The Story of Vermont's Ascutney Mountain's Comeback

The Story of Vermont's Ascutney Mountain's Comeback

Ski News

The Story of Vermont's Ascutney Mountain's Comeback

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Ascutney never quite cut it as a ski resort. The addition of hotels, condominiums, and a high-speed quad wasn’t enough to make it a viable long-term business. The ski resort closed in 2010, the most popular chairlifts were shipped to Crotched Mountain and Pats Peak, and the town of West Windsor was left reeling. After another company failed to reopen it, the town stepped in to buy the 469 acres of land. This is where the fun begins.

Scripps Media recently covered the comeback of Ascutney, and the New York Times wrote about the mountain in early 2022. In addition, I have some personal experience from hiking around the trails in 2021. It’s a great story to revisit because it shows the power that a local community can carry if they work together.

Ascutney Outdoors, which is a non-profit run by volunteers, took over operations from the town in 2015 and installed a rope tow by using spare parts. Another rope tow was added in 2017 in order for them to have a lift-serviced tubing hill. In 2020, they opened a t-bar, which services much of the lower mountain. They acquired that t-bar from a ski resort in Ontario, Canada. The upper mountain remains open to uphill skinners. The ski area is run by volunteers, and lift tickets are only $20.

In the summer, they have an extensive mountain biking network. Hiking trails feature stunning views, and they added a historic walking trail around the ski slopes in 2021. Equestrian trails are also situated around the base area.

Shelley Seward, who has been a major part of Ascutney’s comeback, described the importance of their community:

“Many of the people who volunteer here don’t ski, they don’t bike, they just want the community to be successful. Don’t be surprised at how much energy and enthusiasm you can draw from your own community.”

The success of the ski area has helped become an economic driver for the local area. The Bronswville Butcher & Pantry, which opened in 2018, is located a couple of minutes away from the ski area. It has become a must-stop for visitors in the area thanks to the expansive food lineup. The store has added twenty-five jobs and gets much of its produce from local farms.
So far this season, Ascutney Outdoors briefly had its t-bar open after mid-December’s major snowstorm and also had its rope tow and tubing hill open for a couple of weeks. The mountain is currently closed due to a January thaw cycle, as it hopes that more snow is coming soon.
Someday, I would like to see snowmaking make a return, due to the challenging circumstances that climate change has created for New England. I get that they do it to keep their overhead costs low though, and there’s no denying the phenomenal impact that it’s had on the area.
The video story from Scripps News is below.

 

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