When asked about the lack of snow this winter, New Hampshire native Tom Hanson said, “It’s a shame we haven’t had a real good snowfall since October, but it’s an amazing thing to see the snow covered hills here at the gorge.”
On Saturday, Feb. 11, New Hampshire’s Granite Gorge held the Mountain of Steez annual festival, bringing in people of all ages to enjoy the sun and great snow conditions.
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To local Sean Fitzgerald, Granite gorge has been home for him since he was 10-years-old.
“My mom always used to take me here and try and teach me to ski. I fought it,” Fitzgerald said, “but now I always have something to do on a nice winter day and for that I’m thankful.”
Fitzgerald was a contest winner in this year’s festival, taking home a few small prizes.
“It’s nice to win something that you can take home, but it’s more about just being out here and having a good time.”
Located east of Keene, Granite Gorge originally opened as The Pinnacle, a rope tow area, in 1961-62. But due to lack of funding and skiers and riders, it closed in 1977.
The Pinnacle reopened as a smaller surface-lift only area in 2002-2003 under the name of Granite Gorge. Granite Gorge saw a significant expansion in 2005 with the addition of a double chairlift to Spruce Peak, and in 2010 Granite Gorge was approved for a 300-person lodge.
At Saturday’s festival, there was something for everyone to take part in: if you were an artist, there was a magazine cover contest.
If you were feeling lazy the tubing hill was nicely covered with powder; if you were of age there was a secret lakeside beer tent that you could get to via blindfolded shuttle ride;.
And if you were just out to ride, the mountain was open all night.
“Last year was my son’s first time competing in the on-hill contests. Even though he lost, I told him at least he tried something that he hasn’t before. When he said he didn’t even care to win, that’s when I knew this atmosphere was like no other,” John Massaroni, another Keene local, said.
Massaroni continued, “I realized this after spending the day at the gorge. There was not a sad face in the crowd, and over the bellowing guitars of a ‘90s cover band all you heard was laughing and applause from the contestants on the mountain.”
Participants said having so many activities throughout the day showed the surrounding community that this was a festival for the whole family, not just teenagers that like to be on the mountain.
“Coming here with my whole family was easy. My daughter went with my son on the mountain, my wife went to the arts and crafts tent, and I went with the other dads to the beer garden and listened to music,” Massaroni said.
He went on to talk about how much the Gorge has brightened the community during the winter season.
To be a part of the Gorge and this one day of fun meant more to these people than anything else.
Granite Gorge is not just a local ski resort for its riders; it’s a place to go where there is no judgment, no pressure, and no expectations.
It’s just a place to unwind and do something fun.
Snow or not, this festival will live on to be one of the most enjoyable winter outings Keene has to offer to its residents.
So next year when you hear of this gathering, be sure to free up your calendars.
Lucas Flood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org