COOL KILLINGTON ON A COLD WEEKEND
by Paul Maraschiello

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I booked an early flight (for a change) and it was still daylight when I arrived at my lodgings. I was staying at The Vermont Inn, a charming classic New England inn, located on Rt. 4, just a few minutes from the Killington access road between Rutland and Pico Peak. This inn was rated one of the top 50 inns in America by the "Inn Times". My room was very nice, perfect for a person traveling alone but they also have rooms for their guests that include bed-sitting rooms and suites with adjoining rooms for the kids. All have flat-screen TVs and some have fireplaces, two have a jacuzzi. Beds range in size from King and Queen size to bunk beds. There are several four-posters and this inn proved to be a romantic getaway close to all that Vermont has to offer. There are a number of common rooms for reading and games with a sauna and hot tub for relaxation.



The inn is run by the Duffy family and provides a complementary country breakfast in the diningroom where Irish music was playing softly in the background. The complimentary breakfast menu features specials including omelets, French toast, special pancakes and a variety of eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, dry cereal, juice, etc. with Irish music playing softly in the background. They also serve dinner and have a gourmet menu prepared by a chief who has been there for over 25 years. They have a small bar and a nice selection of fine wine to accompany the gourmet menu. If you are interested in staying at a classic New England country inn, I can recommend the Vermont Inn. Prices begin at $90 for a small double room and range up to $345 for a family suite during the ski season, including breakfast. Call (800) 541-7795 and tell them that the "Ski Bum News" sent you.



KILLINGTON IS BETTER THAN EVER
Because I lived in Vermont for eight years and skied at Killington hundreds of times, I was not expecting to be impressed on this visit. But impressed I was! Gone were all the boot bags hanging from hooks and piled on shelves and on the floor in the Killington Base Lodge. There is now a FREE boot-check room where your belongings will be guarded by a local ski bum (don't forget to tip). Otherwise, the base lodge hasn't changed much.



It was a cold day with the temperature at the base in single digits. I had dressed warmly and even wore my down mittens. I rode up the K1 Gondola and took an easy run over to the North Ridge Triple Chair where I took a few runs down Rime to warm up. The "Liftees" were in good spirits where they sang in their Jamaican accents, as they loaded skiers and snowboarders on the chair.



After warming up, I skied over to Chute and took Lower Bunny Buster back to the K1 Gondola. Killington had 137 trails open and I was interested in sampling as many as I could. I rode up the Snowdon and then came down Bunny Buster. EVERYTHING was in great shape. I then decided to go over to Bear Mountain, so I went up the K1 Gondola and took Blue Heaven to Bear Trax and wound up going down Wildfire. I was surprised to see that there was now a high-speed quad that went up to Skye Peak, so I hopped into the really short lift time and was at the top in a flash. They had groomed Skyeburst and it was fast and fun. By that time, I was in the mood for lunch, so I went into the Bear Mountain Base Lodge for a little pizza and something to wash it down. An old friend, Tom Raybeck was tending bar, charming all the guests and pouring libations. It was nice to see him and touch base.



After lunch, I was back on the slopes skiing many of the runs that I had grown to love. Cascade was in great shape, so I took a few runs down this old favorite. As the temperature was on chilly side and this was my first day on skis, I called it a day and headed back to the Vermont Inn to take it easy. I helped myself to the complementary cookies that were set out for the guests in the parlor and then went up to my room to relax before joining my old friend Tex for dinner and conversation.



The next day, the temperature was only 2 above zero when I left the Inn and drove up to Killington. As I climbed up the mountain, the temperature rose to a balmy 10 degrees. I took my time putting my boots on, hoping the temperature would rise. The overcast sky began to clear and I could see a little blue peeking out from between the clouds. The people who I rode up with on the K1 Gondola were friendly but we all looked like little kids that mother had over-dressed to play in the snow. We laughed about it and had a pleasant ride to the top of Killington Peak. After donning my skis, I headed toward the slopes and warmed up on Escapade to Cascade. The trail was in such good shape that I took it for another run, remembering when I skied Killington every day and Cascade was a favorite haunt. I checked out East Fall to the Canyon Quad. Double Dipper was in nice shape and I was happy to see that Royal Flush was open. It looked like everything at Killington was open and covered with snow.



I skied many of my old favorites at Killington including a couple of runs on Bear Mountain's Wild Fire and Bear Claw. As this was my first weekend on skis, I did not feel up to taking on Outer Limits or Devil's Fiddle. I came back to the Killington Base Lodge via Skylark and Bittersweet. I had lunch at the Killington Base lodge and elected to ski trails services by the K1 Gondola so I could keep warm in between runs for the rest of the day. By 2:30, I was all skied out so I bagged it and headed back to the Albany airport for the flight home. I was only able to ski a fraction of the great trails at Killington.



After skiing, I stopped in at Lookout's for a happy hour libation. Another old friend, Phil Black is the owner of this very popular bar and "locals" hangout. I was hoping to run into his sister-in-law Freestyle Olympic Gold Medal winner Donna Weinbrecht but I missed her. Lookout's is a great place to hang out and relax after a hard day on the slopes.

If you haven't skied Killington in a while, you are in for a happy surprise. The new management has made many improvements from installing new chair lifts to cutting new trails and installing more state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment. I was told by one of the Ski Hosts that Killington had enough money in their snowmaking budget to cover the entire ski area in three feet of man-made snow.

STATS
Killington Resort stretches across six mountains.

Vertical - Killington Peak (Summit) 4,241', Skye Peak 3,800', Ramshead Peak 3,610',

Vertical Drop 3,050'

752 Skiable Acres with 141 trails (71 miles) Easier 28% More Difficult 33% Most Difficult 39%

22 lifts with 2 high speed, express gondolas, 9 quads including 5 high-speed express quads, 4 Triples, 2 Doubles and 5 Surface lifts (including 3 Magic Carpets).

If you haven't skied Killington in a while, you will be DELIGHTED! It is better than ever. The slopes are less crowded due to the new trails and the left lines are shorter because of the new chairlifts. For my money, Killington is the best ski area in the East and ranked 3rd in the nation (Click: Articles, see 10 Best Ski Areas). Killington has tons of snow, so head up there and have a blast!

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