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Volunteers help raise the bar at Ascutney Outdoors ski area

  • Felicity and Nick Knight, of West Windsor, Vt., attach skins to their ski at Mount Ascutney in West Windsor, Vt., on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. The couple met at the mountain 20 years ago when she was an intern working at the ski hill and he ran the snow making and lift operations. They were preparing to skin to the top of the mountain. They are also both volunteers at the mountain. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Ascutney Outdoors volunteer Rick Fallon, of West Windsor, Vt., helps skier Marley Waldo, 6, of Jericho, Vt., load onto the T-bar at Mount Ascutney in West Windsor, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Waldo was skiing with his father Ethan who grew up skiing on the mountain. This was Marley's first time on skis. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • At the top of the T-bar volunteers Laura Farrell, of West Windsor, Vt., talks with Mark Lather, of Brownsville, Vt., who is on the safety patrol at the mountain. Both were volunteering at Mount Ascutney in West Windsor, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Farrell played a large part in building the rope tow at the ski hill. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 2/22/2020 10:15:23 PM
Modified: 2/22/2020 10:15:18 PM

BROWNSVILLE — Well-groomed trails, sunshine and mild temperatures have kept the T-bar at Ascutney Outdoors busy with skiers and snowboarders the last two weekends.

Before the 1,800-foot T-bar, installed last fall, opened up 12 trails and 30 acres of terrain, there was only one trail serviced by a tow rope. Now, with more varied trails and adult lift tickets just $15 at the all-volunteer nonprofit ski area, those on the slopes Saturday had nothing but good things to say about their experience.

“It was awesome,” Dana Deschamp said, taking a break in the Outdoor Center lodge just below the trails.

Deschamp, who lives on the mountain, was with her three children, and she repeated what many others have said: “I learned to ski here.”

Outside on the Outdoor Center’s deck, Patrick Lydonovitt waxed nostalgic while waxing his skis before taking some runs with his 13-year-old son, also named Patrick.

“I learned how to ski on this mountain in ’86,” Lydonovitt said. “Some sweet memories here.”

The new T-bar operating — operating for just the sixth time this year because of very little natural snow — was installed over the summer and fall and became operational in early December.

Ascutney Outdoors also introduced a groomer this season, a critical piece of equipment to make the terrain skiable.

“Sweet job, Glenn,” one skier said as she came by volunteer Glenn Seward on her way to the T-bar, complimenting him for grooming the trails into the ridge-and-groove pattern known as corduroy. At the top of the lift, another skier gave him a thumbs-up.

Seward, a former Selectboard member, was the driving force behind the effort several years ago to buy the former Mount Ascutney Resort, which closed for financial reasons in 2010. He credits the generosity and hard work of people in the community to make the effort a success.

“Everybody has been incredibly generous with their time,” Seward said.

Shelley Seward, who’s married to Glenn, said they need about 20 volunteers to open both the T-bar and tubing run, which sits below the lodge and runs down to the front of the Orange Lake Resort Hotel.

She said they draw from a pool of about 90 volunteers who can devote varying amounts of their time.

“We have been delighted by how many people have offered to help in the last six months,” she said, standing near the tubing run with several children getting ready for a fast ride down the hill.

With no snowmaking, the trails are 100% dependent on natural snowfall. While there hasn’t been much this winter, the Sewards said it has been the “right kind of snow.”

Shelley Seward said just 6 inches of snow has been enough to open the ski area.

The popularity of Ascutney Outdoors has come as a bit of a surprise. Over the three-day Presidents Day weekend, they sold about 850 tickets for the T-bar and tubing run, according to Shelley Seward. And many were coming back to reminisce about skiing at the former resort.

“Some had not skied here in 15 years,” she said. “Everyone had a story to tell about learning to ski here.”

Some skiers slipped what are called “skins” — coverings that add grip and prevent sliding down the mountain — onto their skis after getting off the lift, so they could continue to climb and ski down ungroomed trails that were part of the former resort.

The lift ticket prices are certainly a draw, especially for families with young children learning to ski.

Shelley Seward said two families from Connecticut with a total of eight people had first gone to a large area resort last weekend but left when they were told lift tickets would cost more than $400 for one day.

“They came here and skied for $90,” she said. “We may not have the biggest, but we can offer good skiing here at a great price.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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