Sunrise Village – Killington, VT

Bottom station with upgraded hydraulic tensioning.
This lift went from the longest lift at Killington to one of the shortest in the 1990s. It used to start way down along Route 4 and had nearly 40 towers.
The new loading area at Sunrise Village. There was formerly a mid-station near here.
Bottom station seen from above.
View down the line.
Top motor room.
Lift line overview, new and old.
Top station and the last tower.

21 thoughts on “Sunrise Village – Killington, VT

  1. gavin November 2, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    what was the point of making this lift all the way down to the highway? The elevation is too low for terrain.

    Like

    • Max Hart November 2, 2019 / 7:02 pm

      I think the reasoning behind it was that the Northeast Passage Lodge was on both US Route 4 and US Route 100. Believe it or not that cut the drive to Killington by 15 minutes from the South and East (via US Rte. 4 and VT Rte. 100). It’s unfortunate that those 15 minutes were lost the instant you got onto the Northeast Passage Triple.

      Like

    • James Paris August 3, 2020 / 11:29 pm

      It was the first lift of what was going to be a major expansion of the ski area into Parker’s Gore, a huge bowl on the south side of Killington Peak. Several lifts were envisioned, with a runout that would end at Rte 4 Bridgewater, where the base of this lift was originally. Once the project was abandoned, the long slow lift serving mostly flat terrain wasn’t really worthwhile. Being at low altitude, it required a lot of snow making and few people used it.

      Like

  2. Tom White November 3, 2019 / 5:39 am

    I used this lodge and lift on a couple of days. This gave travelers from the south another entrance w/o going all the way up to the basin. The lodge was (is) lovely. But as note, at over 9k this FGT was as 17 to 20 min. That only got you to just above the Bear Mt. lodge and lifts. (Devil’s Fiddle was still open.) Except for below the mid-station, the terrain was not very useable (many flat sections). Without being high speed, it wasn’t better than using the lower gondi up the road less than a mile.

    Like

  3. Donald Reif December 9, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    There’s some video on this older alignment:

    Like

  4. Somebody May 7, 2020 / 3:14 pm
  5. Somebody May 8, 2020 / 12:27 am

    I spent a few hours reading about how this chair was before it was truncated.

    1. It was originally known as the Northeast Passage triple, and started on the valley floor next to Route 100, around 1,000 vertical feet lower than the current bottom terminal.

    2. It originally had a mid unload atop the ridge visible in Peter’s second picture.

    3. The terrain below the midstation was fairly decent high intermediate/low expert level terrain that people loved for its isolated atmosphere. The terrain has been described as being similar to South Ridge.

    4. This lift always suffered from low elevation and poor sun aspect, but it was still fairly popular among those who knew it existed.

    5. This was the first lift at Killi to allow snowboarding in the early 90s (up to the midstation)

    6. There was a skier bridge near the bottom but it’s not fully clear why.

    7. There was a rock hit under the lift a few people liked.

    8. There was a popular bar walkable to the bottom that people seemed to like.

    9. Killington’s decreasing skier visits in the 90s made this lift seem less necessary. Parking became less of an issue and this lift suddenly didn’t seem as useful as before.

    10. The installation of the Skyeship gondola hurt this lift. Lines decreased significantly at the gondola and the new lift was way faster. Whereas skyeship would get you to Skye Peak in 11 minutes, this lift would only bring you to the Bear Mountain parking lot in 17 minutes.

    11. High capacity lifts in popular pods hurt this lift. Lines were no longer as big of an issue on pods like K1, Needles Eye and Ramshead going into the 2000s so people didn’t ski areas like NEP and South Ridge.

    12. The cancellation of Parker’s Gore was the nail in the coffin for this lift. Killington traded land in Parker’s Gore (??) in exchange for interconnect land.

    13. They still might own the land??. Some have claimed that they traded NEP’s actual terrain whereas others claim it was other areas of Parker’s Gore. Considering they run snowmobile tours now on the closed terrain, I’d go with the latter.

    14. KingsFourMan and several other killington zone forum members are the only reason we know most of this information.

    After learning all the facts, I can’t really blame ASC all that much for shortening this. Despite nostalgia in the mystery behind this lift, it just wasn’t worth it. They had a low altitude & southeast facing 17 minute long triple chairlift, designed to helped solve non-existent parking problems, known about by almost nobody, and part of an expansion that was no longer going to happen. This lift probably made sense when Parker’s Gore was still planned (because it would eventually be much more central in the ski area) but that getting canceled spelled the end for this lift.

    Will it ever return? I’d say it’s probably not going to happen. There’s a few ways I could see this lift return, but none of them look too likely.

    1. High Speed Quad replacing the old liftline and the current sunrise chair. This is very unlikely because it would face many of the issues the original lift faced. Almost everyone would continue on to Skyeship or Bear mountain. Skyeship would be at worst a minute or two slower to get to the top of Skye peak, and driving up to Bear mountain would literally be faster than riding this lift. The only reason I could see this ever existing is if new ski-in ski-out real estate was developed in the area.

    2. Multi stage gondola with a ton of midstations. This is perhaps the least likely to happen, but is interesting enough to mention. You could have a lift that would get you from Route 100 to the top of the current South Ridge chair in ~18,000 feet. This would replace multiple lifts and might be able to become more popular than skyeship (Skyeship is ~13,000 feet long but ends lower, and is also 2 minutes further down the road from the south/east). here’s a concept (Skyeship on the right, northeast gondola on the left).

    4. Super cheap lift gets thrown in to serve extra terrain/parking. Perhaps a surface lift would make sense. But again, this would face the same problems as the old northeast passage and Killington has only had skier visits decline since the 90s.

    Overall, I find it very unlikely lift service returns here. Ramshead summit will likely return with the interconnect and NEP will become Killington’s legendary lost terrain pod. People’ll probably be wondering in 2040 if lift service could some day return here.

    Like

    • skitheeast May 8, 2020 / 1:48 am

      This area of the mountain was always isolated, but rightfully so. The pod below the midstation was excellent, but it received poor snow coverage relative to the rest of the mountain as you mentioned, very similar to the area right above Skyeship base, although there was some snowmaking if I remember correctly. The main problem was that the terrain was an absolute pain to get to. Sundog, the trail that linked this area from the existing Sunrise area, was extremely flat. Parking here was also the worst because it was a super long ride up to the top to access the rest of Killington. They were basically forced to chose this or the Skyeship base in the 90s because the mountain had overextended and they made the right choice investing in Skyeship. If Killington ever needs a terrain or parking expansion, they will pursue the Pico interconnect and absorb the mountain as a part of Killington.

      Lift service will likely never return here, but if it did, what they would need would be three separate lifts to prevent the flat terrain access problem. As you can see, there is a decent size ridge where the original midstation was. They would run one lift up from the VT-100 Sunrise base to the top of that ridge where the old midstation was, run a second short lift from the top of that ridge down towards the existing Sunrise lift, and then move the base of the Sunrise lift down a little to meet the short second lift at the trough of the little valley.

      Like

      • Somebody May 8, 2020 / 2:39 pm

        I do agree that access was an issue. In order to access sunrise at all, you need to loop behind Bear Mountain which is hard for a lot of skiers to figure out. If they cut trails to the base of NEP from the Bear Mountain base area and Skyeship mid station, a lot more people would be able to find the area.

        As for your three lift plan, I think it’s a bit too ambitious. Perhaps a HSQ with midstations instead? Maybe Ramshead could be relocated here?

        Like

        • skitheeast May 8, 2020 / 7:59 pm

          I am not sure if they could even cut trail to the NEP base from Bear Mountain base or Skyship mid-station without them having long flat stretches. This is because Falls Brook runs right in between the two areas, making a ski link between the two mountains difficult. Getting to Sunrise is a bit tough already, I agree, but it is a poorly positioned lift in that it really cannot be more than just a real estate lift or connection link unless its liftline was completely changed.

          Yes, three lifts are ambitious (although it is really just two completely new ones plus a Sunrise extension), but probably still cheaper than a HSQ with meditation, dual loading, etc. Also, it is unrealistic it will happen anyway, so I will treat myself and throw in an extra lift.

          Like

        • Somebody May 9, 2020 / 2:05 am

          The trails could exist (at least according to google earth). They’d have to come in from far out and go through some former ski-in ski-out housing but if pulled off would be less rolling than sundog.

          With those trails in place, access wouldn’t be a huge issue anymore and NEP might have a lift-served future. Without those trails in place, NEP will almost certainly never be lift served again.

          Imagine how mind-boggling a Skyeship-NEP trail would be if it worked. You’d be able to get from anywhere on the mountain to the NEP base in one lift ride.

          Like

    • sullivanq May 9, 2020 / 9:37 pm

      haha if skiing NE is still possible in 2040

      Like

  6. Tom White May 8, 2020 / 6:41 am

    I used this lift 2/3 times when coming from the south for day trips. Parking was easy and the lodge was lovely. But I agree with the recent statements. The only way it would be attractive today is, a HSQ and perhaps go to the base of the new Southridge. This concept is of course now possible. This concept would give customers a two lift access to the summit.

    Another possibility is, make that lift a separate (cheaper) ticket. A mid-station where the previous one was, would be needed. Otherwise, all the flat terrain would not be a draw. Below mid-station is nice. This lift and lodge could be a mid-season (best snow) alternative on crowded weekends.

    But other lift updates and Pico interconnect are more important than resurrecting NEP.

    Like

  7. Tom White May 9, 2020 / 6:35 am

    Somebody, you had fun working on this. It is fun to dream. I like what you developed. I see it as a waste of a lodge and trails. A much cheaper alternative is, just run a lift to NEP mid-station, and make it a separate lift ticket. The lift could be any fixed grip. The original triple was 9243’ and 1436’ vert. with a 17 min. ride. I’m guessing to mid-station is just under 1000’ vert. I think ’93-94 was it’s last season. Perhaps the limited snowmaking could be resurrected. Maybe this could be a Carinthia in reverse. That was an area in the southern corner of Mt. Snow. It had a 5100’ x 990’ summit double before selling out to Mt. Snow in 1986. Some entrepreneur could create a separate little area. Of course there’s, Round Top/Bear Creek just down the road. But that, like Haystack/Hermitage, had ownership/management problems.
    Well, it’s a dream.

    Like

    • Somebody May 10, 2020 / 8:03 pm

      The reason NEP was successful in the 80s was because it provided fairly quick access to the rest of Killington (compared to the alternatives at the time). Part of the reason it failed so hard in the late 90s was because it was 9 minutes to the midstation and 17 minutes to the rest of Killi. If they wanted to make it successful now, it’d probably have to be a detachable.

      As a fixed grip, it’s ~18 minutes to Bear Mountain. As a detachable it’s ~10 minutes to Bear Mountain. According to google maps, the drive is 7 minutes.

      If you were trying to get to Skye Peak, NEP->Skye Peak chair take about the same amount of time as the skyeship. So maybe it would be used?

      Perhaps they’ll replace skye peak chair and move the current HSQ onto the NEP line with an 1800 PPH capacity.

      Like

      • skitheeast May 10, 2020 / 9:05 pm

        Killington also used to have more skier visits and therefore needed more parking/base area space. From the mid-80s through the mid-2000s, Killington would usually get 900 thousand to 1.1 million skier visits. Their current numbers are not published, but industry guesses estimate roughly 750 thousand. This timeframe coincidences with when NEP existed.

        Like

        • Somebody May 10, 2020 / 9:47 pm

          While skier visits have gone down, the ikon pass could bring them back up again in the coming years as it grows in popularity. Also, demand for ski-in ski-out housing has skyrocketed in the last decade. The lower half of NEP could offer some great new ski-in ski-out condos and houses.

          As of now though, I mostly agree with you. It seems unrealistic. Unless something changes with skier visits or they need a new place to build houses, it probably won’t happen.

          Like

        • skitheeast May 10, 2020 / 10:38 pm

          The next big real estate development is supposed to be the big village project, which includes ski-in/ski-out houses on Ramshead. SP Land is handling the project, but there has been no noticeable progress for a long time. Their website has not been updated in a while either and remains a basic Squarespace template. If completed, it would surely give Killington a capital injection, with all of the new residences needing season passes. But, given the economy and lack of announcements in quite some time, I am not so optimistic it will be completed anytime soon.

          Like

  8. Tom White May 9, 2020 / 10:15 am

    I’m missing brochures for 3 seasons starting with ’82-83, the year NEP was built. But NewEnglandSkiHistory.com has a trail map that has the Hawk’s Nest mid-station at 2180’ elevation. The base is 1045, so the vert. is 1135’. I’ve never seen the length to there. My guess is 4000’, a little under half-way. It would be a nice little area. Of course, it would have limited snow fall. But it wouldn’t be plagued by winds!

    Like

  9. skitheeast May 9, 2020 / 10:44 pm

    I have heard that the Sunrise Village community has some stake in this lift. Not sure whether they helped pay to shorten it or if they help pay for annual maintenance/operation.

    Like

  10. Tom White May 11, 2020 / 5:55 am

    If the real estate development at Ramshead goes through, that would be another reason for nothing to happen at NEP. If it doesn’t, but further development of Sunrise Village or something else in that area does, then NEP might see new life. With a chair back at Southridge, running a lift to it’s base becomes more attractive to SV people. If Somebody’s NEP idea of a HSQ from the original base to Southridge happened, a loading station at SV would be needed. That would even more important than a Hawk’s Nest mid-station. A HSQ with two mid-stations would be expensive but cool. An expensive lift to attractive real estate development does happen. My understanding is, Stratton’s Shooting Star was built to give owners of the new Sun Bowl housing a two high speed lift access to the summit.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s