"Someone asked me if I'm going to rate it double-black," says Bill Roy, Cannon's mountain manager. "I told 'em I'm going to rate it yellow diamond, with a big caution sign." That may sound like typical mountain-manager hype, but Roy is, in fact, understating the conditions on Cannon's Tram Line.
It's narrow-at times no wider than a GS ski is long. It's steep-many pitches exceed 50 degrees. Throw in tram towers, vertical ice, tangles of scrubby mountain spruce, and granite slabs, and you've got a run to rival anything in the Northeast. It's so hairball, in fact, it has historically been the sole exception to Cannon's "ski where you please" attitude. Unlucky tram line poachers used to find a welcoming committee of New Hampshire state troopers waiting in the parking lot.
This winter, for the first time since the aerial tramway opened in 1938, the tram line will become the Tram Line, fair game for skiers with the mettle. Roy plans to keep the entrance intentionally obscure, opening it from either the long-established off-piste Kinsman Glade or off Vistaway. But locals are already licking their chops at the prospect of legal face shots beneath the cables. "Oh man, it's gonna be good. It'll be the toughest run on the mountain, no doubt about it," says longtime Cannon skier Brian Moody. Has he skied it? "Funny thing is, I can't seem to remember," Moody deadpans politically. "But if I had, I would tell you it kicks ass."