While our thoughts go out to those down south who are still dealing with last weekend Blizzard, Killington has barely skipped a beat.
At the inn, last week had effectively 3 Saturdays between the onslaught of people arriving at the resort on Thursday, the group of people who were here all day Friday and our normal mid-winter Saturday. From a business perspective...it is a wonderful thing.
Guests in town were decidedly skiers and riders. Where over the Christmas snow storms I needed to shuttle a half dozen guest cars up a snow covered Butler Road to reach the inn, this weekend I needed to shuttle nada. All of our guests, for the most part, were accomplished in driving in snow. I always say the "Skiers Ski!", and with states of emergency declared in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, the refugees escaping the storm were definitely skiers and riders. All wheel drive SUV's and Thule ski boxes were the weapons of choice to escape the storm. And they all made it to the mountain to ski through the storm on Friday.
On the mountain..the resort got the goods. 12 to 15 inches of snow blanketed the resort in medium weight powder. The storm was not champagne powder by any respect, but it also was not Sierra Cement. The consistency was somewhat in the middle. Trails exposed to the wind saw some wind packing and slab development. Trails protected from the wind featured nice, soft freshies, assuming, of course, you got to the trails before they were skied out.
I was on the mountain Friday, Saturday (in the line for first chair) and today. As mentioned last week, Friday was characterized as 3 to 5 inches of new snow on top of hard pack. Saturday was over a foot of new snow with the early morning race to get to your spot before anyone else could find it. Today was soft groomed cruisers. Of course, a foot of new snow does not eliminate all of the thin spots. Natural trails were pretty tracked out today. Trails with active snow making (most of the resort) are in great shape. The resort is even continuing to make snow, with snow guns going all day Sunday on Superstar.
Today, while we were at the resort, we experienced some more new snow and a very brief period of "Wintery Mix". Not enough to do any damage to the ski trails, but just enough to candy coat our goggles as we were heading down Superstar to get back to the car. The weather pattern the rest of the week looks like there will be several opportunities to add to the snow pack. And that is a great thing with Presidents Weekend on tap.
Now if we could get the governor of Massachusetts to declare on Wednesday morning that he will be shutting down the state on Thursday afternoon... Oh Boy!
Let it snow!
Today was a great warm up day. With the lifts opening at the polite hour of 9:00 AM, and ski trails that were for the most part groomed flat yet covered with 3 to 5 inches of fluff; it was a great day for the mass of humanity to enjoy some time in the powdah.
It is hard to pick the run of the day. For the most part, everything that did not have a rope across it was skiing pretty nice. There were some parts that caused more energy to be expended, like in the bumps left over from snow making on the top of Skye Burst. There were also plenty of low energy groomed cruiser powder runs, where the fluff was just going everywhere with each high speed turn. Steeper terrain skied out early, leaving a firm hard packed surface between soft snow bumps. Shallow terrain held the powder better, and provided many with a satisfying rush to the ego as only skiing or riding in fresh snow can deliver.
Later this evening, forecasters are calling for around a foot of additional snow to fall on the Killington area. Tomorrow will be another powder day, which given the predicted snow depths, should provide plenty of challenges for the east coast skiers and riders in all of us.
A couple of items... First a Shout Out to Elliot. We met Elliot on the Needles Eye Quad. When we talked to him he was pure New York...until we found out he had transplanted to the Boston area in 1971 and now calls Sherborn Massachusetts home... Elliot - great to meet you... Enjoy the weekend at Killington with your wife and daughter.
Also, in jest..... It would not surprise me if in a couple of months time it is announced that the Vermont Ski Areas Association made a political contribution to Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Word on the street is that all of Vermont's resorts are booming with an influx of early weekend arrivers getting out of the way of the storm from the south.
In all seriousness....it is great to see and talk to so many people who are genuinely excited about going skiing. We love living at Killington and enjoying the mountains. It is nice to see so many others who want to share the experience of being in the mountains and on the snow.
Stay safe through the storm... but...Let it snow!
Hopefully this is not a plot by the Wisconsin and California dairy farmers to empty the shelves of milk on the East Coast.
The incessant hype of the coming storm, arriving 35 years after the historic "Blizzard of 78" is a little numbing. But forecast numbers from the National Weather Service have been consistently calling for over a foot of new snow to fall in Killington (or 18 inches to 2 feet if you shop your forecast to the correct web site). It should be a great weekend to ski!
Currently in Killington we are overcast and cold, waiting the storm. Snow is predicted to start falling this evening, well after midnight, and continue thru Saturday Morning. Being a coastal storm, we will see some back up of moisture into the mountains, making the total prediction for snow fall at the Killington Resort somewhat tricky.
Our weekend guests, meanwhile, seem to be genuinely excited about being able to visit the resort during a fresh dumping. Several, whose companies have already declared tomorrow to be a "snow day" have made arrangements to arrive this evening and enjoy the falling snow on Friday. Many others have called with plans to leave at first light on Friday morning, with the hope of arriving at Killington before the brunt of the storm hits the area on Friday evening. What ever the strategy, Mary and I feel great that our guests share our excitement about skiing in fresh snow at the resort, and that they are making appropriate plans to arrive to take advantage of it.
Wherever you may be, we hope that you stay safe and get a chance to enjoy the winter wonderland that Mother Nature will be throwing at the Northeast. Keep your snow dances going, and point your feet towards Killington!
Let it snow!
If you read yesterdays report, the report today is very similar. Take yesterdays report, add another couple of inches of light fluff falling from the sky on the mountain tops, turn on every snow gun Killington has, groom most of the trail, deeply till a few more... you get the picture... Conditions are doing nothing at Killington just getting better.
So I did not wind up just repeating yesterdays blog, I though todays post would be just some simple pictures. A lot is going on around the resort, and a picture is worth a 1000 words of course....
The resort is working hard to get the Superpipe at Bear Mountain open. Snow cats have pushed huge amounts of snow into the pipe in preparation to carve it our. In todays picture, you can actually see a surveyor to the right of the frame using a laser device to check the work progress. It should be open soon I would guess.
Needles Eye was a blizzard today with snow guns from Panic Button all the way to the Needles Eye Quad. The trail has been a little thin the last few days. This should more than take care of that problem! Look for it to be one of the ROTD's later this week and into next week.
My partner has to work into the blog somehow. This run we took "Sky Road" better know at Skylark to High Road. Snowmaking was in progress on Skylark down to the High Road junction. Lower High Road past the Snowshed quads was thin and probably will enjoy some snow love in the next couple of days.
Superstar is well covered. Grooming on lower Superstar has ground up the surface. It was a little irregular in places which were difficult to detect in the dim light caused by mountain snow flurries. Plenty of snow, however, to last for a long long time! Snow flurries are constant at Killington right now, slowly adding to mountain base depths. A major storm is projected for late Friday into Saturday. Where will you be skiing and riding this weekend? Let it snow!
I will admit...I had trouble picking a picture for today. I had many shots of well snow covered, crowd free trails. I had a few pictures of high mountain peaks gleaming in a bright blue sky surrounded by puffy white clouds. I even had a picture of my partner Mary lining up to take one of the ramps in the Stash. But in every picture I looked at, there was one constant. Every picture had a snow gun somewhere pouring out snow. The resort is just cranking it out.
Yesterday was a casual ski day. We started from the Vail parking lot and skied right to the Rams Head lift. Header, the trail the Rams Head lift goes over, was well covered with no apparent thin spots. It was groomed flat, as one would expect for a beginner trail. The few people we saw coming down it were, for the most part, enjoying themselves...except for the lone newby who was straight lining it. From the look on their face, they probably did not know how to turn, and had barely mastered the pizza wedge concept. But this was a Monday morning, with no one on the trails, so there was little risk for a damaging collision. So it goes in the mountains sometime...
Caper over to Snowshed was firm underfoot with an inch or two of fresh powder on top. We barely turned to check our speed as we headed to Snowdon. Other than a few S turns to slow down before passing the couple of other skiers that were on Caper, the ride over to Snowdon from Rams Head was simple and quick. Normally we would follow Caper all the way to the Snowdon Quad. Lower Caper, however, was roped off. Snow guns were lined up and pumping snow down the trail from the Great Northern intersection to the lift. So we followed Great Northern briefly before making the left turn down Chute to the Snowdon Quad.
By this time we had met up with a friend and got engaged in a catch up conversation. Chute seemed well covered. The Fan Gun was going at Mousetrap as usual, building a huge pile of snow. At the top of the lift, we turned left and headed to Bunny Buster. Usually this trail is closed for race training, but as it was not roped off so we decided to take it back to the K1 Gondola. Bunny Buster was in perfect shape for edge to edge sweeping turns. I carved down Upper Bunny Buster this way until the last 100 yards or so, when I caught up with other skier traffic and resumed skiing in a lane. Mousetrap, due to the fan gun, was very well covered, with soft piles of fresh snow midway down the slope. Lower Bunny Buster running out to the K1 Gondola was flat and fast; very much like Caper, with a hard surface covered with a couple inches of fluff.
Off the K1 Gondola we traversed across Launch Pad to Skyelark to High Road to the Skyship mid station at Needles Eye. The traverse was well covered, as was Skyelark. High Road from the Snowshed crossover to Needles Eye was thin in places, especially on skiers right. But as the slope was basically empty of people, avoiding obstacles was not an issue anywhere along the traverse across the top of the mountain.
Coming back up the Skyship, we decided to try our luck on Cruise Control. I took the scenic route around the Vista Deck. This area was well covered until the final turn leading to Cruise Control which was fairly bullet proof. My skis are well tuned, so I did not skip a beat, but beginners in this trail section would need to hold it together for 50 yards or so to avoid any carnage. Cruise Control itself was in good shape. Flat and Fast as usual. Sweeping turns from skiers left to the middle of the trail, as the right side is still a little thin.
After another trip up the Skyeship, we decided to try our hand at Dreammaker. A traverse across the top of Skye Peak was required, with a couple of turns in places to avoid snow guns and roped off sections. I was in front of everyone a little too far. I passed a thin cover sign on one of the turns, knowing from Friday that this particular trail section was well covered and it was referring to another trail section further down the mountain. But this stopped the group behind me in their tracks. They proceeded down Great Eastern while I skied under the guns on Skye Peak into Dreammaker. Middle Dreammaker is thinly covered from the trail middle to skiers Left. The terrain park on Lower Dreammaker was beautiful, with nice rolling groomers covered with multiple inches of fluff. I would guess that since the freeze cycle last week that the resort has not groomed Dreammaker, knowing that the rock solid base would not bump up, while the soft fluff would accumulate and soften up the overall trail.
From the Skye Peak Express Quad, we headed out towards the Stash. Similar to Dreammaker, it featured firm underfoot with multiple inches of fluff. Minimal effort was required until the intersection with Skyeburst, where speed checks were required to be polite to other skiers on the mountain. Lower Skyeburst was a little scratchy. Snow Groomers were working to move the pile of snow from under the Fan Gun to build the Superpipe on Lower Dreammaker. Over the last couple of days they moved virtually the whole pile into the pipe to begin the process of carving it out. I would guess it would be open this weekend, but I have not heard anything official yet from the resort on when it will be available for people to ride.
We did a few more laps off the Skye Peak Quad before calling it a day. I decided to take Superstar as my last run before heading to the car. The traverse across an unnamed trail section at the bottom of Skye Hawk was interesting, as the resort has had a couple of snow guns mounding snow. I skied on top of one of the mounds and found myself about 20 feet in the air. I though the mound would be rounded, but the wind had made the back side rather abrupt, so I did the right thing and reversed my path to ski around it. It would have been fun to get some big air... but with my exoskeleton on my left knee reminding me to be good, I though better of it.
Superstar has an amazing amount of snow on it. Middle Superstar is set up with huge snow whales. I rode down skiers left. The sensation is very much like a quarter pipe, with constant up and down swells with turns at the top and bottom. Lower Superstar was machine groomed loose granular. I did run into a couple of small bumps which had small ice patches on their downhill sides. But after all...it is Lower Superstar and you should expect this stuff.
Temperatures overnight fell below zero once again, allowing the resort to continue to make snow efficiently across the mountains. And with light snow in the forecast for Wednesday and more expected on Friday, conditions at Killington should only get better.
Let it snow!
Yesterday I showed you pictures from the base lodge areas. Today I had the good fortune of being able to actual get on the mountain for some skiing. I was really glad that I did!
The resort made a stunning recovery from the winter deluge that r@!ned down upon it Wednesday into Thursday. Just as temperatures abruptly went up on Tuesday evening, they came down during the day on Thursday. Soft and mushy snow locked up, which was actually a good thing because it allow the surfaces to support grooming machines. Combined with 4-6 inches of beautiful fluff, and there were parts of the resort today that were just plain outstanding.
As is usually the case this time of year, we spent our time playing on the trails around the Skye Peak, Needles Eye, and Superstar Quads. Depending upon when the trails were groomed yesterday, surfaces were firm to ice underfoot with 2 to 6 inches of fresh powder on top. A few spots still seemed damp underfoot. I say that, but other than normal streams we did not see any flowing water. However, carving turns that dug into the trail too deep did seem to throw up a lot of crust and soft snow in the process.
Our initial runs down Bear Claw were very good, considering the weather earlier this week. Bear Claw was well covered. The junction of Bear Claw and Skyeburst had several slick spots. Lower Skyeburst on the first run was beautifully covered with 2 inches of fluff. Subsequent runs saw it chunk up quite a bit as people carved into the surface.
Upper Skyeburst was slick at the very top, giving way to 3 to 4 inches of powder down both skiers right and left. The outlet to Dreammaker was also fully covered, although the opposite side of the outlet on Dreammaker deserves respect. Thin cover has exposed some ledge at the junction. If you take this route, hang tight on skiers right until you get into Dreammaker proper.
Lower Dreammaker was fantastic. 4-6 inches of freshies covering all of the features. Great powder day skiing, even if it was only for one run. I did it several times.
Cruise Control was groomed flat and fast. Thin cover on skiers right. Some ice flows visible in the center of the trail. Where the trail is relatively flat... point em down hill and let them rip!
Needles Eye was very good. Panic Button was groomed yet relatively soft. Easy to carve into the slope. Needles Eye was traffic sensitive. The first run down skiers left was "awesome". The second run down skiers left was a little chunky. I moved over to the middle, but beware of thin spots. Skiers right was too thin in spots to maintain a good line. A little snow and another round of grooming and Needles Eye should be great for the weekend.
Bittersweet was another story. Guns were going everywhere on Upper Bitter. And they needed to be. Windblown boiler plate and ice flows were the main feature of Upper Bitter. With limited skier traffic, the carnage was kept to a minimum. But the resort was obviously pulling out all stops to resurface the trail to get it ready for weekend crowds.
Lower Bittersweet was nice. A waterbar has broken open about 2/3rds of the way down the trail, but it was well marked. The trail was very receptive, allowing nice sweeping turns.
Skyelark was interesting. Guns were going on Upper and Middle Skylark to resurface the trail. Lower Skylark was "icy bumps" with a "thin cover" sign. My guess is that the groomer fleet did not have a lot of time to spend on it, but that is only conjecture.
Superstar was really nice. The snow making that the resort did last week is still impressive to look at with lift tower high snow whales down the length of the trail. Middle Superstar was fun riding up and down the whales. Lower Superstar was very receptive, allowing nice carving turns. It did not seem any "slicker" than normal, making me wonder what happened to all the water that fell on it.
All in all, the resort did a phenomenal job recovering from their weather event. Mother Nature was also providing a lot of help with snow falling the entire morning we were on the mountain. Winter is back!
Let it snow!
Actually it is!
Jokes abound around town about winter animals reporting to the Killington Fire Station in pairs. Mountain streams, made wider by 2011's Hurricane Irene are brimming with mountain run off. Looking outside the inn this morning as I was making breakfast for inn guests, I could see green fairways on the Killington Golf Course across the street from this inn. That is an ugly sight in January!
While I could not go skiing today, I needed to take a look. I was itching to get out of the inn to see the mountain. But I knew I needed to wait for the cold front to sweep through the area so I would have good visibility. I wanted to see what nature wrought on the Killington Resort. I started up the mountain with a little fear in my heart. I left the mountain and headed back to the inn with a warm feeling and a big grin. The patient and persistent snow making operations that the resort has been doing all season long on the mountain has held. Killington Peak is still resplendent in its white coat of snow. It is like the Killington Resort is saying in perfect shredder - "Is that all you got Mother Nature"... knowing full well that hubris is not the right attitude. We dodged a bullet. There will be plenty of terrain for skiing and riding at Killington in our future.
The remainder of this blog post will be pictures on the resort taking from various off mountain access points. I have used a variety of cameras with different resolutions and zoom lens capabilities. While many times in my photos I will do some white balance adjustments to add clarity to the shot the photos today are naked out of the camera to show exactly what I saw at the Killington Resort this afternoon.
The first picture is a full on panorama of the resort taken composed from 12 frames taken with my Iphone. Minimal bare spots are visible at this resolution. Puddling is visible on Snowshed and the learn To Ski Area looks damaged. But the mountain overall looks in midwinter shape.
A detailed look at Snowshed reveals significant pooling of water and some bare areas on skiers left. Over the last couple of weeks, the resort has made a lot of snow down skiers right on Snowshed, which seems like it is relatively intact. Midway up the slope you can see a snow maker walking the line, probably checking the system before firing it back on.
Just above Snowshed, Bittersweet and Skylark are visible. Skylark looks in great shape from top to bottom with minimum evidence of damage. It is harder to tell on Bittersweet, because the twists and turns of the trail hide some of it. But what is visible also looks in good shape. By comparison, Skyhawk to the right of Upper Skylark, and the old Middle Bittersweet Headwall are clearly showing the effects of the r@!n storm, with many bare spots visible. Since these trails are rarely open (Skyhawk) and retired (Bittersweet Headwall) they provide a dramatic comparison on the difference between trails with snow making and trails that are au natural.
Lower Skylark looks pristine. The torrential r@!n the resort received overnight served to flatten the trail out. I would guess that the hard freeze will turn it into a veritable skating rink tomorrow. But if you can't have a foot of fresh powder, we like it flat and fast!
Upper Superstar has wall to wall coverage with bumps clearly visible near snow making towers and down skiers right. Old Superstar, another natural trail, to the right of Superstar in the frame looks like it took a beating. We will need some help from Mother Nature before we venture down Old Superstar again.
Lower Superstar looks like it is ready for a bumps or freestyle competition. Large regular bumps are evident down the entire face of the trail. I would guess that as soon as Superstar starts to firm up that the resort will groom these flat to minimize any skier carnage this weekend. If not, grab a seat in one of the Umbrella Bars at the base of Superstar, because it will be quite a show!
Snow making the last couple of weeks looks like it has really paid off on Ovation. Skiers left from top to bottom looks completely intact, although I would bet that there are a few monster water bars that could not be visible to the camera. Skiers right, similar to the situation we saw on Old Superstar, is exposed ledge. It will be a while before anyone intentionally wanders in that direction.
Snowmaking operations clearly have begun on Killington Peak along Great Northern. Cascade, Downdraft and Double Dipper look like they came through the deluge with good cover. The natural trail Flume, under and beside the K1 Gondola is gone. But in recent history that trail is rarely skied unless there is a fresh dump.
Double Dipper from top to bottom looks well covered. Skiers right on Double Dipper took a hit. The fall line on the trail steers people away from it, so the damage on the right side of Double Dipper should have minimal impact on the trail overall. The trees to the right of Dipper are also gone. I would bet that there is some water pooling at the base of Dipper which is invisible to the camera. It will be interesting to check that out on skis tomorrow.
Completing the trilogy, East Fall survived quite well with no visible signs of damage. A solitary snow boarder can be seen on skiers left in the middle of the slope.
Highline from the K1 Base Lodge looks ok. Shadowing can be seen near race training starting points, on the down hill side of bumps, and on water bars. It will be interesting to see if these groom out, or if the resort needs to make more snow to cover up the blemishes. Conclusion, to the right of Highline in the frame, is clearly gone. Conclusion is primarily a natural trail, seeing snow making on rare occasions to support a competitive events.
The Killington Resort spends a lot of time making snow on Lower Bunny Buster and it clearly shows. There is probably a water bar lurking in there somewhere, but after a grooming, Lower Bunny will be good to go for skiers of all abilities.
Mousetrap with the tower mounted fan gun came thru in flying colors. Chute on the other hand looks from hunger. Probably the worst looking trail visible on the mountain, with bare patches and water pools clearly visible. This trail will probably need to drain and firm up before snowmaking can begin again, but I would guess that this will be a high priority target for the resort later tonight.
Rams Head also came through relatively unscathed. Skiers right has some bare patches showing which will need to be avoided, but in general the trail looks well covered. Skiers and riders are clearly visible enjoying the trail today after the storm. The rest of the trails at Rams Head are hidden by trees and difficult to see from the base area, so it is hard to tell how they made out. Overall, the part of the resort that is visible looked like it faired quite well through the last night storm. The parts of the resort which can not be seen, like the high flat crossover trails of Killink, Gateway, Skywalker, and Bear Trax all probably need to be resurfaced. But with the temperatures falling at the resort, and "plenty of snowmaking water" available, this will be a good test of the capabilities of the resort to recover from a severe weather event. From what I saw on my visit to the mountain today, if you are planning on visiting the resort over the weekend, I think you will find plenty of skiing and riding to enjoy. Given the amount of water that fell out of the sky, you will probably find icy conditions in many locations, as the snow surface freezes with the water in place. If conditions allow, I would also expect to see the resort making snow in many locations. If you are using your own equipment, now would be a good time to tune the edges. Embrace the flat and fast! This is Killington afterall. The Beast knows how to have a good time! Let it snow!