Warren, Vermont- This Sunday, the oldest chairlift at Sugarbush will ride off into the sunset. The Heaven’s Gate Chairlift, which first opened during the 1984-85 season, will close for good on Sunday, March 31st. Construction will commence on April 1st to achieve its scheduled opening in the earlier portion of the 2024-25 season.

As part of this dismantling and construction process, the Castlerock Double chairlift and various trails will also have to be shut down. The following trails will be closed after March 31st: skier’s left of Lower Organgrinder, Downspout, Domino, and Gondolier, along with portions of Lower Jester and Heaven’s Gate Traverse.

The Vermont ski resort announced last year that a new fixed-grip quad chairlift will replace the Heaven’s Gate Triple. The new lift will be slightly realigned to improve its reliability against the wind. In addition, the seats will be slatted to reduce the risk of wind holds. The area around the base terminal will be reconfigured to make queuing and loading easier than its predecessor, which will include a loading conveyor.

The main thing that is frustrating guests is that they are closing the chairlifts and trails before the Solar Eclipse on April 8th. This means that Sugarbush won’t have summit access on April 8th, as Mt. Ellen plans to close for the season on March 31st. While they plan to reopen Mt. Ellen’s summit to uphill travel, that only serves a small amount of customers. So, to summarize, after this weekend, all of Mt. Ellen will be closed to lift-serviced skiing, and a decent portion of Lincoln Peak will be closed off.

One customer chimed in with his thoughts on Facebook, which is where reasonable takes reigns supreme:

“What a truly awful decision. There will not be another totality in this part of the country in our entire life . To have one of the best viewing platforms in all of the north east and not keep it open when there is plenty of snow is nonsensical. Open the terrain one week later next winter, don’t close it now when it’s so valuable to this once in a lifetime experience. Truly awful.”

While the quote above is a bit of a dramatic take and uses the word awful too much, Sugarbush’s announcement definitely suffers from poor execution. As a marketing major, two things about this announcement annoy me. For one, it’s a bit too late for the announcement, as Heaven’s Gate closing date was four days away when they posted this. Secondly, this Solar Eclipse will be a cash cow for many ski resorts, and Sugarbush is closing both of its summits, which will arguably have the best views of the Eclipse. They’ll still have some cool places to check out the Solar Eclipse, but having a good portion of the mountain closed for the once-in-a-lifetime event is a major disappointment.

Image Credits: Sugarbush Resort

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