The Randolph, Vermont area may offer lift served skiing as soon as this winter.
Monday, May 17, 2021, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
After years of planning, permitting, and acquiring equipment, Farr's Hill ski area in Randolph, Vermont could reopen as soon as the winter of 2021-22, according to the non-profit's president Perry Armstrong.
Located near the geographic center of Vermont, Farr's Hill operated as a small rope tow area from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, when local ski programs transitioned to the new, larger Pinnacle Ski-Ways. Pinnacle closed in the 1970s, leaving Randolph without a local ski slope open to the public.
A lifelong resident of Randolph and current member of the Selectboard, Armstrong grew up skiing at Pinnacle Ski-Ways and nearby Norwich University ski area, where his father was a member of the ski patrol. Though Armstrong had hoped to reopen Pinnacle years ago, he was unable to acquire the property when it was on the market.
Circa 2018, the former Farr's Hill property was put up for sale. After looking at the property, Armstrong and his wife Lynn acquired the twelve acre tract, initially hoping to have a lift in place in time for that winter. Though complications related to permitting put those plans on hold, the Armstrongs were able to host the Randolph Winter Fest in early 2019, drawing an estimated 1,100 people for a variety of winter activities. A PistenBully snowcat, which had been previously used at Quechee, was purchased to groom the slope.
As work continued, Farr's Hill, Inc. was formed as a non-profit in 2019. A TechnoAlpin fan gun and portable pump were procured to make the February 2020 Randolph Winter Fest possible, this time drawing 2,200 people for snow tubing, sleigh rides, and other entertainment. Though the third annual Winter Fest was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the slope continued to be groomed, attracting local sledders.
With COVID-19 restrictions easing and positive movement on the permitting front, lifts are now being procured. An agreement is in place to purchase a Hall T-Bar from Oak Mountain in New York, which should arrive later this spring. Armstrong's Rain or Shine Tent and Events Company owns much of the equipment needed to transport and install the lift when engineering is complete.
In addition to the estimated 160 vertical foot T-Bar lift, two handle tows may be installed to serve snow tubing and beginner skiing, respectively. In the future, the barn at the base of the slope could be renovated into a base lodge. In the interim, Armstrong's company will continue to provide tents for warming space.
Once operational, Farr's Hill intends to be an inexpensive option for community winter recreation, catering to local elementary school programs.
As construction and the proposed opening date near, the non-profit expects to launch a capital campaign to raise money for the project.
"It's a good little project for the community," Armstrong reflected, "it can get more kids engaged in skiing."