SkiVT Press Room/

Uphill Travel and Backcountry Policies at Vermont Ski Areas

A skier climbs high into the backcountry at Bolton Valley Resort. (Photo by Adam DesLauriers)

Uphill travel is one of the hottest trends on the Vermont ski and snowboard scene, as an increasing number of skiers and riders are using alpine touring and telemark setups and splitboards to climb the Green Mountains and "earn their turns." Ski areas recognize this trend, and many have enacted policies for uphill travel and backcountry/sidecountry access:

Bolton Valley Resort
Bolton Valley offers the only in-house backcountry-specific guiding and instructional program in North America, complete with top-of-the-line rental and demo equipment.  With its extensive and easily accessible wilderness terrain, Bolton’s backcountry and uphill touring options make it the go-to destination for skiers and riders looking to explore beyond lift service.

New for 2019-20, Bolton is offering the “NBU” pass.  “NBU” stands for “Nordic, Backcountry, Uphill” and will provide access to the resort’s two designated uphill routes on its Alpine trail network, 1400 acres of Nordic terrain, and access to over 5000 acres of backcountry skiing and riding.  NBU day tickets will cost $17.  Season passes will cost $129 until the end of October ($179 thereafter) and will include three one-ride transferrable lift tickets.  This season, a day ticket or pass will be required for any uphill travel at the resort at any time of day during the season, regardless of lift operations.

Stratton Mountain Resort
Winter uphill travel is a wonderful way to experience the splendor of Stratton Mountain as well as the surrounding Green Mountains of Southern Vermont.  To provide a positive experience for both uphill and downhill guests, four uphill travel routes are designated on the trail map with options for green, blue and black levels. An uphill travel pass is required, and available for $5 for the season. Morning hikes are a great way to connect with the locals, many of whom earn their first turns by skinning, or split-boarding, up for the first run of the day. The gondola is available downloading. Dogs are welcome to join as long as they are on a leash.

Mount Snow Resort
Mount Snow happily offers the opportunity to travel uphill in the winter, as long as you stay clear of mountain operations including (but not limited to) grooming, snowmaking or lift maintenance. An “Uphill Travel” ticket is required, which can be purchased in Guest Services as a day ticket or as an “Uphill Travel Season Pass.” Guests already in possession of a season pass can add a complimentary “Uphill Travel” endorsement.

Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo Mountain Resort and the Vermont Department of Forest and Parks encourage the use of public lands. Our goal is to do so while maintaining our commitment to safety and the guest experience at Okemo. During operating hours, we ask that all uphill traffic be limited to beginner and intermediate terrain, be done on the edge of the trail, and remain in a single file line. Access to lifts and terrain parks is reserved for ticket holders, and we do ask that all guests of the mountain adhere to the skier responsibility code which can be found on our trail maps. We do not recommend the use of our terrain during non-operational times. Grooming, snowmaking and other operations take place 24 hours a day throughout the resort. Skiers and riders must understand that they may put themselves at great risk by being on the mountain while these operations are in progress.

Sugarbush Resort
Hiking and skinning at Sugarbush is permitted on designated trails before the lifts open in the morning and after they close for the day, as well as after the mountain closes for the season. (Pre-season uphill travel is not permitted.) Those interested can acquire a free uphill travel pass to carry with them during travel. For full details on hours and routes please visit: http://www.sugarbush.com/discover/winter-trail-use-policy/.

Suicide Six Ski Area
At Suicide Six, we love that you want to earn your turns. We ask that you stop by our ticket window and pick up an Uphill and Trail Access Pass. For a $25 administrative fee, you can access our trail network at any time. We’ll supply you with a best practices guide, recommended trails, and a groovy pass that will be sure to impress your friends. Your glutes will thank you!

Smugglers’ Notch Ski Area
At Smugglers’, health and safety are top priorities. Locals love taking advantage of the spectacular nighttime views off Madonna Summit and the physical challenge of trekking uphill to reach it. Uphill travel is allowed during times outlined specifically to each mountain, but never during the hours of lift operations. We set these times with regard to respect and safety of our guests, and for the hard-working operations team, making snow and grooming our terrain for the benefit of our daytime skiers and riders. It is important to remember there are no rescue services available outside of lift operation hours. For a complete list of policies pertaining to uphill travel at Smugglers’, visit www.smuggs.com/policies

Magic Mountain
Uphill skinning and snowshoeing continue to increase in popularity, with uphill travel up over 20% vs. one year ago. Magic continues not to charge fees for access to its mountain for uphill travelers who “earn their turns”, and even offers one free lift ride that same day for those that ascend to the top. Magic has specific uphill travel routes for both skiers and snowshoers, and with connections to the backside of Magic (old Timber Ridge ski area), Magic has also developed programs around Alpine Touring. Magic’s rental shop is one of the few ski areas to offer AT gear for rent and instructional lessons and tours for new AT-ers through Magic’s Snowsports Learning Center with advanced reservations for backcountry into Timber Ridge and our own gladed system off the front side. The adventure continues at Magic for those that seek it. https://magicmtn.com/uphill/  https://magicmtn.com/tours-clinics/

Kilington Resort and Pico Mountain
Killington and Pico’s Uphill Travel Policy is as follows:

  • All uphill travelers are required to have an Uphill Travel Pass with photo ID and must sign a Winter Uphill Travel Express Assumption of Risk Form before accessing open and designated uphill routes at Killington and Pico. Signature of an Express Assumption of Risk Form by parent or legal guardian is required for minor children ages 17 and under. A new Uphill Travel Pass and completed Winter Uphill Travel Express Assumption of Risk Form is required each season.
  • Passes must be carried by all uphill travelers at all times whenever they utilize uphill routes on resort property, during both operating and non-operating hours. Please be prepared to present your pass to resort personnel upon request.
  • There is no charge for an Uphill Travel Pass for anyone who has already purchased a current season Killington or Pico Winter Season Pass. Uphill Travel Passes are available at the Killington and Pico Season Pass offices during operating hours.
  • For those who haven’t purchased a current season Killington or Pico Winter season pass, an Uphill Travel Pass can be purchased for $20. Uphill Travel Passes may be used at both Killington Resort and Pico Mountain.
  • An Uphill Travel Pass DOES NOT provide lift access either up or down the mountain.

Bromley Mountain
Earn your turns this season by taking advantage of Bromley's three beautiful uphill routes. From dawn to dusk, skin, snowshoe or hike your way to the summit for 360-degree views of the Green Mountains. Before you begin your journey be sure to check the snow report for the latest on conditions and closures. Visit our website for uphill pass information and more details.

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