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Take a 2-hour Private Clinic with a Sugarbush Ski & Ride coach, and sharpen your confidence in the gates, on the groomers, or in the backcountry. Group lessons and First Timer lessons also available.
Call Today. sugarbush.com 888.651.4827
13 Steeps, Glades, and Gliders
Many believe that Sugarbush has the most varied, well-rounded terrain in the East—here’s the story behind the mountain and its iconic trails. By Peter Oliver
24 Backstage at Sugarbush Snowmakers and groomers work all night so you can ski all day. A look at the operation behind each day at the mountain. By Candice White
30 The Yin and Yang of the Ski & Ride School
At Sugarbush, cutting-edge teaching practices are skillfully paired with a philosophy of fun on the slopes. Plus: Ten tips from Sugarbush’s pros. By Lisa Densmore
EDITOR Candice White
production Editor Amy Stackhouse
Art director Audrey Huffman
Photo editor Mary Simmons
6 Inside Lines
One on one with Win Smith, owner and president of Sugarbush Resort.
A guide to four local hikes with some of the best views of the Mad River Valley and beyond.
10 Arts & Culture
contributors Patrick Brown Lisa Densmore Chris Enman Carolyn Fox Peter Oliver
From soaring arias to open-air brews, a look at some festivals worth planning your trip around.
20 Mountain Weddings
The confluence of casual-chic accommodations, outdoor adventure, and mountain air has made Sugarbush home to some of the Northeast’s most stunning weddings.
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A one-of-a-kind luxury inn, a full-service ski-in, ski-out hotel, a cozy family get-away—the Mad River Valley offers a variety of vacation accommodations.
The local family dining scene is welcoming and fun— and the food is delicious, too.
40 Sugarbush Close-Up
Sugarbush Resort 1840 Sugarbush Access Road Warren, VT 05674 800.53.SUGAR sugarbush.com
ON THE COVER:
A truly unique Valley with multiple mountains to choose from, lodging options galore, and terrain that serves the first-timer, the park rider, and the adventure seeker.
WINTER: John Egan in the powder on Ripcord. Photographer: Eugene Krylov
44 Events Calendar
SUMMER: Hiking in the Breadloaf Wilderness area, south of Sugarbush. Photographer: Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto
Triathlons, marathons, brew festivals, owl shows, and kids’ pizza parties—creative events around the Valley.
Get to the most popular destinations in the Mad River Valley for FREE.* MAD BUS RoUteS: Valley Floor
Valley Evening Service
NEW SErvicE! Mad River Glen
* All routes are free, except for Snowcap Commuter
Call 802-223-7287 or visit gmtaride.org for more info.
I first visited the Mad River Valley
while I was in college in 1969. I returned in 1984 and our family has been skiing regularly at Sugarbush ever since. Thirty-five years after my first visit, I moved to the Valley, following a career with Merrill Lynch. After all that time, I am happy with what has remained the same and what has changed. Sugarbush still has untouched, classic New England skiing to enjoy, but now there is also the fantastic complement of comfortable accommodations and great amenities. Much of what we strive to do at Sugarbush is in celebration of our past, protecting the environment and culture that we inherited while also building a future that continues to provide a memorable and meaningful experience for everyone, both on the mountain and in the Valley. Win Smith and his wife, Lili Ruane, enjoying the spring conditions on Spring Fling.
Bridging the gaps between old and new, past and future, is something we all do throughout our lives. We are continuously making new acquaintances and introducing them to old friends. Another way we build on our personal past is by
bringing new friends to places that we love, letting them know more about who we are. And you never know when an old acquaintance might show up—as did my childhood friend Lili, who is now my wife, a passionate skier, and a fellow “new” Vermonter. (We were married on the mountain in August of 2011.) In the Mad River Valley, nineteenth-century farms are still being worked and continue to provide fresh produce to the community. Historic buildings have been reincarnated as modern family homes, well-equipped offices, multigenerational ski houses, and country inns. Where else can you find a working streamside sawmill, an international nonprofit, a family farm, and a movie theater all within a mile and a half of each other? While Sugarbush in its Mascara Mountain days was known only as a ski resort with fabulous terrain, today it has become an equally exciting year-round destination, with fun recreational activities in all seasons. By maintaining the best of our history while mindfully upgrading into a world-class resort, Sugarbush has defined its identity as an authentic Vermont destination. Our newest endeavor will literally build bridges to our past. Rice Brook Residences, designed in the Vermont vernacular style, will geographically and symbolically tie together historic Sugarbush Village and Lincoln Peak Village, creating a vibrant community at the base of Sugarbush that mirrors the character of the Valley. Soon, people will be able to walk on a path linking the two villages, with Rice Brook in between—a great example of old and new coming together. This new construction is part of a larger project that will be built in stages and include up to ninety new spaces, both residential sugarbush resort
and commercial, completing our base-area development. Lili and I look forward to sharing our vision of the past, present, and future of Sugarbush with you and welcoming you to the Valley any time of the year. It is our vision to both preserve the past as well as plan for and secure the longterm success of Sugarbush. Cheers,
Win Smith President, Sugarbush Resort Rice Brook Residences will create a connection between Sugarbush Village (above, circa 1960s) and Lincoln Peak Village.
With a variety of ownership options available–from spacious studios to five-bedroom luxury homes, you’ll find the perfect mountainside home for you and your family. Plus, our world-class amenities and attentive service cater to your every need, so you can focus on enjoying the one-of-a-kind beauty and inspiring surroundings of Sugarbush.
Clay Brook A T
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VISIT SUGARBUSHLIVING.COM TODAY FOR MORE INFORMATION AND A CURRENT LISTING OF AVAILABLE HOMES. OR CALL 800.806.1070
Vermont’s 270-mile Long Trail winds its way down through the Green Mountains from Canada to Massachusetts. Check out these local hikes for some of the best views along the way. By CHRIS ENMAN LONG TRAIL. CANDICE WHITE
Sunset Rock [LINCOLN] This short hike—it’s 2.2 miles round-trip— starts at 2,410 feet from the top of Lincoln Gap Road and heads south on the Long Trail into the Breadloaf Wilderness area. The trail begins with moderately steep switchbacks through beech and maple trees, then rounds off among conifers before declining slightly to Sunset Rock, an overhang with commanding views west toward Lake Champlain. Remember to bring: A picnic, a warm layer, and a headlamp. Watch the sunset over the Adirondacks, and then descend under the moonlight.
Burnt Rock Mountain [FAYSTON] Named for its bare summit, Burnt Rock Mountain is located in Camel’s Hump State Forest along the Long Trail, but can be accessed via a steep 5.2-mile round-trip hike from Big Basin Road in Fayston. The trail starts alongside Hedgehog Brook, climbing through hardwoods until it meets the Long Trail and the exposed rock of Burnt Rock Mountain. Turn right and follow the Long Trail’s white blazes to the summit, at 3,168 feet. Look north for a head-on view of the cliff bands of Camel’s Hump, west across Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks, or east across the Mad River Valley to the Worcester Mountains. Remember to bring: Your friends. The rock star Grace Potter sings about Burnt Rock in her song “Crazy Parade”: “I’m up on top of a big burnt rock, with some people I call friends. We’re half a mile to heaven. And back again.”
Gap to Gap [LINCOLN/FAYSTON] The 11.6 miles along the Long Trail between Lincoln Gap Road and Route 17 (Appalachian Gap) stretch across two of Vermont’s 4,000-foot peaks. From Lincoln Gap the trail ascends north to Mount Abraham, passes by Sugarbush chairlifts on Lincoln and Castlerock Peaks, traverses above the fabled backcountry skiing in the Slide Brook Wilderness, summits Sugarbush’s Mt. Ellen, and then drops to Mad River Glen’s single chair on General Stark Mountain before ending at Route 17. Make it an overnighter at the Battell or Theron Dean Shelter or keep it a day trek. This difficult hike can be done in either direction, and requires a car drop or a ride. Remember to bring: Lots of water, sun block, and a camera. The ridgeline hike offers expansive views and exposure to the elements.
Allyn’s Lodge [SUGARBUSH] Named in memory of Allyn Schechter, a female skier who perished in a plane crash, the lodge on Sugarbush’s Gadd Peak is always open and provides respite to those in need of shelter. It’s also a great picnic spot for a family hike thanks to its proximity to the Super Bravo chairlift. The path to Allyn’s Lodge varies—ride the chairlift up and hike down, hike up mountain roads and ride the lift down, or hike both ways. At the top of the lift you’ll find the midmountain lodge with its large deck, a network of downhill mountain bike trails, and the option to continue up Lincoln Peak to the Long Trail. Remember to bring: Your discs and a map. Sugarbush’s Peak Disc Golf Course plays downhill from Allyn’s Lodge, and hiking trail and disc golf maps are available in the Gate House Lodge.
burnt rock. Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto
Play one of Mother Nature’s
Flight plan figured out?
A RobeRt tReNt JoNes, sR. desigN.
Golf Membership*: $5000 Gold Pass: $2450 Shoulder Plus Pass: $999 Prices increase after March 20, 2013. * Offers pass discounts, priority tee times, and a schedule of member socials and activities. For more information and to purchase a pass call 802.583.6725 or visit sugarbush.com.
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From soaring arias to open-air brews, the Mad River Valley is full of celebrations worth planning your trip around. By Carolyn Fox Vermont Festival of the Arts
Sugarbush Brew-Grass Festival
June 1 to June 23, 2013 greenmountainoperafestival.com Widely considered one of New England’s preeminent opera producers, the Green Mountain Opera Festival always gives audiences something to sing about. Culminating in two full-blown, costumed productions featuring professional opera singers of national and international renown—as well as gifted members of Vermont’s own artistic family—the nearly monthlong lineup is a rare treat for true music lovers. Open rehearsals, opera lectures, and master classes dispense behindthe-scenes insight on the masterworks, and the ever-popular Broadway picnic never fails to bring down the house with pitch-perfect show tunes and arias in a grassy meadow. Select festival singers and accompanists also serenade diners at an elegant opera brunch, most recently hosted by Sugarbush Resort’s Timbers Restaurant. Festival repertoire has included everything from Puccini’s tragic Madame Butterfly to Donizetti’s opera buffa Don Pasquale.
August 1 to September 2, 2013 vermontartfest.com Hands down the state’s most diverse celebration, the Vermont Festival of the Arts introduces festivalgoers from near and far to the Green Mountain State’s flourishing creative community. On any given day of its impressive five-week program, visitors can take in the annual exhibition of amateur and professional photography on display at Waitsfield’s picturesque Round Barn Farm. The Art in the Garden Tour shuttles plein-air enthusiasts around the Valley, where local artists set up canvases to capture the area’s most beautiful blooms; Carlyn Hass, Joyce Kahn, Dotty Kyle, and Candy Barr have painted in the past. For folks more interested in the art of eating, A Taste of the Valley showcases the edible masterpieces of area restaurateurs. Favorite participants have included Lareau Farm’s American Flatbread— which arrives with its copper traveling oven in tow—and Warren’s Chez Henri Restaurant & Bistrot. There’s no better way to savor what Vermont has to offer.
June 15, 2013 sugarbush.com Nothing screams “summer” like a cold beer dripping condensation down your arm. Accordingly, Sugarbush Resort serves up the annual Brew-Grass Festival, neatly timed around the summer solstice. Hundreds of beer enthusiasts raise a glass to the best in microbrews, bluegrass music, and barbecued eats, all gathered under the beating sun at Lincoln Peak. What’s on tap? Last year’s kegs came from more than twenty regional craft brewers, including the Alchemist, Long Trail, Magic Hat, and Woodchuck Hard Cider. Admission includes samples and a souvenir glass. Cheers!
Green Mountain Opera Festival
SIPtember Fest September 28, 2013 siptemberfest.com A foliage-season visit to Vermont wouldn’t be complete without a spectacularly scenic lift ride to the summit of General Stark Mountain on Mad River Glen’s historic single chair. And if there’s a cold one waiting for you at the bottom of the slope, all the better. SIPtember Fest specializes in gathering Vermont hops all in one place, including the small-batch brews that won’t be found at just any bar, such as those from Bristol’s Bobcat Café & Brewery or Warren’s Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Buy a ticket to sample the suds— or go for the family-friendly live music, local fare, and kids’ games.
courtesy of green mountain opera festival
Best of the
The Official Spirit of
The story behind
Sugarbush s varied terrain
The Church. Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto
hris Davenport was luxuriating in a flood of afternoon sun outside the Gate House at Lincoln Peak. Arguably the country’s
preeminent ski mountaineer, known for conquering perilous and remote descents from Antarctica to the Alps, Davenport had just spent a warm March day exploring the jumble of varied terrain that is Sugarbush. He had started at Mt. Ellen on the steep right side of Upper FIS and through the day had gradually migrated off-trail to the tight, technical slivers of snow that descend like capillaries through the trees from the informally named Church, an off-trail area between Paradise and Castlerock Run. Now sipping on an après-ski brew, he was reclining in a peaceful eddy of pure contentment. The experience, he said, had been “total
By Peter Oliver 2012
adventure skiing,” and while it had not quite been pioneering some 13
e down th snaking s d n ie ith fr eak. riksen w incoln P Stein E contours of L in mounta
Sugarbush legend Stein Eriksen.
scare-you-silly couloir on an uncharted peak, it had been a unique Ironically, however, the Stein era was also a time that saw pleasure. The variations in pitches and fall lines, the precise the ushering in of one of the funkiest trail networks in America, turning required, the enhanced sense of speed when skiing in the with little regard for fall-line orthodoxy. According to Stein, tight quarters of the Vermont woods—even a globe-circling ski one of his hand-chosen assistants, an Italian instructor, liked to spend his off-hours rummaging around for skiable lines far mountaineer could find something extravagantly satisfying in that. to skier’s left of the gondola, which in those days ran above “Total adventure skiing” comes in many forms, and over Organgrinder to the top of Lincoln Peak. Poking around for the course of more than a half century of existence, Sugarbush strips of skiable snow in this steep and unusually rumpled and adventure has been repeatedly reimagined and reinvented. Many rocky terrain wasn’t necessarily Stein’s idea of a good time, but of the greatest skiers in history, Davenport included, have come to his assistant loved it. Those explorations were part of the early Sugarbush to add their stamp of identity on a terrain package that evolution of Castlerock skiing. many consider the most complete and well rounded in the East. Castlerock Run, Lift Line, Rumble, Middle Earth—they Prominent among them is Stein Eriksen. The Norwegian became, by the mid-1960s, gold medalist at the 1952 renowned nationally as Olympics and icon of Steepness alone doesn’t define the nuances of emblematic of technical classical skiing elegance adventure woven into Sugarbush’s varied terrain. Eastern skiing. Narrow, came to Sugarbush as bumpy, precipitously the ski school director in steep in places, twisting, tilted off-camber, spilling over knuckles the early 1960s, just a few years after Damon and Sara Gadd, of rock, canted on varying exposures—in short, just crazily along with Jack Murphy, had started the ski area. Eriksen was helter-skelter—these were trails that from their inception were impressed by what he saw, but he was also a bit flummoxed by simultaneously enthralling and maddening to expert skiers. And the mountain’s quirky character. “There weren’t many runs in they remain so—trails so consistent in their inconsistency that it is the fall line,” he remembers of a layout that featured narrow possible to make a whole descent without ever executing the same runs rolling and snaking down the contours of the mountain’s turn style or shape twice. complex topography. No one knows Castlerock’s eccentricities better than Eriksen offhandedly mentioned this peculiarity to a stranger Sugarbush’s own John Egan, a progenitor of the extreme-skiing he met on a gondola ride shortly after arriving at Sugarbush, only movement of the 1980s. Egan first came to the Mad River Valley to discover that he was speaking to—and possibly offending—one in 1976 to work in a local lodge, and he had heard a lot about the of his new bosses, Murphy. But Murphy appreciated Stein’s input, singular experience of doing battle with the terrain enigmas that and the cutting of Stein’s Run would be the eventual outcome of Castlerock presented. He remembers his first run down Rumble that initial encounter. Wide, straight, steep, and unerringly true to vividly: “There was three feet of heavy snow, and the trail just the fall line, Stein’s quickly became recognized as one of the great dropped out from under you. On a run like Rumble, there are mogul trails in North America.
ut, of course, steep and technically demanding terrain is not all there is to Sugarbush. Great cruising runs like Elbow at Mt. Ellen or the Snowball–Spring Fling combo at Lincoln Peak complement the gnarlier stuff like Castlerock and Upper FIS quite nicely, providing the steep stuff with gentler, intermediate companionship. And “gentle” needn’t be a code word for “blah.” While these trails are essentially about navigation at a smooth and leisurely pace, they have also played host to skiers pushing the envelope of speed and its attendant technical exigencies—skiing that might scare the daylights out of the intermediates the trails were designed for. Start with Elbow, long a favorite training run for prospective ski-racing greats at nearby Green Mountain Valley School. Elbow’s stepped-down changes in pitch have for years challenged racersin-training to recalibrate and readjust their balance and turn shape while trying to maintain fluidity and race speed. Running gates on Elbow was at least partly responsible for honing the skills of such future Olympians as A.J. Kitt and Daron Rahlves.
Top: Catching some air and great views off the top of Heaven’s Gate chair on Lincoln Peak. Middle: Sugarbush’s Chief Recreational Officer John Egan coaches the Adventure Blazers on how to keep big smiles on their faces while finding the best lines through the trees in Slide Brook. Bottom: Waiting for the shuttle bus at the bottom of Slide Brook Basin.
obstacles in your way, even on the best powder day. Right there, I made it one of my goals to master that area.” Egan made Lift Line—virtual backcountry skiing right beneath the lift—a personal training ground for what would become a successful career as a ski-movie star. When he was invited by a Warren Miller film crew to make his first trip to Europe at the beginning of the 1980s—to Verbier, Switzerland— he felt uniquely prepared for the daunting big-mountain complexities he would take on. “I wasn’t afraid,” he says. “I’d encountered it all at Castlerock. You need at least 300 different turns in your repertoire.”
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Bring Bring your your skis skis and and boards boards into into
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Snowball and Spring Fling can also claim a direct connection to ski-racing history. In 1997, the King of the Mountain downhill series—featuring such Olympic gold medalists as Austria’s Franz Klammer, Switzerland’s Pirmin Zurbriggen, and the United States’s Bill Johnson—came to Sugarbush. Snowball and Spring Fling, that classic cruising run, became recast as a high-speed downhill course. On a bluebird day in early February, more than 2,000 race fans surrounded the finish area to watch the legends of the sport do their high-speed thing. At times exceeding seventy mph and launching off a man-made jump at the bottom—soaring right over a sponsor’s SUV in the process— the racers got from the start, at the Valley House chair summit, to the finish in less than fifty-five seconds. (Please—do not try this on your next Sugarbush visit …) A year later, while racing in the same event, former Olympian Doug Lewis, a Mad River Valley resident, careened into a frightening, windmilling crash about halfway down Spring Fling, luckily surviving unscathed. Kind of cool, really, that such intermediate runs have been able to put some of the greatest racers in history to a stern test. Put another way, steepness alone doesn’t define the nuances of adventure woven into Sugarbush’s varied terrain. Consider Upper Jester, the gentle run descending from the Lincoln Peak summit. While barely railroad grade in pitch, it makes up for lack of steepness with the route-finding puzzle presented by its zigzagging course back and forth across the fall line (apologies to Stein).
Calculating Jester’s hairpins correctly, accurately judging the apex of each turn and the angles of entry and exit, can be a mental exercise comparable to charting the variables in a quadratic equation. Hit the line just right, and a crisp, parabolic arc through each bend is the reward. Miss the line, and speed-killing skids are the penalty. The line-finding conundrum is the same for all Jester skiers, experts and less experienced skiers alike.
“Sometimes, I have to stop, pause for a big breath, look around, and say, ‘Wow, this is a magical place.’ ” – Owner Win Smith on Slide Brook Nothing, however, characterizes adventure at present-day Sugarbush more definitively than foraging off-trail for tasty, untracked lines. “The secret stashes change all the time, depending on the sun, the snow, the wind, and the weather,” says Egan. “But there is always something out there in the trees.” And nowhere is that truer than in the 2,000-acre expanse of Slide Brook that forms a giant bowl beneath the long ridge connecting Castlerock Peak and Mt. Ellen. While technically in-bounds, this is wild country; in fact, Sugarbush is required by the state of Vermont to take several measures to mitigate impacts on what is known to be active bear habitat. No cut trails, no snowmaking or grooming, no
development, no nothing, really—just 2,000 acres of true wilderness, all accessible from the top of the North Lynx lift. Better yet, Slide Brook can be off-trail skiing for everyman, with what Egan calls “entry-level tree skiing” for those just testing the offtrail waters, while still offering the kind of gnarly lines that expert explorers lust after. “I can’t believe this exists in the East,” says Sugarbush President Win Smith. “You get in there and realize you’ve got total solitude,” Smith says. “Sometimes, I have to stop, pause for a big breath, look around, and say, ‘Wow, this is a magical place.’” A magical place. While extremists like Davenport and Egan and the world’s greatest ski racers can find in Sugarbush a mountain able to produce an electrifying adrenaline buzz, ultimately skiing here is mainly and soulfully about being here. It is about being in-country—in the woods, in the snow, in the mountains, in the land of the black bear, in nature’s backyard. Whether you’re pursuing hairball off-trail challenges, executing cleanly carved turns with a Stein-like elegance, or seeking a profoundly personal connection with the serenity of the woodsy outback, Sugarbush skiing is Eastern skiing in its most complete and gratifying form.
Stop in and check out the new Chams and our other premier brands. Sales/Demos/Rentals/Dynastar Test Center/Pro ski and snowboard tuning 802-583-2511 | 48 Sugarbush Access Rd | Warren, VT 05674 | VermontNorth.com
Peter Oliver is the author of six books about skiing, cycling, and the outdoors. His articles have appeared in Ski, Skiing, Powder, and Outside, among other publications. He lives exactly seven minutes from the base of Lincoln Peak.
first tracks on paradise. sandy macys
Inaugural Balls Wedding Bells
photo © Stina Booth
Lincoln Peak Village is the perfect setting for your mountain wedding, corporate retreat or meeting. On-site lodging, multiple function spaces, a full range of dining options, mountain activities and guide services available, as well as dedicated planners to customize your event. 2011 site of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s Inaugural gala. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
wines brews provisions gif ts Located in the lower level of Clay Brook Hotel and Residences, you’ll find a variety of items to make your vacation a little more unique. 802.583.SHOP
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Hand crafted in the Mad River Valley, VT. For more information and Retail Locations: www.madriverantler.com 802.496.9290
Fuller House 4477 Main Street
Historic Waitsfield, Vermont
Barrie Fisher Photographers
Sugarbush has hosted some of the Northeast’s most unique weddings. Here’s a look at a few of our favorites …
Rebecca & Eric
Daria bishop photographers
barrie fisher photographers
Kerry & Tyler
L oc a l P ho to gr aph e r s two House Photo www.twohousephoto.smugmug.com
Justin Marantz www.justinmarantz.com
822 Weddings www.822weddings.com
Kathleen Landwehrle Photography www.llphoto.com
Barrie Fisher Photographers www.barriefisherphotographersblog.com Chris Riley www.rileyphotographic.com Daria Bishop Photographers www.dariabishop.com Dennis & Ellen Curran www.curranphotography.com Doug Todd www.dtpwedding.com Eve Event Photography www.eveevent.com
Meg Hamilton www.rodeoandco.com Michael Riddell www.mikeriddellphotography.com Sandy Macys sandymacysphotography.com Spencer Leonard www.spencerleonard.com Stina Booth www.stinabooth.com
By Candice White
Snowmakers and groomers work all night so you can ski all day. A look at the mountain operations that go into each day at Sugarbush.
An hour before the lifts open, John Hammond nods a greeting to Skip Andrews, a scruffy fifteen-year veteran lift attendant at the Super Bravo Express Quad, and boards the fourperson chair for his solo ride up Gadd Peak. Hammond unloads, curves his skis left, and aims down Valley House Traverse, quickly passing underneath the Valley House double chair, on to Snowball, and then easing onto Spring Flingâ€”taking in a birdâ€™s-eye view of the Lincoln Peak base area. Along the way, Hammond surveys the terrain for fallen trees and inspects snow that has been made or groomed the night before. By 10 a.m., Hammond and the Photos by sandy macys
ski patrol staff he oversees have checked every trail on the mountain.
In 1991, John Hammond was a marketing intern at Sugarbush, making phone calls to colleges to convince them to book a ski outing to the mountain. Today, he serves as vice president of mountain operations and recreation services, overseeing almost everything having to do with the on-mountain skiing and riding experience. He rules over a diverse crew of snowmakers, groomers, ski patrollers, ski instructors, lift operators, and lift mechanics from a nondescript building at the base area of Lincoln Peak, sandwiched between the resort’s 1950s-era Valley House Lodge and the modern Super Bravo Quad. Mountain operations headquarters is reminiscent of a clubhouse for athletes, and has that same familial disorder. Several medium-sized offices surround a large open room filled with cabinets, desks, and computers; the walls are neatly hung with racks of the latest Volkl skis, retro ski posters, and oversized Marker jackets. Several empty pizza boxes lie abandoned on a table. You pass through this entry room to the building’s epicenter—a narrow passageway barely fitting a long wooden conference table, several phones, and a file cabinet, with maps detailing all 111 trails at Sugarbush. This is the location of “snow plan”—Hammond’s standing 1 p.m. meeting that determines daily operations for the mountain, where the discussion covers snowmaking and grooming plans, snow conditions, on-mountain events, terrain park building, and the occasional crisis. A third and final room out back houses “dispatch,” the communication center that monitors all radio communication across both mountains. Dispatch is also the unofficial on-mountain doggy daycare, currently home to an English Foxhound, a Mastiff, a Cocker Spaniel, two Bernese Mountain Dogs, and three newly adopted puppies belonging to the head of ski patrol, the head of lift operations, and Hammond himself. Before heading to the mountain, Hammond begins his weekday mornings as a short-order cook for his two daughters, ages five and seven. Soft-boiled eggs and homemade waffles with maple syrup are two standards in the home he shares with wife, Heather, a Burlington-based employment lawyer, and their new Labrador retriever puppy, Rosey. By the time he walks his daughters to the school bus, Hammond already has a sense of the mountain. He’s checked Intellicast and Accuweather for the forecast and called in to Lincoln Peak’s CB1—the mountain’s main artery for snowmaking, which houses a pump station and three compressors responsible for converting approximately 187 million gallons of water from the Mad River and the Mt. Ellen pond into 1,000 acres of man-made snow each season (at a one-foot depth). Come spring, that snow melts and runs downhill back where it came from. CB1 is manned twenty-four hours a day during the snowmaking season, and Hammond calls there each morning at 6 a.m. to get a report from the night supervisor on snowmaking and grooming progress from the previous night. Often, Hammond’s call reaches Mike Wing, the mountain’s snow surfaces manager since 2006. Wing has been in the industry for close to thirty years, working up through the ranks from his first resort job as a nighttime snowmaker at $3.75 an hour. Wing’s longevity in the field, and his vast experience with New England weather patterns, make him something of an expert in snowmaking production. Hammond and Wing discuss issues such as which trails received new man-made snow the previous night, whether temperatures registered as forecasted, and how those
temperatures affected the efficiency of the snow production. Temperature and humidity are the two most critical factors Snowcats grooming through the night and catching the sunrise. dictate whether or not snowmaking will occur. “To be most efficient, we make snow at twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit or lower,” says Hammond. “If pressed, we will push it as high as twenty-eight degrees, but that is not ideal.” The lower the humidity, the higher temperatures can be for making snow. In late fall, as the mountain prepares for the season, Hammond and Wing fixate on the weather forecast to begin snow production. Typically, that date falls in early November, which allows the mountain to open the week before Thanksgiving and stay open for a season that usually lasts around 160 days. During the last two falls, however, temperatures have been warmer than expected, pushing the start of snowmaking closer to mid-November. Once the cold does arrive, Wing and his crew begin to blanket the mountain in sections, starting at the higher elevations. “We’ll start at Heaven’s Gate first, hitting Jester, Organgrinder, and Downspout. Then we’ll make our way to Lower Jester and Lower Downspout. Our goal in early season is to get open top to bottom as soon as possible,” Hammond explains. This translates to Wing’s team of snowmakers laying approximately two to three feet of man-made snow on a designated trail to provide the initial layer that allows a trail to open. Hammond rattles off a series of formulas to give a sense of how much water and power are required to open one section of trail: “To lay down two feet of snow on Lower Organgrinder, which is a nine-acre trail, at, say twenty degrees Fahrenheit… requires about twenty-seven hours of snowmaking by forty snow guns, using a total of about 119,000 kilowatts of energy. This adds up to 3.25 million gallons of water pumping at a rate of 2,000 gallons per minute.” At six feet tall and a good 250 pounds, Hammond doesn’t have the appearance of a nerdy numbers guy, but in fact he’s constantly running the formulas in his head to keep an eye on how much energy the mountain expends on snowmaking. Snowmaking is a combination of air and water. Energy used to produce compressed air and pump water for snowmaking is the mountain’s single largest annual expense after payroll. The majority of the water for snowmaking comes from a pond fed by the Mad River and located just behind the Kingsbury Farm on Route 100 in Warren. (A second, smaller stream-fed pond next to the Inverness lift, as well as two other mountain brooks, supply Mt. Ellen.) Less than two months before snowmaking was to begin in the fall of 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused more than $700,000 worth of damage to the pond. The very next day,
because of the water content and density of natural snow, a natural snow trail requires more of a base than a man-made trail to withstand the continuous tilling and compacting of a groomer. This is why trails like Moonshine and Lixi’s Twist are groomed less frequently than a run like Spring Fling—their depths rely solely on Mother Nature. With a pained look on his face, Wing recalls the condition of Lincoln Peak’s Pushover a few years back, a trail that receives a lot of snowmaking: “We were in a rush to get it open for the Christmas holiday, and we were grooming right behind the snowmaking.” He adds regretfully, “It was hard as a rock most of the season.” When the temperatures don’t cooperate, Wing may find himself in a position where he is up against the wall on a trail. A situation like this literally keeps him up at night.
Vice President of Mountain Operations and Recreation Services John Hammond at work.
By mid-morning, Hammond and his ski patrol staff have visually checked every trail and made any changes to the day’s operating plan regarding trail openings or closings. His lift maintenance crew prepares for the midday inspections, which require a walk-through of each lift terminal for visual analyses of gear boxes and temperature gauges. Scott Crowell, a former air defense missile system technologist in the Army, manages the lift maintenance team, which deploys seven staff across both mountains on any given day. Crowell and his crew work to be invisible to the guest. “If guests don’t know we’re there, we’re doing our job,” he says. His crew thrives on using their hands, working outdoors, and maintaining expertise on machines like Super Bravo and the Valley House double chair. They have all completed a three-year apprenticeship with the Vermont Tramway Authority, the same organization that runs annual inspections of every ski lift in the state. Much of the lift maintenance and routine repairs occur in the summer, the crew’s busiest time. By the opening of the winter season, Crowell has all sixteen public lifts upgraded, inspected, and ready to transport Sugarbush guests safely up the mountain. Shutdowns of lifts during the season occur for a handful of reasons, including a customer misload, a communication line warning (signaling that one of the nine lines running between the base and top terminal has detected a problem), or an anticollision fall on a detachable chair (where the computer senses the grip is not moving correctly through the terminal). Most often, Crowell’s experienced team can identify a problem quickly and find a solution. However, as lifts become more sophisticated, so do the devices that monitor them. Eighty percent of the time, lifts shut down because of a false indication from the sensors monitoring the ropes and assemblies. And then there is the nemesis of the lift maintenance team—the wind. Wind-hold days are incredibly stressful for Crowell and his team, whose entire concern is guest safety. On those days, Crowell’s team is monitoring every lift, watching from the tops to see what direction the wind is traveling and how it is affecting each lift. They watch to make sure that the wind isn’t strong enough to swing the chairs into a tower, which could cause a haul rope to jump the wheel. There are certain locations Crowell keys in on—for instance, tower ten on the Heaven’s Gate chair. Other parts of the mountain, like Castlerock and Inverness, are almost “safe zones,” rarely impacted by the wind. Crowell errs on the side of safety, always. And it pays off. There has not been a lift derailment at Sugarbush during his six-year
Hammond called in Wing to begin the reconstruction necessary to repair the pond and get it operable by the mountain’s November 1 snowmaking target. By Halloween the pond was fully rebuilt, and refilled with 25 million gallons of new water. In the reconstruction process, over 80,000 cubic feet of sediment—in the form of gravel and soil—was removed from the pond, most of which was channeled to local farmers and contractors. When the mountain is making snow at full capacity, it is operating 120 snow guns, including forty new low-energy Snowlogic fan guns purchased in partnership with the Green Mountain Valley School. The efficiency of snow-gun technology has changed dramatically in recent years. The amount of energy required to run one snow gun twenty years ago can now run sixty guns. Despite the technological changes, snowmaking remains one of the most grueling jobs in the industry. Wing’s crew— approximately forty strong at the height of the season—is out in the dead of night, in the coldest of temperatures, moving guns and lines, starting them up and breaking them down, and repairing damaged hoses. “You don’t worry so much about getting cold as about exposing skin,” acknowledges Wing. “It’s a very physical job.” Because of the nature of the work, there is less continuity in snowmaking than in other areas. The supervisory staff has remained consistent over the years, but the worker bees tend to come and go. However, snowmaking experience allows for a greater understanding of mountain operations as a whole. So it is a training ground for other, perhaps more coveted on-mountain jobs, like grooming.
Most skiers and riders enjoy making turns on a freshly groomed trail, and many are willing to set the alarm on a vacation day for the opportunity to be the first on new “corduroy.” But few understand the science behind grooming, or the correlation between newly made snow and grooming. Wing uses the analogy of freshly laid eggs to explain the fragility of newly made snow. “If you run the groomer over the new snow too soon, you crush the eggs,” he says. Wing likes to let new man-made snow cure twenty-four to forty-eight hours before grooming. That pause allows the high moisture content of the snow to seep out, so the snow becomes light, airy, and fluffy. Fresh natural snow can be groomed immediately after falling, provided there is enough of it. However, SUGARBUSH
tenure. As for lift performance overall, the industry goal is for a machine to achieve 1 percent or less total downtime in a season. Crowell’s team, in conjunction with the lift operators, has achieved that goal for the last three seasons.
At 1 p.m., Hammond takes a seat at the head of the long wooden conference table and calls snow plan to order. To his right sits Win Smith, Sugarbush’s president and majority owner, whose presence is consistent with the number of days he skies at the mountain each season. (Last year, Smith logged ninety-eight.) Hammond quickly goes around the room, taking input from team members before efficiently laying out the snowmaking and grooming plan for the evening. Attendees— often representatives from ski school, race, guest services, or events—discuss logistics of fireworks displays, Allyn’s Lodge dinners, or on-mountain races. Other team members may point out problem areas on the mountain—thin spots, icy areas—or Hammond may solicit input on a particular trail. There is little time for small talk, though Hammond occasionally cracks a joke or acknowledges one of the wagging tails under the table. Within twenty minutes, the plan for the next twenty-four hours at the mountain has been determined. Shutdown of the mountain begins as early as 3:15 p.m. at upper-mountain lifts. Colin Cascadden leads a ski patrol force that deploys across both mountains, sweeping every open trail to ensure that skiers and riders have ended their day safely. Between morning trail check and afternoon sweep, Cascadden’s team monitors the mountain, making sure guests are following the skier responsibility code and providing assistance as necessary. Guests who require more than just a safe transport down the mountain may be delivered to the Fletcher Allen Orthopedic Clinic, located just beneath Timbers Restaurant in Clay Brook. This clinic, run by the University of Vermont, has been operating at Sugarbush for more than thirty years and is home to one of the most extensive snow-sport injury studies in the world. As patrol wraps up their final sweeps, the first wave of groomers begins rolling in. If the thought of a solitary eight-hour drive on a snow-covered, carless highway in the moonlight sounds appealing, then you are beginning to understand the lure of grooming. Add to that a mountain sunrise,
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The Pisten Bully Elite Fleet provides a nighttime light show. followed by early-morning first tracks on the product of your toil, and now you’re really getting the idea. This may explain why there is virtually no turnover in Sugarbush’s grooming department. “It’s serenity,” says Mike Wing. “Out at night, all by yourself, with just the lights of the snowcat.” These are guys who take pleasure in the clean, straight lines they lay in the snow. And they are employed for their painstaking perfectionism. “I’m looking for seamless grooming,” Wing says. “I want them to take the extra pass, take their time … If you can’t make a trail perfect with the technology that is out there today, you don’t belong in a snowcat.” The talent of the groomers may not be quite as apparent in the good snow years as in the tough ones. Beyond patience and precision, there is no hidden recipe necessary for making a foot
of freshly fallen snow look good. There is, however, an expertise required for making a mountain without natural snow look appealing. In the 2011–12 season, twelve fewer feet of snow fell than the year before, seriously testing the mountain operations team, and the grooming team in particular. Yet numerous guests shared their surprise at how good their ski experience was despite the lack of snowfall. Much of this can be credited to Wing and his groomers. At key periods during the season, Wing’s team was literally ripping up and rebuilding trails. Engaging the blades on the Pisten Bully Elite Fleet—a cadre of top-of-the-line groomers and winches—the team would go in and cut up the snow from the edges of the trail, push the cut snow back into the trail’s middle section, and then groom the new piles of snow back out onto the trail. It was a labor-intensive and difficult task that paid off. As the lifts come to a halt and the sun falls behind the mountains, Hammond and Wing make their way to the lift maintenance garage just beside tower three of Super Bravo, and meet up with the grooming team to review the details of the evening’s plan. On a peak day, the mountain may have accommodated 7,500 or 8,000 skiers, and trails will be showing their wear. But over the next sixteen hours, the snowmakers and groomers will deploy to various parts of the mountain, shooting new coats of snow on some trails, layers of corduroy stripes on many others. And with a bit of luck, Mother Nature will join the mix, to add a few inches of fluffy powder to the mountain that even the best of teams can only hope to emulate. Candice White worked for over ten years in magazine publishing in the Boston area before moving to Vermont with her two children. She spent five years freelancing as a writer and editor before joining Sugarbush’s management team as vice president of marketing in 2008.
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At Sugarbush, cutting-edge
teaching practices are skillfully paired with a philosophy of fun on the slopes.
e d i R
By Lisa Densmore
Lisa Densmore teaching the Women’s Discovery Camp.
was helping finalize the daily schedule for one of Sugarbush’s Women’s Discovery Camps when an email caught me by surprise: “John Egan is available as a guest coach.” A man coaching a women’s ski clinic? It rumbled the foundation of what supposedly made women’s ski clinics successful: women teaching women. In theory, by removing the coed social dynamic, women relax, are less self-conscious, and are more willing to challenge themselves. Within the nurturing sisterhood of other gals of similar ability, a shy cat could become a tigress, able to purr with precision on the blue squares and bound down the baddest bumps. I was skeptical at first about adding a guy to the mix, but John was an old friend and a pied piper of snow sports, so I designed a schedule in which he spent a half day with each group. The women loved it! You have to have an open mind when it comes to the Sugarbush Ski & Ride School. It’s like no other ski school in the country, melding an adventurous “can do” attitude with a variety of teaching methods that speak to anyone who wants to glide downhill more adeptly. It caters to everyone, regardless of age, ability, and learning style. Egan, whose official title at the mountain is chief recreational officer, sets the tone. “I’m the Vice President of Fun,” says Egan. “My job is to bring a sense of adventure and fun to everyone at the mountain.” Egan points to the Women’s Discovery Camp as an example of his teaching philosophy. “I asked the women, ‘Why are you here?’” explains Egan. “They said, ‘To get better so we can have more fun.’ Then I said, ‘Why don’t we have fun, and I bet you’ll ski better.’ It’s all about how comfortable I can make the guest.” By “comfortable,” Egan means finding one’s comfort zone on the slopes—which may sound odd coming from a guy who spent much of his adult life on some of the most extreme snow-laden pistes around the world, making dramatic descents for movie cameras. Egan says that phase of his life laid the groundwork for his approach to teaching Sugarbush guests today, not in terms of the risk taking but of the breadth of skills he acquired. “My rat pack was world-class skiers from Germany, Austria,
John Egan teaches how to find your comfort zone on skis.
Russia, France, Romania,” Egan says. “It was a constant learning experience, very intense, very rich educationally, even though it was not through PSIA [Professional Ski Instructors of America]. In films, I had to learn to ski all conditions and make it look good.” Egan not only made it look good to everyday skiers watching the latest Warren Miller release, he also impressed the skiing elite. “A few years ago, I got to ski with Franz Klammer at Beaver Creek,” says Egan, recalling the legendary 1976 Olympic gold medalist in downhill. “I was thrilled to follow him skiing really fast. He stopped at the top of a mogul run, but I kept on going full speed into the bumps. Klammer said I was crazy, which was funny coming from the original kamikaze.” It was a telling moment for Egan about just how far he had come in his skiing, which he credits in large part to Sugarbush.
Egan grew up skiing at Blue Hills near Boston, Massachusetts, in a family of seven kids (he’s the third oldest). Each winter, his parents took the family to Mt. Cranmore, in New Hampshire, on a ski trip. Later, in junior high school, he rode the Blizzard Ski Club bus to Mt. Sunapee on Saturdays. After high school, he moved to Sugarbush. “In 1976, I sailed with a guy named Lou Anderson whose company did the accounting for Sugarbush,” remembers Egan. “He said, ‘If you really want to learn to ski, go to Vermont. That’s where the real skiers are.’ My first experience keeps me here today. It’s such a family here. Everyone really opened their arms to me.” When Egan arrived in the Mad River Valley, Sigi Grottendorfer headed the ski school, and his staff represented a mixture of teaching philosophies. Some of the instructors were certified 31
Sugarbush veteran instructor M.A. Raymond.
by PSIA—the national organization through which thousands of ski instructors have received standardized training—some were Austrian ski racers, and all were schooled in the Centered Skiing Program. Longtime Sugarbush ski instructor and native Vermonter Mary Ann “M.A.” Raymond is a disciple of the Centered Skiing Program. “I had just come back from Taos and wanted to teach under Sigi Grottendorfer,” says Raymond, who joined the Sugarbush Ski School in 1979. “It was known as one of the best ski schools in the country. Sigi’s progressions were way beyond what PSIA was doing at the time.”
Top 10 Tips from Sugarbush’s Pros 1
Look, reach, go downhill. It’s downhill skiing. If you look down the hill and reach down the hill with your pole plant, you’ll stay more centered and balanced and thus move down the hill more naturally. (John Egan)
Get videoed. Watching yourself increases your selfawareness. Better yet, have your video analyzed by a ski or snowboard teacher. Video reveals what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. (John Egan)
Think about what part of your board you ride in each part of the turn. Think about your hip being over your front foot to start a turn, then slowly shift your hips toward your back foot as you finish the turn. This will help you keep pressure on the board’s edge in each phase of the turn. (Aaron Guilfoyle)
Let the mountain give you its energy. If it’s flat, the mountain doesn’t give you much, but that’s okay because you don’t need it. On the steeps, it gives you lots. Use it. (M.A. Raymond)
Practice on a variety of terrain and in different conditions. In the East, the snow might be solid one moment and heavy mashed potatoes the next. If you practice in all of it, you’ll ski with the same grace all the way down. (M.A. Raymond)
Stretch your hips. Most people use their full body to steer their skis. If you stretch your hips beforehand, your legs will rotate in the hip socket on the hill, separating your legs from your upper body. You’ll make more efficient, quicker turns. (Dave Gould/Mac Jackson)
Smile, breathe, have fun. You may be concentrating or feeling anxious, but if you put a smile on your face and exhale, you’ll relax and ski better. (Dave Gould)
Ski on the sides of your socks. It puts pressure on the sides of your boots, which allows you to move from edge to edge. The technology of the ski works for you, and you’ll carve more. (Mac Jackson)
Keep your shins attached to the tongues of your boots. If you press against the fronts of your ski boots, especially the corners of the tongues, 100 percent of the time, you’ll feel in balance and move forward through the turn with your equipment. (Mac Jackson)
Keep your hands level with your belly button. Most skiers tend to drop their hands, which automatically shifts weight into the backseat. If you keep your hands level with your belly button and a little wider than your hips—as if you’re holding a tray of hot cocoa—you’ll feel in better balance, with poles perfectly poised for each pole plant. (Lisa Densmore)
“I think of a mogul as a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We’re the syrup flowing over the top and sides.”
– M.A. Raymond
Centered Skiing uses common analogies to improve one’s skill and confidence on the hill. “It’s a mental approach,” explains Raymond, who has been named among the Top 100 Ski Instructors by Ski, Skiing, and Vermont Sports magazines. “For example, in the bumps, I think of a mogul as a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We’re the syrup flowing over the top and sides. The language in your mind determines how you ski.” Raymond loves teaching skiing, and her passion for her chosen profession is contagious. “I always wanted to be an instructor,” she says. “And I’m still one. I get the most pleasure when people get it, when they’re happy. At Sugarbush, we want to help people create a new magic on the hill.” Part of the magic is matching the skier with the right ski instructor. Last winter, Dave Gould, a twelve-year veteran ski and telemark teacher, clicked with a five-year-old boy. “One day, he said he wanted to be a ski instructor like me,” says Gould. “Instructors can really have an effect on someone’s life.” Gould sees Sugarbush’s programs as unique—because of the way they combine the structure of PSIA with the John Egan philosophy. “Skiing is all about movement and balance,” says Gould. “John has more of a Zen philosophy. When you combine his personal experiences with PSIA, it’s a huge wealth of knowledge. We learn to watch skiers in many different ways. It gives us an edge.” Instructors at Sugarbush have a large inventory of teaching tools and terrain at their disposal, which is one reason why
John Egan instructing in the woods.
families flock to the mountain. Take as an example Tom and Lynne Naughton of Hanover, New Hampshire, who bought a condo at the mountain and enrolled their daughters, Katie and Lia, in the mountain’s Blazers program. “I don’t know who has more fun, the kids or the instructors,” says Lynne Naughton, who spends every weekend from December to April with her family at Sugarbush. “Our girls can’t wait for the weekends. They might ski NASTAR in the morning, then go backcountry on the Long Trail from Heaven’s Gate to Castlerock in the afternoon. After skiing, they’re bursting at the seams to talk about what they did that day. We’re all in bed by 9 p.m. with smiles on our faces. Coming to Sugarbush was the best decision in twenty years for our family.” Naughton credits John Egan for setting the tone at the mountain for weekenders like her family. “We didn’t want a racetrack for our kids. We wanted a lifetime sport that we could do together. We love the vibe. We found grounded, genuine people who embrace skiing as a lifestyle and culture, not just a sport.” And that’s exactly as Egan likes it; Sugarbush is a mountain where the line between fun and learning is blurred in a good way. “Sugarbush is a great place if you’re eager to ski better,” says Egan. “The mountain has always been cutting edge about its teaching philosophies. I’m just continuing that tradition.”
Micro Blazers on the hill.
A former member of the U.S. Ski Team, Lisa Densmore will return to Sugarbush to host the 2013 Women’s Discovery Camps at Sugarbush, with John Egan. You can find her at www.DensmoreDesigns.com.
Clay Brook Hotel and residenCes
Modern luxury meets slopeside convenience with studio to five-bedroom suites, concierge services, ski and boot valet, heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, and onsite dining. Book your winter get-away today. Or for a more casual stay, explore the classic country charm of The Sugarbush Inn or our selection of over 100 privately-owned, resort-managed condos. Complimentary access to the Sugarbush Health and Racquet Club and Valley-wide shuttle service included.
the pitcher Inn
From a historic inn carefully rebuilt in an abundantly creative way to a full-service ski-in, ski-out hotel that pays architectural homage to Vermont’s iconic dairy barns, lodging opportunities in the Mad River Valley are anything but ordinary. BY Patrick Brown Clay Brook at Sugarbush (LINCOLN PEAK VILLAGE) After a long day on the slopes, leave your skis at the ski check, kick off your boots at the boot valet (where they’ll be dried and warmed for you by morning), and stroll to your room in a pair of slippers. From slopeside kings to grand five-bedroom suites with four-poster beds, gas fireplaces, and sleek kitchens with stainless steel appliances and granite counters, Clay Brook is built in the traditional Vermont vernacular— redefining country chic and placing it slopeside. Massage therapy studios, underground parking, a general store, a children’s game room, and onsite dining round out the experience. And it’s all just steps from the lifts. 802.583.6822, sugarbush.com/clay-brook
Innkeeper’s Tip: “The best place to watch the New Year’s Eve torchlight parade and fireworks is from the heated outdoor pool and hot tub at Clay Brook.”—Jim Westhelle, vice president of lodging, Sugarbush Resort
The Pitcher Inn (WARREN) To say the Pitcher Inn—an antidote to cookie-cutter hotels—is an imaginative effort is an understatement. Numerous architects, historians, designers, and artists lent their skills to the inn’s nine rooms and two suites, each a lesson in Vermont’s history. Take the Mountain Room as an example, where you’ll sleep in a replicated mountaintop fire tower surrounded by a 360-degree mural of
clay brook at sugarbush
the Green Mountains. The room’s style evokes a convivial camping experience, but with the luxuries of a wet bar, a leather chaise, and a bathroom with a black slate steam shower and deep Jacuzzi. 802.496.6350, pitcherinn.com Innkeeper’s Tip: “Spend some time on Vermont’s back roads. A sense of place is palpable when driving, riding, or walking roads like the Common Road, Fuller Hill, or Bragg Hill.”—Ari Sadri, general manager
The Featherbed Inn (WAITSFIELD) Whimsey the pony and Puck the donkey are usually the first to greet you as you drive onto the inn’s property. With five horses, three dogs, three bunnies, and two cats, the Featherbed pairs a bucolic farm experience (the property was once an active dairy farm, and pony rides are available for kids) with the exceptional service of a small inn. And after a day out on the trails or the links, you can sink into the inn’s eponymous featherbeds for an indulgent night’s sleep. 802.496.7151, featherbedinn.com Innkeeper’s Tip: “Set on twenty acres that back up onto the Howe Block of the Camel’s Hump State Forest, our property offers hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing right out the back door.”—Linda Gardner, owner
(WARREN) On a quiet country lane, yet close to the slopes and the golf course, the West Hill House is a convenient spot for a serene retreat. Cozy and comfortable, the at-home feel is paired with the professional service of Susan and Peter MacLaren, who take joy in providing personal concierge service. Sip a scotch at the B&B’s guest-only Quaich single-malt scotch bar, and Peter will share his secrets of the Valley with you, such as where the warmest swimming holes are and how to find the most picturesque walking trails. 802.496.7162, westhillbb.com Innkeeper’s Tip: “A local secret is that one of the best times to walk along the Long Trail on the ridge of Green Mountains is in late October. With no leaves, the views are so much better, the air is clear, the weather is cool but usually dry, and you will have the trails largely to yourself. Bring warm clothes!”—Peter MacLaren, owner
West Hill House Bed and Breakfast
The Sugarbush Inn (WARREN) If you’re looking for an experience that harkens back to the way skiing in the Mad River Valley used to be, the Sugarbush Inn is for you. Just one mile from the lifts at Lincoln Peak, the inn is Sugarbush’s original accommodation. Home to a convivial pub and a wood-paneled library with a fireplace perfect for cozying up to après-ski, the inn is a wellloved throwback perfect for large groups or those seeking less costly accommodations. 802.583.6100, sugarbush.com Innkeeper’s Tip: “A free shuttle picks up at the inn and drops skiers at the base of Lincoln Peak or Mt. Ellen, eliminating the need to park the car and trudge to the lifts each morning.”—Jeannie Guardino, manager
clay brook at sugarbush
West Hill House
“Best One Stop Shopping in Vermont”
– Yankee Magazine
“Vermont’s finest Inn – best food – totally indulging.” – Diversion Magazine
One mile from Sugarbush 2 minutes by shuttle bus Great Ski Packages 9 unique guest rooms with steam shower and/or Jacuzzi, really comfortable beds, gas fireplaces, TVs, free phone calls & WiFi Delicious Breakfasts 3 large common areas with bar, fireplaces, games, HD TV and pool table A Select Registry B&B Shareholder owned
The Pitcher Inn has been welcoming guests since 1850. Originally a simple inn, it now combines Vermont charm with the comforts of a Relais & Chateaux property. A Conde Nast Top 100 Hotel. 275 Main offers elegant dining upstairs, while Tracks, on the lower level, serves a casual lounge-style menu. Open Wednesday – Monday
Built in 1839, this spirited country store combines an eclectic deli and bakery, an award winning wine shop, artisanal beer and plenty of local color. From penny candy to contemporary clothing and gifts...” • •
Open 363 1/2 days a year! Located 1 mile south of the Sugarbush Access Road off Route 100.
“It’s not just a store; it’s a living, breathing Vermont spirit.” – Boston Common Magazine
Lodging in the Mad River Valley
THE BRIDGES RESORT
MAD RIVER INN
The Bridges is ranked among the Top 50 U.S. Tennis Resorts by Tennis magazine. Featuring twelve tennis courts (indoor and outdoor), three pools, fitness center, hot tub, massage and acupuncture, and an onsite bistro, the Bridges offers year-round fun for the whole family. bridgesresort.com / 802.583.2922
1860 country Victorian inn with seven guest rooms and a small suite with private baths, some with television and A/C. Relaxed atmosphere. Comfortable living room with wood fireplace. BYOB lounge with pool table, TV, stereo, guest refrigerator, and woodstove. Outdoor hot tub. madriverinn.com / 802.496.7900
Our traditional Vermont bed and breakfast was built in 1825. Enjoy clean and comfortable rooms, private baths, expansive great room, crackling fire, and Wi-Fi. We hope each and every guest who visits the Waitsfield Inn will enjoy its history and timeless elegance. waitsfieldinn.com / 802.496.3979
PITCHER INN THE FEATHERBED INN The Featherbed Inn, located just south of the town of Waitsfield on Route 100, is one of the Valley’s originals. The 1806 farmhouse and cottages comprise nine rooms, tastefully decorated with antiques and featuring real featherbeds on every bed. A delicious homemade breakfast is provided every morning. featherbedinn.com / 802.496.7151
Featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” for the past five years, the Pitcher Inn features eleven uniquely designed and appointed guest rooms, each a reflection of Vermont life and offering the amenities and services expected of a Relais & Châteaux member. pitcherinn.com / 802.496.6350
Located in the heart of Vermont’s Sugarbush and Mad River Valley, the Garrison offers condos, studios, and motel rooms. With units both small and large, enjoy our indoor heated pool, tennis, and washer and dryer. All just five minutes to skiing! garrisoncondos.com / 802.496.2352
Sugar Lodge is a classic mountain lodge located less than a half mile from Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak. Hotel amenities—including Continental breakfast, cable TV, beer/wine bar, free Wi-Fi, and hot tub—combine with the ambiance of a Vermont country inn. Rates start at $89 per night. sugarlodge.com / 802.583.3300
TUCKER HILL INN HYDE AWAY INN Classic Vermont ten-room lodge with onsite restaurant and tavern. Comfortable accommodations range from large rooms with private bath, refrigerator, and television to rustic bunk-style rooms with shared baths. Rates from $85 to $189 per night. Family friendly. hydeawayinn.com / 802.496.2322
Recommended by the Boston Globe, the Tucker Hill Inn is nestled on fourteen peaceful acres five minutes from Sugarbush. Deluxe rooms with fireplaces, and family and individual rooms. Full breakfast included. Hiking/snowshoe trail, pool, and tennis courts (seasonal). Rooms from $139 to $269 per night. tuckerhill.com / 802.496.3983
Clay Brook’s sixty-one slopeside residences range from studios to five-bedroom suites and deliver a level of service, luxury, and convenience that sets them apart. Each home is furnished with hardwood furniture, custom cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and Wi-Fi. Clay Brook offers private concierge services, valet and underground parking, ski and boot valet, heated outdoor pool, and hot tubs. sugarbush.com / 800.537.8427
WEATHER TOP MOUNTAIN INN Not your typical country inn ... Asian antiques and art, eclectic evening dining, and thoughtful amenities to enhance your holiday. Eight tastefully decorated guest rooms, expansive great room with fieldstone fireplace, well-equipped game room, hot tub, sauna, A/C, and Wi-Fi. weathertopmountaininn.com 802.496.4909
SUGAR LODGE THE GARRISON
CLAY BROOK HOTEL AND RESIDENCES
SUGARBUSH INN Classic country charm in an affordable package. Every stay includes breakfast and access to the Health & Racquet Club. Onsite casual dining is available at the Grill Down Under (winter only). Conveniently located less than one mile from the lifts and on the Mad Bus route. sugarbush.com / 800.537.8427
WEST HILL HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST Award-winning B&B next to Sugarbush offering hospitality and great food. Comfortable beds, fireplaces, en suites with jacuzzi and/or steam shower. Three public rooms with fireplaces, movies, games, and pool table. Enjoy wine, Vermont beers, and single-malt scotch from our bar. westhillbb.com / 802.496.7162
RESORT CONDOS Choose from an array of one- to four-bedroom mountainside condos located within the Sugarbush Resort area. Each individually owned condominium is managed by the resort and features a full kitchen. Many units are ski-in/ski-out and have a fireplace or woodstove and a balcony and/or sundeck. sugarbush.com / 800.537.8427
Wine Tasting Room At
Sugarbush The Perfect AprĂ¨s Ski Join us for Tasting and receive a complimentary Glass Located at Sugarbush Lincoln Peak; adjacent to The General Store at Clay Brook
Hours: Fri - Sun 1PM to 6PM
For all things organic and naturally delicious make tracks to Sweet Pea. Bulk Foods and Spices Eco-Friendly Necessities Vitamins, Supplements, Natural Medicines Unique Cooking Oriented Groceries Certified Organic Produce Juice bar, Smoothies Healthy Take Home Meals Sandwiches, Panini, Wraps
Conveniently located in the Village Square Shopping Center
(802) 496-7763 2012
A Valley institution, American Flatbread in Waitsfield is the homiest restaurant around. After all, people eat in what was once the living room of an old farmhouse. Kids will love the open kitchen as they get to watch their flatbread (don’t call it pizza) being made before their eyes and baked in the handmade clay wood-fired oven in the middle of the room. Try the new Vermont sausage flatbread, made with pork raised literally across the street. The wait for a table can be long, but sitting by the outdoor fireplace is a good distraction. 802.496.8856, americanflatbread.com Timbers Restaurant in Lincoln Peak Village is a near-perfect slopeside dining experience. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the lofty forty-fivefoot post-and-beam ceilings, but the architecture is not the main course. The menu features farm-to-table cuisine, offering food from local farms and food producers as well as the restaurant’s own gardens. Après-ski in Timbers is a family affair. Try the yak sausage corn dog; reinvented by Timbers’ chefs, this kids’ classic is something children and adults can both agree on. 802.583.6300, sugarbush.com If there’s not enough snow to get first chair, take the kids to the Easy Street Restaurant in Waitsfield for a relaxing breakfast. Chocolate chip pancakes stacked high on a plate and topped with local maple syrup can’t help but get you in vacation mode. Healthy options are available too, like a veggie omelet
From relaxing before dinner around a roaring outdoor fire to eating dessert in front of the silver screen, kids—and their parents—will find plenty to like about the Valley’s family dining scene. BY Patrick Brown
made with egg whites. The comfortable ambiance will make you want to linger for another cup of hot coffee. 802.496.7234, easystreetmarket.com Serving as a popular meeting place for community events, Waitsfield’s Big Picture Theater & Café combines the dinner-and-a-movie concept in one appealing venue. Screening the latest Hollywood blockbusters, indie flicks, and documentaries, the Big Pic, as it’s known locally, is a place the whole family will love. The eclectic menu features food grown on Vermont farms, including the owners’ Small Step Farm. Get to dinner early enough to catch a movie. Then grab some coconut cake or mini maple donuts to take into the theater with you. It sure beats boxed candy. 802.496.8994, bigpicturetheater.info With its wood-fired pizzas and Italian classics such as chicken parmesan, keeping the kids happy is easy at the Terra Rossa Ristorante. But Terra Rossa also offers sophisticated palates reason for excitement. Tender braised veal short ribs served in a marsala demi-glace with crispy gnocchi will satisfy hearty appetites. Or try the grilled strip steak with a marinated onion, pepper, mushroom, and tomato kebab. Terra Rossa can be found on the road leading to Sugarbush. 802.583.7676, terrarossaristorante.com The revival of a classic this past season has put the Sugarbush Inn back on the
map of Valley dining destinations. The Grill Down Under is a warm and inviting restaurant and bar that features an open kitchen and large booths to accommodate big parties. From kids’ favorites like mac and cheese to a tasty kale caesar salad, the food is unpretentious yet satisfying. Adorned by decorations from Sugarbush’s past and evoking a timeless feel, the Grill Down Under is the newest old place in the Valley to bring the family. 802.583.6111, sugarbush.com
Tucked into historic Sugarbush Village, Pizza Soul competes for the title of best pizza in the Valley. Don’t expect to dine in—with just a few seats, there is barely enough room to wait for your pie to come out of the oven. With pizzas hand-tossed by chef-owner Jason Lerner, this is the place to grab dinner to bring back to a house or condo full of kids. While you’re there, pick up a Symphony in C for the adults, topped with spinach, garlic, olive oil, feta, mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and parmesan. What makes Jason tick? He gets to throw airs on his snowboard all day at Sugarbush and then throw pies all night at his restaurant. He might just have it made … but be sure to call first. 802.496.6202, pizzasoul.com
dining in the Mad River Valley
Big Picture Theater & Café
Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant
A vibrant café serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Coffee/ espresso, full bar, and vintage soda fountain. Homemade desserts, bread, and famous maple-glazed donuts. First-run and art-house theater (drink-in/dine-in theaters), live music/events, and a community gathering space. bigpicturetheater.info 802.496.8994
Comfortable and unpretentious, the Hyde Away serves American cuisine with flair. The freshest ingredients, affordable prices, and friendly atmosphere make this a local favorite. Tavern with pool table and Vermont microbrews on tap. Children’s menu. Serving from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. hydeawayinn.com / 802.496.2322
275 Main at the Pitcher Inn
Serving authentic, hand-tossed, New York-style, premium pizza with a side of music and whole lotta soul. We offer two tables for dining in. Please call for takeout and current hours of operation. Delivery offered when available. pizzasoul.com / 802.496.6202
275 Main at the Pitcher Inn features dishes thoughtfully prepared with fresh local ingredients, served in an elegant candlelit dining room, and supported by an award-winning wine cellar. Dinner served Wednesday through Monday. Reservations suggested. pitcherinn.com / 802-496-6350
Tracks at the Pitcher Inn Sweet Pea
Birds Nest Bistro The Birds Nest Bistro features a diverse menu consisting of mostly local foods. Menu options range from pub fare and cheese plates to gourmet burgers, seasonal entrées, and eclectic, healthy choices such as seaweed salad and homemade guacamole. bridgesresort.com / 802.583.2922
MINT At MINT you’ll find vegetables prepared in many delicious ways. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, exotic flavors, organic, local, and international wholesome foods. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Please call for reservations. mintvermont.com / 802.496.5514
A family-owned small-scale sustainable food store and organic café, Sweet Pea features the Valley’s only organic juice bar, salad bar, and vegetarian buffet. Our fresh deli offers a creative selection of sandwiches and panini. Gourmet coffee, tea, and desserts. sweetpeanaturalfood.com 802.496.7763
Tracks at the Pitcher Inn offers a casual menu featuring fresh, local ingredients, local beers from Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead, and creative cocktails served in the comfort of a cozy, firelit lounge. Dinner served Wednesday to Monday. Reservations suggested. pitcherinn.com / 802.496.6350
Featuring classic comfort foods at an affordable price, the Grill Down Under is a cozy dinner spot suitable for family and friends. Flatbread pizzas, lasagna specials, salads, and steaks are regular offerings. Quaint bar for après-ski. (Winter only.) sugarbush.com / 802.583.6111
Mutha Stuffers Mutha Stuffers is a year-round New York-style eat-in deli located in Sugarbush Village. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Ski-in/ ski-out. Serving a full line of Boar’s Head Provisions. Ask for Dino. muthastuffers.com / 802.583.4477
Timbers Restaurant Hogan’s Pub With breathtaking views of the mountains and the Valley, Hogan’s Pub serves up a variety of salads, specialty sandwiches, and burgers for lunch, and cold brews and cocktails for après. Try the melted blue cheese and onion Neil Farm Burger, from cows raised only a few miles away. (Summer only.) sugarbush.com / 802.583.6723
Sourcing as much high-quality food from Vermont and the Mad River Valley as possible, Timbers features items such as dry-aged steaks, locally raised meats, and seafood in an atmosphere modeled after a nineteenth-century Vermont round dairy barn. Don’t miss the Farmhouse Plate with Chef Rich’s country-style pâté, the yak sausage corn dog, and the ribeye. sugarbush.com / 802.583.6800
East Shore Vineyard Tasting Room Room Wine Tasting
Join us for samples and pairings At of some of Vermont’s very best Sugarbush wines. Adjacent to the General Store at Clay Brook Hotel and The Perfect Après Ski Residences. Open Friday through Join us foronly.) Tasting Sunday. (Winter and receive a eastshorevineyard.com complimentary Glass 802.583.7467 Located at Sugarbush Lincoln Peak; adjacent to The General Store at Clay Brook
The Warren Store Delicious coffee, breakfast on the deck, mouthwatering pastries, incredible sandwiches. “It’s not just a store, it’s a living, breathing Vermont Spirit. From local jellies to cheeses made just up the hill, from boutique wines to local buzz around the pot-bellied stove, you’ve got to make a stop at this eclectic deli.”–Boston Common Magazine, September 2006. warrenstore.com / 802.496.3864 timbers. stina booth
The Grill Down Under
The Kitchen at the Store offers classes for anyone who loves to cook—or would like to learn. Classes include Moroccan, Chocolate, Fish and Chicken 101, Pasta, and more. View our schedule online, and ask about our custom private classes. Learn, Create, Eat. vermontstore.com / 802.496.4465
lincoln peak village. Susan teare
Many believe that this aptly describes the Sugarbush and Mad River Valley experience. Even for people who live as close as over the Appalachian Gap or up by Montpelier, the Mad River Valley carries a certain appeal that is unique in Vermont. Simply referred to as the Valley—as if it were the only one in Vermont—the area boasts all the amenities, beauty, serenity, individuality, and bustling energy that anyone could expect. The heart of the valley—the Mad River—is something of an anomaly. One of the few rivers in the area that flow north—from its origins in Granville Gulf to its confluence with the Winooski River—the name evokes an unabashed, fiercely independent community. Clearly the Valley is not Vermont as usual. Part of what sets it apart are the people who choose to call this area home—from an enclave of renowned architects, to third-generation family farmers, to an active arts community and recreationalists of all streaks. All of them are drawn to this place of endless recreation opportunities and majestic beauty, hemmed in by some of Vermont’s tallest peaks and sliced in half by the shimmering waters of the Mad River.
After years of skiing at the mountain, Sugarbush owner and president Win Smith purchased the resort in September of 2001 with a group of local investors. They have since embarked on reshaping the Sugarbush experience to reflect the nature of the Mad River Valley. The management team includes Adam Greshin, a longtime Warren resident who has served as the state representative for Washington County. Incorporating traditional Vermont architecture into the village, hosting arts performances, and highlighting the local agricultural economy in the resort’s culinary offerings are just some of the ways Sugarbush delivers a rich experience for its guests. In 2006, Sugarbush completed construction of Clay Brook Hotel & Residences and the Gate House Lodge. Four years later, two more skier-services buildings—the Schoolhouse and the Farmhouse—were added to Lincoln Peak Village. And plans have been drawn up for the second phase of construction at Lincoln Peak Village—the new Rice Brook Residences. These fifteen new homes in three buildings will tie together Lincoln Peak Village and historic Sugarbush Village. They are part of a larger-scale project that will include up to ninety new spaces for residential and commercial use. Tying together Sugarbush history, the authenticity of the Mad River Valley, and the modernity and style of new amenities, Sugarbush is committed to offering the best in customer service, four seasons of outdoor recreation, and an unrivaled and quintessential Vermont experience.
There is something for everyone at Sugarbush. Like many of the ski areas west of the Mississippi, Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak spreads out in a natural bowl of terrain. Runs at Lincoln Peak face north, south, and east and make for spectacular skiing in the sun no matter the time of day. The natural bowl also makes the trail network easy to navigate. Beginners, intermediates, and experts can all start from the same place, find terrain suitable to their tastes, and end up together back where they started. The layout of the lift and trail network quickly disperses crowds on peak traffic days, while midmountain lifts serve higher elevation runs that minimize long lift lines in the base area. Lincoln Peak is home to the legendary terrain of Castlerock Peak. Its narrow, steep, and winding trails offer seasoned experts a challenge and an old-time New England ski experience. Powder hungry? Get up early for first tracks on the Lincoln Limo. When it’s snowing, we go to the top in our twelve-passenger snowcat as early as 6 a.m., before the lifts even open. Connected by the Slide Brook Express to Lincoln Peak, Mt. Ellen is the third highest peak in Vermont. With thirty-nine trails, Mt. Ellen has steeps, wide-open cruisers, and some great beginner terrain. The base area at Mt. Ellen is a no-frills experience with a classic lodge that’s home to the convivial Green Mountain Lounge, where it’s not uncommon to see three generations of skiers recapping the day’s exploits. Mt. Ellen is where you’ll find the Riemergasse Terrain Park, accessed by the park-dedicated Sunny D lift. With rails, tables, and jumps for all levels, the park is home to local talent and a series of events and competitions. Whether at Mt. Ellen or Lincoln Peak, skiing in the trees is often the best way to find great snow. Twenty marked areas provide beginner to advanced tree skiing. Want more? The 2,000-acre Slide Brook backcountry, tucked in between Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen, is an adventurer’s paradise. Guided trips are available with legendary skier John Egan and the staff of the Adventure Learning Center. Sugarbush isn’t the only attraction to the Mad River Valley. Mad River Glen, just a few miles to the north of Sugarbush, boasts some of the most challenging terrain in the East. The Valley is also home to two Nordic skiing centers, Blueberry Lake and Ole’s Cross Country Center.
micheal riddell eugene krylov
timbers restaurant at night. SANDY MACYS
LODGING From slopeside luxury to quaint country living, the Sugarbush Vacation Team will find something to suit your family. The slopeside Clay Brook Hotel and Residences offers sixty-one suites, ranging from studios to five-bedroom penthouses, and features ski-in/ ski-out access, full valet service, a year-round outdoor heated pool, a fitness center, and Timbers Restaurant. Down the road is the forty-two-room Sugarbush Inn, open all winter and for private groups in the summer. The innâ€“with restaurant, nooks for reading, and a parlor with an adjoining taproomâ€“has the cozy charm of a Vermont country inn with all the services of a resort. Sugarbush also offers a mix of resort-managed condominiums surrounding Lincoln Peak. All Sugarbush lodging comes with complimentary access to the Sugarbush Health and Racquet Club, which offers a pool, hot tubs, steam rooms, the Kids Zone, rock climbing, tennis, and massage. For additional lodging recommendations, please call the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce at 802-496-3409.
Sugarbush TRANSPORTATION The Burlington International Airport is just fifty minutes from Sugarbush, with direct flights arriving from New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, and seasonal direct flights from Toronto. Amtrak runs trains from major Eastern cities into Rutland (one hour south of Sugarbush) and Waterbury (thirty minutes north). And once you’ve arrived, Green Mountain Transit offers free public transportation services in the winter season within the Mad River Valley region via the Mad Bus. Distance from:
Burlington: 46 miles Boston: 203 miles New York City: 347 miles Montreal: 139 miles (224 KM)
MOUNTAIN STATISTICS Skiable acres: 578 Miles of trails: 53 Tree-skiing areas: 20 Summit elevation: 4,083 feet Base elevation: 1,483 feet Vertical drop: 2,600 feet Average annual snowfall: 269 inches Terrain parks: 3
LIFTS (16 TOTAL) 7 quads (5 high speed) 2 triples 4 doubles 3 surface lifts
OPERATING HOURS AND CONTACT INFO Weekdays: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Weekend/holiday: 8 a.m.– 4 p.m. Season: mid-November–April 802-583-6300; 800-53-SUGAR sugarbush.com Warren, Vermont
10/6 Community Day Celebrate the height of foliage season in the Mad River Valley with fresh local foods, Win’s annual resort update, kids’ camps and hikes, pumpkin carving, live music, scenic lift rides, and a dog-friendly family hike.
11/17 The Big Kicker Kick off the winter season at the Big Kicker! Join Mad River Glen and Sugarbush Resort to celebrate the upcoming 2012–13 ski and ride season with a party that includes a Mad River Glen/Sugarbush freestyle team exhibition, an all-star lineup of ski movies, live music, and beverage specials. Fun for the whole family.
12/10 A Taste of Timbers Sample items from Chef Rich Scarzello’s winter menu. Look for his pork confit, Rhode Island– style wild mushrooms (hold the calamari), and pastry specialties like flourless chocolate cake.
12/22–31 Holiday Week Celebration Celebrate your holiday slope-style. Meet Santa’s crew on Christmas Eve, enjoy après-ski live music, and send the kids to Pizza and Movie Night in the Schoolhouse (no parents allowed!). The 3rd Annual Dog Parade kicks off the New Year’s Eve celebration, followed by the Family-Style Italian Dinner with Street Performers and a spectacular fireworks display.
1/13 Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge
3/9 Castlerock Extreme Gear up for the sixteenth year of this on-mountain Sugarbush favorite—the Castlerock Extreme presents a true challenge as competitors take on the daunting Lift Line run.
A premier vertical challenge for skiers and riders of all ages, at Lincoln Peak.
1/19–21 Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend
3/16 Sugaring Time Festival This spring tradition
A long weekend of live music, family activities, and fireworks. Film fans will want to check out the MountainTop Film Festival at the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield, which features important human-rights films from all over the world.
2/2 Junior Castlerock Extreme The best rising skiers and riders in the Northeast (ages fourteen and younger) take on Sugarbush’s famous peak in the 3rd Annual Junior Castlerock Extreme. A qualifier for March’s Castlerock Extreme and a stop on the Ski the East Freeride Tour. Be sure to register early—the 110 registration slots sold out last year.
3/30 Pond Skimming Springtime at Sugarbush brings with it a long-standing tradition— braving ice-cold water! Throw on your best costume, tuck, and attempt to cross a 120-foot pond. Or stay dry and join the crowd to watch from the sidelines.
4/7 Easter Celebration
2/3 USSMA Sugarbush– Mad River Glen Randonee Race This endurance race
Begin your Easter Sunday with a sunrise service at Allyn’s Lodge, followed by egg hunts and a gourmet brunch at Timbers.
benefiting the Green Mountain Club begins at Mad River Glen, climbs up and over to Sugarbush’s Mt. Ellen, runs through the Slide Brook wilderness area, and finishes at Lincoln Peak.
5/11 The Mad Triathlon
2/16–24 President’s Week Check out this marathon of mountain fun, featuring our annual Torchlight Parade and Fireworks, ice sculpting, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science’s live bird show, a wine tasting at Timbers, and much more.
celebrates the start of the sugaring season. Sample maple syrup–inspired foods and specialty drinks and take part in the day’s events, including a mapledoughnut-eating contest, a resortwide scavenger hunt for maple nips (with prizes), live music, and more.
Test your individual skills or form a team to compete in the fourevent triathlon, which includes a challenging run, paddle, bike, and trail run. The Kids’ Triathlon is held the same day.
6/15 Sugarbush Brew-Grass Festival The third annual brewfest features more than twenty local and regional brewers, three live bands, and multiple food stations. Last year’s festival sold out, so get your tickets early.
7/4 Independence Day Celebration Celebrate the Fourth Mad River Valley–style with Warren’s iconoclastic parade and festival, a spectacular air show, the Waitsfield farmer’s market, live music, and Sugarbush’s largest fireworks show of the year.
7/7 Mad Marathon Billed as the “World’s Most Beautiful Marathon,” this challenging race sends runners by farms, along rolling dirt roads, and inside covered bridges throughout the Mad River Valley. Run as a whole marathon, half, or relay.
8/1–31 Festival of the Arts A monthlong celebration of art in the Mad River Valley, featuring a “Taste of the Valley” culinary feast at Lincoln Peak, the Big Red Barn Art Show, theatrical performances at the Skinner Barn and the Phantom Theater, and much more.
8/30–9/2 The Green Mountain Stage Race The largest Pro-Am road stage race east of the Mississippi, this four-day event attracts close to 1,000 cyclists, who take on some of the Northeast’s most scenic and challenging terrain.
Single skier photo credit: Brian Mohr/EmberPhoto.com Single chair photo credit: John Williams
“Every sport has its Mecca; the stadiums, race tracks or ball parks against which everything else is judged... Skiing has them too... There’s an agelessness to the place. Mad River Glen is an institution...” Powder Magazine
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