In an era of ski-resort consolidation, rising lift-ticket prices, and runaway base-lodge development, Mad River Glen (MRG, Rte. 17, 5 mi. west of Waitsfield, 802/496-3551, www.madriverglen.com , $39–54 adults, $39–51 seniors and youth ages 6–18) stands alone in stubbornly resisting the winds of “progress.” Its trails are ungroomed, teeth-grittingly narrow, and chock-full of trees, moguls, and any other impediment the mountain can throw in your way.
In fact, almost half of the trails on the mountain are for experts—an unheard-of marketing suicide for which Mad River Glen is unapologetic… Its motto, “Ski It If You Can,” is more than just hype; the mountain has earned a stiff allegiance from diamond dogs who come to ski, not to boast or model the latest sunglasses.
In fact, the mountain was sold in 1995 to a cooperative of skiers who pledged to keep the spirit of the resort alive. They’ve remained true to the promise, continuing to run one of the few ski resorts in the country that ban snowboarding (the boards have a tendency to derail the 1950s-era single chairlifts anyway) and leaving the trails in their natural, unadulterated state.
You can get a little bit of an idea of the mentality from the run named Paradise, a precipitous tumble down exposed ledges, rocky moguls, and a frozen waterfall to get to the bottom. If that doesn’t seem like paradise to you, don’t even bother.