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History of the Mittersill Ski Area

The New Mittersill Double Chair opened at 8:30am on January 1, 2011. This lift will operate whenever the Mittersill Terrain Area is considered open (check the report for status) Lift tickets or season passes required and available at Notchview Welcome Center.

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The History...

PAST:

In 1933, the Taft trail was constructed, thanks in large part, to the efforts of Kate Peckett of Sugar Hill. The Taft ran from the top of Cannon Mountain down to the saddle with Mt. Jackson, up over Mt. Jackson, then down the north slope. 5 years later, in 1938, the Aerial Tramway was opened, providing lift service to the Taft, along with several other trails, mainly on the Cannon Mountain side.

In the several years prior to 1938, Baron Hubert von Pantz had been renovating the Schloss Mittersill outside of Kitzbuhel, Austria. The Schloss was taken over by the German Army in 1938, and the Baron fled the country later that year. In 1939, the Baron arrived in the United States, at the Lake Placid Club, where he found bobsledding, and ski jumps, but skiing was only available by climbing. He took a taxi from Lake Placid to Franconia to look over the new Tramway at Cannon. Over the next several years, he raised money, and in 1941, purchased 550 acres on the north slope of Mt. Jackson, including a section of the Taft trail.

He and some partners developed a hotel, built several chalets, and installed a ski lift, and in 1946, Mittersill opened for business. Three years later, in 1949, Swiss Paul Valar and Austrian Paula Kann arrived in the area. Paul would found the Franconia Ski School at Cannon, and with Paula, would run the ski schools at Mittersill and Mount Sunapee through the 1970s.

In 1950, the Baron left the area, and returned to Austria- back to the Schloss Mittersill. He found it heavily damaged, and began work to restore it once again. Back in NH, Mittersill ski area began early experiments with snowmaking, based loosely on a lawn sprinkler system.

In 1961, the Professional Ski Instructors of America was formed, with Paul as one of the 7 original incorporators.

By 1969, Mittersill had 2 T Bars, and a Hall Chairlift, with a vertical drop of over 1000 feet.

The winters of 1980 and 1981 were very poor ones for winter sports, and Mittersill Alpine Resort suffered large losses as a result. In the 80's, the area was operated by the Franconia Development Co. The area finally was closed in 1984, and in 1989, the Special Use Permit from the Forest Service was terminated. The privately held lands on which most of the ski area was located were transferred to the State of NH for the cost of one dollar, an effort spearheaded by the Valar family.

1990 - 2009

The ski trails in the Mittersill area were partially overgrown, although some had been kept clear by individuals, in spite of state and federal restrictions. The area is home to several federally listed sensitive species, including the Bicknell's Thrush, Peregrine Flacon, and possibly, the Canada Lynx. On the site of the ski area, there remained lift towers, top and bottom terminals, and miscellaneous lumber.

On March 25, 2009, a celebration in the Governor’s Executive Council Chambers marked a long-anticipated exchange of federal and state lands. After extended contemplation and study, 100 acres of the upper portion of the dormant Mittersill Ski Area joined the system of State Lands as part of Cannon Mountain Ski Area; and the 244 acre Sentinel Mountain Forest, including approximately ¼ mile of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, became federal land to be administered by the White Mountain National Forest. Governor John Lynch, Forest Supervisor Tom Wagner, and Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Manager Pam Underhill joined in the celebration.

March 28, 2009 - The official "rope cutting" ceremony takes place on the taft Trail with nearly 500 people in attendance. Christina Valar Breen and son, Cannon Breen cut the rope between Cannon and Mittersill, officially reopening the Mittersill ski area as part of Cannon Mountain. Many in attendance completed the hike and skied Mittersill "legally" for the first time in 20 years.


Summer 2009:

Cannon trail crew completed some limited trimming and clearing of some trail areas, and the removal of some hazards. The access from the Taft Trail on Cannon to the top of Mittersill was widened along with the route from the summit of Mittersill to the top of the old double chair. For the winter of 2009-2010 the area would be managed as one large gladed area, with all of the accompanying hazards and referred to as Mittersill Terrain Area/Backcountry Area. Contrary to the belief of many people, the area is not easy terrain. Much of it is steep and narrow, and must be used with extra caution, with extended rescue time a probability. Any construction of a lift at Mittersill was considered at least 1-2 years away, possibly longer. 

During the land exchange process between the State of NH and the US Forest Service, an agreement was reached that would limit any cutting on the Mittersill site above the 2500 foot elevation to match, but not exceed, the 1989 trail and lift line footprint. This agreement was reached in an effort to ensure the viability of the Bicknell's Thrush and other species on Mount Jackson. Because of this agreement, and the width of the lift line, any lift accessing the upper elevations at Mittersill will be a double chair. Higher capacity lifts require a wider liftline, which does not exist in the old footprint.

Winter 2009 - 2010 

Cannon opened and managed the terrain on Mittersill as a lift-accessed backcountry area (via the Tramway and Cannonball Quad).

The trail crew completed some thinning and brush cutting for ease of access, but nothing to change the culture or skiing & riding experience. With no snowmaking, limited grooming, very limited patrolling and extensive rescue time, the area carried a designation of “Extra Hazardous.”

Cannon ran a weekend/holiday shuttle service from the base of Mittersill to Peabody/Notchview when Mittersill was open. Mittersill was considered "officially open" for approximately 45 days during the season. When shuttles were running, they carried up to 300 people per day back from Mittersill.

Cannon also offered Guided Mittersill Tours (at Snowsports School): $55
10:00am on Saturdays & Sundays, conditions permitting. Roughly 2 hour guided tour to explore the new Mittersill Backcountry Terrain Area! For Intermediate & Advanced skiers and riders. Some hiking involved.

Summer 2010
Installation of the Mittersill Double Chair begins!
The double chair is being installed in the same location as the old chair and is expected to open in early 2011.
Cannon plans to run the Mittersill Double Chair EVERY DAY that Mittersill is determined to be open and skiable (not just on weekends and holidays).

Gallery - September 22-23, 2010 - a Sikorski S61 helicopter is used to fly concrete for the lift tower footings and then remove the old lift towers to make way for the new!

Next major lift progress will be installation of the NEW towers - scheduled for early November.

Installation of the Mittersill Double Chair Towers - November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 - Video of Tower Installation

 

December 8, 2010
The bottom drive terminal was delivered craned into place.

The New Mittersill Double Chair opened at 8:30am on January 1, 2011.
This lift will operate whenever the Mittersill Area is considered open (check the report for status) Lift tickets or season passes required and available at Notchview Welcome Center.

Mittersill Improvement Project Proposed - 2012
This project would bring snowmaking, trail improvements, and a race training facility to Mittersill, to be gifted to Cannon through Franconia Ski Club. Click here for details, maps, public comments, etc...

Phase I of the Mittersill Terrain Improvement Project Underway - September 2014
Click here for the official press release.

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For 2014-2015, Baron's Run will be widened, cleared and graded to a width of 50 meters.
- Skyline and Ridge Run will be widened enough to allow for future snowmaking.
- Cannon will install a new snowmaking compressor that will add 28% more snowmaking capacity.
- Mittersill will remain all-natural with now snowmaking and very limited grooming for the 2014-2015 season.