What’s the buzz at Killington?

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Spent a few days at Killington. Vermont earlier this week.

Awesome conditions! Deep snow with nearly every trail open. From the summit to mid-mountain the trees were caked with snow; something I haven’t seen in a couple of years.

Here are a few things I observed at The Beast:

Old and young

There seems to me more older people at Killington, especially midweek. Go into any lodge and you’ll see groups of senior citizens sitting at a table sipping coffee. Sure they ski, not snowboarding, but they make sure to take frequent breaks to prevent breaks to their bones. Kids were where they belong: in school.
There were also some guys that I think were from Russia, or Poland. They passed me as I was shooting this video at the summit.

The music in the lodges is from the Baby Boom generation. Stones, Beatles, The Who. Who knew?

The terrain

Plenty of skiing and snowboarding for all kinds of sliders from newbies to experts. Mainly packed powder with most trails groomed yet The Beast didn’t ruin many of the bump runs. The long Great Eastern trail was groomed down to its finish on Route 4. Skye Lark, Superstar and Bittersweet were sweet cruisers off Skye Peak. East Fall from the North Ridge was in its best shape in years.

Winter fur

Guys outnumbered woman at The K. It seems that most young guys in their twenties have some type of beard. Wheter  it’s a stubble or a full beard, few are shaving. Why should they?

Cheap rooms

Looking for a cheap place to stay? Head to Rutland, about 15 minutes from Killington. There’s lots of cheap, clean rooms available midweek. Better yet, don’t pay full price by going to hotelcoupons.com Print out a coupon and you can stay for as little as $37.95 a night.

Time to eat

In the K1 lodge, there’s a new food offering: Sushi Yoshi chicken wings. Thumbs up to the chili and New England chowder, just under nine bucks. Hearty and just enough to fill you up. Another thumps up to Killington for providing free water, with cups, in their lodges. Staying hydrated is one of the smartest things you can do.

Parental advice

Saw a mom pulling her daughter on a snowboard over flat terrain. She didn’t tell her daughter she was weak, but instead said she didn’t have the “physical fortitude.”

On the opposite scale, a twentysomething in the K1 gondola told a story about how his father was pissed at him because he had to take frequent breaks after skiing in sub-zero cold. The dad divided the price of the lift ticket by the number of runs made. Guess he wanted to make sure he got his money’s worth even if his kid froze.

More snow

Although there was plenty of natural snow, Killington was still blowing snow on several trails. Snowmakers were also covering up some thin cover sections on heavily traveled trails.

At the top of the Frolic trail at Snowden, looking toward Ram's Head and Pico Peak in the distance.

Take a lift

No long waits in the lift line; practically walk on the lift from the single line. Not all lifts were running because they weren’t needed. The Bear Mountain and Needle’s Eye lifts weren’t running, but there were other lifts turning to get you there. One Killington worker said the lifts weren’t running to save money.

Cow power

Killington’s got a Holstein-colored gondola near the K1 gondola to the summit to promote the fact that it’s powered by cow manure. No kidding. How does it work?

Here’s how Killington describes it: “The power actually comes from methane, a flammable gas that is a major part of natural gas, released from manure as it decomposes. Farms collect cow manure throughout the day, mixing it with wash water from the milking equipment which is then pumped into an anaerobic digester.

“The slurry flows through a digester for about three weeks at 100 degrees Fahrenheit allowing bacteria to convert the manure into biogas, about 60% methane gas and 40% carbon dioxide. The biogas is then delivered to a modified natural gas engine, which drives an electric generator to create electricity. Finally, the energy generated is fed onto the GMP electrical system which ultimately powers the K-1 Express Gondola.”

Weather

Temps were in the teens and 20s. Wind was gusting in the mid-30s mph, but varied across the the mountains. Strongest wind wasn’t on the summit, but just before the mid-station of the Skyeship gondola. Go figure. Temps dipped into the low teens at night.

The Vibe

Most people, including merchants, are happy because of the Christmas gift of four feet of snow. Most said we deserve it after last year’s sucky winter.

The Summit Lodge

The old lodge was demolished about two years ago. Today a foundation is in place. With snow around it is resembles a castle’s wall. The new lodge will be built during the summer and fall and is scheduled to open by next Christmas. Be nice if they bring back the potato puffs. This is what it will look like:

Cool app

Tried free Ski Tracks app for first time. This awesome apps using GPS to gather data on vertical drop, distance, speed and incline. Skied Great Eastern trail from the summit a few times.

The data showed:

Maximum Speed 46.6 MPH Distance 4.3 mi. Vertical 2893 ft Slope 17° Duration 11:20 minutes. Was a really going that fast?

Cell service

ATT service greatly improved not only at Killington, but across Vermont. Try to find the cell phone towers designed to look like pine trees.

Fresh air

Stopped in Woodstock and got some air for my tires. The air was free, but if you needed help, they charged you 5 bucks; three if you were elderly or handicapped. By the way, SLOW DOWN in Woodstock, rated one of the best towns in Vermont for getting a speeding ticket. If you’re looking for some great (and pricy) Vermont products from cheese to syrup to meat and freshly prepared foods, stop at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market.

Best coffee

Have yet to find a Starbucks in VT. Off I-91′s Exit 3 in Brattleboro, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts served up by older ladies. A great cup of Joe; throw in a plain stick as well to make it a true dunkin’.

Worst traffic

Our own Hartford; a slow crawl. Avoid the rush hour in the AM and PM if you can.

Jim Shay

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