New England Bill Koch League Festival Returning to Great Glen 2016

By Sue Wemyss

In March of 2012, Great Glen hosted the annual New England Bill Koch League Festival. Over 600 kids in eighth grade and under came with their parents for a weekend of fun on snow which included cross country races, ski touring, snow tubing, an obstacle course, a fairy house trail, face painting, food, a parade and more. Very honestly, it was the highlight of my working career here, seeing all these families at Great Glen in winter, enjoying what we have to offer. I’ll never forget looking out from the lodge and seeing literally hundreds being active on snow—some skiing on the race course by the pond, some tubing down the hill below Cadiddlehopper, kids climbing up and sliding down through the birch grove. So, when this spring the opportunity to bid for this event again rolled around, I jumped on it.


I have another very strong image in my head from that Festival. It’s one of Howie driving the Auto Road dump truck back and forth from the gravel parking lot south of the Auto Road, to the trail by the pond. He was making trip after trip hauling snow to cover the race finish area. That winter, you may remember, was a very lean one in the Northeast for snow. Great Glen opened and stayed open, with lots of extraordinary efforts including snow making, snow farming, shoveling and moving snow. The BKL families arriving at Great Glen were happily stunned when they arrived to the great trail conditions we had created.


That image represented another powerful realization for me. Howie was “all in” on making this event a great one, just like I was. He had plenty of other things to be attending to as the General Manager. But he was out there for hours, making sure our event was as good as it could be.

I know he and I weren’t alone in this. Our staff was “all in”. Just like they are when it comes to any event we do here at Great Glen/the Auto Road. Employees chip in readily without being asked or told. It’s a team effort and our team knows how to put on really great events. I’m proud to be a part of this team. And I am looking forward to the return of hundreds this March, even knowing all the time and effort it will require.

March 4-6, 2016: we’re doing it again, TEAM!

Peter Graves, Bill Koch and Sue pose together on the podium

In the months to come, more info on Great Glen’s 2016 BKL Festival will become available both on our website and through the New England Nordic Ski Association website,

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Prepping for Nordic Warm Up

The calendar has flipped from November to December.  In less than a week, the first of Great Glen’s Nordic Warm-up sessions will be held.

It’s prep time for me.

I’ve offered Nordic Warm-up for a bunch of years now.  The idea is to provide a class with activities that help get cross country skiers back on their skis.  After many months of being off snow, there is always somewhat of a transition to being back on skinny little skis, sliding on snow.  Even if one has done the most ski-specific dryland exercise of rollerskiing in the off season, being on snow is still different.  I try to design sessions that will expedite the transition to snow, with balance, positioning and agility-type movements, accompanying technical demonstrations and instruction.

Nordic Warm Up, great glen trails, cross country skiing

This will be my 35th season of cross country skiing.  I started coaching others thirty years ago.  But I don’t assume all the experience and knowledge of skiing I’ve acquired over the years is ever present in the front of my brain.  Every December I do a review of technique and look for new drills, new technical thinking and new ideas for helping skiers acquire or regain efficient and if desired, speed producing technique for both classic and skate techniques.  I also go back to basics; there are plenty of technique drills we did in the early years of skating that are still worthwhile and informative.

Nordic Warm Up, waxing, great glen trails, cross country skiing

I look forward to this preparation every year.  I search out videos on-line, review notes from clinics I’ve gone to, try to view films of the latest World Cup races, which are also found by digging around the internet.  There’s so much more info available to us Americans now, than there was twenty years ago.

Technique for skiing has two purposes: to enable one to move more efficiently on their skis, and/or to help one generate faster speeds on their skis.  The two objectives are not always achieved with the same adjustments.  When I teach private lessons, one of my first questions to the student revolves around their objectives in making improvements—are you looking to make skiing easier (efficiency), or are you trying to reach higher rates of movement (speed)?  The answer may cause me to vary my approach and directions.

The first Nordic Warm-up session is planned to be skate technique, the second week classic.  Both techniques fascinate me in different ways.  There’s been so much dissection of skating technique over the past thirty years, yet questions still remain regarding body orientation, timing, body positions.  In classic, the diagonal stride is so subtle to do it really well in ever changing grades and snow conditions.  That’s the amazing and really cool thing about cross country ski technique—the best skiers constantly modify their tempo with corresponding body motions to adapt to the speed of the snow and the terrain.

There are still openings in this year’s Nordic Warm-up, class runs for three Tuesdays from 10:00am – 11:30am with an optional wax clinic 9-10 am.  If you’re interested in joining, please give Great Glen a call at 466-2333 to sign up.  I do limit the number of participants so I can give quality feedback.  The class goes on with or without snow. (There’s lots of technical instruction and patterning that can happen off skis.)  I hope to see you soon on skis at Great Glen!

Sue Wemyss
Ski School Director

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Pinkham Notch, NH The newest Mt. Washington SnowCoach at Great Glen Trails and the Mt. Washington Auto Road is slated to be more energy efficient and even more durable in the challenging terrain conditions found on Mount Washington.

Mount Washington SnowCoaches ... Comfortable Winter Tours Above the Clouds!

Wrapped in a sleek new custom graphic, the latest of three Mt.Washington SnowCoaches has been converted to propane and fitted with a more aggressive track system making it more reliable in extreme terrain conditions. Propane, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is a safe, clean-burning, high-energy alternative fuel; and when used in place of petroleum-based fuels, reduces tailpipe emissions. The clean-burning characteristics of propane also allow the engine to have increased service life.

“The propane conversion is just another step towards becoming more environmentally conscious at Great Glen and the Auto Road”, stated Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. “Two other coaches used for guided tours in the summer have already been converted and more are planned for 2015.”

Additional upgrades to the Mt. Washington SnowCoaches have also taken place to the unique, all-wheel drive track system which enable the 9-passenger vehicles to travel on the snow-covered Auto Road during the snowy winter months. New Dominator® track systems have been designed by American Track Truck of Chassell, Michigan which are lighter and provide better floatation, dramatically increasing traction and stability even in the deepest snow. The frame of each track is fabricated from T-1 grade steel providing superior strength with minimal weight. The new tracks are easy to install and weigh approximately 170 lbs each compared to the prior tracks which weighed 700 lbs each.

“We are really excited about these upgrades to the SnowCoach program”, noted Nate Harvey, Great Glen Trails manager. “Our tour schedule will be more consistent for guests, passengers will get a softer, more comfortable ride, and our mechanics may actually enjoy a day or two off once in a while”. Dominator® tracks are practically maintenance free, allowing convenient and reliable operation in even the worst weather conditions and most challenging environments.

Guided winter tours aboard the Mt. Washington SnowCoaches are approximately 1¼ hour long and depart daily from December through March from the Great Glen Trails base lodge at the base of Mt. Washington on a first come, first served basis. Operating hours are approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm (8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. early in the season), depending on weather and snow conditions. The cost for the winter sightseeing experience is $49 for adults and $30 for children ages 5-12. Advance reservations are not available due to unpredictable weather and snow conditions.

The Mt. Washington SnowCoaches climb to about 4,200 feet, otherwise known as treeline, which is approximately two-thirds the way to the 6,288-foot summit. Upon arrival to the turnaround point, passengers are allowed to exit the SnowCoach to experience the weather and snow conditions which Mount Washington is so famous for. Guests can take up to 15 minutes outside the SnowCoach for photos and videos before the climbing back onboard for the journey back to the base.

The SnowCoach is available as  a stand-alone tour or as part of the Trails Total Ticket, which offers complete access to everything available at Great Glen Trails for one discounted price. The Trails Total Ticket includes a trail pass for XC skiing and snowshoeing; cross country ski and snowshoe rentals; all-day access to the tubing hill and a tour on the SnowCoach.

Additional info can be found by visiting or by calling (603) 466-3988.

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