As you speed north on "Ski 93" in New Hampshire this winter, look for a sign of life on Tenney Mountain, the 1,400-vertical-foot hill that's a favorite of impoverished Plymouth State College students. Closed from 1992 to 1996 and again in '01-'02, Tenney has (once more) risen from the dead, this time as more than just a twitching corpse with sketchy snow cover and an antique double chair.
This fall, the area was purchased by Snow Magic Entertainment Systems to showcase the "revolutionary temperature-independent ICS snowmaking system," which the company developed and used successfully in Japan.
Snow Magic's giant ice makers freeze water inside a closed system, then blow tiny (0.3-millimeter) ice crystals onto the slope at the rate of 10,600 cubic feet every 24 hours. That means coverage on a Tenney trail in 10 days or less. Best of all? It doesn't even have to get cold out to do it: Temps in the forties are optimal, but 60 degrees is still snowmaking weather.
For the American debut of the system, general manager and ski-film legend Dan Egan promises three new lifts and an October 1 opening in 2003 (which will beat Killington's earliest-ever opening day in 1992 by two days). "We'll have fall foliage and top-to-bottom skiing on great snow while other mountains are still waiting for cold weather," says Egan.
This season it's still "Old Tenney"-wonderfully twisting trails, funky lifts, mini terrain park, $20 midweek tickets, and $199 season passes. But next season, plan on a "New Tenney," and deep snow by Columbus Day.