Hometown Mountain Shoutout: Mad River Glen, VT: Ski It If You Can

Emily Crofton | | BrainsBrains
Skier, Parker Herlihy, skiing under the single chair. Photo: Brooks Curran

Mad River Glen, a proudly unique East coast ski resort nestled within the Green Mountains of Vermont, is well known for its legendary slogan “ski it if you can”. With a vertical drop of 2,000 feet, this modest mountain offers what many consider to be the most challenging terrain on the east coast. However, the steep and bumpy trails are just the start of what makes this mountain so iconic.

What makes Mad River Glen so special varies from skier to skier. However, there is no denying the incomparable character that sets this mountain apart from others. Among the four chairlifts, the iconic single chair is one of two left in North America. The chair takes one person per chair on a 12-minute ride to the top of the General Stark Mountain. Not only does this allow for a quiet and contemplative experience, but it also allows for low skier density on the trails.

The legendary single chair. Photo: Mad River Glen

The uniqueness of Mad River Glen is a result of a long and proud history. Founded in 1947 by Roland Palmedo, his goal was to create a place where skiing was the pure focus, not money. Palmedo envisioned a resort with a minimalist and natural atmosphere for dedicated skiers. Staying true to this today, Mad River Glen values preserving the natural beauty of the mountain. Letting mother nature do the work, the terrain sees minimal grooming and manmade snow.

While resort after resort gets swept up in the corporate conglomerate, Mad River Glen stays true to their core beliefs. In 1972, the mountain was purchased by Truxton and Betsy Pratt and remained unchanged. It was in 1995 when it was sold to a group of skiers who then formed a cooperative to own and manage Mad River Glen. The co-op ownership allows anyone to purchase a share of the mountain and welcomes all voices to be heard. The decision to prohibit snowboarding, which was decided by Betsy Pratt in 1991, was voted on by shareholders gain in 1995 and remained unchanged. Holding true to the “skier’s mountain” philosophy, Mad River Glen remains one of three areas in the country that prohibits snowboarding.

You can’t help but feel the stark difference between Mad River Glen and the mainstream world of skiing. The camaraderie of people of all walks of life all incredibly passionate about one thing only-skiing. You don’t come to Mad River Glen for fancy amenities, perfectly groomed trails, or high-speed lifts. You come for the challenging terrain, sense of community, preservation of history, and of course-to ski it if you can.

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