On July 20, 2022

Suicide Six is now Saskadena Six

‘New’ name is actually its original

By Katy Savage

Suicide Six, the nation’s oldest ski mountain, is now called Saskadena Six.

Woodstock Inn and Resort officials announced the name change of Suicide Six on Wednesday, July 13 in a move to be more inclusive and aware about mental health issues.

The new Saskadena Six logo is a retro design from the ’60s updated.

“We really believed it was the right thing to do,” Woodstock Inn and Resort President Courtney Lowe said.

The new name is an Abenaki word meaning “standing mountain” and was chosen with input from Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation.

“By acknowledging the original language of this place, the name Saskadena Six will honor the ancient legacy of the Abenaki alongside that of the generations who have loved it over the past 90 years and into the future,” Stevens said in the statement.

Suicide Six, once called Hill No. 6, dates back to 1934 with the creation of the nation’s first rope tow, according to its website. It moved to its current location in 1936. The mountain, sometimes called S6, got its name from Wallace “Bunny” Bertram, a former ski instructor at Dartmouth College, who jokingly called it Suicide Six because he said going down it would be akin to a suicide attempt. He sold the mountain to philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller in 1961 before the Woodstock Inn and Resort took over.

Various groups have discussed changing the name on and off for decades with no serious movement until last fall, when a focus group formed to develop new names.

“It was a long, exhaustive process,” Lowe said, explaining many names were discussed.

“The community focus group last fall agreed the word ‘six’ should stay around and that possibly ‘S6’ should stay around,” Lowe said.

The community group considered the values of the resort — adventure, community, family, joy, sharing and commitment,when considering the need to change the name. 

“As we were exhausting some of the names, the brand marketing agency came up with some of the Abenaki language,” Lowe said. In doing so, they found Saskadena was the original name of the mountain.

“We finally fell in love with it,” Lowe said. “It’s another part of history we wanted to keep. We wanted to make it more meaningful.”

The retro logo, designed in the 1960s, has also been adjusted slightly as a nod to old times.

Lowe said Suicide Six signs on the inside of the building, the outside and on the streets will need to be replaced.

The responses on Facebook have been mixed, with some saying the new name is too hard to say and remember. Others didn’t want to see change and attributed it to “wokism.” Many of the responses were favorable about the new name.

“I get a lot of positive feedback,” Lowe said. “I don’t think people expected us to take it that far and put more meaning to it.”

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