Sugarbush's Mt. Ellen turns 50 years old this winter. The resort will be hosting a multiday celebration that starts today, January 9, to Sunday, January 12. Originally known as Glen Ellen and later Sugarbush North, the mountain has numerous events paying homage to the mountain traditions of old.
The celebration begins Thursday with a $6.50 ski day based on 1963 lift ticket prices. The ticket is valid all day at Mt. Ellen for all ages. Later in the day, a series of traditional competitions occur.
The Mad River Valley Citizen's Challenge, running from 2 to 4 p.m., is a dual slalom race on Inverness and is open to the public. Alongside that race is the Valley Restaurant Cup, an old Glen Ellen tradition where employees from restaurants throughout The Valley compete in a foot race holding a tray of drinks throughout the base area in their ski or snowboard gear. Following the competitions, an après party with music by The Gulch Band will take place in the Green Mountain Lounge from 3 to 6 p.m.
On Friday, the fun continues with the Ski & Ride with the Point Après Celebration in the Green Mountain Lounge from 3 to 6 p.m. That evening Charlie Brown, a Warren, filmmaker, will premiere his new movie, The 50th Anniversary of Glen Ellen, in the Gate House at 8 p.m.
Saturday is packed full of events as well. Beginning at 2 p.m. is a Sugarbush Celebrity Ski Race where locals including John Egan and David Babic will compete in a downhill slalom race on Inverness. At 3 p.m. is the Gelandesprung Championship, where skiers and riders of all ages and abilities can compete in a long jump competition.
Also starting at 3 p.m. is the traditional Cowbell Champagne Party in the Green Mountain Lounge. Guests can enjoy après champagne bottle specials where hitting the cowbell with a champagne cork wins them a prize. Champagne specials include Opera Prima Brut, Macaron Prosecco and Domaine de Martinolles.
The revelry continues into the night with the Mt. Ellen torchlight parade and fireworks display on Inverness at 7 p.m. Following the fireworks is the Fasching Costume Ball with live music by the Grippo Funk Band. The event will be held in the Green Mountain Lounge.
The celebration closes out on Sunday with the Elliott Sunday Brunch Buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Green Mountain Lounge. The event honors when the Elliott family, founders of Glen Ellen, would host brunches at the mountain every Sunday.
All events are viewable from the deck of the base lodge, a local favorite spot for sunny afternoons. The Green Mountain Lounge and base lodge cafeteria will both be open for lunch during the festivities. The 50th celebration of Mt. Ellen comes five years after Sugarbush's 50th celebration.
Glen Ellen was developed by Walt Elliott with an eye to creating a family mountain in contrast to the glamour of Sugarbush (Mascara Mountain) down the road. He purchased the land from a private landowner with the help of funds raised by a small group of investors and opened for business in December 1963. There were 28 trails, three chairlifts and a T-bar. Skiers could buy shares of the mountain for $1,500 which included 20 years of free skiing. Family shares were sold for $4,500.
In 1973, Elliott sold the mountain to Jenna Van Loon whose ownership was brief. Harvey Clifford bought the mountain from a bank and in 1979 Roy Cohen, who then owned Sugarbush, purchased Glen Ellen and changed the name to Sugarbush North.