Mount Snow director of planning Laurie Newton said that Peak Resorts, Mount Snow’s parent company, is in the process of replacing two chairlifts. Newton said they are replacing the Summit Local triple chair, built in 1978, with a high-speed, detachable six-pack, which seats six skiers or riders at a time.
Like the Grand Summit Express, the six-pack will take skiers and riders to the top of Mount Snow. It will replace the Grand Summit Express as the main chair lift. The Grand Summit Express will only be used during peak periods of skier and rider usage. “The six-pack will run every day and the (Grand Summit Express) will only run as needed on peak days,” said Newton.
Mount Snow is also in the process of replacing the Sunbrook Quad chairlift, built in 1990, with a high-speed detachable quad. Newton said the Sunbrook Quad is frequently utilized by skiers and riders and Mount Snow management has received several requests to replace it. “When it’s windy and cold, the lift feels much longer. The detachable quad will make rides much shorter, from nine minutes to about four-and-a-half minutes. It will be much quicker,” said Newton. “The Sunbrook area is underutilized and there’s great terrain back there. This new lift will encourage people to ski or ride more at Sunbrook.”
Mount Snow was pursuing the chairlift renovations when they learned that government stimulus funds were available for ski area capital improvements. The funds are available through the Vermont Economic Development Authority and Mount Snow has applied to obtain funding. Newton said Mount Snow will learn by next week whether they will be accepted. No figures were provided on the project’s cost.
The Forest Service completed the public scoping process for the chair lift renovation project. Because Mount Snow is located on Green Mountain National Forest Land, US Forest Service officials must allow the public to respond to development projects. But now that the comment period is over, Mount Snow officials will be submitting an Act 250 permit and other local permits through the town.
Newton said the permitting process will not be as difficult because Mount Snow will be replacing two chairlifts in areas where no trees will be eliminated. “We’re hopeful to have permits by mid- to late summer. The next step will be financing. If that goes well, we could install them both by 2011. But all of that is dependent on financing,” said Newton.
Newton said Mount Snow officials are hearing a lot of positive feedback about the changes taking place and added that “everyone is excited” about the two chairlift projects. She noted that many skiers and riders said it was time for the chairlifts to be replaced and they are excited about using the new six-pack chairlift.
Newton added that the chairlift renovations are part of Peak Resort’s economic development plan. Stratton Mountain Resort also uses six-pack chairlifts to transport skiers and riders and in order to compete with local ski resorts, Peak Resorts believes they have to invest in capital improvements. “For a long time there hasn’t been a lot of reinvestment. We need to reinvest to compete with the likes of Stratton and Okemo. Reinvesting in the mountain is important to maintain our competitiveness with our neighbors,” said Newton.