March 2018 | Preserve Our Paradise Campaign Newsletter
The campaign is making a difference!
Thanks to the generosity of our many donors, campaign funds are now starting to make a significant difference in Mad River Glen’s operations. Bit by bit, each of these improvements will help our mountain operate in a more efficient manner, provide much-needed simple renovations to our buildings, improve early season skiing on our lower elevations, and improve our ability to operate on limited natural snow.

The campaign recently funded purchase of two snow machines , an all-terrain vehicle, and a dump truck . All equipment was purchased lightly-used and will provide many years of service. These acquisitions provide our dedicated mountain staff with reliable and safe equipment as they work to keep the mountain in peak operating condition on a year-round basis.
A busy summer for campaign projects
This summer will be our busiest yet for campaign projects! Thanks to the success of recent fundraising efforts, Stark Mountain Foundation has already awarded over $230,000 in grants for several projects to be completed this summer, with another $70,000 in the pipeline. These include:

New deck and entrance for the Birdcage . The Birdcage will gain a Basebox-style deck for skiers and hikers to enjoy on warm days.   And for those wintery days, a new vestibule entrance will reduce operating costs and increase interior comfort by mitigating cold air blasts. The stairway was also recently rebuilt with campaign funds. This is the first phase in plans to revitalize and increase usage of the Birdcage and Birdland area. ($100,000 grant)

A new snowmaking pump will allow us to operate more guns at the same time, improve operating capacity at higher elevations, and also allow eventual restoration of snowmaking to the 2,300 foot elevation above the Birdcage. This additional coverage will greatly improve our ability to operate the main mountain during lean snow periods. ($84,745 grant)

A summer trail crew will cut back growth that has been gradually encroaching on our trails over the years, as well as maintaining and improving our fabled glades. ($27,500 grant)

New culverts and bridges will be installed on a dozen of Mad River’s trails, improving drainage and further enhancing our ability to operate with limited natural snow. ($20,000 grant)

Improvements to the Practice Slope Lift will include catwalks and lifting frames which will greatly improve worker safety and efficiency. The motor will be rebuilt and a new variable frequency drive will allow the lift to be run at different speeds to save energy and better accommodate loading children. ($70,000 grant)

Previous donations have already funded a new groomer, a new snowmaking electrical system, several new snowmaking guns, a new patrol/warming hut at the top of the Double, and a new mountain mower. In future years, we will see increasingly visible projects that will improve our operational efficiency and customer experience without changing the classic atmosphere that is part of Mad River Glen’s heritage. Your support is still needed for the many important projects in the pipeline! For more information about the campaign and what’s coming, visit .

Interview with John Schultz
John Schultz is one of Mad River's best-known and most colorful personalities. He's a longtime ski instructor, one of the best MRG skiers ever, and was instrumental in founding the Cooperative.
Can you share some of your earliest memories of Mad River Glen and what drew you to the area? How has the place remained the same and how has it changed?

John: I have very fond memories of staying with our family friends, the Hillys, at their farmhouse in Waitsfield in the mid-fifties. Mad River was just the Single and the Practice Slope rope tow. The rope tow served only the one wide, steep slope and nothing else. The Single had about a hundred chairs and the line backed up to Rockefeller’s, so it was soon bumped up to the 158 chairs that it’s had for most of its 60 years. (Many kids will remember that if you sat in chair 123 or 124, depending how things were placed on the cable that year, you would pass chair 7 at tower 7.)

Above mid-station, the Single had Catamount, Chute, Fall Line and some connecting trails (not all of which are still there). Paradise was a place some folks might bushwhack out to once in the spring for a nice picnic. For the most part, the woods were un-skied until much later. In those days, the Single still had woolen blankets, which required extra lift attendants. They were a pain for the patrol too, because quite a few would blow off on their way down, and they needed to be retrieved on sweep or earlier, depending where they were. Of course, kids thought it was great that they’d blow off, and we used to enjoy seeing how many we could spot.

Some of the other trails I remember include the 19th Hole, which was named because it went to the bar at Mad River Barn. It started from Bunny because Lower Antelope wasn’t cut yet. The upper Antelope was cut the next year, and originally it was called the Palmedo, until the whole thing became Antelope a year later.

20th Hole came much later. It had been logged in the early sixties, and in the late 60’s the toppings had collapsed onto the ground and the logging roads were still in good shape. Motivated by John Westfall, a few of us started to ski to The Barn that way at the end of the day. We called it 20th Hole because it was beyond the 19th. Nobody cut back to Antelope until quite a bit later.

So a lot of details have changed, but le plus ça change ... The spirit has remained the same. Mad River has always been about family, friends and skiing, and there’s always been a sort of reverse snobbism. That sounds pretty simple but it’s misleading because the word “skiing” means something rather different at Mad River. It’s a bit hard to describe but I’ll try an analogy with walking, hiking, and running.

This is admittedly oversimplified, but I think it makes my point clear. Walking is a physiological process. Running demands more strength and agility, but it’s still “merely” physiological. Hiking is much more than physiological. Where you are is an integral part of the experience. Two different one mile running races are as similar as possible; everything is standardized. Two different one-mile hikes are completely different from each other. Even if the hikes are similar in ways that make the physiological process of hiking the two hikes quite similar, they are two different hikes with their own identities.

Skiing doesn’t have different words, all three of these meanings exist within the word “skiing.” To be sure, it is probably true that all ski areas have aspects of all the meanings, but Mad River cherishes and cultivates the meaning that is analogous to hiking. The left side of Porky is not the right side of Porky!

In contrast, most ski areas seem to me to be moving actively away from that. The trails get straightened, widened, and generally homogenized. Rolls are flattened, character is removed, and we are left with parallel arcs that seem as though they were built by the highway department to standardized dimensions. “A green trail should be between X and Y meters wide and not more than Z degrees steep. Corners should have a radius of at least R meters and we expect to handle Q skiers per acre-hour.”
"At Mad River we have always cherished the eccentricities of the folded hillside, the magic of the mountain in winter, and the remarkable poetry of our forested land."
This is an active attempt to take “where” out of the picture, to move away from the meaning of “skiing” that Mad River folks hold most dear and cultivate the somewhat different sport that is denoted by the merely physiological meaning. In contrast, at Mad River we have always cherished the eccentricities of the folded hillside, the magic of the mountain in winter, and the remarkable poetry of our forested land. Skiing, for us, is quite intimately about “where.”

A younger John Schultz with his daughters Megan and Katie.
Snowmaking improvements allow MRG to hold VARA race
Our on-again and off-again season had some bad stretches in January and February, followed by a spectacular March. During one of the lean periods, a VARA slalom race was scheduled to be run on the Practice Slope on February 25. Our snowmaking efforts in previous years would likely have not been adequate to support this event, as it takes additional snow depth to set gates and provide a surface that withstands carved turns by many racers. The additional snow guns funded by the campaign, in conjunction with General Manager Matt Lillard’s aggressive preseason plan, provided the best early-season snowmaking coverage that anyone can remember. We’re happy to report that the race was held as planned despite the lack of natural snow, providing a much-needed boost to our revenue at a critical time. Your donations are truly making a difference!
Mad River Valley businesses support the campaign
This winter, the Preserve Our Paradise Campaign received significant support from local businesses. On February 23, a "beach party" benefit was sponsored by the by Mad River Valley Real Estate (MRVRE) at the Local Folk Smokehouse. Vermont surf bands the Tsunamibots and the High Breaks played to an enthusiastic crowd. Campaign funds were raised through a door donation and a silent auction of a donated T.J. Greenwood photo.

At the party, MRVRE presented the Stark Mountain Foundation with a check. The firm is going to donate $1,000 through the end of the campaign for every real estate transaction completed by the firm involving a Mad River shareholder. Thanks to MRVRE for their support!
At the recent Local Folk Smokehouse party, Stark Mountain Foundation President Brandi Myers receives a check from MRVRE partners (and MRG shareholders) Eric Reisner and Steve Robbins.
Our patience was rewarded...
Our patience was tested by the "torch" thaws of January and February, but March came in like a lion with over five feet of snow so far! (And it doesn't look to be going out like a lamb, either.) The Patrol even opened up the Tower 5 and Birdcage cliffs. The word was not just "epic," it was "mythic," setting us up for a great finale to the ski season. Overheard on the mountain: "There is no other place I'd rather be!" "The Single Chair is my therapy."
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Upcoming MRG & Campaign Events

March 24
Mad River Mogul Challenge, 10:30 am

April 1
Easter Festivities, 7:30 am

April 7
Co-op Shareholders Annual Meeting, 5:00 pm

April 8
The Grift End of Season Bash, Time TBA

May 19
Co-op Board of Trustees Meeting, 8 am

More info at Mad River Glen's Event Calendar
Campaign Cabinet

Chairs:  Annika Holtan, Eric Palola   Members at Large:  Lars Bruns, Bob Dillon, Jim Elkind, Meg Hourihan, Amory Hunnewell, Betsy Jondro, Karen Lloyd, Brandi Myers, John Nesbett, Pamela Nesbett, Penny Parson, Meg Schultz, Greg Scott, Debra Steines, John Tobin, Brooks Ware