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Ski Sundown circa the mid 1960s when it was known as Satan's Ridge
Ski Sundown
New Hartford, Connecticut
Status: Open
First Season:1963-64
Vertical Drop:625 feet
Standing Lifts:3 triples, surface lift
Past Lifts:2 doubles, surface lifts
Left: Ski Sundown circa the mid 1960s when it was known as Satan's Ridge
Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
12/28/2016: Continued Drought Affecting Some Connect...
1/19/2016: Multiple Ski Areas Now 100% Open
8/4/2014: Ski Sundown to Add Expert Trail
SkiNewEngland.net Profile
Located northwest of Hartford, Ski Sundown is a popular regional facility for skiers of all abilities.

Satan's Ridge

1960s Satan's Ridge ads
1960s Satan's Ridge ads

Though some sources trace Ski Sundown's lift served history to 1961, it likely dates back to the 1963-64 season when Satan's Ridge ski area opened by Russell Smith and Frank Linnell. Jack Henderson came down from Jiminy Peak to direct the ski school. While it is possible that the area had a soft start on surface lifts in December or early January, the double chairlift to the summit did not open until Saturday, January 11, 1964. Night skiing and snowmaking were also installed for the debut season.

Over $100,000 was invested into the area for its second season, including trail improvements, more night skiing, and expanded snowmaking.

While additional improvements were made to a top to bottom trail for the 1966-67 season, Satan's Ridge was running into trouble. In what would be its last season as Satan's Ridge, a new lighted novice slope was added. The area closed after the 1967-68 season. The area, including the Mueller chairlift, Doppelmayr T-Bar, and a rope tow, headed to the auction block that August.

Butternut to the Rescue

The base area circa the early 1970s
The base area circa the early 1970s

After sitting idle for a season, the 61-acre Satan's Ridge ski area was sold by Harold Law, Russell Smith, and Frank Linnell to Channing Murdock of nearby Butternut Basin and his brother Robert Murdock in mid-1969. In September of 1969, the business was incorporated as Ski Sundown, Inc., shedding its satanic name. When Murdock's first choice for general manager was not a good fit, he recruited a 30-year old former school teacher to run the ski area. According to Carter, when he started after Labor Day, the area has no electricity, drinking water, or working lifts. Three months of intensive work was focused on lifts, lighting, and snowmaking. Operations were expanded to 7 days and 6 nights per week.

For its second season, the main lodge was expanded with a new ski shop and a sun deck. A new ski patrol building was also constructed. Jack Harrington served as ski school director.

To further enhance beginner offerings, a Pomalift was installed for the 1971-72 season. In addition, the top of Gunbarrel was reworked to alleviate a bottleneck. Hans Baumberger was served as ski school director.

Circa the 1973-74 season, Murdock made general manager Richard Carter part owner of the ski area. Gail Appell was named ski school director.

Following the rough 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons, Channing Murdock acquired Paucatuck ski area in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Installing a new $60,000 fan gun snowmaking system, Ski Sundown enjoyed an early December opening in 1975-76. Richard Carter told the Manchester Journal Inquirer, "the airless snowmakers save money and fuel" and "operate at about one-third the cost."

Triple Chairlifts

The Exhibition Triple circa the late 1970s
The Exhibition Triple circa the late 1970s

Following a successful 1976-77 season in which revenues increased by 40%, Ski Sundown announced it would be installing the state's first triple chairlift. The Borvig lift was installed next to the original double chairlift. Soon thereafter, Murdock transferred ownership of the area to Carter.

Noting that night skiing represented about 40% of business, Ski Sundown invested $10,000 in lighting for the 1977-78 season. In addition to improving the three existing night trails, lights were installed on a fourth trail.

A second triple chairlift was installed in 1980, serving the new Sunnyside novice area. Parking was improved in conjunction with the expansion. Despite the growth, the early 1980s were a struggle with minimal snow during the 1979-80 season and curtailed snowmaking due to a drought in 1980-81.

Sundown during the 1980s
Sundown during the 1980s

Night skiing was expanded for the 1982-83 season. The Big Bend trail was added to the Sunnyside area for the 1983-84 season, while the Papoose and Exhibition trails were regraded.

The 1986-87 season saw further improvements, including the reworking of the Temptor trail and a retrofit of the summit double chairlift. The area was blessed with natural snow that winter, with owner Richard Carter remarking, "I've never known it to be so busy."

Following the successful season, Ski Sundown kept the momentum going by replacing the double chairlift with a new CTEC triple to the summit. in addition, lighting and snowmaking were upgraded. The upgrades were greeted with a 20% increase in attendance.

The Sunnyside complex was overhauled in 1994, when the Pomalift was replaced by the refurbished double chairlift. For advanced skiers, tower snow guns were installed on Gunbarrel.

After over half a dozen years of planning, an 8,000 square foot base lodge addition was constructed for the 1996-97.

New Ownership

The Exhibition trail (2004)
The Exhibition trail (2004)

After owning Ski Sundown for nearly quarter of century, Richard Carter sold the area to general manager and long time employee Robert Switzgable in 2002. According to a press release, Carter chose to sell the area to Switzgable because "it's a small business and because of its unique characteristics, it is best operated by an individual who is the owner. Because I care so much about Ski Sundown, I wasn't willing to just put it on the market."

Half a decade later, Ski Sundown nearly took over the operations of Powder Ridge.

Ski Sundown's snowmaking was significantly improved in 2009 when the pump house was rebuilt. The project gave Ski Sundown the ability to make snow on all trails simultaneously.

The base area (February 2014)
The base area (February 2014)

The Sunnyside complex was once again overhauled in 2013, when the Little Joe Double was replaced with a conveyor lift.

Satan's Ridge co-founder Harold Law Jr. passed away on May 12, 2013 at the age of 82.

A new expert trail was added for the 2014-15 season. Named Satan's Stairway, the steep, narrow trail was equipped with snowmaking and lighting.


NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News
Recent Articles
Continued Drought Affecting Some Connecticut Ski Areas - Dec. 28, 2016
Multiple Ski Areas Now 100% Open - Jan. 19, 2016
Ski Sundown to Add Expert Trail - Aug. 4, 2014
Ski Sundown NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page

Expansion History
Project
Season
Sunnyside
Open
1980-81

Image Gallery
1968 Eastern Ski MapNovember 18, 1980 Norwalk HourFebruary 13, 1986 Norwalk HourJanuary 7, 1990 Meriden Record JournalSki Sundown Aerial Imagery, 1992 vs. 2012
View All Images in Ski Sundown Image Gallery
Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Exhibition Triple circa the late 1970s
Exhibition Triple
Borvig
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1977-78
The Sunnyside Triple in 2004
Sunnyside Triple
Borvig
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1980-81
The Triple Barrel in 2003
Triple Barrel
CTEC
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1987-88

Past Lifts
Seasons
The Little Joe Double in 2003
Little Joe Double
Mueller
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1994-95
-
2012-13
The lift line (background)
Pomalift
Heron-Poma
Platter
1971-72
-
1993-94
The Summit Double circa the early 1970s
Summit Double
Mueller
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1963-64
-
1986-87
T-Bar
Hall
T-Bar
1963-64
-
T-Bar
Doppelmayr
T-Bar
1965-66
-
1976-77

Maps
1973-74 Ski Sundown Trail Map1980-81 Ski Sundown Trail Map2001-02 Ski Sundown trail map2005-06 Ski Sundown trail map2006-07 Ski Sundown trail map2010-11 Ski Sundown Trail Map
View All Ski Sundown Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2020s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2020-21$62.002020-21 Ticket Price Graph$715.002020-21 Season Pass Price Graph11.5 days2020-21 Skier Visit Graph
2019-20$62.002019-20 Ticket Price Graph$715.002019-20 Season Pass Price Graph11.5 daysDecember 20March 82019-20 Skier Visit Graph
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2018-19$62.002018-19 Ticket Price Graph$715.002018-19 Season Pass Price Graph11.5 daysDecember 8March 242018-19 Skier Visit Graph
2017-18$62.002017-18 Ticket Price Graph$650.002017-18 Season Pass Price Graph10.5 daysDecember 21March 252017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$60.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$625.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph10.4 daysDecember 23March 262016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$60.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$625.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph10.4 daysJanuary 8March 92015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$58.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$599.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph10.3 daysDecember 13April 22014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$56.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$589.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph10.5 daysDecember 13March 292013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$55.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$589.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 daysDecember 26April 62012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$55.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$589.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 daysDecember 17March 172011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-112010-11 Ticket Price Graph$589.002010-11 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 10March 272010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$52.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph$579.002009-10 Season Pass Price Graph11.1 daysMarch 212009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$50.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$579.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph11.6 daysNovember 28March 282008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$48.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph$579.002007-08 Season Pass Price Graph12.1 daysMarch 302007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$46.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$579.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph12.6 daysDecember 9April 12006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$43.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$549.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph12.8 daysDecember 32005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2004-05$40.002004-05 Ticket Price Graph$549.002004-05 Season Pass Price Graph13.7 days2004-05 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$37.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph$549.002003-04 Season Pass Price Graph14.8 daysDecember 62003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$35.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph$549.002002-03 Season Pass Price Graph15.7 daysNovember 302002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$34.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph$499.002001-02 Season Pass Price Graph14.7 daysMarch 92001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$33.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph$499.002000-01 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 days2000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$32.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph1999-00 Season Pass Price Graph1999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1997-981997-98 Ticket Price Graph1997-98 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 131997-98 Skier Visit Graph
1996-971996-97 Ticket Price Graph1996-97 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 221996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1995-961995-96 Ticket Price Graph1995-96 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 91995-96 Skier Visit Graph
1994-951994-95 Ticket Price Graph1994-95 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 171994-95 Skier Visit Graph
1992-93$28.001992-93 Ticket Price Graph1992-93 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 111992-93 Skier Visit Graph
1991-92$27.001991-92 Ticket Price Graph1991-92 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 7110,0001991-92 Skier Visit Graph
1990-911990-91 Ticket Price Graph1990-91 Season Pass Price Graph99,0001990-91 Skier Visit Graph
1989-90$26.001989-90 Ticket Price Graph$400.001989-90 Season Pass Price Graph15.4 days1989-90 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1988-89$24.001988-89 Ticket Price Graph1988-89 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 111988-89 Skier Visit Graph
1986-87$20.001986-87 Ticket Price Graph1986-87 Season Pass Price Graph1986-87 Skier Visit Graph
1985-86$19.001985-86 Ticket Price Graph1985-86 Season Pass Price Graph1985-86 Skier Visit Graph
1980-81$13.501980-81 Ticket Price Graph1980-81 Season Pass Price Graph1980-81 Skier Visit Graph
1979-80$11.001979-80 Ticket Price Graph1979-80 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 211979-80 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1978-79$10.001978-79 Ticket Price Graph1978-79 Season Pass Price Graph1978-79 Skier Visit Graph
1977-78$9.001977-78 Ticket Price Graph1977-78 Season Pass Price Graph1977-78 Skier Visit Graph
1976-77$9.001976-77 Ticket Price Graph$150.001976-77 Season Pass Price Graph16.7 days1976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1975-76$8.751975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 51975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1974-75$8.501974-75 Ticket Price Graph1974-75 Season Pass Price Graph1974-75 Skier Visit Graph
1973-74$8.001973-74 Ticket Price Graph1973-74 Season Pass Price Graph1973-74 Skier Visit Graph
1972-73$7.001972-73 Ticket Price Graph1972-73 Season Pass Price Graph1972-73 Skier Visit Graph
1971-72$7.001971-72 Ticket Price Graph$130.001971-72 Season Pass Price Graph18.6 days1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1970-711970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price GraphMarch 281970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1967-68$6.001967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1965-661965-66 Ticket Price Graph1965-66 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 261965-66 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$3.501964-65 Ticket Price Graph1964-65 Season Pass Price Graph1964-65 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"37 years ago I got my start in the industry making snow with Bob Switzgable.What a blast! Moved to Vermont after two years. Have not made snow in eight years but I am still snow farming for Killington. I told human resources as long as I can climb in a machine I will groom forever. Thank you Ski Sundown for my awesome carrier. "
Jay Hudson, Nov. 14, 2020
"I learned to ski here and feel very sentimental thinking about Ski Sundown. In the late 90's our after school ski program would make the weekly trip from West Hartford to New Hartford and we couldn't wait to return the following week. I am glad to see that this place still operates successfully and has since cut a new trail: Satan's Staircase which runs right alongside the Gunbarrel Trail. It is only moderately steep but extremely narrow, bumped up and shaded by the trees all day making for a challenging descent. It is a great place to bring the family and to teach future generations about the sport we all enjoy. Even though we have all moved on to bigger and less expensive mountains there is something about Ski Sundown that will never let me forget how special it is. "
Rusty Shackleford, Dec. 18, 2017
"I was the ski director of the ski school at Ski Sundown. My wife Maurie was a ski instructor and my two sons Scott and Todd learned to ski there. Both sons became freestyle competitors. We held a freestyle competition at Ski Sundown with Wayne Wong being a competitor."
Jack Harrington, Apr. 4, 2017
"I was Ski Sundown's first female lift attendant in the winter of 1973. My brother Jeff Pratt was already working there, and my parents Rod and Hala were both on the ski patrol. A family affair, you could say. Rick Carter called the house one day to ask Jeff to come in and cover a shift and my mother said, "Jeff's not here, but Sue is." Rick replied, "Put her on." And that was my hiring! Being the first woman to serve as a lift attendant was a responsibility I felt keenly, knowing that to complain about dragging heavy trash cans full of rain-sodden snow up the lift ramps would be the end of future women in the job. I never said a word. I think I saw this as my "gift" of sorts to the women lift attendants who would come along behind. I worked all that winter, and again the next winter during college breaks. It was a huge part of my life and meant (and still does) a great deal. "
Susan Pratt, Mar. 3, 2017
"I was a member of the freestyle team back in the 70's. Learned to ski at sundown. Great memories."
Geoff Shea, Mar. 2, 2017
"I learned to ski at Satan's Ridge in the '60s and skied Sundown many nights when I was in high school. The "hill" was great part of my youth!"
Sue Gentile, Mar. 2, 2017
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External Links
  • Ski Sundown - official site
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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