February 21, 2020
Day 20
Skiers: Carla

Arrowhead is a lovely small ski area in the City of Claremont NH, just across the border from VT. It first operated as the Kings Arrow Ski Area in 1962, then in later years the name changed to Arrowhead with operations provided by the local Kiwanis Club. It was relatively dormant from the late 1980’s through 2002 when the Arrowhead Recreation Club began hand clearing the trails with a vision to reopen the area for the community. Arrowhead hosts skiing and tubing slopes with snow making and grooming capacity, Nordic trails, and an outdoor ice-skating rink. The area is owned by the City of Claremont and is 100% volunteer operated.

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Outer lodge facing the parking area. New decking built in recent years by Arrowhead Recreation Club volunteers

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View from top of the Main Slope looking towards the base. Mt Ascutney VT prominently rises in the background. Claremont Junior High School is the large building to the left of the A-frame lodge

Weather today was sunny with clear skies and temps is the mid 30’s, a true bluebird day! I arrived around 1pm as Arrowhead was open early today to provide services during school vacation week. There was a sizeable crowd for the tubing slope. The ski slope was pristinely groomed with very few skiers. I paid $6 for a late afternoon ticket and made my way over to the pony lift.

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View looking uphill from the base area. Upper trail The Face can be seen behind the Main Slope, with Wheelock’s Run visible to the right

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Hand painted vintage trail map showing full mountain lift access. B Poma was the only lift to access the uoper trails

At the lift I encountered volunteer Mike who greeted me with a friendly smile, and a few words of wisdom for to how to ride this lift. I was expecting a rope tow, but this was a cable tow with handlebar. I held on to the bar and up I went…. totally not the proper way to ride. On my next run, I spent several minutes talking to Mike and quickly learned that I needed to grab on with my left hand, then use my right hand to the move the handle behind me and let it push me up the hill. I think I provided the afternoon entertainment with my mishap. The pony lift is swift, runs parallel to the tubing lift, and brings you to the top of the main slope. This is a wide-open snow field that was relatively untouched. I could have made 100 laps and still left freshies for the next skier. The surface was perfectly smooth packed powder- it was blissful!

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The cable handle tow. I have never used a tow like this prior to my visit, my friendly lift volunteer Mike kindly guided me to place the handle behind me and let it push me up the hill, vs. my trying to hold with two hands.

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Close up of the A-frame base lodge, look at that beautiful groomed cord!

The pony lift only serves the lower portion of the ski area. All upper trails require a skier to hike or skin to access them. Upper trails are maintained and used often by hikers and runners during the summer “Reach the Peak” mud-adventure-obstacle race. I did not hike for turns today, and thoroughly enjoyed 10 or so runs on the lower slope.

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Signs of the old poma lift, note current usage as posts for night skiing lighting

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Volunteers Mike & Chuck, both said the best part of working at Arrowhead is watching the little ones learn to ski

I soon met volunteer Chuck who graciously provided me the historical background of Arrowhead. He proudly told me it was his son Spencer who spearheaded the efforts to revive this special little ski area. Chuck provided me with a grand tour of the lodge, a classic A-frame that was originally built in 1962 when the ski area was associated with the local Kings Arrow Inn. He is excited to have obtained a grant to replace the original single pane windows with higher efficiency windows, and to replace the furnace this coming spring. The lodge is two stories with a spacious basement area. Main floor consists of tables and cubbies for ski bags, a ticket counter, and a recently renovated kitchen café. Upper level is wide open to accommodate functions, with side windows that overlook the tubing area. Basement level hosts shelves of ice skates that are available to borrow, a second function room area, and a full-service rental shop offering alpine skis, Nordic skis, and snowboards. Here is where I met volunteer Leon. Both Leon and Chuck led me to a picture board and identified themselves and their sons in vintage photos circa 1970’s. They talked about fundraising efforts, Claremont’s First Night events, and the various roles they held at the ski area over the years. Chuck is famously on the cover of the current brochure, “they just needed a picture so they used one of me”. Leon pointed out his autographed workbench that children have signed over the years, along with NH local celebrity Fritz Wetherbee. I gained a huge appreciation of the commitment these gentlemen have shown to Arrowhead over several decades.

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Volunteer Leon in the rental area. He obtains certification annually as a binding technician to provide this service for the community

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Beautiful windows inside the lodge provide sweeping views of the slopes


Chuck also shared with me that Arrowhead was able to be open for school vacation week due to the generosity of Hypertherm headquartered in Hanover NH. This global manufacturing company sent a “team of 6 guys to help us run the lifts”. This intrigued me so I went to the company website and discovered volunteer hours are part of the corporate mission. “We have a long-standing commitment to making a positive contribution to the areas in which our Associates live and work. We use our talent, time, and financial resources to help build thriving, prosperous communities that improve people’s lives and support our business. Our Community Service Time (CST) program gives each Associate around the world 32 hours of paid time per year to volunteer when and where they choose”.

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Vintage sign from when the Kiwanis Club provided operations at Arrowhead

Interesting to note, Arrowhead is situated on the outskirts of the downtown area behind the Claremont Junior High School. I could only image sitting through classes daydreaming looking out at those slopes!

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Circa 1960’s, Arrowhead trails behind Claremont Junior High School. Photo obtained from New England Ski History

Arrowhead is also in close proximity to Mount Ascutney in VT, who is going through a similar revival after being dormant for many years. Chuck told me Acutney approached Arrowhead with many questions of how they achieved success relying on volunteer operations.

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Vintage newspaper ad circa 1966 advertising Arrowhead family season passes for $121.50. Ascutney Ski Area across the river in VT advertising the reopening of the Polar Baar Lounge

Overall impression: Arrowhead is a treasure, with lovingly maintained terrain and a strong volunteer presence. It’s hard to believe this was previously a “lost” ski area. Costs are very affordable and families can volunteer to earn free ski days or season passes. The passion shown by the volunteers I met here today was infectious. My new retirement dream is to pay it forward and to share my love for snow with future generations!

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive

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I took this picture from downtown Claremont; the yellow circle highlights the lower slope which is lift accessed via the handle tow. Note the upper 2/3 trails can only be accessed via hiking or skinning. To put this upper terrain into perspective: total vertical is 600’; current lift access is around 120’.

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Current trail map identifying lift serviced vs. unpatrolled trails
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