Vermont's Suicide Six has announced that it will change its "insensitive" name in the weeks to come.
The ski area has been operating under the name since 1936. The name, according to the resort’s website, came from Dartmouth College ski instructor Wallace “Bunny” Bertram, who often joked that skiing the steep pitch of Hill No. 6 would be suicide.
In a statement they say:
"We’d like to share some news with our S6 family.
"The Suicide Six name will be retired this summer. Our resort team embraces the increasing awareness surrounding mental health and shares the growing concerns about the insensitive nature of the historical name. The feelings that the word “suicide” evokes can have a significant impact on many in our community.
"The Suicide Six Ski Area has an enduring legacy spanning nearly nine decades, and it is vital that the name better represents and celebrates what makes it a beloved and vibrant part of this community. Though some may find the change difficult, we stand by our conviction that this evolution is warranted for an iconic treasure and, more importantly, necessary to continue its rich history of inclusion and accessibility.
"After much thought and consideration, research and community outreach, a new name has been developed and will be announced in the coming weeks.
"This change is being made with great care and respect. We look forward to sharing it with you soon."
The resort has a claim to historical fame as the earliest ski resorts, deriving from the installation, in January 1934, of an improvised rope tow, the first ski lift (uphill conveyance) in the United States, on a hill located on Clinton Gilbert's farm. The rope tow was originally powered with a Ford Model T engine. By the following month, Wallace "Bunny" Bertram (a former ski coach at Dartmouth College who had helped build the original rope lift) took over the operation, and installed a more reliable electric motor.
A few years later he moved his operation to a steeper hill nearby, shown on the map as "Hill 6". Two years later the resort was opened using this name and photos of Bertram can be seen in the resort museum in the base lodge.
Bunny Bertram sold Suicide Six to Laurance Rockefeller in 1961, and the development continued of the ski resort in conjunction with Rockefeller's nearby Woodstock Inn. In a 2004 article, the Boston Globe described Suicide Six as "steeped in history", and now a "low key" location for "a taste of rural skiing".
As of late 2011, when Suicide Six marked its 75th anniversary, the facility included 23 runs and continued to operate as the ski area of the Woodstock Inn. In 2016, S6 celebrated its 81st anniversary, and installed a brand new Leitner-Poma Alpha quad chairlift, over 2,000 feet (600 m) in length to the summit.
In 2018, the mountain had developed summer programs, and opened a lift-served mountain bike park, only the 6th such park in the state of Vermont. In 2020, the lift served mountain biking was ceased, but the area is open to the public to park and ride up/down as they please. Maintenance of the MTB trails has been assumed by the Woodstock Area Mountain Bike Association (WAMBA).
The continued investment and development into the area as a year-round destination continues to add vibrance and activities to the region in the heart of the Green Mountains Suicide Six is host to the longest running ski race in North America, The Fisk Trophy Race. It was first held in 1937 and is a rite of passage for serious eastern ski racers. Notable past winners include Bode Miller, Chip Knight, Jimmy Cochran, Shane McConkey, and many other Olympians, US Ski Team members, and NCAA Champions