A Culture of Skiing in Mt Washington Valley, NH
When I moved to the Valley in 2002, I was drawn to this region’s love of skiing. I remember visiting the playground at Conway Elementary School, looking north towards Cranmore and Mount Washington, looking over at the ski racks outside of the school, and thinking to myself, “What an amazing place to live and raise a family!”
17 years later, I still feel drawn to this aspect of our community and so impressed by the culture of skiing that has been part of our fabric for generations.
No organization more purely embodies this than the Eastern Slope Ski Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of skiing. Those ski racks were outside of that elementary school for a reason. One afternoon a week all winter long, every school kid in the Valley (over 1500 at last count) has the opportunity to ski or ride for free with their classmates and volunteer community members (400 volunteers total). Every ski mountain in the area donates lift tickets to these children and legions of volunteers. Midweek afternoons, you’ll find trucks and trailers carting ski gear from schools to ski areas and back again. Parents send kids to school that morning with their ski bag packed, knowing the children will come home rosy cheeked and excited after a day of skiing with friends. ESSC, as it is known locally by its acronym, understands that not every family can afford lift tickets and ski gear, so they raise money and amass volunteers to ensure that our culture of skiing endures.
ESSC started in 1935 – a time that predates the earliest lift-served ski areas in the Valley such as Cranmore and Black Mountain. It was clear that ensuring that every kid in town learned to ski would be an important part of the long term success of what would become a booming ski business in an otherwise agriculturally driven area. How brilliant a concept that was and how well has it worked, as anyone who comes here realizes; this is a town that LOVES to ski.
One of ESSC’s largest fundraisers of the year is its annual Ski Swap. If you have a family of skiers and are looking for a more economical way to trade up your children’s ski gear each year, this is the way to go. But adults can score deals too as equipment being sold is for all ages, some of it brand new. Last year I bought a brand new pair of ski boots for $129, and had a knowledgeable boot fitter from a local ski shop there, because he was volunteering for the program. Score! If you are looking to offload unused (modern) ski gear, this is a way for you to sell off ski clothes, skis, snowboards, helmets, etc. and have a portion of the proceeds support ESSC, and the rest lands in your wallet. You don’t have to swap equipment to participate – feel free to just visit to buy gear for yourself like I did last year!
The 49th Annual Eastern Slope Ski Club Ski Sale will take place at the North Conway Community Center on Friday, November 8th (3pm-8pm, with a special member only entry at 2pm) and Saturday, November 9th (9am-1pm).
Plan on dropping off your clean Alpine, Cross Country and Snowboard gear you’d like to sell at the North Conway Community Center on the evenings of Wednesday, November 6th and Thursday, November 7th between 6pm-8pm. Each item requires a tag ($1 each), which will be available for purchase when you are dropping items off. That $1 also goes towards ESSC’s fundraising!
All unsold items (and proceeds from your sales) must be picked up at the Community Center on Saturday, November 9th between 4pm-6pm. Anything NOT picked up will be considered a donation, and all proceeds from the sale will benefit the ESSC.
Is cross country skiing more your style? No worries because Jackson Ski Touring, a non-profit in its own right, holds its annual ski swap on Nov. 9 from 9-2pm. Right-size your ski fleet: buy and/or sell used xc ski equipment and meet up with ski friends old and new.