Sunday River’s Spruce Peak has been without lift access since the resort opened in mid-November. The resort and lift manufacturer Doppelmayr USA have finalized plans to replace the lift, but this won’t happen until Summer of 2017, long after the snow on American Express has melted.
We’ve heard some rumors around the mountain that a grassroots campaign has been started with the goal to “Make Spruce Great Again.” Although this is a clever tagline, we’re here to tell you that even without the luxurious Spruce Triple whisking us to the top, Spruce is still great!
The terrain on Spruce Peak is still accessible to skiers and riders—it just takes a little extra effort to get there. The upside to this situation is that not having direct lift access cuts down on traffic and preserves fresh snow longer. Sunday River’s Mountain Ops and Ski Patrol are still looking after the terrain on Spruce as if it was still lift-serviced, although it does remain au natural more often than other areas of the resort.
The easiest way to access the terrain on Spruce Peak is to ride the Aurora Quad—make sure you wave to Vernon who typically mans the top lift shack—and take a left off at the top of the chair onto Borealis. Follow the trail along until you meet the intersection of Borealis, Sirius, Vortex, and Aludra. There should be a sign guiding you up to the right for the short hike up to Spruce Peak.
It’s a fairly short hike up to Spruce (about 100 – 150 yards of a moderate incline). If you (safely) keep your speed around the corner from Borealis, you can cover about a third of this incline. Some people chose to skate the rest of the way up—I usually take my skis off and make the quick hike on foot. No skins or AT bindings are necessary; it’s the easiest side-country access around.
After the short hike, you’ll find yourself in familiar territory where the former Spruce Triple used to drop you off. From here you can enjoy great cruisers like American Express and Risky Business, the steeps of Downdraft or the rugged glades of Gnarnia. And though you’re earning your turns, be sure to mind all ropes and signage from Ski Patrol before invoking your boundary-to-boundary rights.
Even though the Spruce Triple is not running this year, hopefully everyone ventures over to Spruce Peak showing that Spruce is still GREAT!