February 8, 2020
Day 17
Skiers: Carla & Tim

Proctor Ski Area is a small privately-owned ski hill located at Proctor Academy, a coed preparatory boarding school for grades 9–12 located in Andover, New Hampshire. Impressively, more than 50% of all Proctor students spend their winter afternoons on snow! Proctor offers students options to participate in Ski Jumping, Nordic, Freestyle, and Eastern USSA/FIS Alpine Skiing. It has a reputation as “the school on skis” and it fosters a culture of snow sport activity. Trails were cut in the current location during the 1960’s, and the hill was referred to as Blackwater Ski Area for many years.

IMG_3350.jpg

Yarrow’s Lodge, side view from parking lot, ski hill to the left

IMG_3384.jpg

Skiing at Proctor dates back to the 1930’s. Vintage picture of a snow train and Proctor students with skis

We visited Proctor during their annual Community Night. This event welcomes visitors to enjoy the Nordic trails during the day, and experience the alpine slopes under the lights. I had sent a RSVP to this event and asked what I could bring as the announcement sounded like it would be pot-luck style. The reply I received told me to only bring my skis and a big appetite! This event was free and included both lift ticket and dinner.

IMG_3348.jpg

Full moon rising above solar panels in the parking lot

Upon our arrival at 5pm dusk was quickly fading to darkness. I was admiring a full moon and captured a picture of the moon in the parking lot, but was rather disappointed as the view was obstructed by solar panels. Interestingly enough, after conducting some research in preparation for writing this article I am totally psyched that I took this photo! The Proctor Ski Area won the Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence in 2014. More than 90% of the Proctor Ski Area is powered by solar energy. All of the lights, pumps, lifts and the lodge are powered exclusively by solar. I think this is a really cool feature and a beautiful example of environmental stewardship.

IMG_3355.jpg

Upcycled ski railing upper deck of Yarrow’s Lodge

We explored the property a little before making our way into Yarrow's Lodge. There was a sizeable crowd both inside and out that appeared to be a diverse mixture of students, family members, alumni, and locals. The lodge is two levels, with a large outdoor deck on the upper level, set up with a catering tent and outdoor grill preparing burgers and dogs. Despite feeling tempted by hunger, we made our way over the slopes.

IMG_3356.jpg

Welcome sign. Interesting to note: posted daily rates. There is no information on the Proctor website r/t daily options, and the email I sent requesting more information has yet to be answered.

IMG_3397.jpg

Lower lodge level, woodstove to left.

Proctor has two lifts, a rope tow that services a lower blue trail, and a T-bar that serves the upper black race trails. There is no beginner terrain. In total there are 3 trails: Burden’s Trail and Blackwater Trail (both fully open due to snow making capabilities), and Doc’s Run (natural terrain) which was not open.

IMG_3361.jpg

Looking uphill from the base area. 15 meter and 30 meter ski jumps to the left, rope tow left center. Far right bottom of the Blackwater Trail leading to the T-bar.

IMG_3369.jpg

View riding the T-Bar

Temps were mid 20’s and dropping. Snow surface was firm hard boilerplate; so hard I seriously could not plant a pole. I joking related that the surface conditions at Proctor made Cannon look like a powderpuff! I give huge kudos to the kids who raced on these trails earlier in the day…. like seriously, I could not imagine skiing on this surface with any degree of speed. Tim and I took 4 runs total, then decided it was time for dinner.

IMG_3381.jpg

View from top of rope tow looking down towards base

IMG_3383.jpg

View looking uphill from middle Burden’s Trail

Food was being served on the upper level, burgers and dogs as previously mentioned along with pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, chili, corn chowder, and beef stew. There are full kitchen facilities in the lodge, and there was such a nice variety of offerings including coffee, cocoa, and cookies. Proctor staff and volunteers clearly go all out with this event! After enjoying a delicious meal, we called it an early night and headed back home around 7:30. Unfortunately we missed the torchlight parade but hope to return again next year for this experience.

IMG_3393.jpg

Inside upper lodge level, food counter in the back. Note the picture panels on the slanted ceiling- they provide a pictorial history of Proctor Academy

IMG_3385.jpg

Close up of pictorial history. Upper left corner depicts a snowplow/tractor leading a parade of skiers.

IMG_3390.jpg

Display of vintage skis, I am unsure what the significance of “constellation” is, but would love to find out. Trail map posted under constellation sign

Overall impression: Proctor Ski Area is a huge asset to the ski team at Proctor Academy, allowing students to step out of the classroom and onto the slopes within minutes. Built specifically to accommodate the ski programs at the school, the facilities are highly functional and well acclaimed in the competitive circuit. While public access is limited, it is not restricted and it is well worth the visit to check out this little hill!

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive