Smugglers Notch Resort is an independently owned mountain located north of Vail-owned Stowe Mountain Resort. A path on the top of Sterling Mountain spans approximately 2,600 feet and separates the top of the Sterling lift on Smugg’s side and the top of Sensation Quad on Stowes’ Spruce Peak. Off this walkable path are the ‘Birthday Bowls’ which have endless amounts of tree skiing and deep powder that could be found untouched for a few days. Smugglers Notch has the advantage of accessing these bowls because it drops you on the Smuggs side of the Notch Road and you can ski back down to the lift whereas if you were on Stowes’ side you’d have to walk up the notch road and ski down to a long flat section and walk back to their lift.
On March 13th, the owner of Smugglers Notch Resort, Bill Stritzler, held a meeting in secret with Vail Res0rts to talk about a connecting gondola to make it easier to access both resorts in one day. During the summer months, the Notch Road is open and is a 15-minute drive from one resort to the other, but during the winter the Notch Road closes and it will take about an hour to drive around the mountain range. As you can tell, when this got leaked to the public there were split feelings on connecting the two resorts because these two mountains both have their own personalities, which are quite frankly, complete opposites. Stowe has gondolas and high-speed quads with built-up multi-million dollar condos, while Smuggs is the number one rated family-friendly resort that holds onto its fixed grip double chair lifts and old-school vibe that the locals cherish. They both have their place and clientele, but with this connector, people fear it will blur the lines and change the Smuggs culture to something that it’s not, and has been trying not to be for years.
Bill Stritzler recently voiced his concerns in an email about the comments and letting people know he hears everyone. In the email, he states some encouraging remarks about the connector and the opposing comments, which range from the culture being “ruined” to the potential ecology on top of Sterling being destroyed. At the end of the email, he says “It is only fair to mention that my impression is the more local the skier the more passionate you are about Smuggs independence. It should be obvious from my behavior over the last 30 years that I feel the same. However, I am more passionate about assuring a sustainable future for Smuggs and all of our constituents.”
“I ask you: how can we retain the Smuggs vibe and experience and at the same time gain investment funds to remain viable?” Bill Stritzler and the Smugglers Notch staff asked in the email to get feedback on how to appease everyone. If this is an important issue to you and you want to get involved, please provide how you feel about the connector here.