Smugglers’ Notch and Stowe Propose Interconnect Gondola
Two of Vermont’s largest ski resorts could be connected by gondola under a plan uncovered by the Morrisville News and Citizen. Stowe Mountain Resort parent Vail Resorts and longtime Smugglers’ Notch owner Bill Stritzler have reportedly been in talks for several years but sought to keep initial work on the project confidential. Lawyers for the State of Vermont recently determined that documents could be released under public records law.
Under the proposal, a 9 tower gondola would link Spruce Peak at Stowe to Sterling Mountain at Smugglers’ Notch along a relatively flat area home to an alpine pond and the Long Trail. A ride across the 2,600 foot connector lift would take just over five minutes and link two very different mountains. Vail-owned Stowe currently operates a fleet of six high speed lifts while Hall doubles service narrow New England-style trails at Smuggs. One mountain accepts the hugely popular Epic Pass while the other shuns multi-mountain passes entirely and charges $85 for a peak day ticket. If connected, the two resorts would encompass six peaks, 17 lifts and 194 trails with 5.5 miles of distance separating Toll House at Stowe from Morse Highlands at Smuggs.
The gondola would only rise about 280 vertical feet and no new ski trails would be cut between the two mountains. The lift would be designed with only 26 cabins and a modest hourly capacity of 1,200 skiers per direction. As part of the project, Smugglers’ Notch would place 72 acres of private land under conservation easement and Stowe would protect another 92 acres to offset development of the gondola. A portion of the Long Trail could also be rerouted to reduce visual impacts. If approved by state regulators, the project would take two years to implement.Article by Peter Landsman