On February 5, 2020

Pico Mountain debuts new ‘Peak Lodge’ for uphill travelers

By Polly Mikula

“It was just sitting at the base of the Summit chair, so I decided to move it,” Rich McCoy, director of operations at Pico, said of the former Summit Dogs hot dog stand. “It took me a year of asking around and haggling, but when I found that no one needed it, I got the groomers to just haul it up. It was actually really easy because it sits on skis! The groomers pulled it right up 49er!”

That’s the short story of how Pico Mountain recently got its summit warming hut.

The new shelter’s sign reads: “Pico Peak Lodge” with “hikers warming hut” written underneath — the former “Pico Summit Dogs” sign is also still visible on the side.

The shelter can’t be seen from the lift, which is intentional, McCoy explained.

“We really want it to be used for its intended purpose only,” he emphasized. “It’s to shelter folks who’ve worked hard ascending to the summit; a place to go get dry clothes on, put on extra layers and make the top transition more enjoyable,” he said.

Any uphill traveler is welcomed to use it, whether hiking, skinning, split-boarding or snowshoeing to the top.

“Uphill travel is the fastest growing segment of the ski industry,” said McCoy. “We want to support it, we want to be out in front helping skiers and riders try it and enjoy it.”

Killington and Pico were among the first resorts in the country to publicly offer an uphill travel route on their slopes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They rolled out the program and uphill travel pass in 2013 and that season gave out 669 passes. Last year that number grew to 766.

Pico is hoping that the new shelter, coupled with rentals and tours up the mountain, will help even more folks give the growing sport a try.

The uphill travel pass is free for season pass holders and $25 for non-pass holders and is available at the Killington and Pico Season Pass offices during operating hours. The purpose of the pass is to be sure uphill travelers know the designated routes for safety, how to avoid groomers and to provide emergency contact information for rescue purposes, if needed.

Right now, the resort is telling uphill travelers about the shelter, “as we see them, or when the register for their uphill travel pass,” McCoy said.

Rentals

Pico currently has uphill gear available for rental and is planning to offer uphill tours, lessons and group rides later this winter, McCoy said.

A full uphill travel setup (with Solomon skis and shift bindings) is $70 for 24 hours with a night drop off location available. Base Camp Outfitters also rents a complete uphill travel package with Dynafit tech skis and bindings, boots, skins and poles for $85 for 24 hours.

Summer Reed, manager at Base Camp said they “rent out every weekend” and that uphill travel (also know as Alpine Touring) is now a significantly bigger part of their business than telemark skiing is. She credits, in part, recent advances in technology that make the sport easier, more comfortable and more fun!

“People are realizing that boot and binding technology has really changed in recent years and sales and rentals/demos are going through the roof. The equipment is now even lighter, with a better range of motion, and offers an all-around ski better experience than even a few years ago,” she said.

For those interested in split-boarding, Pico has partnered with Darkside to offer Burton split boards, which are now available to rent at Pico or the Darkside. Split board packages come with a Burton board, snowboard boots, poles, skins and a bag and cost $100 per day.

If renting from Darkside, you must return it by 6 p.m., however, if you then decide to purchase it that same day, your rental payment goes toward the purchase price. At Pico, the same 24 hour rental policy as skiing applies.

Designated routes

Uphill travel routes will be made available at both Killington and Pico during the winter season as conditions permit and in line with the resort’s ability to effectively manage and operate snowmaking, trail grooming, equipment maintenance, snow removal, etc.

Once open, uphill travelers with passes are permitted on the designated routes 24/7.

All routes are currently open, but it’s always a good idea to check killington.com/conditions for the current status of uphill travel routes before heading out.

Routes are marked with signs posted on the trees along the route, but they can be difficult to see at night or in varying weather conditions. So here are detailed route descriptions:

1. Ramshead Base to top of Ramshead Express Quad and Snowdon Mountain

From the Ramshead Base Lodge, proceed up the looker’s right side of Easy Street trail.

Follow Easy Street to its intersection with Header trail. Turn right, up Header/Easy Street. (These two trails run together for approximately 100 yards.)

Turn right up Easy Street and follow it past the base of Swirl trail.

Continue up East Street until you intersect Header trail again, turn right up Header.

Continue straight up Header, on the looker’s right (skier’s left), until you arrive at the top of Ramshead Express lift.

From the top of Ramshead Express Quad chairlift, you may continue your uphill travel to the top of Snowdon Mountain by following the uphill travel icons up Frolic trail to the top of Snowdon Quad chairlift.

2. Base of Sunrise Village Lift to top of Bear Mountain

From the bottom of Sunrise Mountain, proceed up Sun Dog trail to the intersection with Bear Cub trail.

Turn left up Bear Cub trail and follow it to Ridgeview trail.

Bear right up Ridgeview to the top of Bear Mountain.

3. Killington/Pico Mountain Interconnect

From the Ramshead Base Lodge, proceed up the looker’s right side of Easy Street trail.

Follow Easy Street to its intersection with Header trail. These two trails run together for approximately 100 yards.

Turn right up Easy Street and follow it to the base of Swirl trail.

If you decide to leave the ski-resort premises and go beyond the ski-area boundary, an out-of-bounds uphill travel route continues up Old Swirl trail to the actual summit of Ramshead Mountain.

Turn hard right and proceed downhill along the marked route for approximately 75 yards. Turn left and follow the Interconnect uphill until it joins the Pico Mountain Uphill Travel Route on 49er trail.

4. Pico Base to Pico Summit

From the base of the Little Pico Triple chairlift, proceed up the looker’s left side of Lower Pike trail.

Follow Lower Pike past the bottom of the Summit Express Quad chairlift.

At tower 7 of the Summit Express Quad, bear left up 49er trail and follow to the summit of Pico Mountain.

5. Pico Summit via the Summit Glades

If you’re looking for a more remote uphill-travel experience at Pico, utilize this Summit Glade route:

From the base of the Little Pico Triple chairlift, proceed up the looker’s left side of Lower Pike trail.

Bear left up C-Slope trail and continue up C-Slope until it intersects with Bushwacker trail.

Turn left up Bushwacker trail for approximately 30 yards, then turn right up Summit Glade trail.

Continue up Summit Glade to 49er trail.

Follow 49er trail to the summit of Pico Mountain.

Parking

Uphill travel routes can be accessed from designated resort parking areas at Killington and Pico. Trail information will be posted on sign plazas located in these parking areas. Park in the following designated locations:

At Killington: Ramshead parking lot near the Uphill Travel sign plaza.

At Pico: Far left as you enter the parking lot, adjacent to the Little Pico Triple Chairlift near the Uphill Travel sign plaza.

At Sunrise Mountain: At the base of Sunrise Village Triple.

Rules

During non-operating hours, descend the mountain on the designated uphill route. For your safety and that of mountain staff, do not deviate from the designated route.

Travel on the edge of the trail and stay together as a group.

Don’t stop in high-traffic areas.

Pets are not permitted on trails and slopes. Where pets are permitted on resort property, they must be on a leash.

Resort and mountain operations run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Stay clear of all mountain operations and equipment, including but not limited to grooming machines, snowmaking equipment, snowmobiles and lifts. Always yield to all resort personnel, mountain-operations equipment, machines and vehicles.

Be prepared for changes in weather and conditions. Nighttime conditions and weather are usually very different from conditions and weather during the day. Be alert to continually changing weather, visibility, surface conditions and terrain features.

Anticipate numerous hazards and dangers including but not limited to snow, snowmaking mounds, ice, ruts, bumps, sheer drop-offs, bare ground, rocks, roots, stumps, trees, power poles, lift towers, snowmaking equipment, grooming vehicles, snowmobiles, other skiers and riders and many other natural and man-made objects.

Emergencies

During resort operating hours: For first-aid assistance during resort operating hours, report accidents to any ski patroller, Mountain Ambassador or lift operator. You can also stop at first-aid stations at the top of each mountain area, the first level of the Killington Medical Clinic at Killington or the first-aid room located adjacent to Pico Base Lodge at Pico. Dial Ext. 4444 from any in-house phone or call 802-422-1243 from your cell phone to reach Mountain Dispatch to request first-aid assistance.
During resort non-operating hours: Ski patrol is not present and will be unable to provide services to uphill travelers during non-operating hours. Do not count on ski-area personnel to be available to assist you.

Uphill travelers assume full responsibility for personal safety and any injury, death or damages when traveling on resort premises during non-operating hours.

In the event of an emergency during non-operating hours, uphill travelers must call 911.

Be aware that on-mountain cell phone service is not always available or reliable.

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Large turnout for Hartland school budget info session

May 23, 2024
By Curt Peterson The May 21 Hartland school budget information session may be the best-attended school board gathering in recent history — an estimated 40 people attended in person at Damon Hall in Hartland, and another 41 tuned in online. Hartland voters had already approved the $11,040,567 budget 320-311 on April 2. But a petition…

United Way of Rutland County names new exc. director

May 22, 2024
The United Way of Rutland County (UWRC) announced the appointment of Tina Van Guilder as its new executive director, May 17.  Van Guilder officially assumed her role as executive director May 6. With over seven years of direct non-profit leadership experience in the Rutland County area, coupled with recent roles focusing on grant coordination, budget…

20 degrees above average: May temps soar

May 22, 2024
By Erin Petenko/VTDigger Vermont is forecast to hit temperatures in the upper 80s Tuesday and Wednesday, far above normal for this time of year, the Vermont branch of the National Weather Service reported on Monday, May 20. Parts of the state, particularly the Champlain Valley down to Rutland in the west and the Connecticut River Valley regions to…

Gov. Scott vetoes bill that would’ve restricted bee-killing pesticide

May 22, 2024
Staff report On Monday, May 20, World Bee Day, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation meant to protect bees and other pollinators from a widely-used neuorotoxic pesticide. The bill (H.706) would  eliminate most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) in Vermont, which have been associated with alarming losses of managed and wild bee populations. Neonic insecticides are used on…