Component of 10-Year Master Plan to Double Size of Maine Ski Resort
Carrabassett Valley, ME – A longtime dream for many Sugarloafers for much of the Sugarloaf’s 60-year history, and rumored across the mountain for the past several months, became a reality on Tuesday when officials at the Maine ski resort announced the beginning this winter of a massive terrain expansion onto Burnt Mountain, the resort’s neighboring peak. Officials of Boyne Resorts, Sugarloaf’s parent company, also on Tuesday unveiled a comprehensive, ten-year vision for development at the resort, called Sugarloaf 2020.nStephen Kircher, President of the company’s Boyne East division, joined Sugarloaf General Manager John Diller in making the announcement on Tuesday. In attendance were several local business leaders and Maine tourism officials.
Expanding onto adjacent Burnt Mountain will make Maine’s Sugarloaf the largest ski resort in North America east of the Rocky Mountains in terms of total skiable acreage.
The terrain expansion to Burnt Mountain was the centerpiece of today’s announcement, and will create up to 270 acres of new terrain for the upcoming season, and 655 new acres when the entire project is complete. This will double Sugarloaf’s current 651 acres and make it at 1306 acres the largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains in terms of total skiable acreage.
The new terrain will all be gladed sidecountry, offering skiers and riders a backcountry style experience with the same security found on patrolled, in-bounds terrain. The expansion is slated to be completed in three phases, the first of which will be the 270-acre Brackett Basin area, which will begin to open during the upcoming season. The second phase will encompass 135 acres, including the 3,595-foot summit of Burnt Mountain, and will open a second above-treeline area to accompany Sugarloaf’s legendary Snowfields. The third and final phase will be 250 acres, and will open the north face of Burnt Mountain.
When complete over three to six years, skiers will find a vast 655-acre glade, providing an experience touted by company officials as unlike anything else in the East. The new terrain will feature different styles of skiing and riding, from tight, steep eastern tree skiing, to wide open western style glades, to cliff bands and more.
Access to the new terrain on Burnt Mountain this winter will be via a cat track from the top of the existing King Pine Quad. At this time Boyne has no confirmed plans to install lifts on Burnt Mountain, although uphill service could be provided by snowcat or a surface lift in the future.
“This is really a revolutionary type of ski area expansion, and uniquely Sugarloaf,” Diller said. “No grooming, no snowmaking, no real estate – just pure skiing, which is what we think the core Sugarloaf skiers and riders are ultimately looking for.”
Although the Burnt Mountain expansion was the biggest piece of today’s announcement, officials also took the opportunity to unveil a new, comprehensive ten-year vision for the resort, called Sugarloaf 2020. The vision outlines future plans for capital improvements at the resort, including new lifts, upgrades to the resort’s snowmaking system, base lodge and facility improvements, as well as plans for summertime offerings including the popular new zip lines, which were installed this summer.
A new, fixed-grip quad to replace the current high-traffic Spillway lift will be the first priority in the lift replacement plan guided by Sugarloaf 2020. Options being explored for the following step include a possible t-bar to the summit to ensure access on even the windiest days, a replacement of the Timberline lift with a new extension to the Bullwinkle’s area, a fixed-grip quad to replace the Double Runner Chairs, or a replacement for the West Mountain Chair. Most high profile, however, is the future consideration of a possible base-to-summit lift spanning the resort’s full 2,820 vertical feet, much as used to exist in the resort’s now-defunct gondola.
Renovations to the exterior of the Sugarloaf Base Lodge are currently underway, as are several snowmaking improvements, including over 600 feet of new snowmaking lines to key areas such as Lombard Crosscut and Tohaul, which will allow the resort to open terrain on the east side of the mountain earlier in the season.
“Since we joined the Sugarloaf family in 2007 we’ve spent lots of time getting to know the place, and what makes Sugarloaf so unique in this industry,” Kircher said. “Now that we feel we have a good grasp on what that is, we think we have a very solid vision for the future. Every resort is unique and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. In the Sugarloaf 2020 plan we’re confident that we have a good vision, uniquely tailored to fit the true DNA of Sugarloaf.”
The massive expansion of terrain and plans for future investment are expected to make Sugarloaf a more noticeable destination for skiers, providing a boost to the local economy and to the Maine winter tourism industry.
“There’s no question that this is a game changer,” said Brad Larsen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sugarloaf. “With this new terrain Sugarloaf becomes the largest ski area in the East, with some of the most unique terrain and an unrivaled overall experience. It instantly puts us on every skier’s ‘must-do’ list.”
Tree clearing on Burnt Mountain is scheduled to begin on Monday. Trees felled Burnt Mountain will be sold at a profit.