|Smugglers' Notch, Vermont|
|Vertical Drop:||2610 feet|
|Standing Lifts:||6 doubles, surface lifts|
|Past Lifts:||Surface lifts|
|Left: Madonna and Sterling as seen from Morse (2015)|
|Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
|1/8/2015: Smugglers Notch Snowmaking Pump House Burns|
Last updated: January 13, 2018
Located north of Stowe, Smugglers Notch is a unique resort that features plentiful family learning terrain, aggressive expert trails, and a chairlift infrastructure composed solely of fixed grip doubles.|
Smugglers' Notch ski area possibly dates back to the early 1950s as a small rope tow ski area. Not much is known about this development, but it is possible it was not located within the footprint of the present day resort.
In 1956-57, a group of local Jeffersonville residents financed the development of a new ski area in Smugglers Notch. Led by Dr. Roger Mann and former Okemo manager Warren Warner, Smugglers Notch Ski-Ways, Inc. enlisted the help of the Vermont Department of Forests and Parks as well as nearby Stowe.
The state of Vermont built a 300 car parking lot and a 1,600 foot warming hut, while the ownership built a smaller building to host a ski shop and ski patrol. The Southwest Passage trail was cut to provide a connection from the new ski area's Sterling Mountain to Spruce Peak at Stowe, while the Northeast Passage trail provided a link from the top of Spruce Peak back to Sterling Mountain.
The lower mountain was served by a 2,000 foot long Poma lift. From the top of that lift, skiers could ski over to a 3,300 foot long Poma, which then carried them to the top of Sterling Mountain. Trail names such as "Rum Runner," "Hangman's Noose," and "The Black Snake" were derived from smugglers who frequented Smugglers Notch during the War of 1812. The combined ride time of the two lifts was billed as 8 minutes.
By 1958-59, Smugglers Notch sported 6 trails ranging from beginner to expert, served by the two Pomalifts.
Also during the 1950s, IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr. and his family had a ski home in nearby Stowe. In 1957, IBM opened a facility in nearby Essex Junction.
Becoming a Major Ski Area
Allegedly a minority Stowe shareholder, Watson became frustrated with a real estate issue. As the legend goes, one day Watson skied around to Sterling Mountain from Spruce Peak and saw the potential for a massive ski development in Smugglers Notch.
Madonna Mountain in the late 1960s
A third Pomalift was installed for the 1960-61 season, serving the Sterling Practice Slope.
For the 1963-64 season, a double chairlift was installed by helicopter on Madonna Mountain. One of the longest chairlifts in the world, the new lift expanded the ski area's vertical drop from about 1,500 feet to 2,150 feet. Three new trails were expected for the start of the season, with a few more soon to follow.
In 1964, Thomas Watson Jr. and his brother, IBM World Trade Corporation President Arthur "Dick" Watson, likely acquired a majority ownership stake in the ski area.
Big changes were in store for their first full season in charge of the ski area.
For the 1964-65 season, a double chairlift was installed on Sterling Mountain, providing skiers with a modern ride to the summit as compared to the two Poma lifts. Now a major area, Watson decided to change the name of Smugglers Notch ski area to Madonna Mountain in honor of Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
Three more trails were added for 1966-67, while larger changes were working their way through the pipeline.
Becoming a Major Resort
Rumors of a large 2,000 acre land acquisition via a Watson agent spread around New England in January 1967. In April of 1967, General Manager Rolland Vautour announced a dramatic 10 year, 8 phase expansion plan, which was expected to quadruple the size of the ski area. The first phase of this plan was realized immediately, as about $750,000 was spent to develop the Morse Mountain area.
Morse in the 1970s
The initial Morse Mountain development included a 5,155 foot Hall double chairlift, four new trails, and a two million gallon snowmaking pond. At the bottom of the new area, a large four season village was started. $300,000 was invested in Morse snowmaking infrastructure for 1968-69.
Watson Steps Down
In November of 1970, owner Thomas Watson suffered a heart attack. Though he recovered from it, he cut back on his business interests, first stepping down as CEO of IBM in June of 1971. Three years after his heart attack, Madonna Mountain Corporation sold the ski area to a subsidiary of Stanmar, Inc., called Smuggler's Notch Corp. While Thomas Watson would still have more adventures ahead of him, such as becoming US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Arthur Watson would die a few years later as a result of a fall at home.
Madonna Mountain circa the 1970s
Headed up by Stanley Snider, Smuggler's Notch Corp. focused on Snider's specialty, resort development. One of the first changes took place immediately, as the ski area was renamed Smuggler's Notch for the 1973-74 season.
Its first noticeable on-mountain addition took place in 1979, when the Madonna II chairlift was installed.
In January of 1987, former AT&T Vice President William P. Stritzler became Managing Director at Smugglers' Notch.
A second double chairlift, purchased from defunct Timber Ridge-Magic Mountain ski area, was installed on Morse Mountain for the 1993-94 season. The following year, a T-Bar was installed on the Sterling Practice Slope.
Deciding to retire, Stanley Snider sold Smugglers' Notch to Stritzler in late 1996. Former Stanmar Comptroller Robert F. Mulcahy remained on board in upper management.
The Catwalk trail on Madonna Mountain (2004)
Three years later, the Morse Highlands complex was developed, served by a small double chairlift.
Though one of the largest ski areas in the state, Smugglers' Notch has had relatively modest lift infrastructure for decades. In fact, Smugglers' Notch is the only ski area in New England with a 2,000 foot vertical drop that has not replaced any of its original aerial lifts. To date, all of the chairlifts at Smuggler's Notch are Hall doubles, which have been kept in excellent condition thanks to modifications with Doppelmayr-CTEC parts.
||Average Percent of Terrain Open
|November||10% (1 report)|
|December||58% (23 reports)|
|January||73% (41 reports)|
|February||85% (36 reports)|
|March||78% (31 reports)|
|April||79% (12 reports)||
-- start conditions table -->
|Recent Conditions Reports|
|Feb. 12, 2018 by jomogul|
Variable Conditions, Loose Granular
|Feb. 10, 2018 by jomogul|
Packed Powder, Variable Conditions
|Feb. 9, 2018 by jomogul|
Packed Powder, Powder
|Feb. 8, 2018 by jomogul|
Packed Powder, Packed Powder
|Feb. 7, 2018 by jomogul|
Powder, Packed Powder
|Smugglers Notch on NewEnglandSkiConditions.com|
Click on lift name for information and photos
Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
||Season Pass Price
|2018-19||$79.00||$659.00||8.3 days||November 23|
|2017-18||$81.00||$649.00||8.0 days||November 24||April 15|
|2016-17||$72.00||$669.00||9.3 days||November 25||April 16|
|2015-16||$72.00||$669.00||9.3 days||November 27||April 3|
|2014-15||$70.00||$649.00||9.3 days||November 22||April 19|
|2013-14||$68.00||$649.00||9.5 days||November 29||April 20|
|2012-13||$66.00||$619.00||9.4 days||November 23||April 14|
|2011-12||$66.00||$619.00||9.4 days||December 4||March 25|
|2010-11||$64.00||November 27||April 17|
|2009-10||$62.00||$599.00||9.7 days||December 8||April 6|
||Season Pass Price
|2008-09||$62.00||$619.00||10.0 days||November 28||April 12|
|2007-08||$60.00||$599.00||10.0 days||November 23||April 13|
|2006-07||$58.00||$579.00||10.0 days||December 5||April 15|
|2005-06||$58.00||November 25||April 16|
|2003-04||$54.00||$559.00||10.4 days||April 11|
|2001-02||$48.00||$519.00||10.8 days||November 23||April 15|
|2000-01||$48.00||$499.00||10.4 days||April 22|
||Season Pass Price
||Season Pass Price
||Season Pass Price
||Season Pass Price
|1961-62||December 15||April 14||31,760|
|1959-60||$5.00||December 19||April 16||37,650|
||Season Pass Price
|1958-59||December 6||April 12||35,000|
|"My Childhood memories 95% start with "While at Smuggs".... My parents moved back to VT when I was 4, in the shadow of the mountain in Cambridge. Unfortunately my first year memory skiing is breaking my left leg on the Sterling Practice slope. This was before the lift was put in and was a tow-rope. How we hated the rope..... My mom would drop off my 3 older brothers and I in the AM with a bag lunch and pick us up at when the lifts closed. A season's pass for Cambridge residents was $25 and my parents wanted their money's worth.....seriously. Tree skiing while being chased by the ski patrol, building jumps, first tracks when it snowed heavy, and so much more fun. This continued through LUHS, VTC/UVM and working at IBM in Essex. While I may ski a bit slower now and then....my favorite trail combo is still Upper FIS, Lower Glades, Goat Path, Lower lift line. Back in the day, I would head to the chair for more. Now I head to the bar...:)
I hope the next generation enjoys as much as I did.
|John Wyckoff, Feb. 13, 2017|
|"I worked as a cocktail/food service waitress back in the late 60's when the restaurant on Morse was called the 'SnowSnake Lounge'. Dixie Noll was the operator back then.I had a wonderful time working for the mountain..I was there for 3 Winters. Nice memories and lots of fun...I'm now 70 years old...and still remember the people I worked with."|
|Marlou Ordelt, Feb. 13, 2016|
|"smuggs is amazing. I'm 15, and my family has been going since I was I don't know, 5 maybe? Maybe younger! I have a ton of fantastic memories! Here's a few :) 1. To this day, I met a girl when I was about 7 I believe... Smuggs is where I met my first best friend!2. Johanna and Eric! So my brother and sister started snow boarding before me with Johanna and I would go with Eric ( they both don't work there any more) but they are amazing!!!! They showed me So much! 3. Rob!!! Now, I have rob as my instructor, he is so nice!! 4. EVERYONE is friendly. Doesn't matter where you live, when you get to smuggs, be ready to have a ton of friendly people looking to help you or assist you for whatever you need! That's just 4 reasons why I love smuggs. Here, I'm 15 and smuggs is 5 hours away from my house. I am stuck with my older brother and sister in a car for 5 hours. But honestly? For smuggs, I would PROBLEY drive all day! It's totally worth it!!! "|
|Molly Cooper, Jun. 1, 2015|
|"My memories skiing Madonna Mt. go back to the early 1970's Skied Madonna several times. Loved that it was not like other places where the NYC sophisticates invaded (Stowe and the like.) If you wanted to be challenged there were plenty of minimally groomed trails back then. I recall having a fantastic basket lunch at the mountain top where what appeared to be a frozen lake oe bowl. There was a narrow trail that connected Madonna to Stowe, You literally could go up slope at Madonna and ski down Stowe ( though I never tried it.) I remember lodging at the Smugglers Notch Inn. Their breakfast was fantastic; home made cinnamon buns were out of this world. A small bar in the basement decorated in alpine wood was a perfect place to tell tales of the runs we took during an afternoon of skiing Madonna. WOW talk about a time travel through memory lane ! Forever a warm spot in my heart. "|
|Ron Zeman, Nov. 30, 2014|
|"my grandparents owned a house in Jeffersonville in the 60's and seventies. they were among the origioal plank owners when it was started. someone came around selling shares door to door the push was that the jeff high school ski team shouldn,t practice at thier opponents hill[stowe] the first year they opened I was 5 through the 50's and 60's vacations were a week at acadia and a week or two at jeff I learned to ski at the notch and will always consider this as my 'home hill' i'm 62 now and when I die I want my ashes scattered on the rum runner I want to spend eternity on sterling mountain '"|
|eric laier, Oct. 11, 2013|
|"My husband Steve and I met at Smugglers 36 years ago while working at the Red Fox Ski Dorm. Life "|
|Grace McKearin, Feb. 22, 2013|
Smugglers' Notch - official site