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How is Cannon for kids?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've read so many great things about Cannon here that I'm tempted to spring for season passes there instead of Waterville/Loon/Cranmore this year. My kids absolutely despise waiting in lift lines, so it might be worth the extra money to go to Cannon this year (dad wouldn't mind the better terrain, either ;-)

But I've never been to Cannon. How is it for kids? I've got 9 and 7 year old kids, improving intermediates. They enjoy all of the blue runs at Loon and Waterville, and some of the easier blacks. Their technique isn't perfect, but they do reasonably well. Ice can create problems for them still.

Does Cannon have terrain that would suit them? How are conditions and grooming typically?

If I think I'll go this way, we'll give Cannon a try early in the season and then decide on the passes after trying it out. In the meantime, it would be great to get everyone's thoughts and feedback.

(My four year old son may join us this season, too. He'd be in full day lessons for at least the first few times. Is Cannon's kids ski school program good?)
post #2 of 15
Cannon has worked very hard over the past several years to be more beginner friendly. There are several dedicated areas for novices and intermediates to develop such as the Brookside Chair and what ever the triple that replaced the Hong Kong double is called that serves lower Cannon. One issue with Cannon, is it can get icey because of the wind and skier traffic. I learned to ski there in the old days and am a better skier for the wide range of weather and mountain challenges at Cannon.
post #3 of 15
I think Cannon is a great place for kids. Have brought my grandkids there before and have had a wonderful time. In my opinion the kids seem to get more attention from the ski school there than at some of the other bigger resorts. Plenty of good terrain for kids that can be accessed from a number of lifts right outside of the lodge that are well marked and seggregated from the hardcore trails, which means that they are a lot safer and a lot less crowded. Cannon also seems to draw a different level of skiers, most seem to be a lot more competent than the average weekend skiers at other resorts. Plus a warm and cozy family atmosphere that you won't find at many places.
However, Cannon does have a reputation as a hardcore skier's mountain. It can be cold and icy there. The base is not as modern as some other places. Grooming can be inconsistent and conditions can be variable. and the locals wouldn't have it any other way. That's what makes the place special. Whenever I'm in the area on a weekend, I'll always head to Cannon. I'm not crazy about liftlines, either.
post #4 of 15
I would definitely bring the family to Cannon a time or two before springing for passes. I personally love the place--the hill, the atmosphere and the people. I agree with Talisman and Mac that Cannon has some excellent beginner terrain at the Brookside chair--but so does MRG. Therefore the key for me, as someone who has done what you are doing--trying to raise your kids in the ski life--is whether the mountain offers places for you to ski with your kids from the top of the mountain while having a good time. Cannon is a big mountain, with spectacular views and when you go you will want to spend time up there. Having runs that you can all ski together, at least part of the time, would be the main decision variable, not whether there is good beginner terrain.

For that reason, I started my kids on Pat's peak, Suicide Six, and later, Sunapee and Gunstock. When they finally got to Cannon, they said, "wow!"

Hope that helps.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone! Great feedback so far.

Originally Posted by JoeB
Having runs that you can all ski together, at least part of the time, would be the main decision variable, not whether there is good beginner terrain.
Joe, that's a good point. We've enjoyed going to the top and making nice, long runs down together a lot at Loon, Waterville, etc. Given my kids' level (hard blues, easy blacks ok), how would Cannon fit the bill? (I also have to keep in mind that they will probably improve over the course of the season.)
post #6 of 15
no liftlines at cannon, as that was a specific issue you mentioned. i think i waited 5 minutes once on a super bowl two-fer for the zoomer triple and another time i wanted 5+ minutes for the first chair on one of the first powder days of the season last year when on a day the tram was on wind hold. other than that, mostly ski on or minimal wait.

sounds like your kids would be fine at cannon. cannon's blue's ski slightly harder than other areas, so an upper intermediate will really enjoy rippers like gary's and rocket. upper mountain has some nice windy trails like u.cannon and u.ravine, then you can really open it up on skylight, profile, and tramway. great trails for folks in ther upper intermediate/developing black skier. most of cannon's black runs are not groomed but many are groomed or half groomed. due to the pitch of cannon's blacks, the groomed runs are pretty much scrapped down by 10a, so if ripping groomed black diamonds is your thing, better keep the edges sharp. not the best place to learn bumps, but they keep the right side of rocket and gary's ungroomed which could help develop skiers in the black diamond realm.

a lot of people take issue with cannon because it is, well.... variable. the wind can take it's toll and cannon doesn't exactly get a huge amount of natural snow (slightly better than loon, not by much). but the wind and "icy" aspects of cannon are really over hyped. but the mountain definitely has more bite than places like loon or waterville.

while i have no experience with cannon's ski school, from a regular's perspective, it looks like they have really tried to amp up the ski school. i wouldn't hestitate recommending cannon as a place to learn with the new tbrook quad. very gentle area with nice contours. though not what you are looking for, it is an indication and example of cannon's dedication to getting non-expert skiers to cannon and having a great experience. try a two-fer day or two and see how everyone likes it.
post #7 of 15
I'm not a Cannon regular and have only skied there about 6 days spread out over a few decades. I've been there when it was icy as hell and was more a lesson in survival than skiing, but that was abot 20-years ago. I've skied in in a foot of fresh powder and had so much fun I made the 2-hour drive from my inlaws place to ski it again the next day. It's reputation for toughness hangs, I think, on skiing there in bad conditions. The trails are nicely laid out and fun. Most are solid blues and your kids will be fine there.
post #8 of 15
One issue with Cannon is that their main high-speed quad gives you one of three obvious options, and a fourth if you're looking (Bypass trail). Those three trails get really icy, just due to the amount of skier traffic they see. Also the very top of the mountain just gets raked by the wind. So the first 100 yards or so of skiing off the chairs can be interesting -- icy and semi crowded, but then there are all kinds of sweet options.

Cannon is a very "love it or leave it" type of place. I ski there all the time; in fact, I need a good reason to ski somewhere else. Cannon's conditions are basically either really really good or really really bad. Don't bother whining about bad conditions there because in my experience, the only response you'll get is "go to Loon".

Cannon's blues are definitely a step above what Waterville considers a blue, and most of Cannon's blacks are black for a reason.

One other thing to remember about Cannon: there is absolutely nothing to do there but ski.
post #9 of 15
I blew my knee out on Avalanche but I still like Cannon.

You don't really understand the term variable until you ski there.
post #10 of 15
Originally Posted by riverc0il
but the wind and "icy" aspects of cannon are really over hyped.
Not entirely so. The wind can whip thru the Notch and make Cannon very unpleasant - your kids may never want to go back. Avoid that kind of day and you will all have a good time. Don't miss the hike over to Mittersill - it was the first hike my kids did and they have loved doing it ever since.
post #11 of 15
while i never said cannon was not a mountain that suffered from wind and scraped conditions at time (it often does), i stand by my statement that the reputation is overhyped in that it isn't as bad as its critics say it is. a lot of people seem to have one bad experience at cannon and base judgement off that one experience. they should be looking at it a different way: it may have been cold and windy and wind blown, but at least they were able to keep the area open!

seriously though, this past season, two thirds of my cannon days were beautiful, sunny, and calm afternoons. cannon isn't all wind and scraped though it certainly can be on the bad days.

good call from KevinF about the peabody quad. a lot of people have trouble with cannon because they are not familiar with the layout. most people are drawn to high speed quads, but at cannon the goal is to use the high speed quad the least. ski mid cannon early if you want that run, otherwise avoid it. use the big links only when connecting vista way, tramway and upper ravine to either the cannonball quad or mid ravine which is normally okay. avoiding the links and mid cannon eliminates 85% of the poor snow on cannon. the rest of it is found on the groomed portions of avalanche and zoomer (why do they bother?) and anything exposed to nasty wind on the upper mountain.
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by riverc0il
the groomed portions of avalanche and zoomer (why do they bother?)
I don't know why they bother grooming Zoomer -- that track truly does turn into a hockey rink. It does provide a nice escape route if the bumps are getting too much.

As for Avalanche -- it provides great entertainment. You stand at the top, you watch people who are trying to reach the tram work their way down Avalanche, you watch them fall, you watch them yard sale, and then you watch them slide a few hundred feet. I've been both the watcher and the watchee. :

My only problem with Avalanche is that it's a haul to get to either the tram or the Zoomer chair.
post #13 of 15
Skidiver, sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. If, as you said, your kids are happy on blues and easy blacks, and you are not put off by the harsh realities about Cannon that you have heard from people on this thread, then I think you will love the place.

In other words, terrain seems to me to fall out of the equation--it will be the basic Cannon characteristics (often windswept, cold on top, with "firm" conditions, etc), that will in all likelihood determine your choice. For me, it basically comes down to how people feel about the cold. If you and your kids are cold weather skiers, I think you will love Cannon.

post #14 of 15
My only problem with Avalanche is that it's a haul to get to either the tram or the Zoomer chair.
if the goal is to get to the tram, take an oft overlooked banshee trail.

if the goal is zoomer chair, tuck the end of avalanche and ride those edges to the triple, a few skates and you are there!

when i first started skiing cannon, zoomer wasn't groomed much and avalanche only slightly more. the groomers really do a number on the upper avalanche trail along with all the people side slipping upper avalanche to get to banshee. the avalanche/banshee cut off really needs to be examined by management, imo. i think leaving avalanche completely bumped would help a lot, but i am rather biased
post #15 of 15
I grew up skiing at Cannon, have taught ski school there, coached racing there and have made some of my fondest memories there. I have skied all over and I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite mountains, period.

Yeah, it's cold. Yeah, it's windy. The best part, though, are the people that work and ski there, they have one common bond, the mountain. It is not located in a resort town, so the staff are there because they want to be, not just to make a buck...heck when I instructed I spent most of my time skiing alone (no $ if you don't have a group!).

I have a 3yo and I will be teaching him to ski at Cannon, I wouldn't have it any other way. There is terrain on that mountain I didn't even know existed until I was ready to ski it. The mountain has something for everyone, and one of the main attractors for me is that it never gets old, each day is a new adventure and has been since I started skiing at a young age.

My mom, on the other hand, hates the place and won't go back unless I drag her. She's had that mindset since the first day she skied there when she was a kid. So, I guess it is a take-it or leave-it kinda mountain.

I hope you give it a chance and I hope you fall into the take-it category, we'd love to have you.
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