The History of Mount Sunapee
In 1909, summer resident Herbert Welsh asked area residents to help save Mount Sunapee from lumbering operations. Through his efforts and the Society for Protection of New Hampshire Forests, 656 acres were acquired. This included the summit, Lake Solitude and almost the entire north side. By 1934, the Society has acquired 1,185 acres on the mountain, which was turned over to to the State of New Hampshire for a state park in 1948. On December 26, 1948 Mount Sunapee opened with the 3,300 foot North Peak single chair, three trails, two rope tows and the North Peak Lodge.
In 1953, a 2,500 foot Summit T-Bar was installed and in 1957, a poma lift was installed on what is now the Eggbeater slope. Between 1960 and 1963, the Elliot T-Bar, Summit double chair, Duckling double chair and J-Bar were installed. The base Lodge and Summit Lodge were both built in 1963, and the North Peak single was converted to a double chair. In 1966, the summit double chair was converted to a gondola for summer rides.
In 1982, snowmaking arrived with the capability of covering 6 of the 24 trails. More trails and lifts were added. From 1987 to 1989, triple chairs replaced the North Peak and Summit lifts. The Spruce Triple was added and snowmaking pumping capacity continued to improve. November 25, 1989 was recorded as the earliest opening date in 41 years!
On July 1, 1998, Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, acquired the first lease ever given by the State of New Hampshire to operate Mount Sunapee. That summer, the Summit Triple was replaced with a high-speed quad, and the Sun Bowl lift was replaced with a quad chair lift. Snowmaking capacity increased and we purchased three new grooming vehicles and a Pipe Dragon for grooming the half-pipe. A halfpipe and a terrain park were created to enhance the skiing/riding experience.
The summer of 1999 brought about exciting changes. The North Peak Lodge, originally built in 1948, was replaced with the 24,000 square foot Sunapee Lodge. Three new trails – Summit Glades, Lynx and Sunnyside Down - were added and snowmaking expanded.
In 2000, the new Clipper Ship quad chair lift replaced the old Province Double chair lift, a 50-foot moving carpet was installed and the Ski Rental building was expanded.
In 2001, we added a new primary water pump, a new booster water pump, installed new snowmaking intake lines, and built an addition to the ski patrol building.
In 2002, we installed a new 320 foot moving carpet lift on the old Pony handle tow line, relocated the handle tow to a new teaching area above the Kinder rope tow, and built the Lemon and Lime trails. Snowmaking pipe was added to the South Peak/Province area.
In 2003, we constructed the Children’s Learning Center building adjacent to the South Peak/Province novice area and constructed two new gladed ski zones, the Ridge Glades and the Cataract Glades. A Zaugg was purchased and our first superpipe was added.
In 2004-2005 Mount Sunapee gave the Spruce Lodge and the Rental Shop a new coat of paint to match the color scheme of the Sunapee Lodge and Children’s Learning Center. The Alpine Racing Team received a brand new clubhouse in place of the Yurt! Construction on the Alpine Racing Clubhouse started in September was completed before the 2004-2005 season started. New bag storage bins were put in place to reduce congestion in the cafeteria sitting areas. Plus boot warmers were added in each lodge and more ski racks were purchased to better accommodate our guests.
In 2005-2006 the grooming fleet was upgraded with two new BR-350 grooming machines and a new Zaugg 13' pipe cutter. The Rental Shop received 350 pairs of new skis, snowboards and boots from Salomon, Fischer, Burton and Atomic.
For 2006-2007 the Summit Lodge was completely refurbished with a new, more efficient food court, some additional seating and painting inside and out. Snowmaking was added to Elliot Slope and Portage trail. The Hearthstone Room, a unique meeting and function facility for groups of 20-40 people, was built in the Spruce Lodge featuring a large fieldstone fireplace. The restrooms in Spruce Lodge were completely renovated. Mount Sunapee along with Okemo Mountain in Vermont and Crested Butte in Colorado converted to 100% renewable wind energy for electric power.
2007-2008 marked Mount Sunapee's 60th Anniversary and its 10th Anniversary under the management of Tim and Diane Mueller. Snowmaking was added to Eastside trail in the Sunbowl area. Eighteen energy efficient snow guns were added that will allow Mount Sunapee to operate more guns and make more snow during marginal snowmaking weather conditions. The new Sunapee Espresso Coffee Bars were added to the Sunapee and Summit lodges featuring premier coffee grinds, espresso, specialty coffee drinks and gourmet baked goods. The SoBe Freeride Zone added a 4,000 watt sound system from top-to-bottom, which definitely amped things up in the "Zone".
2008-2009 means more snow making power at a fraction of the cost. Mount Sunapee Resort has purchased an additional 30 snow guns to bring the total of high-efficient HKD snow guns to 48. These snow guns can produce the same amount of snow in temperatures above 25 degrees (which are common during early season snowmaking) as older, less-efficient guns, while using only 12-25% as much compressed air per gun. These guns will continue to reduce the resort’s reliance on diesel air compressors and will reduce the total amount of air required during optimal snowmaking conditions. Mount Sunapee’s electrical KWH consumption is down almost 10% over the past two winters. Diesel fuel consumption is down almost 15% over the past two years.
2009-2010: Mount Sunapee purchased 10 more energy-efficient HKD snow guns helping lower energy usage by 14% over the past three years. Mount Sunapee now has 58 of these guns. A gladed trail (Paradise Glades) was cut on South Peak for novice skier and riders. Mount Sunapee’s energy management program expanded in 2009-2010 to include recycling of glass, plastic and aluminum in the base lodges. Elliot Slope was incorporated into the “603” Terrain Park.
2010-2011: The 11th lift was added at Mount Sunapee. A 130’ SunKid carpet lift was added to the South Peak Learning Area. This lift, called Middle Carpet, will have a huge impact on the ski and snowboard learning programs at Mount Sunapee. Mount Sunapee spent $180,000 upgrading the snowmaking system. Mount Sunapee has been ranked with the best snow surfaces in the East for the past five years in the Annual SKI Magazine Reader Survey. Bob Skinner’s Ski & Sport came on as the title sponsor of the “603” Terrain Park through the 2012-2013 winter season.
2011-2012: Trail upgrades marked the changes at Mount Sunapee with increased snowmaking capabilities on the Outer Ridge Trail giving beginners alternative routes down the main mountain. Also the Beck Brook Glades were cut between Upper Ridge and Beck Brook giving skiers and riders new, exciting terrain to conquer.
2012-2013: Snowmaking investment continued with the purchase of an additional 14 high efficiency SV-10 snow guns. The purchase of the 50' by 50' Acrobag Airbag marked a continued commitment of the mountain to help improve skiers' and snowboarders' aerial abilities in as safe an environment as possible. The summer of 2012 saw the opening of the Mount Sunapee Adventure Park. This park was designed and created to fit within the outdoor mountain recreation environment and blend in with the landscape. The Adventure Park consisted of a Canopy Zip-line Tour, Aerial Challenge Course, Segway Excursions, Miniature Golf, Disc Golf and Clipper Ship chairlift rides.
2013-2014: Fifty two SV-10 snow guns were added to the mountain. An addition was built onto the Competition Center. The Waffle Cabin was added on Fly Way. The new 4.0 The College Pass was launched with Mount Sunapee, Okemo, Killington and Pico. The grooming fleet was upgraded with a new Leitner-Prinoth grooming machine.
2014-Present: The Sunbowl Quad chairlift was replaced with a High-Speed Express chairlift, the Sunbowl Express. Ride time was cut by more than half to just over four minutes. The grooming fleet was upgraded with two new Leitner-Prinoth grooming machines. A Big Airbag Jump and Climbing Wall Tower and the Beck Brook Mining Sluice were added to the Adventure Park.