Okemo trail

Among the changes at Okemo Mountain Resort this year is this new trail from Mountain Road to nthe base of the new Evergreen Summit Express

The summits of most New England ski mountains are quiet places on a fall afternoon. Not so at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt., this year.

Instead, the slopes buzzed with trucks and heavy equipment — even helicopters — as crews of helmeted workers set the foundations for towers that will carry Okemo’s new high-speed bubble quad and high-speed six-pack chairlifts. Elsewhere, crews moved truckloads of crushed stone and poured bridge abutments for a new trail connecting the two.

These two lifts not only improve the flow of skiers to and from the Gore Mountain side of the resort, but also take a lot of pressure off the Sachem Quad and the Sunburst Six lifts at the bottom of the main mountain.

Formerly, skiers staying at the Jackson Gore area had to ride a four-pack lift to the top of Gore Mountain, then ski Summit Strip down to Mountain Road. Following it across the main mountain, they could access the Sachem and Sunburst lifts at the Clock Tower base to ride to the summit.

This year’s changes move the four-pack lift from Gore Mountain and replace it with a new Quantum Six 6-pack on Gore. The Gore 4-pack is being installed on Okemo Mountain at the point where the Green Ridge Triple once provided mid-mountain access to the Summit Lodge. This replacement quad is now renamed the Evergreen Summit Express.

Connecting the two lifts is a new trail from Mountain Road, beginning at its intersection with the Heaven’s Gate trail and bringing skiers directly to the base of the new Evergreen Express. Skiers will no longer need to ski down to the Clock Tower base, and its more crowded lifts, to reach the summit and trails on Okemo Mountain.

These changes had long been under consideration by Okemo, but the massive expense of installing a pair of lifts was daunting. The long lift lines at the Sachem and Sunburst lifts have only been getting worse, the congestion largely caused by Gore-based skiers and Clock Tower skiers having to use the same lifts to Okemo’s summit.

Now, problem solved, skiers can look forward to a less crowded season this year.

Okemo is now a part of Vail Resorts, along with the New Hampshire ski areas of Crotched Mountain, Mount Sunapee, Ragged Mountain, Attitash and Wildcat. These, along with Stowe and Mount Snow in Vermont, are all included in various money-saving passes.