A Plan to Save Mount Ascutney Ski Area
June 11, 2015
Ascutney Mountain may not be a lost ski area for long.
The West Windsor ski area, which went bankrupt and closed in 2010, could be turned into a community recreation area offering backcountry skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The town just needs to raise enough money — $900,000 — to buy the property from its current owner, MFW Associates.
Last October, West Windsor voters agreed to allocate about $100,000 toward the purchase of 469 acres of the former Ascutney Mountain Resort and add it to the existing West Windsor Town Forest. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board is contributing an additional $300,000, leaving another $500,000 to raise. The fundraising is being done by the Trust for Public Land, a national conservation group, according to Vermont Public Radio.
The History of Mount Ascutney Ski Area
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps and Windsor Outing Club carved the ski area’s first trail down the 3,130-foot peak’s northeast slope. Ascutney’s first two rope tows were erected in 1946, and, according to NewEnglandSkiHistory.com, the area drew a crowd of 800 during that year’s Christmas holiday week.
The ski area then went bankrupt—for the first time—in 1949 before four decades of expansion and ownership changes forced the ski area to close indefinitely five years ago (to make matters worse, its base lodge burned down in January).
Ascutney Ski Area Makes Headlines
I have never skied Ascutney, but I visited the defunct ski area last summer to take some photos and spend some time at the base of the mountain. I can see why people are so passionate about this place. The mountain is called a monadnock, a summit that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. Ascutney can be seen for miles in Vermont’s Upper Valley region and from Interstate 91.
The effort to resurrect Ascutney has been featured in Outside Magazine and Backcountry Magazine. Anyone interested in supporting Ascutney can participate in an online crowd funding campaign with a July 1 deadline.
Let’s hope Ascutney comes back soon.