CONWAY DAILY SUN (April 7, 2018)
Riding the movement: Alliance clears way for backcountry skiing

“Skiing in my day was as much hiking as it was going downhill.”  Those were the words of late Black Mountain ski school director, 10th Mountain Division World War II veteran and original Eastern Slope Ski Club instructor J. Arthur Doucette in an interview in 1988 about the early days of skiing in the White Mountains in the 1930s.  Now, just as it was in Doucette’s time of Civilian Conservation Corps-built trails, the era of “earning your turns” is back, as the backcountry ski movement has taken hold across the country, including in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


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.

Backcountry skiers given okay to cut trails in White Mountain National Forest
CONCORD MONITOR (April 5, 2018)

The federal government has given the final stamp of approval to back-country skiing on two areas in the White Mountains, completing the transition of what was once a rogue activity into a recognized part of New Hampshire winter recreation.

A Historic Moment For Backcountry Skiing in New Hampshire
POWDER MAGAZINE (April 5, 2018)

In a historic decision, officials within the White Mountain National Forest have approved two projects that will specifically cater to backcountry tree skiing in New Hampshire. The decision, issued this week, addresses the substantial rise in public demand for tree (or glade) skiing and to protect forest resources from unauthorized tree cutting. The projects in question will be located on a 410-acre zone of Bartlett Mountain and a 600-acre area of Baldface Mountain, further illustrating the value of backcountry skiing to local communities.

CONWAY DAILY SUN (April 3, 2018)
2nd annual Wild Corn Shindig comes to Black Mountain April 7

Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA), a New Hampshire nonprofit organization developing backcountry skiing in New Hampshire and western Maine, will host the second annual Wild Corn Shindig on Saturday, April 7, at Black Mountain in Jackson. All proceeds benefit Granite Backcountry Alliance projects to promote and expand backcountry skiing in the region.


In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, an Iowa corn farmer’s vision for a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field is memorialized with the now famous quote “If you build it, they will come”.  So to, with the creation of “The Glades” on the Randolph Community Forest...


Their vision is big, it’s bold, and it’s just what New Hampshire and Western Maine need. Tyler Ray is the “Granite Chief” of GBA, an organization whose goal is to advance the sport of backcountry skiing in New Hampshire and Western Maine by providing low-impact, human-powered backcountry skiing opportunities to the public through the creation, improvement, and maintenance of ski glades.


There’s a half-inch of fluff on top of slightly crusty corduroy snow as Andrew Drummond and I head up the Lower Black Beauty trail on Black Mountain in Jackson. 


With the Winter Olympics in full swing, we look at some thrilling winter sports in N.H.  An increasing number of people want to get outside in winter, and many say part of the fun of skiing down is climbing up snowy trails and mountains, or even scaling icy cliffs.  Have you tried backcountry skiing or ice-climbing?  We learn how to safely get started in these growing winter sports, what equipment is needed, and where it can be done.  


When front-line climate scientists recognized that our weather was changing very quickly, their first prediction was that we would see – among other things – more radical swings in temperature and bigger, wetter storms. January seemed to bear out those predictions.


At noon on Saturday, a crowd of skiers gathered at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road for the start of the first-ever organized alpine ski tour up the historic route. Many were eager to embark on a mellow tour, while others were mentally preparing for a grueling race. They were all there to take part in the M.W. Otto Rhode Memorial Skin and Ski, named for a character of historical significance (or the road itself – no one really knows).


GBA's Granite Chief Tyler Ray talks with White Mountains TV on Sunday, January 21 regarding GBA updates and upcoming events, including M.W. Otto Rhode Memorial Skin & Ski and Wild Corn!


On a crisp Vermont morning in early November I met up with about 50 other enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders who were ready for the coming winter season. There was no snow, so skiing was out of the picture and it would have complicated our objective anyway. We were there to help clean up areas of Brandon Gap, a mountainous area in the central Green Mountain National Forest, notable for its designation by the United States Forest Service for backcountry skiing.


Early November snowfall has gotten plenty of folks looking forward to zooming down New Hampshire mountains on skis. But a surprising number of them are willing – even eager – to hike uphill in order to do it.  “This is the fastest-growing segment of the ski industry,” said Tyler Ray, an attorney who is president of the Granite Backcountry Alliance. “People are chomping at the bit to get into the Whites and areas around the Whites to ski.”


RANDOLPH — Sixty volunteer members of the Granite Backcountry Alliance turned out to do trail clearing work on Saturday morning, Aug. 26, at the Mount Crescent Trailhead at the top of Randolph Hill Road, and a dozen returned the following day for more work.


A crowd of skiers and snowboarders gathers in the parking lot at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. They review their gear and make a plan before heading out on the trail to Hermit Lake Shelter. Everyone seems prepared, but there are no skis. Or snow. Also, it’s June. Instead, this group gathers to perform a labor of love in trail maintenance and glade work with Granite Backcountry Alliance.


The smell of cider donuts and craft brewed coffee permeated through the cool morning air.  The mood was strong – there was work to do.  Fifty volunteers and United States Forest Service workers gathered in a small wooded area at the Doublehead Ski Trail in Jackson, New Hamsphire.


“Hell, Yeah!” time struck at 8am.  Over 75 volunteers swarmed the exit of the John Sherburne Ski Trail (the “Sherbie”) in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire intently listening to instruction from US Forest Service and White Mountain National Forest Snow Ranger Helon Hoffer.  


When it comes to skiing, the mountains of New England are often stuck with negative labels, “Ice Coast” being the most popular. “Backcountry Skiing Haven,” historically, hasn’t been one of them. That label may stick, however, thanks to efforts of groups like the Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA), which seeks to build a strong foundation of backcountry skiers in New Hampshire and western Maine. Following a similar path as the multiple backcountry skiing advocacy organizations that have formed in neighboring Vermont, GBA has fostered a strong following in just over nine months of existence.


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.

New England Ski Industry News

Just months after forming the non-profit organization, the organizers of Granite Backcountry Alliance are moving forward with an ambitious plan to provide new backcountry ski opportunities in the eastern White Mountain region.



Ah, the 1960s, Beatles were together, logging was evil. Or… Ah, the 1930s, when you could log a ski trail in New Hampshire and it was considered public service. Things come full circle (other than the Beatles). Now it is 2017, new generations are realizing that cutting vegetation can be desirable. For example, glading ski runs on forest choked public land. To that end, Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA) has received preliminary Federal approval for ski glading projects in New Hampshire and Maine.


GBA's Tyler Ray and Andrew Drummond discuss with White Mountains TV their latest creation - WILD CORN BACKCOUNTRY SHINDIG!  


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.