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Birch Ridge Inn
Snow Stake Picture
of the Day
Birch Ridge Inn Snowstake
Monday, December 10, 2018
12 1/4 inches. Suny and cold




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Mary planting dahlia\'s in the Great Room to start them for summer.

Mary planting dahlia's in the Great Room to start them for summer. 

Our last inn guests for the 2017/2018 Birch Ridge Inn season checked out on Sunday morning. While there is plenty of snow on Killington for hardcore skiers and riders to enjoy, the casual snow sports enthusiast has packed their gear and started to change their outlook to summer activities. And so have we.

It takes a little bit of work to move the inn from a winter to a summer footing (and the converse is also true). When the restaurant went on hiatus 2 weeks ago, we tore apart the kitchen and did a very deep cleaning. With the last inn guests checking out, we have started to do the same with all of our guest rooms to ready them for summer visitors. Deep cleaning rooms is as it sounds. Mary and her housekeepers, with some heavy lifting on my part, move all of the furniture, remove the mattress and box spring, and clean every nook and cranny in the room.

As a change of pace, we also go outside of the inn and clean up the grounds from winter. Fall leaves still hide in various places. Tree branches from the numerous winter storms need to be collected for disposal. Gardens need to be prepped for flowers. Of course this all happens when the weather is a little more agreeable. This morning, for instance, we woke up to more than a coating of fresh snow on the ground.

While waiting for the weather to work outside this time of year, Mary takes over the Great Room and converts the front half of it into a green house. With some strategically placed plastic tarps, and numerous plastic boxes, Mary distributes about 200lbs (I know, I carried it in from the back of her car!) of planting soil to get her summer dahlia's "started". While it is way too cold outside right now to do this, the solar radiation coming into the Great Room from the front windows is just right. By the end of the month, most of the bulbs will have started to send off shoots and they will be ready to be moved to their proper summer garden spots.

All of the work is not done in the "physical" world. This week the web site for the inn was updated for the summer season. Gone are the pictures of snow covered mountains. In their place are green hillsides, golf courses, and flower gardens. Instead of ski packages we have golf packages. We also have programs for the Long Trail Century Ride, AJGA, and the Killington Wine festival loaded if your plans have you coming to Killington for any of these events.

Thank you to all of the guests who stayed with us at the inn this last season. We hope that you have enjoyed your stay with us and we look forward to seeing you again during the 2018/2019 season.

Wherever you may be, keep the ball in play.... Think Spring.... and don't forget your sunscreen.

Bill and Mary at the top of Double Dipper on Killington Peak

Bill and Mary at the top of Double Dipper on Killington Peak 

We usually do not go out on the mountain to ski on weekends. Weekends are prime time for businesses at Killington, so we spend our time appropriately tending to activities around the inn. Today was an exception.

In all fairness, it's late April. Our restaurant went on hiatus last weekend until June. We spent the week taking the kitchen apart and putting it back together again to make sure everything was cleaned from the season. The sun was shining brightly. Temperatures were in the mid 40's. it has literally snowed almost all week. So at 10:30 AM, after Mary was done with breakfast service for our weekend inn guests, it was boots on and off to the mountain we went.

They say that God looks after drunks and fools. We are neither, but God was looking out for us anyway. We drove up to the mountain, and by all rights we should have been parking in Bay 5 at the K1 Base Lodge with a 500 yard walk to the nearest lift. But instead, as we turned to enter the parking lot, a large pick up truck left a cavernous parking space for us right at the entrance to Bay 2 just below the K1 Gondola. The space was so big my Honda CRV and another small SUV comfortably slid into the freshly vacated spot. I put my boots on, we got the skis out of the car, and casually strolled to the K1 for a ride to Killington peak.

Bright sunshine was the order of the day on K peak. Surfaces on Great Northern and FIS on the way to Rime and Reason were great. 2 inches or so of soft spring snow covered a slightly firm base. On K peak there was not enough loose snow yet to form substantial bumps. Mid-winter cruising was mostly in order. Rime, Reason, and Upper East Falls were all similar. Upper East Falls did develop some slightly larger bumps; probably the result of more skier traffic making the first turn off Great Northern from the K1 Gondola. We did several laps on the North Ridge Triple before cutting across the top of the mountain to go to Skye Peak.

At Skye Peak, we discovered that the resort had dropped the ropes on Needles Eye to the Snow Shed Crossover. Panic Button was bumped at the entrance with flatter conditions on the actual headwall. Middle Needles Eye was soft, creamy, bumps from top to bottom. Of course, the Snow Shed Crossover itself was flat back to Low Road for the traverse to the Superstar Quad.

From the quad, I went down the Superstar headwall while Mary made the traverse across Skye Peak to the top of Bittersweet. The Superstar headwall at noon time was pure mid-winter. A very firm surface with a fine loose powder coating with relatively large bumps made the trip down the headwall "technical". Lots of people getting off of the Superstar Quad were avoiding the headwall, which made it just right for the few random skiers like myself who ventured on to it. Meanwhile, Mary was getting her exercise climbing across the top of Skye Peak. Once at the crest, she said she was greeted by a collection of 2 to 3 foot bumps in the merge area from the Skyeship(which is closed for the season).

We met up on Bittersweet. Upper and middle Bittersweet was a collection of small "spring" bumps. Not really bumps per se, but a collection of minor obstacles which signaled appropriate areas to do pole plants and make turns. Lower Bittersweet had considerably more bumps. Skiers left and the middle had 2 to 3 foot bumps at mostly regular intervals with good lines. Skiers right was fairly flat. Obviously there were a bunch of skiers and riders on the hill earlier this morning who were basically side slipping down the right side of lower Bittersweet.

On the next loop I did upper Ovation to Lower Superstar. Upper O was well bumped in many spots. Between bumps was firm, but the spring sun was working it's magic making everything softening up. Lower Superstar was Lower Superstar on a late April in Killington. Sizable bumps were developing along skiers left underneath the lift line at the crest of the lower headwall. It was work, but it was good at the same time.

To finish our time on the mountain, I took a final lap down Sky Lark. Upper Sky Lark was a mid winter cruiser with some soft, shallow, spring bumps thrown in to make sure you were paying attention. Lower Sky Lark was really bumped up. A good work out before a short trip to meet up with Mary at the Ubar before heading back to the inn.

How long is the snow going to last is the 64 Thousand Dollar question. At this point it is up to Mother Nature. Superstar is deep and firm, both highly prized conditions for this time of year. Skye Lark might last as long as Superstar, as the coverage on Sky Lark is also substantial from the early buildup to support the World Cup. The resort has already announced plans to run the K1 gondola next weekend to support skiing and riding off of K Peak. So at least in their minds, and they should know, the season still has plenty of legs.

In the mean time, if the forecast stays true this week, I predict a round of golf this week in my future. Such a great time to be in the mountains with so many varied opportunities to play outside!

Wherever you may be, whether its skiing/riding or chasing that little white ball, get out and play!.... Think Spring!

Last weekend for restaurant before spring hiatus.
Thank you to all of the guests who have joined us for dinner over the 2017-2018 season.

Seasons come and go with regularity when you live in the mountains. Ski conditions have been holding up quite nicely at Killington, but it's time. After this weekend, the restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn will be going on "Spring Break". The last evening for dinner service for the 2017-2018 season will be Saturday April 14th. After a brief hiatus, the restaurant will re-open for regular dinner service on Friday June 29th. The inn will remain open for lodging during most of the period, with the exception of a few days when we have some projects to complete.

Thank you to all the inn and restaurant guests who have made our 2017-2018 season a success. With the restaurant on hiatus for a few weeks, we are looking forward to continuing to enjoy the mountain for lots of spring skiing.

The snow season has not ended here in Killington. So...Let It Snow! is still an appropriate salutation. But with golf season gearing up down south (and at some local courses), 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.

The season comes to a close for Ruts and the Bagel

The season comes to a close for Ruts and the Bagel 

Today was another in a week of spring days on Killington. Warm enough to shed a layer of clothing, but with a deep overcast hiding the sun, snow surfaces remained soft and creamy.

Temperatures last night did not go below freezing for probably the first time this winter season. Groomed trails were very soft and pliable with little indication of ground induced surface freezing. Ungroomed trails were running a little tighter with the skier created bumps of yesterday exhibiting some early morning crispness. Basically, it was all good!

Conditions over at Bear Mountain are holding up well with deep snow cover on the majority of the terrain. With the exception of a few thin spots on lower Wildfire, which can probably be covered by some strategic grooming, there is little doubt that the crowd coming to the resort for next weekends Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge will have any difficulty skiing and riding from K1 to the event venue on Outer Limits at Bear.

Traversing across the mountain, the terrain park in Dream Maker is in excellent shape. Cruise Control is still totally covered. Needles Eye is in good shape on skiers left under the snow making guns, but getting thin on skiers right. Bittersweet is well covered with the pitch after the Needles Eye chair but before the junction of High Road getting a little heavy.

Sky Lark, Superstar, and Middle Ovation are all skiing well. Entrance to the Superstar headwall is basically a single track. However, it is still relatively soft on top of the Superstar Glacier so if you commit to the single track entrance, as long as you go for it and don't wimp out, you should be fine.

On the Killington Peak side of the resort, Cascades is starting to soften up but was still on the firm side due to it being mostly out of the sun. Double Dipper was massively bumped. East Fall was soft and set up for carving. During the week it has not bumped up, but if weekend crowds skid it instead of ski it, expect some bumps to develop.

Rime, Reason, Great Northern, Upper Royal Flush, Bunny Buster, and Chute were all skiing well. As is usually the case, Royal Flush was bumped with some bare rock showing; the result of both skier side slips and the impact of the sun.

We have some wet weather on tap for the next day, clearing out for the weekend. if you are inclined to ski over the Easter Weekend, you would be hard pressed to find better than Killington this ski season.

Wherever you may be, get out and play!.... Think Spring!

Group picture on Needles Eye<br />From Left, Jane, Chuckles, Mary, Ruts, Bill

Group picture on Needles Eye
From Left, Jane, Chuckles, Mary, Ruts, Bill 

Superlatives are not enough to describe skiing and riding at Killington today.

100 Percent open, 100 Percent Packed Powder, 100 Percent Sunshine.

The majority of the resort today started out with either groomed, soft, packed powder corduroy, or magnificent bumps. Those out with the starting chair at 9:00 AM (weekdays are so civilized) felt a slight crunch underfoot on the first run as temperatures overnight dropped to the low teens. But that crunch was quickly replaced with either soft powder under foot, or on south facing trails, a lightly whipped cream as the sun did it's magic.

Bumped trails, and there are a lot of them as well, were predominately low, soft and sweet. Even the troughs between bumps are still filled with soft packed powder.

ROTD's today were oxymorons, as every run was worthy. The only run we took all day which displayed firmness was Cascade, which was still mostly in the shade due to its orientation on the mountain. Other runs, including Wild Fire, Bear Claw, Sky Burst, Cruise Control, Needles Eye, Bitter Sweet, Sky Lark, Super Star, East Fall, Rime, Reason, Great Northern, Upper Royal Flush, High Line, Chute, Caper, and the runs in between were all great.

The Killington Resort from Killington Peak to Superstar taken from Highline, Monday March 26th.
The Killington Resort from Killington Peak to Superstar taken from Highline, Monday March 26th.

We started the day at the crack of 10 in the Vale Parking Lot. It was a "boots on in the car" kind of day.

After a quick trip up the Rams Head Quad, we skied down Caper to the Snowdon Quad for a leisurely ride up the hill. We saw the Canyon Quad running, so we took a pass at East Falls, which was softening up nicely in the sunshine. After lifting back up, we traversed across the resort on South Ridge to Bear Claw and Lower Wildfire. Bear Claw was still light packed powder. Wildfire, exposed to the sun for nearly 5 hours at this point, was creaming up with beautiful little small ridges, the precursors to what must have been a line of bumps later in the day. While we were at Bear, we did the requisite runs down Sky Burst, and Wild Fire from top to bottom. All were in great shape.

We were in our rhythm, heading over to Cruise Control via Great Eastern. What followed was a run down Needles Eye, which was superb. Just the right combination of snow and sun turned what can be a mid winter icy slide into a beautiful early spring cruiser.

At this point, the group was breaking up, as many had started an hour before us. Mary and I continued with runs down Bittersweet, Skye Lark and Superstar before finishing the day in the spring sun with multiple runs down Highline.

Just a beautiful day to be skiing in the mountains of Vermont.

Wherever you may be, get out and play!.... Think Spring!

Ski conditions still \

Ski conditions still "Mid Winter" at Killington 

Spring will come. It is only a matter of time.

Mid-winter ski conditions have dominated Killington in the last several weeks. With multiple feet of snow, and no recent freeze-thaw cycles, skiers and riders at Killington have been greeted with 100% open terrain on beautiful packed powder. It has been a great March to be skiing at Killington

Conditions on the mountain look like they will hold up well this coming week. Some weather may be coming in mid-week which will impact the region, but overall it does not seem significant enough to change the overall dynamic. With Easter weekend up next, followed by the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge on April 7th and Pond Skimming at the base of Superstar on April 14, the calendar over the next 3 weekends is filled with good reasons to come and ski/ride at Killington.

Mary on Killink heading to East Falls earlier in the week
Mary on Killink heading to East Falls earlier in the week

Join the team from Birch Ridge this week at Sushi Yoshi on Wednesday March 28th for the "Killington Iron Chef Benefit" in support of the Chris Franco Scholarship Fund. It will be a great time for a great cause.

If you are in Killington this week, stop bye and say hello. And in homage so some of my friends, I respectfully change today's blog closing to --->"Think Spring" <---

Killington Peak in the background as todays group gets ready to journey out.  Notice the \

Killington Peak in the background as todays group gets ready to journey out. Notice the "Huge" crowds at the starting bell. 

At the 9:00 AM start this morning we enjoyed crisp ( 6) temperatures and 100% sunshine at Killington. If it were not for the temperatures, todays outing on the mountain would have resulted in some deep goggle tans. Alas, the sun was kept off our faces by our gators keeping us warm.

Ski conditions on the mountain were prime. The resort is wall to wall packed powder where ever you venture.

Groomed trails, and there are a lot of them, were silky smooth corduroy. Wether you chose sweeping turns, or headed straight down, the trail conditions were soft and pliable with minimum leg stress (and minimum aerobic activity as well).

Bumped trails, and there are a lot of them as well, were predominately low, soft and sweet. Even the troughs between bumps are still filled with soft packed powder.

We spent the day at Bear Mountain and Skye Peak. Starting in the Stash, we cruised down Lower Wildfire which was groomed to perfection. We followed that run with a trip down Skyeburst, through the Viper Pit to Lower Dream Maker. Conditions were so good we were in full excursion mode.

Every loop we did though Bear was just one sweet cruiser after another. With bright sunshine, the cold temperatures actually seemed warm on the south side of the resort.

The Killington Resort taken Sunday March 18th.
The Killington Resort taken Sunday March 18th.

We left Bear Mountain to visit the trails off Skye Peak

Cruise control lived up to its name. The whole boulevard was soft with minimal bumps. Needles Eye was similar, with a little scratch on Panic Button on the way in. Vertigo was bumped up. Very irregular through Middle Vertigo which did not allow for any rhythm down the fall line.

Bittersweet was really interesting. There was a strong North Wind coming up the trail. I can say definitively that this was the first time I ever did Bittersweet in a full tuck. Standing up resulted in no forward progress. Tucking into the wind was the only way to get down the upper portions of the trail.

Skye Lark was not as windy as Bittersweet. Lower Skylark had some large whales on it that were hard but not icy.

Superstar was covered in whales, the result of weekend long snow making efforts by the resort. Upper Superstar was a cross between Upper Bittersweet and Lower Skylark. A severe upslope wind was souring the surface. There is so much packed powder on the pitch that the turns were still soft and sweet, but the wind did make it a little more difficult than the trail conditions would have indicated.

We were out today for about 3 1/2 hours. It seemed like we did well over 20 runs, basically going lift to lift. It was just a beautiful ski day.

Wherever you may be, get out and play!.... Think Snow!





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