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Mary after a run down East Fall at Killington

Mary after a run down East Fall at Killington 

The windows are wide open in the office. I went, unsuccessfully, hunting for a pair of shorts earlier this afternoon. Spring has arrived at Killington.

When we departed the inn this morning, at 8:50 AM, the temperature under sunny skys had already reached 58 degrees. Even with just a vest, a turtle neck, and a shell for pants, I knew it was going to be a warm morning on the mountain. And it was glorious!

Consistently soft snow, bumps of all sizes for all ability levels, bright sunshine, a nice warm breeze, and lots of friendly people.... Mid winter powder storms are great, but as the season winds down there are special places for warm spring skiing days as well.

We spent our few hours on the slope staying over in the Killington Basin side of the resort running the K1, Canyons, and Snowshed quad lifts. While the box at K1 was efficiently in moved us from the K1 base lodge to the peak of Killington, sitting in the sunshine on the quad lifts was much more satisfying.

With temperatures approaching 60, ski surface conditions were uniformily soft. Some trails which had substaintial skier traffic like Double Dipper and East Fall were puckered up with bumps. Others where traffic was non existent, like Chute under the Snowshed quad, were beautiful soft cruisers. There can be no complaints on a day like today.

While todays warm temperatures will cause surfaces to melt, the Killington Resort is covered in feet of snow on the major trails, the result of a season long snow making campaign. Mother Natures warm spell this week might take out some of the tree runs around the resort, but there is a lot of skiing and riding to still be had on the slopes of Killington.

The snow season has not ended here in Killington. So...Let It Snow! is still an appropriate salutation. But with the Masters golf championship at Augusta already in the can, I won't fault you if your pursuit changes from snow balls to golf balls over the next few weeks. What ever you pleasure, please do not forget your sunscreen.

Skiing at Killington before yesterdays announcements.

Skiing at Killington before yesterdays announcements. 

No matter what the outcome, history was made yesterday at Killington.

Before a gathering of several hundred people from the Killington community, the management team of the Killington Resort completed the exorcism of past questionable management practices and announced a series of bold and far reaching steps to return Killington to its rightful place as one of the top ski resorts in the United States. While success is far from certain in the ever evolving ski industry, Killingtons management team laid down a bunch of not so subtle markers indicating that they are in the game to win it, not just to survive. It's about time!

Breaking down yesterdays announcements, there are layers of texture not seen in almost 20 years at Killington. While the infamous and much delayed "Killington Village" development was barely mentioned, except for pointing out that the developer has received an Act 250 permit from the State of Vermont, it was readily apparrent that the Killington management team is determined to move the resort forward...village or not. Specifically:

Killington on the world stage!
While this was the last announcement of the day, it was also the most profound from a Killington perspective. Mike Solimano, President and General Manager of Killington, announced to the Killington community that the resort and POWDR (the parent company of the Killington Resort) had inked a deal with the International Ski Federation (FIS) to hold the Audi FIS Ski World Cup at Killington the next two years over the Thanksgiving weekend. Herwig Demshar, VP of International Business Development for POWDR was at yesterdays community meeting to support the announcement.

Beyond the raw excitement of the event, which was on full display last Thanksgiving at Killington, there are 2 very important takeaways which are highlighted by this announcement. The first is that POWDR is very serious about promoting the Killington Resort on the world stage. The Beast of the East deserves international recognition, and committing to hold a highly visible World Cup event in late November in Vermont, when ski conditions can be notoriously difficult, is a throwdown to every other resort in the world that Killington is a place for their patrons to come and visit.

The second takeaway is much more subtle, but equally profound. POWDR, and the Killington's Management Team purposefully announced the signing of the World Cup races at a community meeting first, before issuing public press releases. Contemplate that for a moment. The company whose initial mantra 10 years ago likened the community to "the friendly birds that live on the back of an elephant and pick the bugs off" has come full circle viewing the Killington community as a respected partner. It would have been easy for the PR machine of Killington to have fired off a press release about the World Cup before yesterdays meeting. But they didn't. They chose to share the announcement with the community...then tell the world.

The return of the South Ridge Chair Lift and the Snowshed Crossover
Oops....Pres Smith really knew what he was doing when he designed the Killington Resort.

While I jest with some tongue and cheek commentary, without admiting it, this is exactly what the Killington management team did yesterday. Beyond the World Cup, seasoned Killington skiers and riders will mostly likely be impacted directly (positively) by the return of the South Ridge chair lift, and the Snow Shed Crossover.

First... the South Ridge Triple.... In 2011, Killington removed what the then management felt was a dysfunctional and underutilized triple chair lift on the back side (South Ridge) of the Killington resort. Without question, the South Ridge Triple was a distinctive chair lift, with it's sharp left hand turn midway up the southern reaches of the resort. Initially installed in 1977, it quickly became a insiders chair lift for those who skied at Killington during the crowed Baby Boomer times of the late 80's and early 90's. In addition to providing access to some interesting terrain on the back side of the resort, the South Ridge Triple offered an efficient way to traverse from the south side to the north side of the resort, without going through the congested Killington Base Lodge area. With skier days moving up again, the Killington Management team appears to have convinced POWDR that increased congestion at the Ki Base Lodge is not necessarily a good thing.... hence, South Ridge will be back....this time as a straight line fixed grip quad traversing the original return path of the removed South Ridge Triple. Work on the lift will commence in the summer of 2018.

The Snowshed Crossover is another Pres Smith creation that Powdr initially rejected. During the 70's and 80's as Mr. Smith was expanding the Killington Resort to cover 6 different mountain, he wanted to make sure that skiers of all ability levels could enjoy each peak. In particular, he made concerted efforts to install "Green" trails off of each peak to allow beginners to get the full Killington Experience. Great Northern from Killington Peak is one such trail. Another was the Snowshed Crossover which connected Skye Peak to Bear Mountain back to Snowshed. POWDR, rightfully so, was aware that these crossover trails had unintended consequences. In addition to exposing beginners to Black Diamond terrain if they took a wrong turn, they also created numerous opportunities for skier collisions on intersecting trails to occur. When POWDR took over the resort, in addition to redesigning Great Eastern, making some minor changes to Great Northern, they closed the Snowshed Crossover. This had several unintended consequences. In addition to making it more difficult for beginner skiers to enjoy the full Killington resort, with the elimination of the South Ridge Triple, exiting Bear Mountain on busy skier days was bottle necked to the Skye Peak Express Quad. And if the quad broke down.... the horror.....

This season, if you were paying attention on certain days, the Snowshed Crossover was open again. I am not sure if it was by accident, or design, but we took it several days out of Bear Mountain without geting stopped by the distinctive orange netting that had been used to close off the trail to skiers and riders. Yesterday, the resort announced that the Snowshed Crossover will return after construction in the summer of 2018. It will be re-imagined with the use of new bridges and tunnels to eliminate collisions at trail crossovers. Many at Killington will welcome its return.

Killington does not need a village to build Ski On / Ski Off accommodations
SP Land was conspicuous in its absence yesterday. But that does not mean that nothing exciting is being built for housing at Killington. Bear Mountain is going to see some major development. In addition to the previously mentioned South Ridge Chair and Snowshed Crossover project, the Bear Mountain lodge is going to receive a major facelift and a new condominium project, called the Basecamp at Bear Mountain will be built starting in 2018. The total investment between Killington and its partner, Vermont-based Ottauquechee Realty Advisors, LLC led by Steve Malone, is estimated to be between $60 and $70 million dollars. In addition to the on slope improvements, several multi-family buildings will be constructed at the base of Bear Mountain. Once that work is completed, the next phase of the project includes 18 duplex buildings near the foot of the Devil's Fiddle ski trail.

More Summer
Killington does not survive on winter alone. During summer months, mountain biking and events take center stage. The resort announced continued investments in developing it's mountain biking assets across the resort. Work will continue this year to build out more trails on Rams Head mountain. On the event side of the docket, the resort in conjunction with the town has events scheduled for basically every weekend during the summer of 2017. From the Vermont Bike and Brew to the 16th Annual Wine Festival, Cooler In the Mountains concert series, Dirty Girl mud run, and the Spartan Race, there are events for everyone at Killington this summer.

But Killington is still a business. Climate change is a concern.
And the first shall come last.... While the 2015-2016 ski season can only best be described as yesterdays news, the Killington Resort has rebounded during this season. Snow fall at the resort during the season has returned to normal levels (239 inches as of yesterday). Skier visits are rebounding to around 750,000 this year. But all is not golden in paradise.

Even though this year has seen a return to more snow, the average temperatures the resort is experiencing is continuing to climb. Climate change was openly discussed and is impacting the resort. The resort is dealing with it using a two pronged approach. Obviously they are continuing to heavily invest in their snowmaking infrastructure. But they are also heavily investing in renewable energy resources. Solar panels will be sprouting up all over the resort to cover some of the resorts energy needs. By 2020, the resort hopes to cover 33% of the electricity it uses with renewable sources. And they exhorted the Killington community to follow their lead and invest in renewables. In simple terms, the resort can make up for lack of natural snow.. but they need cold weather to do it. Pursuing renewable energy sources, and encouraging others to follow suit, is an attempt by the resort to keep winters cold and the mountains snow covered.

There were many other items covered in yesterdays presentation. One of the audience members did publish the complete presentation on Youtube if you are interested in watching it in all its glory.

Next up at Killington is the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge this coming Saturday and Sunday. And remember...Let It Snow!

Ruts and the Bagel disembarking from the Superstar Quad

Ruts and the Bagel disembarking from the Superstar Quad 

Here we go again!

After a great week of skiing and riding that saw conditions vary from mid winter to pure spring, Mother Nature is sending Killington a late season gift that will keep the resort going for weeks.

While the weather forecasts are all over the place, and very altitude dependent, the Killington Resort stands to gain an additional 1 to 2 feet of snow from the storm which has settled over the area. The long duration storm started this morning around dawn. Snow is currently falling about a 1/2 inch per hour (1:30 PM) at the inn. Snow is forecasted to continue all night well into tomorrow morning.

While the snow is not the light fluffy powder we had with the storms earlier in the month, and in February, this storm will lay down a thick creamy coating over Killington's thick base, assuring great spring skiing and riding conditions for several weeks to come.

Where ever you may be, get out and enjoy the final moments of the winter season as we head into spring. And remember...Let It Snow!

Killington Peak bathed in sunlight and snow.

Killington Peak bathed in sunlight and snow. 

It has been a fantastic week of late winter skiing and riding in Killington.

Last weeks snow storm, a bubble of cold sunny air, and continuous snow making set up the Killington resort for a great week of skiing and riding. Starting our with soft powder as a result of some clipper systems coming through the area, and finishing up with a series of beautiful groomed cruisers, it is hard to think of a better week at Killington for skiing and riding over the last several years.

And to top it off to prepare for the weekend, more light snow is falling across the area, coating surfaces with 1 to 3 inches depending upon elevation.

On the mountain, the easiest thing to remember about conditions is that the groomers are cruisers, the bumps are setting up, and snow making has continued all over the place, with a heavy concentration of firepower on Superstar and Skylark. This week we saw powder, groomed corduroy, and waist high bumps, depending upon which part of the mountain we were enjoying. Below are a few pictures of this weeks outing.

The Stash
First run groomed cruising through "The Stash"

Steeps on Cascade
Some steeps with a light powder coating on Cascade

Under the guns at Skylark.
A ski stop under the guns on Skylark.

Snowmakers putting out the goods on Superstar Headwall
Snowmakers putting out the goods on the Superstar Headwall.

All out snow making assault on Superstar.
All out snow making assault on Superstar

Snow making has been ongoing on Superstar for over a week. The snow whales are now over the lift line in most places. The troughs on skiers right from the whales have filled in with snow completely in many places. So much snow has been stockpiled on Superstar, that the resort has also been making snow on Sky Lark from top to bottom, allowing for a second run off the Superstar quad to last through out the upcoming spring season. And without trying to junx the weather we may have over the next few weks, the Killington Resort has publically started to talk about skiing and riding at the resort continuing at least into June.

What does all this mean for John Q Public. Basically, don't hang up you skiis or board yet. There is a lot more time on the snow to be had before the last cowbell for the 2016-2017 winter season has rung.

Where ever you may be, get out and enjoy the winter season. And remember...Let It Snow!

Chuck, the Bagel, and Ruts exiting the Stash at Killington

Chuck, the Bagel, and Ruts exiting the Stash at Killington 

Irish eyes are smiling....

Today was the perfect post snow storm ski day in Killington. With the fresh powder days right after the storm behind us, the Killington Resort was awash in silky soft groomers. Ego snow was in store for anyone who ventured out on the the slopes. And if you wanted some bumps, there were also plenty of those around to fulfill you need for some pulsating rhythm.

From Bear Mountain to Skye Peak to Killington Peak, to Snowdon mountain...every where you went you were presented with great run after great run. At Bear the Stash, Bear Claw, and Skyburst were soft groomers. Wildfire was left with the pucker bumps of ski traffic over the last couple of days. Soft and very carvable, they really got the quads working.

More of the same was found off of Skye Peak. Bitter Sweet, Skye Lark, and Superstar were all nicely groomed. Plenty of bumps were left on Ovation and on skiers right and left on lower Superstar. The problem will all of these trails was that everything was so good calling a trail a do-over was just a waste.

Off of Killington Peak the North Ridge Area and East Fall were working the legs. Double Dipper and Downdraft were barely being skied, probably due to the collection of bumps on both trails. We never did make it over to Cascade. From what we could see it was flat coming off the bottom, but since we were riding the Snowdon Triple and the Canyon Quad we never got a view from the K1 of the top of Cascade.

The mountains are set up for a great weekend of skiing and riding. With temperatures projected in the mid 20's, skiers and riders should experience one of the best weekends of the season.

Where ever you may be, get out and enjoy the winter season. And remember...Let It Snow!

The Bagel returns

The Bagel returns 

Resplendent in a retro onesy, the Bagel returned for the spring skiing season at Killington after wintering in Florida. What a day he picked for his return!

You would be hard pressed to find a better day to ski at Killington. Temperatures were in the low 20's. Bright sunshine dominated most of the resort, with the exception of the K cloud on Killington Peak. And there was fresh powder everywhere.

We skied a mix of trails during the morning sesson. Some, like Bear Claw, had been groomed out. While they were puckering up with small bumps created by skier traffic, they were still fast cruisers in the good visibility. Others, like Wildfire, Ovation, and Superstar were fairly au natural... Big powder bumps everywhere.

It was a great day on the resort, with many more to come as a result of this weeks storm.

Where ever you may be, get out and enjoy the winter season. And remember...Let It Snow!

Do I need to say more
Do I need to say more?

With the storm exiting the area, the restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn will re-open tonight for regular dinner service starting at 6:00 PM.

If you are planning to come to Killington, now is the time!

Where ever you may be, get out and enjoy the winter season. And remember...Let It Snow!

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