Single-Chair Skiing

by Bea | February 24th, 2012 | Destination Highlight

For those ski fanatics out there, did you know that a single-skier chair exists? In fact, there are two ski areas in the USA. One is at Mt.Eyak in Cordova, Alaska and the other is at Mad River Glen in Waitsfield, Vermont.

Riding on a single-chair lift is a unique experience. It’s just you, the chair, and the mountain. True, I’ve had my fair share of silent lift rides up, but here you have no choice. The now-famous Single Chair at Mad River Glen (ski it if you can) is the fastest fixed-grip chairlift in the US. The lift ride from the base to the summit averages around 11 minutes long. It also has a midstation that you can get off at. Adding on to the list of unique factors, it’s the only chairlift in VT in which you don’t have to return to the base of the lift to return to the summit. The Single Chair also helps to control the volume of skiers on the mountain at one time.

The Single Chair has caused some problems, but in the end, it helped to bring more character to Mad River Glen. Mad River Glen is one of three ski areas in the US that bans snowboarding, even though they were one of the first to allow it back in 1986. However, because of the way snowboarders were getting off of the Single Chair, they kept detaching it. This limited them to the Sunnyside or practice area chair. This caused some heated debate, but in the end, it was all or nothing, and the then-owner chose nothing. The Co-op voted to keep the ban with 75% approval and it will take two thirds of the Co-op to overturn that vote.

The single-chair started running in 1948 when Rolland Palmedo (the founder of Stowe) decided that he wanted a place to ski where skiing took precedence over profit. He wanted to work with nature rather than turn it into a big business industry or a resort. This vision of his took off, and in 1995, the Mad River Glen Cooperative was formed. Shares continue to be sold for $2000 each, and this money goes towards renovations such as the rebuild of the Patrol and Ski School building. The Co-op system works for Mad River Glen– they are not only surviving, but they are able to replace things like the Sunnyside Double Chair.

Mad River Glen: Ski It If You Can!

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