Valley House lift at Sugabrush

By Lisa Loomis

Last month Sugarbush filed permit requests with the United States Forest Service (USFS) seeking approval to replace the Valley House lift at Lincoln Peak with a fix grip quad.

Sugarbush president Win Smith said the USFS application was "preliminary" and that he was not sure when the lift would be replaced.

"The permitting could take a year or two between the forest service and Act 250, so we wanted to get started. It could be done next year or in three years from now," Smith said.

He said replacing the chairlift is approximately a $2 million capital expenditure. When the resort does replace the lift, the upper terminal will be a little lower which will reduce a current bottle neck when skiers coming along the traverse to Upper Snowball cross under the existing lift.

Smith said that having a fixed grip quad at the Valley House would be useful when Super Bravo is on wind hold and would give the resort more uphill capacity when the slopes are full. He said that the resort might sell the old 1960 Valley House double lift in its entirety or, if not, they might sell the chairs to individuals.

According to the forest service application, Sugarbush has 10 lifts with an uphill capacity of 11,000 people per hour at Lincoln Peak. The Valley House lift travels 350 feet per minute (newer high-speed lifts can travel 1,000 feet per minute) and can carry 750 people per hour.

As proposed in the application, the new lift would start in the same location and would feature 17 new towers and foundations in the same alignment as the current lift, with a new unload area about 50 feet below the existing unload area. Trail reconstruction on Valley House Traverse would include widening the trail between 10 to 20 feet for about 250 linear feet just above the lift unload area. This would allow for the Valley House Traverse trail to pass around and avoid the unload area.

The present lift would be removed from the site as well as terminals, towers, operator shacks, wire rope and tower foundations. Concrete tower foundations would be removed to at least below grade level and covered with fill. The removal would begin shortly after the end of the ski season in April or early May. Blasting is anticipated for the new unload area and the Valley House Traverse ski trail reconstruction. Some trees would be removed along the lift corridor (The Mall ski trail). These trees would be flush cut, no stump pulling, and left on site, pulled back from trail edge. Tree removal for the trail reconstruction would occur before May 1 or after August 1. Clearing, blasting and grading for the new lift components and trail reconstruction would occur late spring through October.