The End of Uphill

First, the ski areas closed their lifts. Then, one by one, they shut down their parking lots. Now, the message is consistent and clear: Curb your turns.

“We were seeing just too many people who may or may not be social distancing, but the risk was there,” said Mike Hussey, the general manager of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl which put up jersey barriers last week.

Stowe soon followed suit. This morning, around 11 am, Ski Vermont sent out an email outlining uphill policies at resorts around the state. Less than two hours later, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen —two of the last ski areas in the state to allow uphill traffic —released the letter below announcing they were closed to uphill traffic

This follows on the heels of the Mount Washington Avalanche Center noting that close to 400 people gathered to ski Tuckerman Ravine and other nearby gullies the weekend of March 26. This prompted them to issue this statement:

The travel and social congregation that have continued to occur in Tuckerman Ravine, nearby trails, and parking areas suggest that more aggressive measures are needed in order to comply with state and federal guidelines intended to reduce the spread and impact of coronavirus.

The USFS and MWAC understand and support the need for outdoor recreation, fresh air and exercise but interpret the measures to limit the spread should exclude riskier activities, particularly at a highly popular venue which attracts visitors from around the region. Furthermore, high risk activities such as skiing and climbing in complex avalanche terrain with extreme weather conditions create an unnecessary risk of injury or a need for search and rescue intervention. These injuries could lead to rescues and the opportunity to further spread the virus through close contact.

On March 30, the Avalanche Center issued its last avalanche bulletin of the season.

As Nick Sargent, the president of Ski Industries of America, has been saying: “Curb your turns.”

It’s time to stay home folks.

Letter from Sugarbush and Mad River Glen:

Dear Sugarbush and Mad River Glen Communities,

Over the last few difficult weeks we know that many of you have enjoyed skinning, hiking, skiing and riding at our mountains. While we fully embrace outdoor recreation, we have reluctantly made the decision to end uphill travel for the rest of this season at both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, effective at dusk today. As we have become two of the last areas permitting this activity, we are concerned that this will now bring even more people into our community at a time when it is not in anyone’s best interest. Last weekend both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen saw a large volume of visitors traveling here from around the state and beyond. Though most were practicing social distancing we unfortunately understand that some may not have been following the proper guidelines. Given the favorable weather this weekend, we would anticipate even larger numbers if we don’t close uphill travel.

We know that outdoor exercise is something that we all enjoy and what is strongly recommended by the medical community and exempted under the Stay at Home order by Governor Scott. However, as the worst of the Coronavirus is still in front of us, we believe that this is the most appropriate action to take. Being good community members and looking out for the best interests of the community is a core value that we both hold. We thank you for your understanding and ask that you help us spread the word and keep people safe. We look forward to the return of normalcy. In the meantime, stay healthy.

All the best,

Matt Lillard
General Manager, Mad River Glen

Win Smith

President, Sugarbush Resort

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports.