Firsthand Report: Killington, Vermont, Jan. 8-11, 2007
By Brenton Archut, Guest Columnist

Every year my family tries to make one big ski trip outside of Pennsylvania. It is usually a decision between Killington or Snowshoe. With the rough start to the season, and having already been to Okemo, I suggested that we head north to Vermont. We left Sunday morning, January 7, at around 5:15 a.m., and arrived around 2:30 p.m. The drive should have only taken about 8 and a half hours, but we stopped for food and gas on the way there.

We stayed at the Trail Creek apartments which were a modest walk or shuttle ride from the Snowshed base area of Killington. The apartment we booked had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, living room, and full kitchen. My favorite amenity was the working fireplace with complimentary wood that was stacked in sheds dispersed throughout the complex. Trail Creek also has its own recreational facilities, including a small workout area with three exercise machines, a sauna, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a small gaming area with two video games and a pool table. The weather in the mid-Atlantic had been iffy, and we weren’t about to get a break. Rain and snow was forecast for Monday, and depending on the front, it could go either way.

The lifts at Killington start turning at 9 a.m. on weekdays, so my friend and I set our clocks for 8 a.m. When we had gone to bed the night before, it had begun snowing. It appeared as if it had snowed about two inches, but by the time we awoke, the front had moved in and it was pouring rain. I usually want to snowboard as much as possible, but it was raining too hard, and my friend and I decided to build a fire, read a book, and go into the hot tub. The rain finally abetted around 2 p.m., but the three slopes open were hardly enough to entice me away from my roaring fire. We set our alarms for 8 a.m. and hoped it would prove to be better than Monday.

We awoke Tuesday to find that it had snowed throughout the night. By the end of our stay, 5.5 inches of snow would fall from continuous snow showers. Despite the rain, the same 70 trails that were scheduled to be open on Monday were open Tuesday. The temperatures had dropped, and the snowguns roared nonstop through our stay. We hopped on a shuttle, despite the short walk to the Snowshed base area. It was apparent that there had been adverse weather, but there was still an adequate base, and the groomers did their jobs well. The snow was powder, packed powder, and loose granular. My friend and I toured most of the open terrain in no particular order, and left the base area at around 3:45. I am not aware of the food prices at the base areas because we brought our food and ate in our condo.

Once again, we awoke early to hit first tracks, and we were not let down. The snow was piling up on many trails as Killington hurried to build their base for the upcoming holiday weekend. Wednesday was also the coldest day during our stay at a high of 25. However, it was surely colder at the top of the region’s highest peak accessible by lift at 4,241 feet. That peak, Killington Peak, is serviced by the K-1 Gondola, and the surrounding region provides a spectacular sight. The K-1 Gondola was the busiest lift at the resort. Although there were very few lift lines, the central location of the K-1 quickly attracted a crowd. Despite the line, we took several runs from the top of the K-1 down the Great Northern and Great Eastern trails.

Those runs are great cruisers and are easily several miles long. In fact, my father, who falsely believes he can’t keep up with us youngsters, took several runs with us. The terrain was quite a challenge due to the snowguns. The guns were operating on many open trails and provided changing conditions and decreased visibility. On days such as this, having a scraper on my gloves to clear the lens proved to be very valuable. On many occasions I found myself stuck in deep pockets of manmade powder.

We also spent a great deal of time racing one another from the top of Rams Head Mountain. The high-speed quad there allowed us to make many runs in a short amount of time. My favorites of the day were Caper to Great Northern and Header. Both of these runs ended at the Rams Head base area and high speed quad. Once again, around 3:45, we headed back to the room. We went about a quarter mile down the road to the Santa Fe Steakhouse, where we enjoyed an excellent steak dinner at a decently affordable mid-range price.

We were supposed to leave Wednesday to return home, but due to a generous employee at the lift ticket window, they didn’t start our three day passes on Monday, but on Tuesday. After such a long drive and the improving conditions, my parents decided that it would be worth our while, despite the fairly steep price, to stay another night to ski and snowboard on Thursday. As usual, we set our clocks for 8 a.m. However, we did not arrive at the base area until 9:30 because we were packing the car for the drive home. The temperature was a perfect 32, and the skies were clear and sunny. Due to the recent natural snow and continuous snowmaking, Killington was able to open 8 more trails Friday, bringing the open total to 78.

The snow was perfect fresh corduroy. We toured the mountain in no particular fashion for the first few hours. We covered almost every mountain area by 11:45. At that time, my father began to tire and called it a day. However, my friend and I decided to keep going, and headed to a few of our favorite trails. The trail of the day was easily Cruise Control. Cruise Control extended off the edge of the Great Eastern and is a wide open intermediate trail that heads down to Killington’s other Gondola, the Skyeship. The Skyeship is actually a two-staged Gondola, but during our stay, the bottom stage was not in operation, therefore only providing lift access from mid-mountain.

By 2 p.m. we had found our way back over to Rams Head, and we raced down Header for our last run. We then walked to the slopeside Waffle Haus to eat lunch. By 2:45 we had the car packed and were on our way home. Although the success of the trip began in doubt, it ended in glory. Although Killington only had 78 of its 200 trails open, it did a great job of varying its terrain and spreading out the crowds. We could not have had much better lodging accommodations, and when ordered as a packaged deal, it is fairly affordable.

If you ever have a chance to make a weekday trip to Killington, I highly suggest it. It definitely is one of the premier winter resort destinations in the East, and it lives up to its reputation. I only hope that the next time I go to Killington I don’t have to wait for 5 years. On a more positive note, since my trip cold weather and snowmaking have returned to the East Coast. Maybe winter finally decided to arrive.

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About the Author

Brenton Archut lives in the tourist town of Bethany Beach, Delaware. He spends his summers working at Fisher's Popcorn. He enjoys bodyboarding and snowboarding and snowboards mostly in the Poconos, but loves to explore new places. Brenton is currently attending school at Lehigh University, where he is pursuing a business degree.

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