(Last Updated On: May 3, 2011)
Ben White, a 17 year old skier from Essex, Massachusetts recently completed his goal of skiing all 48 of New Hampshire’s peaks over 4,000′- the first to do it within one year. The following is an interview with Ben, lightly edited for clarity.
Tell us about your ski background.
I have been skiing my whole life. I went out to Utah when I was 11 for a family ski vacation, and that got me totally hooked. We spent a lot of time not skiing on the trails, which was something we could rarely do in the east. After that, I knew I wanted to get a lot better, and fast, so I started racing at Attitash in NH. I did that for 4 years, and was an assistant coach for a 5th. Racing got boring and too much of a commitment for me to enjoy after that 4th year.
When did you start skiing the 4kers, and when did you finish?
I wanted to ski all the 4000 footers in NH in one year. I started November 26th, 2010, and finished April 24th.
What prompted or inspired you to pursue this goal?
I don’t know.
Is this a popular goal for Eastern skiers/ has anyone done it?
No, eastern hiking trails are not fun to ski down. 3 others have done it, but I am the first to do it in one year.
Sunrise on the Presidential Range traverse. Photo Alan Hammersmith/ Courtesy Ben White
Lou Dawson skied Colorado’s 14ers from the summit, often trying many times to achieve that standard. All the other 14er finishers have tried to do the same. Are you trying to match that standard?
Yup, I did. Except for Tecumseh, where there was no snow on the true summit, we dropped probably 20′ vert (I really have no idea) to the top of Waterville Valley ski area. It wouldn’t have been much of a ski anyways, it was flat. Some peaks just didn’t have any snow on top of the very highest point, they were exposed rock, so I didn’t do that, because I didn’t want to buy new skis.
Which peak was your favorite?
I’m not sure, I’ve thought long and hard about that. Hale had the best skiing, but it was pretty basic tree skiing in fresh snow, nothing too difficult. North Twin had a bulletproof slide that was about 45º+ sustained pitch which was really fun to ski down, it was a good challenge. Adams was the most epic, it was on my presidential traverse (7 peaks in a day. 20 mile tour, 9k of vertical gain, lots of rime ice crap skiing)
Mt. Madison. Photo Alan Hammersmith/ Courtesy Ben White
Which peak was the hardest?
Wildcat D the first time was hard to ski down. Wildcat ski area is on that one, and it hadn’t opened yet. They were blowing snow, and on the way down, it was a very rapid change between rocks, grass, drifted powder, solid ice and chicken heads. Most of the time, you couldn’t tell the difference between them, because the rocks and grass were just barely covered up, but there was a pow drift in a water bar right next to it, etc.
You will be attending the University of Utah next year. Any thoughts of skiing Utah’s highest 50 or some other goal while you’re there?
That could be cool. I didn’t really think about the 50 highest, I only just looked at the 12,000 footers. Maybe take 2 years to do it, there are 112 of them.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I had never done any backcountry skiing before this year, except for an annual trip into Tuckerman’s with my dad since I was 9. My ski house is a camp that has an outhouse and is the best place in the world.
I also raise awareness for YES Kids (Youth Enrichment Services). They are a local charity (based in Boston) that gets inner city and under privileged youth skiing and other outdoors activities.
I’d also like to thank my sponsors:
Lowe Alpine (Backpacks)
Flylow Gear (Clothing, specifically made for backcountry skiing)
Erin Baker’s (Wholesome baked goods, very tasty on the trail)
Green Wax (Environmentally friendly ski wax. None of the regular chemicals in it, and it smells really, really good too)
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