LONDONDERRY, Vt. – “People know that Magic [Mountain] has an unbelievable terrain area. If we can prove that we can be consistently open earlier, with more snowmaking on more trails and great grooming combined with the raw terrain, the glades, and the steepness that we have, it really creates a special, unique place to visit,” says Ski Magic President Geoff Hatheway.
Magic Mountain was recently purchased by a group of 16 investors, who grew up skiing together in southern Vermont, including on Magic Mountain. Their goal is to improve the mountain and the quality of the experience for skiers, while maintaining the small-mountain community and atmosphere. In the next five years, Magic hopes to increase their customer base from 20,000 to 36,000 — accommodating only 1 percent of Vermont’s 1.7 million annual visitors.
“If we’re at that level, the mountain still won’t be crowded, so the ski experience will still be what we want it to be,” Hatheway said. “Nice open trails and freedom — you’re not worried about running into another skier. But we hope this will provide the revenue for us to be profitable on a very consistent basis. We’ll be able to either put more money back into the mountain for further improvements down the road or return money to the investors. We’re going to run this like a business, but one with very special character.”
Over the past few years, Hatheway worries that inconsistent management and open trails have made people think the mountain has been closed. That is not the case; Ski Magic has made huge investments over the past year to bring machinery up to code, and this summer, they will invest over $1 million in lift and snowmaking expansion.
Last year, the ski lifts were repaired and are now up to code. There are two bottom-to-summit lifts, a red one with two-person chairs and a black one with three-person chairs, and two surface lifts for the tubing park.
Magic also began reparations on underground water pipes, originally laid in the 1980s, to support the latest snow-gun technology. They are now able to consistently and efficiently produce double the amount of snow they were making before.
This summer, Ski Magic approved a number of major projects, which will all enhance the skiers’ experience.
Ski Magic plans to finish a new base area mid-mountain lift (Green Chair), which was started in the early 2000s but never completed. This will improve beginner and intermediate trail accessibility and allow an earlier season start to operations; the lower half terrain can be covered more quickly with snowmaking.
In addition to the Green Chair, Magic will also invest in a new conveyor lift (Magic Carpet) for a new beginner area (Little Dipper), which will overlook the Snowsport Learning Center. The current handle tow lift will continue operation on Hocus Pocus, which will be transformed into a terrain park for freeriders of all ages.
Ski Mountain will also invest in extensive snowmaking pipe repair and replacement, to improve efficiency and reliability, ensuring a variety of terrain earlier in the season, on both the East and West side of the mountain. They also plan to invest in some additional energy-efficient snowmaking guns, which will compliment their new fleet of HKDs.
To meet increased water demands for increased snowmaking, Magic will also be increasing the size of the pond with a new dam and reestablishing the old brook pump to help refill the pond during periods of high water flow. They’re working in coordination with the State of Vermont Regulators, who want ponds taken “off-stream” to protect fish living downstream. Ski Magic plans to reroute a feeder stream to meet these goals.
The reinstatement of Magic Mountain has also been good for local economy, welcoming the 50 percent of Magic’s employees that were laid off last spring and new employees: community members or folks from southern Vermont.
Magic Mountain hopes that their investments will improve the ski season’s length, quality, and reliability for their die-hard skiers, and offer fun experiences for skiers of all ages and experience levels. For more information, visit www.magicmtn.com.