Love at Frost Sight: The Magic of Dartmouth’s Skiway
Dartmouth’s Skiway faces the inevitable consequences of climate change and warmer winters but works to cultivate generational connections that shape this venue.
This article is featured in the 2023 Winter Carnival special issue.
As snow gently settles atop Dartmouth Hall, students scurry across the Green, traipsing in the powder that signifies true winter in Hanover. Snow means many things for our community, including breaking out boots and a midnight snowball fight — and fresh powder at the Dartmouth Skiway. For some students, the Skiway is a core element of the Dartmouth experience.
Since 1956, the Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme has been an undeniable presence in the Upper Valley. The Skiway creates a welcoming environment for all, from local residents and guests to students from across the globe who wish to explore New England skiing.
According to Skiway general manager Mark Adamczyk, the Dartmouth Skiway sold more than 1,400 student season passes last season — making it one of Dartmouth’s most popular winter destinations. Adamczyk emphasized how the Skiway’s connection to the College makes this place so special.
“The connection to Dartmouth is what differentiates it from, for lack of a better term, corporate ski areas or more profit-minded places, because Dartmouth allows a mission of community, access and inclusion,” Adamczyk said. “Because of the connection to the College, we have this whole separate mission of making sure there's a venue in the winter for people to learn and enjoy the sport of downhill skiing.”
On weekends you can find local children strapping up for a day of lessons as well as college students looking to get a few runs in. Much like the strong alumni community, Dartmouth ski connections show up all around the country.
“I came from a large ski area in Colorado, and my boss there was a Dartmouth alum and former Dartmouth skier, and the very first president and CEO of the resort that I worked at was also a Dartmouth alum,” Adamcyzk said.
With the prominence of the Skiway, it has been disheartening to see the lack of snow this season. Dartmouth’s campus, until quite recently, lacked its typical snowglobe look. With warmer temperatures brought on by climate change, this shift presents an existential threat to the Skiway, Adamcyzk said.
“We’re certainly making efforts to understand what are the right steps,” Adamcyzk said. “We’re in the fact-finding phase of that mission, but if you’re to continue Dartmouth’s contribution to skiing and its legacy — not just locally, but skiing as an industry in America and maybe the world — the next steps to take could be efficient and sustainable snowmaking.”
As the Skiway works to combat climate change and unpredictable weather patterns, community members are committed to the protection of this beloved place.
While Adamcyzk said that there weren’t as many visitors at the start of the term due to low snowfall, “well over a thousand” people attend the Dartmouth Skiway on a busy Saturday. The Skiway helps students remain mentally balanced throughout the winter, he added.
“To have a venue to get fresh air, move your body, create endorphins — it’s a huge benefit to a long winter in the Upper Valley,” he said. “While certainly it is not a cure for many mental health problems, I think it is a wonderful venue to help create a healthy balance, both physically and mentally, through the winter here.”
Club alpine ski member Evan Rankin ’25 said he appreciates the Skiway for what it offers the team.
“We love the Skiway because it’s so close and home turf,” Rankin said. “As far as I can tell as a mere club member, [the Skiway] is pretty accommodating and let us run gates even though the real racing team exists.”
Rankin noted that a way to break the ice with new club members is the traditional freshman wake-ups that initiate students into some Dartmouth organizations. He described the early morning excitement that confuses new club alpine members who are convinced by their peers that they are truly going to be skiing down the mountain before opening hours.
Although the Skiway is not free, Adamcyzk said the Skiway tries to make the activity accessible to students, including “very fair” season pass prices, a $5 discount for booking early and online, free skiing trips through House Communities and inexpensive ski passes during Winter Carnival. Still, he said, one day on the mountain — including a lift ticket and ski or snowboard rentals — would cost a student without a season pass $50 to $60 depending on the day.
“It’s expensive because it’s expensive to make snow, and it’s expensive to maintain and purchase the equipment that it takes to do the sport,” Adamcyzk said. “It’s not just because it’s elitist — it maybe is elitist — but it’s expensive because it costs a lot to run a skiway.”
Unfortunately, students are not always aware of the Skiway or how relatively affordable the venue is. Kirusha Lanski ’23 said that he only discovered it during his sophomore year and then quickly took advantage of its resources.
“Where has this been all my life?” Lanski said he thought as he flew down the slopes.
Lanski emphasized the accessibility of the Skiway that is not prevalent in many ski areas.
“The fact that there is a place to ski that is so affordable to students and so close with easy access to transportation is one of my favorite aspects of this college,” Lanksi said.
Along with shuttles run by the College and equipment available for rent, the Skiway is a place where anyone can create memories. Adamcyzk expressed his excitement to see people who have never been skiing come out to the Skiway — noting that groups from DOC subclub People of Color Outdoors have been coming to the mountain.
"By virtue of Dartmouth College, [the] student body on a Saturday at the Skiway, I would feel comfortable saying it's probably the most diverse ski area in the country," Adamcyzk said.
Rankin said his cousin recently visited, and the two were able to travel to the Skiway, where Rankin taught him how to ski. Rankin praises the Skiway’s affordability for young people and the consideration of the Skiway’s policies.
“You don’t have to buy a lift ticket if you just stay on the magic carpet there, which is super thoughtful,” Rankin said.
It is the interactions and loyalty of the community — both Dartmouth students and the wider Upper Valley — that makes the Skiway special, Adamcyzk said.
“I have no connection to Dartmouth other than the Skiway, but immediately when you get here, you have a community of people who stop by and tell you their long connection to this place — generational connections,” Adamcyzk said. “Seeing students ski here who bring their kids back to ski here is really unique.”
With efforts made to increase sustainability, many at Dartmouth hope to continue cultivating these connections to enhance the magic of the Skiway.
Emily Fagell ’25 contributed to reporting.