March Highs and Lows

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Last week was an up-and-down few days here at Sugarbush.

We learned that Vermont Sports readers ranked Sugarbush as the Best Ski Area in Vermont, and that Castlerock Pub bartender Rich Kendrick was voted the Best Bartender, with Shawn Fuschetto close behind as a runner-up. We received runner-up recognition for Après Ski (Castlerock Pub), Backcountry (Slide Brook), and Events (Castlerock Extreme), among others.

While we did not get a big snowfall last week, we did pick up 5” of fresh snow. The snow, mixed in with the grooming, provided for some fun skiing and riding over the weekend. The bitter cold, however, kept a lot of people away, and we saw very light crowds. Good layering works. Remember, there is never a bad day of skiing, just bad equipment or clothing. Those who were here enjoyed some good turns on nicely-groomed trails like Elbow, Ripcord, Stein’s, Sleeper and Spring Fling--my favorites over the weekend, in addition to the warm lodges after a few runs.

The real downer of the week occurred on Thursday when our long-time ski instructor, colleague, and friend, Dave Wales, passed away suddenly while getting ready for his morning ski.  Dave was an expert coach in all three disciplines (alpine, snowboarding, and telemarking) and was not only a top professional PSIA instructor but just a great guy.  We are going to miss Dave.  There will be a memorial service and celebration of Dave’s life here at Sugarbush on Sunday, April 9th in the afternoon.

Last week, we finalized our capital expenditure projects for the summer.  The major items will be replacing the remaining two double lifts with new fixed-grip quads.  A new Village Lift and a new Sunny D Quad will greatly improve the beginner experience at both mountains.  We will also be installing a new motor in the North Ridge Lift, replacing the snowmaking pipe on Which Way, and purchasing two new groomers, in addition to completing other, less visible projects. 

Our Director of Lift Maintenance, Jasen Bellomy, felt very strongly that we replace both lifts this year rather than over the next two years.  We took his advice, and fate proved him correct a few days later as the top sheave assembly on the Village Double failed. We would have had to ship the part out for repair which would have taken no less than two weeks, so we have officially retired what was once known as Lift 6.  The new lift will begin a bit higher on the mountain-- near the existing tower 2--and terminate at the same place. This new lift will make for a much-improved beginner experience.

On Wednesday of this week, information about next year’s season passes will be posted. Passes will go on sale on Saturday, March 18th.  While Sugarbush’s joining the Mountain Collective brings more value to our premium passholders, we also believe that our new pass products offer a variety of options to choose from. 

This week, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Friday, March 17th with our $17 Mt. Ellen ticket special, so dress in green and come out for some great skiing and revelry.  Spring passes are on sale now for $199, and are valid beginning this Saturday, March 18th through the end of the season.

It is now safe to say that we will finally see the Nor’easter we have all been waiting for. Up here, the snows will begin late Tuesday morning. The storm’s highest intensity is forecast for Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning, followed by lighter snow throughout the day Wednesday.  Given the cooler temperatures, this is likely going to deliver some “Wasatch Powder” and deep drifts on the leeward side of some trails. 

For the weekend, we are looking at some comfortable temperatures in the 20’s and possibly additional light snow. We will certainly anticipate the operation of the Castlerock and Slide Brook Chairs.  The only caution could be the winds after a Nor’easter, so tune in to our snow report or app during the day on Wednesday and Thursday.

March came in like a lamb, but has been acting more like a lion, and is conjuring a roaring storm this week. We’ll be set up for some terrific spring skiing.