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SAM Magazine-Pinkham Notch, N.H., July 13, 2005-Wildcat Ski Mountain is for sale. The area, located across the valley from Mt. Washington, has 225 acres of trails on a 2,100 vertical , served by four chairlifts, including a base-to-summit detachable.

Wildcat's owner for the past 20 years is Franchi Management, a Boston-based real estate firm headed by Pasquale Franchi. Franchi, in his late 70s, is a passionate skier, but his familial successors at the management firm plan to concentrate on investments in the greater Boston area and do not wish to retain the area.

Both by design and due to the nature of its location entirely on national forest land, Wildcat is-along with Mad River Glen, Vermont-one of the least-changed ski areas in the Northeast over the past 20 or even 50 years. One of the oldest areas in the U.S., its first trail, the Wildcat, was cut in 1933.

Current GM Tom Caughey believes that the area's greatest growth potential is in summer and foliage-season business. Currently, the area's scenic gondola rides (the detachable chairs are replaced with four-passenger gondola cars in summer and fall) draw more than 30,000 visitors annually. While there is no land available for a resort village, a hotel at the base of the area is considered a "compatible use" by the Forest Service, Caughey said.

As for winter operations: Wildcat has limited snowmaking, but annual snowfall of 200 to 250 inches and a high base elevation (2,000 feet) provide some insurance against poor snow seasons. The area's main appeal-make that two appeals-are its challenging terrain and old-style New England trails and atmosphere.