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Birch Ridge Inn
Snow Stake Picture
of the Day
Birch Ridge Inn Snowstake
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
16 7/8 inches. Blowing and drifting snow

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Killington Snow Report for Friday, January 30, 2015

Killington Conditions:
Open Trails: 155
Open Lifts: 17
Groomed Trails: 76
Service Conditions: Machine Groomed/Packed Powder
Average Base Depth: 22" - 30"
24 Hour Snowfall: 2.0"
48 Hour Snowfall: 2.5"
7 Day Snowfall: 9.5"

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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!

The Covered Carriageway doing its job keeping snow off the entrance to the inn

The Covered Carriageway doing its job keeping snow off the entrance to the inn 

Contrary to reports on the Weather Channel, snowmageddon did not materalize here at Killington with the winter storm that is racking the coastal communities of New England. While by city standards we have had a decent amount of snow, by mountain standards it is a good day to play.

Conditions on the mountain today were really nice, if you could overlook poor visibility and a 25-35 MPH northwest wind. Blowing and drifting snow created some issues down the center of many trails. But, if you were observant, you could find shin deep powder in many places along the tree lines of most trails.

Todays journey began with a trip up the Rams Head lift for a run down Swirl and Easy Street. These are not my normal first runs of the day, but Mary decided to come out with me this morning in the middle of the storm. Taking an easier trail was a good choice to allow her to get comfortable with the newly fallen snow. A little confidence builder goes a long way.

From Rams Head we traversed through the connecting tunnel to Snow Shed; ultimately taking Low Road back to the Superstar Lift. While the wind was howling, the angle of attack of the Superstar chair prevented any real wind impact on us as it carried us to the top of Skye Peak.

The Birch Ridge Inn covered in freshly fallen snow
The Birch Ridge Inn covered in freshly fallen snow.

Off the back of Sky Peak we went for a run down Upper Bittersweet to Lower Wildfire. There was great snow coverage down skiers left snuggled up against the trees. This area was relatively sheltered from the wind, resulting in a consistend 3-4 inch powder surface on top of the existing base. Just beautiful.

The Sky Peak Quad, on the other hand, was a little rough. Wind was pushing directly into our faces as the chair carried us uphill. We decided to head down Cruise Control to the Skyship for some shelter. Upper Skye Burst to Dreammaker was just beautiful, with loads of snow. Mary decided to go through the wind tunnel towards Bittersweet. She found that surface slick and wind blown. But in either case, the trails were very easy to navigate as we vitually had the mountain to ourselves (or so it seemed.) Our final destination for this traverse was Cruise Control, which was nicely covered.

After out bucket ride, being buffetted by the wind, we decided to head back to Superstar for a few looks. Skylark and Bittersweet were nice. The same holds for Superstar. I did try Old Superstar which was nasty. The trail is normally bumped off. But with the angle of the wind, the trail turned into a collection of seemingly hard bumps and snow cornices. Not a great trail pick, but so it goes. Picking my way throught the moguls in a 30 MPH wind with blowing and drifting snow beats flying a desk any day!

Let it snow!

Mary traversing between Killington Peak and Bear Mountain in beautiful sunshine.

Mary traversing between Killington Peak and Bear Mountain in beautiful sunshine. 

With holiday visitors departed, and bright sunshine at our doorstep, Mary and I decided it would be a good day to take a quick break to enjoy some turns on the snow at Killington.

When we arrived at the mountain, the sun was casting a festive glow upon the landscape. Unlike at the inn where things were calm, at the K1 Base Lodge the wind was blowing at a good clip. With the sun out and my heavy jacket, I did not need and extra top layer this morning. But the wind required use of a gator to keep the face covered and toasty warm.

We started the day on the K1 Gondola. We almost ended out day there as well. 4 times the wind rocked the cabin and brought the gondola to a abrupt halt. On Killington peak we made an executive decision that this would be our one and only use of the K1 for the morning; so after clicking the boots into the skis, off we went towards Bear Mountain.

The traverse between the mountains from the top of Killington past South Ridge to Skye Peak was on nice soft snow. The upper elevations of the resort clearly received their fair share of snow with the storms that swept through the area over the weekend. As we approached Bear Mountain, however, there was a destinct change in conditions.

The spine of the Green Mountains from Killington and Pico to Sugarbush and beyond.
The spine of the Green Mountains from Killington and Pico to Sugarbush and beyond.

The most obvious thing we noticed was the lack of snow in the trees. Whereas the trees on Killington Peak were heavy with snow, the trees at Bear Mountain on the lower elevations were basically clean. Surface conditions also changed quite dramatically as well. The run across the top from Killington Peak on Bear Trax was soft, machine groomed powder. Skyeburst at Bear Mountain, on the other hand, was set up with a nice mix of ball bearing and golf balls, a strong indication that precipitation at the lower elevations at Bear stayed as ice for a much longer time, while it continued to snow at the peaks. Of course after one or two more grooming cycles everything will be nice again, even at the lower elevations.

Off of Skye Peak, the snow had obviously accumulated deeper. Bittersweet was well covered. Skylark was out right deep in places. Lower Skylark was bumped up with large, soft, moguls with mostly soft snow in between. There were a couple of bottomed out troughs, but for the most part the line was soft all the way down to the bottom.

With the sunshine and good snow, it was a nice quick morning on the mountain. With hopefully many more to come as we hit the middle of the ski season.

Let it snow!

Birch trees at the front of the Birch Ridge Inn covered with snow and  backlit by lights on Killington Road.

Birch trees at the front of the Birch Ridge Inn covered with snow and backlit by lights on Killington Road. 

Somtimes it's lemons. Other times it's lemonade. For this mid-January holiday weekend, Killington was given tanker truck loads of lemonade in the form of heavy wet snow.

The weather forecast the last couple of days was problematic. While the forecasters were calling for heavy r@!n on Sunday, there was a mention of snow in the higher elevations. The National Weather Service forecast was schizophrenic. Cats, ice, dogs, r@!n, snow....the kitchen sink could have fallen from the sky and they would have forecasted it. Such is the variability of mid January storms in the mountains when there is a bubble of very cold air to the north, and warm air to the south. But it all turned out good in the end.

Winter wonderland in the forest behind the Birch Ridge Inn at Killington.
Winter wonderland in the forest behind the Birch Ridge Inn at Killington.

Sunday was already called for with the NFC and AFC championship games on television, so the weather outside, while being a curiosity, was not high on the list. What started as ice at mid day made a brief transition to r@!n before settling into a gentle heavy wet snow storm.

At midnight, before calling it a night, I went outside to shovel off the walkways in front of the inn. The afternoon and early evening as a couch potato watching the football games had left me with a little too much energy to try to call it a night and get to bed early. After a couple of shovels full, I realized that the snow blower was the way to go. 3-5 inches of heavy wet snow is no problem for my 9 1/2 horse snow blower... While walking out to get it, I could not help but notice how nice all of the trees looked covered in snow and back lit by the street lights on the Killington road; hence the primary picture for todays blog.

When I got up in the morning and went back outside to clean things up, everything was still beautiful. Mother Nature had given Killington lemonade for MLK weekend. It was nice to stand quietly outside and just drink it all in.

Let it snow!

Mary at junction of High Road and Bittersweet

Mary at junction of High Road and Bittersweet 

it was not the prettiest day on the mountain, nor the coldest. But there is something that is just satisfying when skiing in freshly fallen snow while the snow is still coming down.

In advance of another round of cold weather that is due to sweep into the region tonight, Mother Nature decided it was time to squeeze out what ever moisture had accumulated in the atmosphere and deposit it in the form of white snow across the Green Mountains. Snow started well before daybreak. By the time we exited the inn around 10 AM, about 3 inches of the white stuff had fallen around the inn. It seemed like slightly more had fallen on the mountain, probably an elevation effect.

Todays advernture was straight forward. We started at the Vale parking lot from which we traversed over to the Snowshed quad. From the Quad we hit High Road to the Stage 2 entrance to the Skyship at Needles Eye before heading off to Bear Mountain. At Bear, we enjoyed a few runs down Bear Claw and Sky Burst. Nothing too technical today, as we are still recovering from the busy period around the holidays. A few runs down Cruise Control, Bittersweet, and Sky Lark finished the play, before heading back to the car and work at the inn.

Conditions in general on the mountain were packed powder with 3-4 inches of fresh snow on top. Some mounding was taking place in high traffic areas, where also the dreaded "Eastern Hardpack" exposed itself for all to see. Throughout the morning, coverage was excellent as the medium dense falling snow did a great job making the good areas better and the hard pack areas softer. Snow showers are supposed to continue throughout the night, continuing to improve conditions for tomorrows adventures in the mountains.

At the inn, we have turned our attention to recruiting a chef with the goal of reopening our restaurant for evening dinner service soon. We offered limited food service over the weekend with a nice offering of desserts. We will be continuing this for the duration, while looking to fill the chef position.

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

Snowman ornament on the Birch Ridge Inn Christmas Tree

Snowman ornament on the Birch Ridge Inn Christmas Tree 

Brr. It's -15 degrees farenheight outside... or so it was earlier today according to Siri on my Iphone. And yes, Siri actually goes Brr when it is cold outside.

The faustian bargain our society has made in the name of progress is an iteresting animal. But that is perhaps a subject for another day when the carthasis level is a little lower.

Today we took down the inn's Christmas tree. Unlike when 6 grown men were required to hoist it skyward, after presiding over the Great Room for 5 weeks, it only took Mary and I to take it down and haul it out behind our garden shed. It was still fairly heavy, and it also was pretty steadfast in holding on to it's pine needles; just the attributes one would expect from a tree that was freshly cut prior to the holidays descending upon us all.

With the departure of the tree, the snow men are about to make an appearance around the inn. It will take a few days, as we are still trying to develop a new working pattern after life threw down a curve ball after the holidays, but the snow men will make thier annual appearance decorating the inn for a celebration of winter all around us.

We have been able to venture out on the slopes a couple of days this week. We have been dutifully impressed with Killington's recovery from the wet weather that preceded the holidays. We have an expression..."It's not ice if there are no fish under it". And that is technically true... Just like the structure greeting guests to the inn is not a covered bridge, as it does not traverse a body of water. Techincally it is a snow shed. But it looks like a bridge. What we found on the slopes was a mix of conditions, all starting with your basic eastern hardpack. After that you could find some machine groomed granular, some golf balls, a few death cookies, and of course some freshly made powder from Killington's huge snow making system. Even though they were varied, conditions overall were quite good. And with light snow now falling virtually continiously due to the very cold temperatures (Mother Nature is wringing out all residual moisture in the atmosphere over the top of Killington), it looks like conditions for skiing and riding can only get better.

And that is a good message for life... it can only get better!

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

Let it Snow!

Let it Snow! 

Readers of Killingtonblog over the almost 10 years of it's existence can descern patterns in my writing to reflect where we are in life at any given time during the course of the year.

When the little moments in life take a left turn, my go to phrase is from Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughter House Five": "So it Goes".

Of course, Vonnegut is also incorrectly attributed across the internet for the phrase I use to close the blog in the summer; "Don't forget your sunscreen". It is actually a paraphrase from a 1997 Chicago Tribune column from Mary Schmich "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young." Of course it is so Vonnegonian that the legend still persists rampantly on the web to this day.

Speaking of the young, let's not forget the great Brittish science fiction series "Doctor Who". In Season 12, the Fourth Doctor played by Tom Baker tells his then female companion Sarah Jane: "There's no point in being grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes." Words that all of us of a certain age should remember and act upon regularly as we careen through life.

Another one of the phases I use on occasion is from the great Douglas Adam's Trilogy (of 4 books) the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" : "Don't Panic". When you live at a resort that is in many regards dominated by the weather, this is a good phrase to keep in mind.

Which leads me to the phrase that I usually close the blog with for the winter season, so appropriate for today. As cold weather descends upon Killington as we head into the new year, the only phrase that matters is a simple one from a song written by Lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in 1945...

Let it snow!

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