Sugarbush, VT

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22 thoughts on “Sugarbush, VT

  1. northeastchairlifts July 4, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    The North Lynx triple was built by Poma.


  2. Max Hart November 20, 2017 / 6:24 pm

    Something that I have noticed about Sugarbush is that it is like the Park City of the East in terms of its lift system. It has plenty of high capacity lifts, but half of them lead to nowhere, and in places that they do need high capacity lifts, they don’t have them. Think of Slidebrook as the Quicksilver Gondola, Gate House as Crescent, and Super Bravo as Payday, and Sugarbush North as the screwed up lift system that is the former Canyons.

    Lincoln Peak has sufficient out-of-base capacity (1 CLF4, 2 CLD4) but its only upper mountain lifts are two triples and an ultra-low capacity double. The out-of-base capacity it sufficient, but if you want to get up above 3150 feet elevation, then it’s a long cold ride to get there.

    Sugarbush North / Mt. Ellen is a total disaster. First you have the Green Mountain Express (GMX), which really only gets you up to the Summit Quad, and that’s it, everything else can be accessed by North Ridge. Then there is also the fact that Slide Brook (when in actually runs) is dumping people onto the North Ridge Express (NRX), which services almost the same terrain as the Green Mountain Express. In my opinion remove the Summit Quad and the NRX, and possibly replace it (considering that the components are currently 27 years old) with a CLD6 starting at Slide Brook and ending at the top of Mt. Ellen. I think this would work fine because lets face it, nobody laps Mt. Ellen from top to bottom, EVER. The only reason anybody would go to the bottom is to get to the lodge or the get to Sunny D or Inverness. Then Replace the CLF4 Inverness with a CLD6 as your main out-of-base lift at Mt. Ellen. You can easily access the bottom of Slide Brook from the existing Inverness Quad and could easily kill two birds with one stone by replacing Inverness with a CLD6 servicing the Inverness terrain as well as providing access to Slide Brook and the “Upper Mountain CLD6 and still providing the out of base capacity necessary. Problems solved.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Northeast Chairlifts November 22, 2017 / 12:46 pm

      Another thing I noticed was that the GMVS Poma that starts halfway up the Inverness quad is totally useless because if you want to go to the top of the mountain, then just ski down and take the quad. It doesn’t even go up all the way either. That’s in my opinion, at least.


      • Max Hart November 22, 2017 / 1:18 pm

        I think the Lower Inverness T-Bar is somewhat useful for racers, but the GVMS Poma is completely and totally useless.
        a) you can’t access it from the T-Bar without hiking uphill
        b) once you hike up the hill to the Poma, it doesn’t even get you all the way to the top of Inverness.
        That being said, WHY DOES THE GVMS POMA EXIST? Who thought through installing a lift that you can’t get to and won’t get you anywhere?


      • Collin November 22, 2017 / 2:14 pm

        The GMVS Poma and T Bar are not open to the public. They are used only for race training.

        Heaven’s Gate should be upgraded to a quad similar to Valley House. Wind up there is probably way too much for a detachable. There is massive trail acreage in the Valley House/Super Bravo area and having the high speed and fixed grip quads should be able to serve it quite well.

        Castlerock is never going to have the capacity upgraded because it is supposed to be an old school section of the mountain and has no snowmaking, so the trails can’t support a high capacity lift.

        North Lynx only serves 3 trails and really doesn’t need an upgrade IMO.

        Slidebrook needs to run way more than it actually does if they’re going to advertise Sugarbush as one ski area.

        Green Mountain Express exists as an out of base lift and no reason anyone would want to lap it due to the long runout at the bottom when they can just take North Ridge. Les Otten tried to change around the lift arrangement and it was a disaster.

        The Summit Quad serves only 2 trails and one is double black so putting a 6 pack up there would be asinine at best. If they put a 6-pack anywhere it will be North Ridge.

        Inverness is only used as an out of base lift when Green Mountain Express lines up and otherwise is really just used for racing. No need to upgrade it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Max Hart November 22, 2017 / 7:59 pm

        I see what you mean about the six pack being too much capacity in addition to North Ridge, but my idea was to remove North Ridge, the Summit Quad, and the Green Mountain Express and run the six pack from the current bottom of North Ridge to the top of Mt. Ellen, then add an additional out-of-base six pack from the Mt. Ellen base to the top of Inverness (which would provide access to Slide Brook and the Upper Mountain six pack). Both lifts in an orientation like this would be much more skier friendly (easier to lap) than the current set up.
        Also keep in mind that North Ridge is almost 30 years old and has chain driven contours, and I don’t think Sugarbush will still have it running ten years from now.


        • Mike B January 30, 2020 / 1:59 pm

          Wow. So many bad ideas here – where to start? First, you’re forcing everyone at North who wants to ski non-Inverness trails onto a single 6 pack where they are:
          – Required to do 2600 vertical top to bottom runs every time
          – All dump out onto a narrow ridge with precisely one way down that isn’t double diamond rated (legitimately so)
          – Forces everyone to endure the painful runout at the bottom

          Even if you try this alignment with the base of the lift starting at Slide Brook Express, then you either have a short franken-lift running up Straight Shot so that you don’t force everyone to traverse over form the top of Inverness. Something akin to this layout was tried under ASC and it bombed spectacularly. The current lift alignments on the main face at North are exactly how they should be to serve the way people actually ski the mountain. If you find yourselves on endless runouts or poorly matched terrain for your skills, you’re doing it wrong.

          Second, until the potential Upper Inverness pod goes in, there’s no need for an upgrade on the Inverness quad. It gets no lines as it is and I frankly find the notion that SB would put a 6 pack in at North to be absurd on its face, particularly if it’s not the main out of base access lift. Not enough traffic or long enough season to make it worthwhile.

          As for Lincoln Peak, you may tweak around the edges (e.g. upgrade Heaven’s Gate from a triple to a fixed quad), but the lay out and capacity profile is exactly what you want. High capacity lifts providing access to most of the mountain out of the base. Lower capacity lifts for the smaller amount of generally steeper, high elevation terrain. I actually think we are much more likely to see an upgrade of Gate House from a D4C to a D6C before we do on Bravo. For the latter, though it has a lot of hours on it, the new quad on Valley House helps to relieve congestion.

          More importantly, it’s clear that the next big focus area for on-mountain investment (aside from continual snowmaking system upgrades) will be on the GH side. They have publicly stated their desire for a new mid-mountain lodge on the plateau at the top of GH. That would help spread out the lodge/foodservice crowding problem that’s gotten continually worse with the record visitation levels in recent years. Moreover, it gives them the ability to double their wedding business (which is at capacity right now) and build a little conferencing business as well. Additionally, given the pitch on that side of the mountain, it’s highly likely that other summer/non-skiing investments would be placed there (e.g. mountain coaster, zip lines, etc..). Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the likeliest spot for new terrain expansion at SB is the area between North Lynx and Castlerock. If/when that comes into view, the need for extra capacity on GH for access to said terrain comes along with it. Net/net, GH will be upgraded to a D6C first. Maybe they then move the current D4C to Inverness? If the upper Inverness pod is going to be a thing, then that would make most sense.


      • Collin November 22, 2017 / 8:17 pm

        Even if you removed North Ridge you still would be putting over 3000 people an hour onto two trails and one being double black everyone would ski the only blue. I haven’t been to Sugarbush, but I think they’ll be able to keep North Ridge running for quite a while with good maintenance. They may at some point upgrade the chain system to a tire system as has been done on many Poma detachables from that era. Hunter Mountain relocated a 1987 Poma detachable rather than scrapping it so one from 1990 could definitely run longer. Vail has been replacing their first-gen detachables primarily due to capacity rather than just age. Other resort operators usually replace when they need a higher capacity and fix the old lifts otherwise, especially if it’s a common design.


    • Greg January 12, 2019 / 11:11 am

      I think that Sugarbush’s lift setup is solid. The high-speed lifts are access lifts, getting you to secondary slower lifts. While there is terrain to ski under the high-speed lifts, the slower lower-capacity lifts provide access to the best terrain. It’s truly Vermont-style skiing. If you want fast lifts everywhere and super wide trails head on down to Killington, Mt. Snow, Okemo, Stratton…etc. Sugarbush is more a true Vermont skiing experience and thats why I love it.

      My only complaint would be to make Slidebrook a gondola, which might allow them to run it during the extremely cold weather.

      Besides that, no need to touch the lifts!


      • Teddy January 12, 2019 / 2:52 pm

        I’m at Sugarbush this weekend and I completely agree with your comment except for the part about making Slide Brook a gondola. I don’t think having a gondola would allow it to run in cold weather, plus it’s really nice to just hop on a chair (while keeping your skis on), and be delivered to a whole other mountain to ski. Slide Brook barely ever runs but when it does, it’s a real treat.

        Honestly the current owner, Win Smith, doesn’t really have the same philosophy as Les Otten did. Otten wanted to make Sugarbush feel like one cohesive resort, and in turn ran Slide Brook whenever he could. I understand that Slide Brook needs 1′ 1/2 of snow underneath it, above 5 degrees, and little amounts of wind. Despite that, Win likes to have Mt. Ellen be the mountain where the local’s ski, and Lincoln Peak to be his main focus, therefore he doesn’t run Slide Brook.

        I do really love sugarbush though, it’s an awesome place to ski.


  3. Collin Parsons January 12, 2019 / 8:54 pm

    I like Les Otten’s vision better. He always ran Slide Brook unless it was too windy. The “need snow under the lift” policy is in my opinion a more recent made up excuse to not run it. The place is marketed as one resort and needs to be connected as such, meaning through lifts and skiing and not a 30-40 minute bus ride. I really want to get to Sugarbush this season, but will only go if Slide Brook is open because I’m not going to put in the time or effort to make the trip only to be stuck with half a mountain.


    • Teddy January 13, 2019 / 9:38 am

      Vermont evacuation laws have gotten stricter, but I do still agree that they often make excuses not to run it. It will run this week and next weekend. Once they get it up and running, they usually keep it open for a while. I agree that I like Les Otten’s lift vision, but not his vision for the resort.


  4. Alex Merrill January 13, 2019 / 8:59 am

    I think building Slide Brook may have been one of the dumber decisions Sugarbush has made. It cost a ton of money to build and maintain. A gondola would have been much better as that lift is always windy long and cold, it’s also exceedingly rare for people to ride it more than twice in a day, so taking skis off is not a big issue. The bigger problem with slide brook is that when the built the lift they forfeited future development rights in that area, which is a shame because there are beautiful mid angle tree lines all throughout that area that are a total pain to ski now with a long walkout/bus ride. If they put a low capacity fixed grip going up the back side of North Lynx and left the terrain pretty natural it would be awesome, really unique for the Northeast.


    • Mike B January 30, 2020 / 1:27 pm

      This is the wrong lens, as it implicitly assumes that building a more robust lift/trail network in a designated bear habitat was a realistic option in the State of Vermont in the 1990s. The reality is that the choice was between the current Slide Brook or nothing. Given that choice, I’m happy they went the direction they did, even if I wish that terrain was all lift accessible.


  5. Teddy's Lift World January 21, 2019 / 10:29 am

    The North Ridge “Triple” was actually a double.


  6. chip0 February 11, 2019 / 7:36 pm

    I recall that they were unable to get permission from the Forest Service to develop any terrain in the Slide Brook Basin due to environmental or wildlife concerns, and that’s why they built the SBX instead.


    • Max Hart February 11, 2019 / 8:24 pm

      The initial plans for expansion into Slide Brook Basin approved in 1982 after the ownership acquired Glen Ellen (Sugarbush North), however the expansion was never completed (or even started). The expansion would have created a skiable connection and significant lift served skiable terrain in Slide Brook Basin, which apparently would have made the Bush the largest ski area in the East.

      Fast forward to 1994 when Les Otten’s LBO Resort Enterprise Corp. acquired the Bush, The Slide Brook Exp. was built in 1995 so that Les Otten could connect Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen immediately without having to go through all of the permitting that would be required to develop skiable terrain in Slide Brook Basin.


  7. skitheeast December 5, 2020 / 12:49 pm

    I know Sugarbush is not allowed to expand its trail network into Slide Brook Basin, but is Lockwood Brook Basin allowed? Lower F.I.S. already runs in the northern area of this terrain, so I would think the answer is yes. There is also enough room to develop a couple of long, well-pitched trails. They would need to add a lift, as Lower F.I.S. is only able to exist by hugging the northern end of the basin and having a long runout.


      • skitheeast December 5, 2020 / 1:33 pm

        Thanks for the link. I knew Sugarbush had talked about a lift and terrain expansion above Inverness in the past, but I did not know they had also proposed a Lockwood Basin lift/pod, an infill lift/pod between North Lynx and Castlerock, and a lift/pod expansion off of Village Run.


    • skitheeast October 19, 2022 / 5:35 pm

      $7-$10 million for a replacement? And they are not going for anything more than a fixed-grip? That price is about what I would expect a detachable to cost and about twice as much as I would expect a fixed-grip to cost based on recent installations.


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