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Birch Ridge Inn
Snow Stake Picture
of the Day
Birch Ridge Inn Snowstake
Thursday, February 26, 2015
28 1/4 inches. Snow pack continuing to compress. Temperatures in low 20's

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Killington Snow Report for Friday, February 27, 2015

Killington Conditions:
Open Trails: 155
Open Lifts: 19
Groomed Trails: 83
Service Conditions: Packed Powder/Machine Groomed
Average Base Depth: 22" - 30"
24 Hour Snowfall: 0.0"
48 Hour Snowfall: 0.0"
7 Day Snowfall: 5.0"

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Snow Volcano at top of Superstar

Snow Volcano at top of Superstar 

It has to be seen to be believed. A virtual volcano has been created at the top of Skye Peak at the head of the Superstar Trail. Instead of hot lava, the volcano is thrusting snow into the atmosphere; creating in its wake a huge mound of white goodness which will assure a very long ski season at Killington.

In what has become a weekly occurance, the Killington Resort has once again fired up the snow making system to continue to blanket the Superstar ski pod with more snow. Snow making operations were being conducted today on Lower Superstar, at the top of Skye Peak (including the Snow Volcano) and through middle Skye Lark. Snow making had clearly taken place over the last couple of evenings on Bittersweet from top to bottom, as snow whales are starting to appear along the lenght of the trail. All this snow making activity this late in the season, on top of all of the snow that Mother Nature has provided, is truly impressive. There should be no doubt that the Killington Resort is planning to operate long into the spring with the amount of snow that has been stockpiled around the resort.

Today was a relatively long day on the resort, with many high speed top to bottom runs. "Googlers" were in abundance at the resort. (Killington is playing host to a large group of people from Google as they take a break from virtual space to play a day (or 2) in the outside.) But even with the extra crowds(for a mid-week day), we really did not wait in any lift lines.

We started with our usual route off of KPeak to Bear Mountain. Bear Claw was firm with a soft 2 inch layer of powder to receive the edges of our skiis. Lower Skye Burst and Lower Dream Maker were soft and pliable, the result of temperatures slightly rising into the lower 20's causing the surface to loosen up slightly. (It is funny to think that the lower 20's is warm, but in comparison to the minus numbers of last week it really is. It is all relative.)

How to make a snow volcano. Snow guns operating from all directions at the head of Superstar.
How to make a snow volcano. Snow guns operating from all directions at the head of Superstar.

The Killington Resort from Killington Peak to Skye Peak dressed in winter white.
The Killington Resort from Killington Peak to Skye Peak dressed in winter white.

Skye Burst, Wild Fire and the Stash were all skiing beautifully. There was a collection of snow making guns operating on Stash Way which created some very interesting terrain features (read 3 foot vertical drops) The drops were actually quite fun leading into the Stash, but since less experienced skiers and riders also take that trail, I am not sure that the new "features" would be appreciated by everyone.

Coming back around the mountain, Cruise Control was a high speed run down a wide open groomer. Needles Eye was closed for racing, unfortunately, so we did not hang around to loop the Skye Ship, heading instead to do loops off the Superstar Quad. Bittersweet was soft and wonderful. Recent snow making left it covered with small to medium sized soft whales of snow, which were great to turn over. Superstar was great. Upper and Middle Superstar were firm with a couple of inch coating of soft snow. Lower Superstar was a solid do-over. The snow guns have left lower Superstar covered in deep creamy powder, similar in consistency to talcum powder. Lots of fun riding the snow making whales and the small bumps being created by skiers and riders enjoying the trail.

Moveing further north, we made multiple loops off of the K1 Gondola. FIS off the peak was loaded with nice well spaced bumps which I raced right through. Rime and Reason were in beautiful shape with loose machine packed powder. Ridge Run (formerly West Glade) was filled with soft 2 to 3 foot bumps. I just pounded my first run down it non-stop. I found a great line and just kept going. Mary saw me do it looking back from Great Northern so she decided to join me on my second run through. She held her own through the bumps, but did not enjoy them quite as much as I did.

We finished the day quite unexpectently with 2 beautiful runs down Highline. A mogul competition was taking place on the mogul field set up by the Killington Mountain School on skiers right. But the trail itself was wide open for skiers and riders to enjoy. Because it is usually closed for race training, there was virtually no skier traffic on it when we hit it at 1 PM. We had 2 very high speed, wide turn, edge to edge runs on what was virtually untracked groomed corduroy. We would expect to find that at 9:00 AM... but to find it at 1 PM after hitting bumps for the last 45 minutes was a real gift for our last runs of the day.

Like a little kid, I can't wait to get out on the slopes again tomorrow!

Let it snow!

Mary on Cruise Control

Mary on Cruise Control 


With only a few more days in February, the Killington resort is set up for a great period of spring skiing and riding.

Total snowfall this year so far is being reported at 171 inches; well on the way to make this an average (250 inches) or better snow year. And March is usually the snowiest month of the year. After normal snow compresion, Killington is reporting average base depths around 30 inches, which coincides nicely with the base depth at the snow stake at the inn, standing today at 29 inches. And more is in the forecast.

Conditions on the mountain the last couple of days were slightly firmer than they were last week. The bitter cold of this past weekend and early week have locked up groomed surfaces a little tighter than all of the powder that has fallen from the sky would indicate. But while the groomed surfaces have gotten firm due to the compression of the snow by skiers, riders, and grooming machines, naked snow in the woods is till full of lightness. I know from working outside the inn that snow is powdery and at the mid-chest level (having fallen out of a pair of snow shoes while pulling snow off a roof).

Now is the time to finish your prep work for some warm days of spring skiing and riding. Any turn you make now will help strenghten your legs and your core to be ready for the creamy goodness that is spring skiing at Killington. With a few more weeks of winter left, you still have time to get ready. So get out on the mountain and enjoy the snow.

Wherever life has you at this moment, stay warm and....

Let it snow!

The Snowdon Quad with a very cold Pico Peak in the background

The Snowdon Quad with a very cold Pico Peak in the background 

Did somebody forget to tell Mother Nature that it is February?

Last night, temperatures at Killington dipped to -20F. Add in wind gusts in the 30 MPH range with blowing and drifting snow...it may be winter but if you were outside it was no wonderland!

Snow in February is very normal. Killington is having a slightly above average snow fall, but not a record amount like our friends in Boston. We did need to bring a bucket loader to clear the parking lots at the Inn at the start of the month. We will probably need another visit in a few days if things keep going. But on balance, that is a wonderful thing because snow is the engine of Killington in the winter months.

We are now entering "Presidents Week"; the annual celebration of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Also, with the exception of Christmas to New Years, one of the busiest weeks on the slopes of Killington. We have a nice collection of inn guests from around the world. As luck would have it, in addition to schools in the Northeast US being closed, many schools in the UK also have a break this week.

Later in the week and next weekend will see Jack Daniels make the annual visit to Killington. Chef Craig is cooking up a nice dish to celebrate Old Number 7. Merisa behind the bar has her best recipes available if you would like a wee taste of Tennessee. It is all in good fun (and a great way to feel warm inside as well).

Wherever life has you at this moment, stay warm and....

Let it snow!

Mary on Caper

Mary on Caper 

And the skiing was glorious!

This winter is heading towards the record books. The last time we had snow like this in Killington was 5 years ago in 2010 when the 10 year snow stake record of 35 7/8 inches was set on February 27th. We are closing in on that record.

Technically, we have had much more snow than 35 inches, or the 30 inches of snow recorded at the snow stake... The snow stake is recording the actual snow that is on the ground... not the snow that is falling. The snow depth on the ground gets modified in 2 directions. From the bottom of the snow pack, residual heat in the ground continiously melts the base, forming a layer of glacial ice on the bottom of the pack as the winter goes forward. Obviously this melts each year and we do not wind up with a glacier... but if we did, the melted snow at the base of the snow pack would be the origin.

From above, snow is also constantly compressing. When snow falls, air is trapped between the snow crystals. As more snow falls, the weight of the new snow compresses the air out of the snow that has previously fell, resulting in the appearance that the snow pack is "shrinking".

You will see the impacts of both bottom melting and compression on cold days when no new snow is falling. Because of the cold, the snow is not melting, but it's depth is changing none the less. A good example of this is what happened recently between February 5th and 6th. On the 5th the snow stake was measuring 25 3/8 inches. On the 6th, even though temperatures never got out of the mid-20's, the snow stake measured 24 1/2. The 7/8 inch reduction in snow pack was the combination of bottom melting and surface compression.

For you physics and chemistry geeks, there is also some sublimation taking place, where the snow goes from a solid to a vapor without transitioning to a fluid. In the low humidity winter air, certainly some sublimation is taking place. However, in recent days where we have had constantly falling snow and low temperatures, sublimation is not the major factor changing the depth of the snow that has fallen on the ground.

On the mountain today... well.... if you did the right thing and figured that work or school or your flight would be cancelled down south today, you scored. Skiing is just crazy good with powder (yes to my friends in Park City - Real waist deep in the woods powder) everywhere. What chop there was on the ski trails due to skier and rider traffic was soft and beautiful. Each run was a choice between (relatively) untracked by the woods on the side of the trail or soft little bumps down the middle. It did not matter which trail you travelled. They were all the same way, the result of continious snowfall at Killington over the last 72 hours.

And there is another storm predicted for Thursday night with the weather forecasters already whispering the magic foot word. If I were you, I would grab my skis and get to Killington.... oh wait... I am already here!

Let it snow!

Ruts, Ed, and the Bagel push off Skye Peak on Gateway headed towards the Stash and Bear Mountain.

Ruts, Ed, and the Bagel push off Skye Peak on Gateway headed towards the Stash and Bear Mountain. 

The thermometer said -10 (thats right MINUS 10) this morning when my alarm went off. But the boys made their Thursday trip to Killington from various parts of southern New England... so that made today a ski day... and what a ski day it was...

The snow stake at the inn has jumped almost a foot in the last week. Translated on to the mountain.. that means a whole bunch of soft, beautiful, did I say soft, snow to play on. Combine what Mother Nature has dished out with the unbelievable efforts of the Killington Resort snow making team, and you could not ask for better skiing and riding. On top of all the new snow, and in the face of another round of snowmageddon later this weekend, the Killington snow making team was pummeling Superstar and Gateway. I have skied 4 days this week. The amount of snow the Killington team made overnight in sub-zero temperatures was just mind boggling. What was a simple push from the Superstar chair off the back of Skye Peak yesterday turned into a steep climb today. Just unbelievable.

But I digress.

Snow conditions on the slopes were phenominal. Many trails were groomed out last night leaving a very soft corduroy to play on this morning. The trails that were not groomed were set up with soft mounds of sweet bumps. Upper Wildfire on skiers left, Needles Eye on skiers right, and Vertigo were all beautiful soft bumps. I felt like I could have stayed out till 4:00 PM today, but duties at the inn called me back after only a couple of hours on the snow.

Slow roasting braised short ribs being prepared for tonights dinner service.
Slow roasting braised short ribs being prepared for tonights dinner service.

At the inn we are in week 2 of our new chef. In the front of the house, customers who have dined with us are raving about the the food in the restaurant. We had an aggressive start up last week with a targeted soft opening. I needed to turn people away on Saturday evening as the number of diners who wanted to join us for dinner during the soft open was almost double the number of diners we had planned for.

In the back of the house, we are continuing to solidify the operation. Chef Craig is getting a handle on the kitchen. We have ordered for him several new pieces of equipment he requested so he could take take our menu to the next level, as Mary and I requested. Staffing has come together as well with the hiring of a sous chef, a dishwasher, and (hopefully when you read this) a second server. In late December when we did not know when the restaurant would re-open, we outplaced the restaurant staff so they could make some money over the Christmas holidays. We have now reeled back most while also agressively hiring to fill openings in some of the skilled areas which we needed to build. We think we have put together a solid team which will push the restaurant foward, and allow us to do some very creative culinary things at the inn in the near future.

If you get a chance to visit Killington in the next few weeks, stop bye and say hello. In the mean time, with the weather forecast for the east coast calling for some more of the white stuff, keep your snow blower gassed up and your snow shovel handy and....

Let it snow!

Mary playing in the pow

Mary playing in the pow 

Just in time.

Snow - beautiful snow - has descended across the Green Mountains of Killington. Iit does not matter that I have had to spend hours behind a snow blower, or lifting a shovel full. It does not matter that our snow plow guy's bucket loader is currently caput. It does not even matter that a pipe in the heating system burst the other day. What matters is that we have gotten lots of snow over the last week... and we have actually been able to get out an play in it.

In the snow storms of last Thursday and this past Monday we ventured out to play in the falling snow. While last week saw the storm only catch us with it's northern edge, this weeks storm was the real deal, dropping copious amounts of snow across the landscape. We really don't even need to talk about conditions on them mountain. They are just great.

While Monday we were skiing in fresh powder on each run, Tuesday we hit the groomers and the soft bumps. Or should I say we hit the soft bumps pretending to be groomers. Pretty much every where you turned you were greated with a soft pile of snow. It made for a fun couple of hours on the slopes.

Killington is now 100% open. The slopes, except in a few wind blown areas, are covered in feet of soft, natural snow. and the woods, obviously, have the goods. And with snow forecasted for today, tomorrow, and the weekend, we can expect conditions to get even better.

Where ever you may be, keep warm, think thoughts of skiing/riding, and let it snow!

Chef Craig Cornell prepping a pork tenderloin for tonights staff training session

Chef Craig Cornell prepping a pork tenderloin for tonights staff training session 

Mary and I are pleased to welcome Chef Craig Cornell to the Birch Ridge Inn. Craig joined us this past Sunday. He has been working all week with us to prepare the restaurant at Birch Ridge to re-open tomorrow, Friday January 30, 2015.

Chef Craig joins us from the Inn at Weston where he was the executive chef overseeing the culinary team for the inns restaurant and pub. Previously, Chef Craig worked at the Okemo Resort where he developed Epic at Solitude, Okemo's upscale mountain dining experience. Chef Craig also developed Okemo's Snowcat Dining Adventure for an on mountain evening of fine dining.

Chef Craig is no stranger to the Killington area. Early in his career (25 years ago... how time flies) he worked as a sous chef at the Vermont Inn and as the Executive Chef at the Cascade Lodge.

Chef Cornell replaces our dear friend and past chef Stephen "Frizzy" Byrne who passed away just prior to the Christmas Holidays. In our planning sessions to re-open the restaurant at Birch Ridge, we intend to continue to serve many of the most popular items developed by Chef Frizzy over the years, while adding in many new items Chef Craig has honed over his culinary career.

The restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn will be open this Friday and Saturday nights starting at 6PM for dinner service in the Restaurant and Great Room Lounge. We resume our normal Tuesday through Saturday evening restaurant schedule next week.

For a copy of Chef Craig's first menu, you can visit the following link. We look forward to seeing you the next time you visit Killington.

Let it snow!

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