Waterville Valley Eyes Terrain Expansion and a Gondola

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A gondola may finally link the Town of Waterville Valley with its ski area in the coming years, just one of many exciting projects outlined in the new Waterville Valley Master Development Plan.  Recently accepted by the United States Forest Service, the MDP will guide upgrades at the mountain over the next decade.  It’s the first such comprehensive plan for Waterville since 1999, when Booth Creek owned the resort.

Waterville is seeking a 140 acre boundary expansion and 15 new trails on Green Peak, which saw its first lift installed in 2016.  The resort now features two summits accessed from one base area.  A proposed new portal would separate different user groups and improve the guest experience.  A two stage gondola or chondola is planned to link the Waterville Town Square to the new base area and on to Green Peak.  Two sections would be capable of operating independently with an angled mid-terminal.  The exact alignment of the first stage, which would be located on private land, has not yet been determined.

“The most remarkable element of the plan is that it includes the eventual installation of a gondola that will start in the Town of Waterville Valley near Town Square and transport guests to the summit of Green Peak,” said Waterville Valley CEO John Sununu.  “Connecting our pedestrian village to the ski resort will be incredibly exciting for our resort and community.”  The gondola would be a major undertaking, spanning some 9,000 linear feet with 1,400 feet of vertical and eight passenger cabins.  It would operate in both winter and summer.

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Green Peak would also see a second triple chair servicing 500 vertical feet of beginner and low intermediate terrain.  Two conveyor lifts in the existing base area would be relocated to a new ski school facility at the gondola mid-station.

Two lift upgrades are planned, which Waterville filed to construct back in October.  The White Peaks Express, nearing the end of its useful life, would become a six place detachable in the existing alignment.  Sunnyside is targeted to be replaced with a fixed grip quad.  Two other lift modifications are included: removal of Northside and lengthening of the World Cup T-Bar.  Outside of the scope of the new development plan but on the horizon is further expansion onto Green Peak’s South Ridge.

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“We’re thrilled to continue Waterville Valley’s development and look forward to fulfilling our team’s vision,” said President and General Manager Tim Smith in a statement announcing the Forest Service acceptance. “This is just the first step in a long process, but it marks an exciting milestone towards progressing Waterville Valley into the future.”

18 thoughts on “Waterville Valley Eyes Terrain Expansion and a Gondola

  1. Skiz February 7, 2020 / 6:58 am

    They should make the mountain part chondola, and first part just gondola. Seems like running it as 2 independent sections will work better with pass tracking.

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  2. reaperskier February 7, 2020 / 8:01 am

    Interesting? I am questioning the possibility of whether the current green peak triple will be replaced by a high speed quad and be relocated for the second time.

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    • Carleton February 7, 2020 / 10:23 am

      It’s certainly not mentioned, so I would doubt it. Green Peak should have been a faster lift to begin with. However, that location is highly exposed to the winds. I think they made a mistake when they create such wide trails on the mountain, removing so many trees that would be useful for wind protection. Maybe they could add a loading carpet to the triple and have it run a little faster though….

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      • Donald Reif February 7, 2020 / 1:12 pm

        It would’ve made sense to relocate Valley Run to the Green Peak line.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rob March 15, 2020 / 6:57 pm

        The idea is less crowded slopes

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  3. Max Hart February 7, 2020 / 9:58 am

    What a week this has been for the east – first Sunday River and now WV.

    I like a lot of this. WV will really benefit from a second base area and a larger are for beginners. The majority of Green Peak’s terrain will be lapable from the main lift (gondola or chondola, whatever they decide on). The Green Peak triple will be totally redundant because you will be able to get to the base of the gondola/chondi from the top of Valley Run with relative ease.

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    • Mike B February 7, 2020 / 11:50 am

      Redundant except for people who want to ski/lap Green Peak terrain from the current base or who want to return to/access the new base w/o having to take what will be a crowded, low-angle, circuitous route via Valley.

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  4. Carleton February 7, 2020 / 10:28 am

    As one of the few remaining larger independent ski areas in New England, does all this proposed future development scare off a potential suitor (i.e. Alterra) from acquiring it? I usually think, they want fully developed resorts, not ones that have a lot of promised (but not built) new infrastructure….

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    • skitheeast February 7, 2020 / 11:12 am

      No, I do not believe this blocks Alterra/Vail/Powdr/Boyne from potentially acquiring the resort. In fact, if this plan is fully implemented and the resort sees growth in skier visits, then it probably makes it more likely they will be acquired.

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      • Carleton February 7, 2020 / 11:37 am

        What I meant was being acquired in the ‘near term’ – 1-3 years. Only the White Peaks and Sunnyside Chairs are in the NFS review phase right now, which means they might be next year or the following year. Who knows when the rest of this would come to fruition….

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        • skitheeast February 7, 2020 / 1:05 pm

          None of the proposed plans have to come to fruition. Waterville, or any new owner, could decide tomorrow they want to not follow through with the plans. What is holding Waterville back from a purchase is its relevancy. Ikon and Epic both have mountains nearby and Waterville currently has too few skier visits to warrant their attention.

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        • Mike B February 7, 2020 / 1:50 pm

          If anything, the fact that Waterville has already spent the time and money to research, develop and get their plans into the NFS approval process is a major positive. That’s time and money Alterra wouldn’t have to spend. Moreover, connecting the mountain directly with town is inarguably attractive from a marketing standpoint even if it’s underwhelming from a pure skiing standpoint.

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  5. gavin February 8, 2020 / 8:13 pm

    a little unrelated news, but I wonder if they could cut new terrain on the high country t bar. it is the highest terrain on the mountain with the best quality snow, and with the t bar its no longer prone to wind holds.

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    • Kevin February 28, 2020 / 12:16 pm

      Always thought that making Mt. Techumseh (lookers right off the top the t bar) a large glade only area would attract more skiers looking for side/backcountry terrain. Would just require a simple traverse trail with several drop-in points and a connection back into the main base area. (think Brackett Basin at Sugarloaf)

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      • Tom White February 28, 2020 / 4:24 pm

        NewEnglandSkiHistory gives this as a possible expansion to the true 4003’ peak of Mt. Tecumseh. Lift service from there would add 150’ vertical and much expert terrain. Permits have never been requested. Obviously, expansion going the other way is what has been done. However, glades coming down from current terrain and returning back, should be much easier to win permits.

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  6. livefreeordie February 9, 2021 / 12:56 pm

    When wiil WVV add a downhill mtb trail at snow mtn lift (as in highalnd mtb park style)????? WVV is dying for some summer action. The lift can already take bikes up, just need a few good downhill trails!! MTB triathlon in town lake??? More nordic races, maybe a biathlon range???Winter and Summer Biathlon series (paint or rimfire)? bring back the warming hut for the nordic trails!! oh, and get better food!!! restaurants need a massive overhaul, food is marginal at best in WVV!

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  7. skitheeast December 17, 2021 / 1:01 am

    Waterville Valley’s proposed plan has a lot of good. The gondola connection to the town would be a huge competitive advantage against other mountains for overnight visitors, and the plans make it look as though they are at least exploring some sort of neat two-stage chondola option where gondola cabins go from the top of Green Peak all the way down to the town while chairs only go down to the proposed base. It also looks like they are making some of the existing parking ski in-ski out, which is great because it is currently on a slope. Also, simply giving the mountain a second legitimate base area is huge because it will just make the resort feel so much larger. Having everyone funnel down to the same place can cause congestion.

    My biggest problem is that the Valley Run/Green Peak situation is not addressed. Green Peak services all of the terrain of Valley Run and then some, but Valley Run is the one that is detachable and Green Peak has wind issues. Some of the wind issues may be unsolvable at the moment because they simply removed too many trees when cutting the liftline, but they can at least attempt a slight realignment and simultaneously provide better access to the proposed expansion by simply moving Valley Run over to Green Peak. While Green Peak was only installed in 2016, it is a 1985 fixed-grip from a defunct manufacturer, and no lift is really needed in Valley Run’s alignment given Waterville Valley’s current (and future) trail map. This feels like a simple fix.

    Additionally, Waterville Valley has really yet to show a true vision for their significant advantage over their local competitors: their elevation. Loon tops out at 3,050 feet, Gunstock at 2,267 feet, Sunapee at 2,743 feet, and Ragged at 2,286 feet. Waterville Valley’s 4,004-foot summit and 1,984-foot base give it such an advantage in retaining snow that is really only regionally matched by Cannon. Yet, whereas Cannon has a tram and quad reaching the summit, Waterville Valley only has the t-bar. Yes, there are significant wind issues, the t-bar has been an improvement, and again there is probably the issue of too much tree clearing. However, I feel as though it is still underutilized given how well it holds snow, people like skiing from the summit, and there is probably a creative solution out there.

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    • carletongebhardt December 17, 2021 / 10:48 am

      I definitely agree that they removed too many trees from Green Peak. I don’t think they’d remove Valley Run, as on windy days, it’s often the only significant lift that can run. I wouldn’t mind seeing a short T-bar from roughly around the top of Valley Run to the top of Green Peak. Then all that terrain would still be skiable on a windy day. Hopefully, the new six pack and eventual Sunnyside Quad will be more wind resistant, so that it won’t be as much of an issue.

      Like

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