Ski mountains prepare for increase in uphill travel

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:57 AM EST
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WAITSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Many people like to ski down the mountain, but a growing number of Vermonters like to hike up the slope first and then ski down, no chairlift needed.

Uphill traveling has gained popularity in Vermont over the last decade or so. More and more skiers in Vermont are earning their turns and resorts continue to navigate an uptick of uphill skiers.

“People just want to get out, they want to get some exercise, they want to get their heart rate up, and they love skiing,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, the president of the Bolton Valley Resort.

Vermonters are headed into the backcountry hiking up and skiing or riding down. Bolton Valley allows pass holders to go uphill on two of their trails. DesLauriers says dozens do so every day, especially when conditions are strong.

Bolton is one of three Vermont resorts on a new 12-resort uphill New England pass, where uphillers can skin up from mountain to mountain without having to buy the season pass for that resort.

“It’s always fun to travel and check out new mountains and you know, but that can be an expensive endeavor. And so joining together makes that makes that a more affordable opportunity for people,” DesLauriers said.

The creation of a pass like this indicates the popularity of the hobby, one Mad River Glen’s Ry Young says has grown gradually in the past five years or so.

“There’s just been a dramatic uptick in the amount of equipment that’s available to people. It’s making it a lot easier for folks to get up on the mountain,” said Young.

Mad River Glen lets passholders uphill too during the season and anyone can before the season starts.

“Before we open for skiing operations, it’s pretty much a free-for-all. It should be considered backcountry ski If you’re thinking about coming to Mad River to skin up; you need to be prepared for the elements,” said Young.

Young says people have already started to skin and in general he reminds skiers to be mindful of the grooming equipment and keep an eye on constraints as they come up during the season.

“This past winter we encountered a tent pitched in the middle of a ski trail at four in the morning when it was snowing sideways. We’ve seen some things like that. But for the most part, we’ve had a great relationship with our uphill community,” said Young.

The same awareness is requested at Bolton, where DesLauriers says navigating the uphillers and mountain ops has been a learning experience.

“There’s some danger involved in being around that type of heavy equipment on snow. And so what we’ve done is we’ve tried to, we’ve tried to modify our grooming schedule in order to accommodate that type of uphill traffic,” said Deslauriers.

A good rule of thumb is to check the uphill policies of the resort you want to go to.