AlpineZone Challenge 2004 – Ethan Binns of Magic Mountain

The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Ethan BinnsDirector of Marketing of Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vermont, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 5/25/2004:

Joshua B: What is the status of the mid-mountain lift that was partially installed last year?

Ethan Binns: The Phoenix Chairlift is still partially installed. Budgeting considerations are still being made for the summer and 04/05 ski season. If deemed financially feasible a continuance of the installation process will be set in motion later this summer.

skijay: Since Magic has tubing, does that cater to specific “tubing” only crowd or does it attract skiers who tube since they are already at the mountain?

Ethan Binns: Many families visit the Ala Kazaam Snow Tube Park throughout the season. Some which ski or ride that day and others who seek out Magic specifically for the tubing. It is a very popular attraction for the ski area. Both young and old thoroughly enjoy the time they spend on it. For those who visit and do not ski or ride it is a great way for them to be introduced the mountain culture.

Joshua B: Does Magic have any trails that they can claim hold records for steepness and/or difficulty?

Ethan Binns: When you get into trail rating things tend to be incredulously ambiguous. Nonetheless, Magic Mountain does have the most double diamond terrain in Southern Vermont. Magic’s expert runs are exactly that, after having skied or ridden at Magic everywhere else you visit will seem a bit tamer. The majority of Magic’s expert runs are so steep and technical that it is not possible to completely groom them, which increases the level of enjoyment sought by the thrill seekers the mountain attracts. Master Magician has a sustained pitch of 45 degrees for about a 300 yard section, standing atop the trails headwall one can only see about three turns down the slope before it drops off into oblivion. Another fabled trail is Redline. When descending the Redline a person finds themselves exposed in an intimate setting underneath the vigilant and sometimes boisterous customers riding the Red Chair to the summit. The Redline is riddled with bumps, jumps, stumps, lift towers, cliffs and rocks to negotiate all the way down. On a Powder Day there is no better run to showcase your skills on the snow. Where most mountains in the East may have one or two premier expert runs, Magic has over a half dozen. Your best bet is to get out and take them on for yourself.

riverc0il: There was a rumor circulating about a while ago about Magic Mountain having a wind farm installed which would provide additional cash flow for the mountain. What is the latest word on this?

Ethan Binns: There is a development project for a proposed wind farm on the ridgeline of Glebe Mountain. As currently presented 17 of the turbines would be on Magic Mountain’s property. For information on the Glebe Mountain Wind Project please visit the Catamount Energy Corporation website.

riverc0il: Word is that the Red and Black chair will have a state inspection done this year and of course any needed repairs made to them. What is the short and long term plans for the two current chair lifts?

Ethan Binns: Every lift (aerial and surface) in the state of Vermont has to be inspected prior to the public being allowed on them. Both the Red and Black chairs are scheduled to be load tested and inspected this summer. The short and long term plans for the two lifts is to maintain them and continue their operation. The Red Chair is scheduled to get a face lift, new paint (red of course) and new seats this summer. The Black Chair has a long term plan of extending the length up top, unloading passengers up past Wizard and installing a new drive terminal slightly uphill of the present loading location.

riverc0il: Are there any plans to reopen the beginner terrain skier’s left of the Black Chair? Is a reopening of the Timberside ever going to become an option or is that land long gone? Are there any plans to add additional terrain?

Ethan Binns: We fully recognize the importance of reopening the beginner area by Trailside Condominiums. It is very high on Magic’s list of priorities. It is unfortunate that the area is currently limited by financial restraints that hinder any lift installation. There is always the possibility of a new investor joining the mountain. The beginner slopes, Rabbit Run and Little Dipper, have actually never technically been closed, however to get to them via lift service one has to descend the West side of the mountain which renders them useless to beginners. A beginner chairlift for the true learning area would be prioritized after finishing off the mid mountain Phoenix Chair.

Timberside is privately owned land which is no longer a part of Magic Mountain.

There is chatter about trail crews (mainly volunteers) this summer and working on the existing runs and clearing out some more glades. One area of particular would be the Enchanted Forest at the top of the mountain to the left of the Red Chair when riding up which would be an ideal intermediate glade. It should also be noted that maintaining the existing trail system is a monumental endeavor that takes many people and a tremendous amount of labor. Making sure the existing trails are ready come first snowfall takes precedence over creating new ones.

jimme: Has Magic Mountain planned any repairs to the buildings, bathrooms and any other structures over this summer, or are there other items needing more immediate attention? Are there any other infrastructure improvements planned for the off season in preparation for the 2004-2005 season?

Ethan Binns: Magic is continuously making repairs to existing structures. Currently the garage (located adjacent to the Trail Side Condominium parking lot) for the snow cats is being rebuilt. There are also dozens of smaller projects that are done on a day to day basis, i.e. replacing old paneling and lumber on the decks and staircases as well as landscaping around the base lodge. Refurbishing the bathrooms and ceilings of the lodge is being explored. The larger more important issue is increasing the lodges’ available water supply which would allow for greater capacity in regards to the bathrooms.

jimme: The large map on the Red Chair shed includes Timberside. Are there any plans on replacing it with a map of the current trail system?

Ethan Binns: No. Consider the map a piece of nostalgia from Magic’s storied history. However a new pocket trail map is in the works and should be ready for the 04/05 season.

jimme: Does Magic Mountain allow boundary to boundary skiing in the same manner as Mad River Glen?

Ethan Binns: No. Technically speaking guests should stay on the trail system. If one decides to venture into the woods they are responsible for their own actions. In the state of VT if a search and rescue needs to be preformed the missing party is responsible for all costs incurred. For safety reasons at any ski area, if one does decide to go into the woods they should only do so with a group of at least three people and not after 3:00 PM. Magic Mountain’s Ski Patrol only sweeps the trail system at the end of each day.

jimme: Any long or short term plans for a high-speed lift, or will Magic Mountain stay with fixed grip lifts even when replacement is necessary? Are there any plans in the near future to upgrade existing lifts or add additional lifts?

Ethan Binns: Magic is always exploring the feasibility of adding more chairlifts. The number one priority is the completion of the Phoenix Chairlift. Once that project is completed the addition of a chairlift for the beginner area will be considered. High speed detectable lifts are not in the foreseeable future. Magic Mountain’s trail system is so that fixed grip lifts limit the amount if skier/rider traffic on any giving slope ensuring that you will never encounter a crowd. That is what skiing and riding is all about, the runs down, not the ride up. As a footnote, the ride time with out stops on the Red Chair is 12 minutes.

To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: width=