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Granite Backcountry Sparks a New Dawn in Backcountry Skiing Trail Cutting in the East

“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.   

Within arms-reach was locally brewed coffee from Frontside Coffee Roasters and fresh bagels from Bagels Plus, both hot spots in North Conway, NH.  This small army was ready to rock and roll cleaning up two historic ski trails, the Sherbie and Gulf of Slides, and then enjoy a good party at night at nearby Black Mountain in Jackson, NH with live music, food and beer.  No doubt the weekend was a smashing success!

For the members of Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA), this day known as the “Sherbie GranJam” was a long time coming.  It was the first opportunity for GBA to introduce its innovative take on trail work by focusing on the social experience and building a sense of community by getting to know the folks around you. 

With a surging backcountry scene all over New England, GBA is harnessing the newfound momentum by converting that energy into cleaning up existing trails and creating new glade skiing opportunities in New Hampshire and western Maine.

People come out to support these initiatives and are provided a full day of food, snacks, and drinks, followed by an after party (known as LOPrès) with music, food, giveaways, and beer.  

“By focusing on what matters to people, what we call the social side of trail maintenance, we’re able to create a compelling reason for folks to choose the mountains and some loppers over the beach and some waves,” said GBA Granite Chief Tyler Ray.  “It’s a tough call no doubt but the payoff is huge come winter. You really have to think of your future self and what you want your winter to be and that opportunity only comes in the summer or fall.”   

GBA’s bet paid off.  Both trails received substantial makeovers and will absolutely ski differently next year with more space to play.  “The Sherbie is the only exit from Tuckerman Ravine so it sees huge traffic.  We’re certain the return to original condition will greatly improve the skiability of the trail and people will take notice,” Ray said.  “Folks are psyched to have this opportunity as are local and national sponsors.  Open cutting with your buddies is a pretty cool thing with a positive impact.” 

Overall 100+ volunteers came out to work the trails and party at Black.  MK was there and helped excite the volunteers with product and swag. Hell Yeah!

~ John Stark, GBA historian

GBA’s next GranJam will be on July 29 and 30th restoring the historic Doublehead Ski Trail in Jackson, NH and re-routing one-half mile of trail to a new parking lot. The LOPrès will feature music from the band Junco and there will be a jorts contest crowning a king and queen.  The LOPrès is free for volunteers and $10 to the public from 7-10 pm. Visit www.granitebc.org for more.

Check out the event Facebook video HERE