Sugarbush's Mt. Ellen area
|Location||Warren, Vermont, US (2 miles ESE), Waitsfield (4 miles E)|
|Nearest city||Burlington (45 miles NW), Montpelier (26 miles NE)|
|Vertical||2,820 feet (860 m)|
|Top elevation||4,083 feet (1,244 m)|
|Base elevation||1,483 feet (452 m)|
|Skiable area||578 acres (2.34 km2)s (2.34 km²)|
|Lift system||16 chairs: 5 highspeed quads, 2 fixed grip quads, 2 triples, 4 doubles, 3 surface lifts, and 2 magic carpets|
|Snowfall||262 inches (670 cm)|
Sugarbush Resort is a ski resort located in the Mad River valley in Warren, Vermont. It is one of the largest ski resorts in New England. The resort encompasses more than 4000 acres (16 km²) total, 578 trail acres (2.34 km²) skiable, 53 miles (85 km) of trails, and 16 ski lifts. Sugarbush has 111 ski trails, 18 additional marked wooded area, substantial off-piste skiing and riding, a summit elevation of 4,083 ft (1,244 m), and a vertical drop of 2,600 feet (790 m), second largest in Vermont after Killington, and the third largest in New England after Killington and Sugarloaf.
Sugarbush was opened on December 25, 1958, by Damon and Sara Gadd and Jack Murphy. In 1977, the Gadds sold the resort to Roy Cohen. Cohen purchased the Glen Ellen Ski Area (Mount Ellen) in 1979 and annexed it to Sugarbush. ARA Services purchased the resort in 1983, replacing the original gondola with the Super Bravo and Heaven's Gate triple chair lifts, effectively increasing uphill capacity from 450 skiers per hour to 1800.
Claneil Enterprises bought the resort in 1984 and transformed it into a four-season resort, purchasing adjacent tennis courts, restaurants, condominiums, and a golf course. Claneil improved the chairlift system by installing three new lifts on Mount Ellen. The American Skiing Company purchased Sugarbush in 1995 and installed seven new lifts, increased snowmaking by 300%, and built a sixty-three million gallon reservoir for snowmaking. During this period, Mount Ellen and the main part of Sugarbush were connected by the Slide Brook Express two-way quad chairlift; when it was installed was the world's fastest chairlift, and is still the world's longest detachable chairlift.
When the American Skiing Company bought Sugarbush, the Original Green Mountain Express (GMX) chair at Mount Ellen was moved to replace the aging North Ridge Double. Then the GMX was replaced with a new fixed grip quad from Doppelmayer that ran up to the base of Cliffs to encourage use of the new North Ridge Express and the Slide Brook Express. This lift became known as the "Slug" because it was slow and impractical. Current Sugarbush owner Summit Ventures replaced this chair with a Poma high speed quad which runs the full length of the original GMX (up to the Glen House), and "the Slug" is now Jay Peak's Metro Quad. Also, the North Lynx Triple was formerly the Sugarbravo triple chair, and was moved to the North Lynx peak to replace a platter lift when the Super Bravo detachable quad was installed. The Castlerock double was also replaced in 2001 with another double following the same chair spacing specs as the original lift.
Summit Ventures NE LLC purchased the resort in October 2001. The majority owner of Summit Ventures is Win Smith who also serves as President of Sugarbush Resort. Adam Greshin is the second active investor and is the EVP of Sugarbush Resort. Since 2001 Sugarbush has replaced and reconfigured some of the lifts, made further snowmaking improvements such as purchasing new low energy guns, and has completed the $80 million Lincoln Peak Village in 2010, which includes the Claybrook luxury condominium complex, new base lodges (The Gatehouse and The Farmhouse), Timbers, a post-and-beam restaurant. and the Schoolhouse which houses both summer and winter children's programs. The first phase of the Rice Brook slope side residences are scheduled for completion in October 2013.
According to resort president Win Smith, the resort had no plans to add any further high speed chairs. The intent was, rather, is to keep lift capacity approximately the same to maintain the current uphill/downhill capacity relationship. Sugarbush is known for not feeling overcrowded even on the busiest days.
In 2008, Sugarbush purchased and refurbished a 12-person snowcat to be used for transport to Allyn's Lodge for dining as well as moonlight ski and snowshoe tours. In 2008, Sugarbush celebrated its 50th Anniversary in December.
The 2013-2014 season marks Mt Ellen's 50th (and Sugarbush's 55th) anniversary. The Sunshine Double, installed in 1964, is the only remaining original lift. The base lodge also remains largely unchanged throughout Ellen's history.
Skiing at Sugarbush
Sugarbush has two mountain areas separated by Slide Brook Basin. The south side of Sugarbush, Lincoln Peak, is the resort's main mountain area. Most of the resort real estate is located at Lincoln Peak, including the new Claybrook condominiums and hotel. Lincoln Peak has 2,400 vertical feet and a summit elevation of 3,975 feet (1,211.6 m), with 72 of Sugarbush's 111 runs. Also at Lincoln Peak are several other smaller peaks: Gadd Peak, Castlerock Peak, and North Lynx Peak.
Castlerock Peak is known to for its steep, narrow, winding, New England-style runs. A single double chair brings skiers and riders to this peak and is littered with warnings of "expert only" and "thin coverage." It is also the only peak of Sugarbush that does not use snowmaking, although there are several runs such as Paradise and Domino not in the Castlerock area that also do not incorporate snowmaking. Castlerock is also home to Rumble, arguably the most difficult trail at Sugarbush. Off to the left of Rumble is home to Rumble Woods, a very extreme and steep woods trail covered in rockfaces and cliff drop offs. Rumble Woods is regarded by some as the most difficult terrain on the mountain.
The area between Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen is called the Slide Brook Basin. This wooded wilderness area comprises over 1000 acres (4 km²) and is skiable only with a guided tour and is for expert skiers only. Some of this terrain is very treacherous, and it is not routinely swept by ski patrol. If you follow the Slide Brook it will bring you out to German Flats Road. When the shuttle bus is running it makes a stop at Slide Brook Road (on German Flats) and will drop off at either Lincoln or Ellen base areas. The two areas of Sugarbush, Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen are connected by a two mile long chairlift known as the Slide Brook Express Quad. The Quad mainly operates on weekends and holidays, but does occasionally during the week. It will also not run if the temperature is below five degrees or during strong winds.
To the north, separate from Lincoln Peak, is Sugarbush's other mountain area called Mt. Ellen. Mt. Ellen's top elevation is 4,083 feet (tied for third highest in the state with Camel's Hump), and it has one of the largest continuous vertical drops in Vermont at 2,600 feet (790 m). Several states and southern Quebec are visible from the summit of Mt. Ellen.
Formerly an independent resort (founded by Walt Elliot in the early 1960s), Mt. Ellen has Sugarbush's steepest run, FIS. Mt. Ellen also has a secondary peak, Inverness Peak, which is home to the Green Mountain Valley School's (GMVS) racing slopes Inverness, and Brambles.
Mt. Ellen is also home to Sugarbush's terrain park. Although some terrain features can be found all over Sugarbush, such as on Slowpoke at Lincoln Peak, the primary terrain parks on Mt. Ellen's Riemergasse and Graduation trails. Sugarbush has chosen not to build a half pipe in recent years, though it has the capability to do so.
Mt. Ellen's terrain includes groomers, terrain parks, and tree skiing, along with mogul terrain.
Snow at Sugarbush
Sugarbush receives an annual average of 262 inches (6.7 m) of snow. Sugarbush has approximately 70% snowmaking coverage, with some areas intentionally devoid of snowmaking systems.
- Mount Ellen: 4,083 ft (1,244 m)
- Lincoln Peak: 3,975 ft (1,212 m)
- Castlerock Peak: 3,812 ft (1,162 m)
- North Lynx Peak: 3,300 ft (1,000 m)
- Gadd Peak: 3,150 ft (960 m)
- Inverness Peak: 2,750 ft (840 m)
- Valley House (LP)
- Gate House (LP)
- Allyn's Lodge (LP)
- Castlerock Warming Hut (LP)
- Mount Ellen Base Lodge (ME)
- Glen House (ME)
- 4,000 acres (16 km2) total
- 508 acres (2.06 km2) skiable
- 53 miles (85 km) of trails
- 11 wooded areas
- 4,083 ft (1,244 m) summit elevation
- 1,483 ft (452 m) base elevation
- 2,600 ft (790 m) vertical drop
- 262 in (670 cm) annual snowfall
- 68% snowmaking coverage
|Green Circle||Blue Square||Black Diamond||Total|
|24 trails, 82 acres (330,000 m2)||51 trails, 184 acres (0.7 km2)||36 trails, 142 acres (0.6 km2)||111 trails, 508 acres (2.1 km2)|
- Uphill Capacity: 25,463
Mt. Ellen lift detail
|Name||Type||Manufacturer||Year Installed||Electric Motor||Auxiliary Drive||Tensioning||Haul Rope Size||Towers||Chairs||Chair Spacing||Slope Length||Vertical||Average Grade||Speed||Capacity||Ride Time|
|Green Mountain Express||Detach Quad||Leitner Poma||2002||ABB 700 HP||Cummins 900 HP||Active @ Drive Passive @ Return||40.5 mm||22||99||132'||6244'||1495'||24.67%||1100 ft/min (maximum) 900 ft/min (Actual)||2000 (maximum) 1712 (actual)||5.68 min (minimum) 6.94 min (actual)|
|North Ridge Express||Detach Quad||Poma of America||1990||GE 700 HP||Cummins 160 HP||Hydraulic @ Return||40.5 mm||18||89||120.38'||5357'||1690'||31.5%||1000 ft/min (maximum) 850 ft/min (actual)||2000 (maximum) 1696 (actual)||5.36 min (minimum) 6.30 min (actual)|
|Slide Brook Express||Detach Quad||Doppelmayer||1995||ABB 734 HP||Cummins 734 HP||Hydraulic @ Return||1 5/8" (41.275 mm)||40||102||216.12'||11022'||382'||3.4%||1100 ft/min (maximum) 984 ft/min (actual)||1200 (maximum) 1092 (actual)||9.95 min (minimum) 11.20 min (actual)|
|Summit||Quad||Poma of America||1990||GE 300 HP||Cummins 335 HP||Hydraulic @ Drive||40.5 mm||13||62||109.68'||3501'||1041'||31%||550 ft/min (maximum) 468 ft/min (actual)||1200 (maximum) 1024 (actual)||6.38 min (minimum) 7.50 min (actual)|
|Inverness||Quad||Poma of America||Hydraulic @ Drive||40.5 mm|||
|Sunshine||Double||Städeli||1964||GE 100 HP||Ford 300||Counterweight @ Drive||1 1/8" (28.575 mm)||7||78||56.19"||2175'||467'||22%||445 ft/min (maximum) 445 ft/min (actual)||950 (maximum 950 (actual)||4.9 min (maximum) 4.9 min (actual)|
|GMVS Poma||Surface||N/A||Counterweight @ Return|||
|Gmvs T-Bar||Surface||N/A||Counterweight @ Return|||
Off-season at Sugarbush
Sugarbush has a health and racquet club, known as the SHARC (pronounced "shark"), with three indoor tennis courts, four outdoor clay courts, two outdoor hard courts, one racquetball court, two squash courts, a weight room, indoor and outdoor pools and hottubs, steam rooms, massage rooms, a rock gym, and a dance/exercise floor.
Sugarbush also has an 18-hole par 71 Robert Trent Jones Sr. golf course, known for its mountainous topography.
Sugarbush is also available for hiking and biking, with mountain terrain for a variety of ability levels. The Bravo lift runs Friday through Sunday from late June through Columbus Day weekend for lift-accessed Mountain Biking and Disc Golf. Also available in the Summer is a 800-foot (240 m) zip line.
Sugarbush has two top-rated disc golf courses. The mountain course requires a chairlift ride and is rated by the Professional Disc Golf Association as the third most difficult in the country. Recently Sugarbush hosted the National Deaf Disc Golf Championship and the New England Championship.[when?]
In the Fall, Lincoln Peak offers foliage lift rides on Fridays and weekends through Columbus Day.
- Win Smith on Alpine Zone's Ski Area Challenge 2006 (2006). "www.alpinezone.com". Retrieved 2007-01-01.
- Mountain Stats, Sugarbush: http://www.sugarbush.com/about-vermont-resort/ski-mountain-statistics
- The resort website
- Sugarbush History Website (not affiliated
/endorsed by Sugarbush Resort)