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THE BLIZZARD OF '01 (it's still going on)
by Paul Maraschiello



I had already made plans to go to Vermont when a huge snow storm hit the East Coast. I had decided to take a long weekend and visit some of my favorite ski areas. I started the adventure at Killington then went north to Sugarbush and then south to Mt. Snow. I was camping on my buddy Tex's couch and he had arranged to meet with some of his buddies at Sugarbush on Saturday and tie up with Janet, an old friend of ours on Sunday at Mt. Snow. It promised to be an excellent time that combined great skiing with meetings with old friends and an opportunity for me to make some new friends. What could be better than that.

KILLINGTON



An additional 3 ft. of snow at Killington produce something I have never seen at this world-class resort. They had to plow the snow from under the Superstar chairlift so there would be sufficient clearance under the chair. They historically stockpile snow on Superstar so they can stay open later than anybody else in the East. With all the man-made snow augmented by the 3 ft. that had just fallen, Killington has enough snow to ski well into June; if the weather holds, maybe into July. (There is 9 ft. of snow on the trails as of this writing.)



Needless to say, the skiing was GREAT. I spent the day cruising the mountain and had a blast skiing all that powder. There was a little fog up on top but that didn't make much difference. I had seen the view from the top of Killington many times and as long as there was enough visibility to see the bumps in front of me, I was OK. I rode up the K1 Gondola and chatted with the people I rode up with. It was fun to be back at Killington, A place I still consider home.



I ran into one of my old friends, Peter De Mayo and made a few runs with him and his buddies on trails I haven't skied in a long time. There was so much snow that Upper Conclusion was open and the steep headwall of Conclusion was covered with big soft bumps with very little ice. Peter is a daily visitor at Killington and spends every day as an "un-official" skitrail inspector. He is retired and skis there every day. He can always be found on the best snow Killington has to offer. He really knows the mountain. In the old days, Peter was a weekender and I was a "local" now it's the other way around.



I skied everything at Killington that day from Snowdown to Bear Mountain. There was deep snow and soft moguls on every trail. You couldn't ask for better snow. I like to say that the only one that makes more snow than Killington is God . . . and that's only some days. On this trip the natural snow combined with the man-made stuff was totally RAD.



I presented Killington with the "Best Ski Area in the East" award that morning and then gave an award to Casey's Caboose for the "Best Chicken Wings on the Access Road". I grew up in Buffalo and know where of I speak, when it comes to chicken wings. The wings at Casey's are some of the best wings I have ever tasted and they are FREE during happy hour.



I treated myself to dinner at the Pasta Pot, the best Italian restaurant in that quadrant of the universe. I recommend the Mussels Diablo, they are a fat man's delight and one of my favorite meals. They present you with a heaping (and I mean HEAPING) bowl of mussels in a spicy red sauce. At the bottom of the bowl is a bed of spaghetti and I have all I can do to finish this delicious meal.



After a day of skiing and a good meal, I was ready to relax and go to bed. I skied hard and was willing to forgo the excellent nightlife at Killington for more time snoozing. I had to be up early to drive to Sugarbush and sample what that ski area had to offer.



SUGARBUSH



The next day, we headed up to Sugarbush. We had received a few more inches of the white stuff but the main roads were clear. The side roads were a little rougher but the passes were plowed and traveling wasn't too tough. When we got to Sugarbush, we rode the Super Bravo Quad chair to the top only to find that the top of the mountain was socked in with fog and there was a stiff wind blowing. Tex and I made our way down Ripcord to the base of the Heaven's gate chair (half-way down the mountain) we were to meet up with a few of Tex's friends from New Jersey. They had a ski house at Sugarbush and promised to be some excellent ski company. After a short wait in the warming hut on the mountain, Tex spotted his friends. After the introductions were made, we proceeded up the chair to ski. These guys and gals were regulars and new where the best skiing would be. We spent the entire day skiing bumps. We made a few runs down Paradise with some of the group venturing into the trees to ski off peste.



The day was filled with run after run down expert trails like Paradise, Ripcord, Eden and other difficult black diamond and double black diamond runs. It was bumps, bumps and more bumps. Everything was covered in deep soft snow and we knocked ourselves out skiing all the excellent terrain that this ski area provides. We went in for lunch at the bar where the stew was served in small hollowed-out loaves of bread and the sandwiches were stacked high with meat. It was an excellent meal. We relaxed a little and I had a chance to chat with my new friends. A few kids were doing some ariels in front of the lodge and they were pretty good.



After lunch, we skied Castle Rock, The Mall, Middle Earth, and a few other expert trails. We hardly ever wend down a groomed trail. It was moguls, moguls and then some BUMPS. I was all skied out by the end of the day. I was tired and happy. I had spent the day skiing with some terrific skiers and skied harder and better than I usually do. It's good to ski with people who are better than you are. It make you push yourself. It was a great day at Sugarbush and I can't wait until the next time I pay this ski area a visit. From now until the end of the ski season, the skiing at Sugarbush will get better and better. The crowds will disappear and you will find that you can have the whole mountain to yourself, even on the weekends. Sugarbush is a huge mountain that combines the classic New England trails of the "old" Sugarbush (South) with all the terrain of it's former neighbor (Glen Ellen) Now called Sugarbush North which it purchased a few years ago and connected with the longest chairlift in America.



MT. SNOW



Sunday, we were scheduled to tie up with an old friend who is attending graduate Nursing School at Chapel Hill. Janet had returned to Vermont to a little skiing and we were looking forward to seeing her again. The weather was great, The sun had come out and there was also plenty of snow at Mt. Snow. There were a lot of people in Vermont because of all the snow. The high-speed quad chair lifts at the base of the mountain was crowded so we rode up the old triple chair which didn't have much of a lift line. We skied over to the North Face but there were lift line there also. We rode up the chair and did a run in the bumps. Then we went over to Sundance and made a few runs over there where the lift lines were small and the skiing was excellent. We found a small mogul run that was equipped with rock music blaring from loudspeakers to inspire the local freestyle skiers and would-be mogul mashers. After a run through the bumps, we headed over the Carinthia chair. We found a few more mogul runs and a lot of more gentle slopes for cruising. I keep forgetting just how big Mt. Snow is, with it's 1,700 ft. vertical, 23 lifts, and 130 trails.



We had a blast skiing at Mt. Snow. Janet and her friends were fun to talk to and ski with. The gods had provided us with good snow cover and we got in a lot of good skiing. There is a lot of excellent terrain at Mt. Snow. There are excellent expert trails, plenty of bumps for the mogul enthusiast and mile after mile of pleasant intermediate trails to delight those of us that don't want to kill ourselves on black diamond trails and are interested in cruising down nicely groomed slopes.



All in all, every time I visit Mt. Snow, I rediscover how nice it is. It has a really great ski hill and the apres ski facilities are also a lot of fun. There are plenty of excellent restaurants where you can have a pleasant dinner at a reasonable price. There are even a few bars where people party, party, party. If you go to Mt. Snow, you will definitely have a good time. Great skiing, a fun atmosphere, and excellent dining make this ski resort my favorite southern Vermont ski area.

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