I have to admit up front that Killington is not my favorite ski resort. If I could ski the mountain on a daily basis without its typical crowds, I would be just fine skiing there; there really is great terrain to be found. But, the mountain has a reputation for large crowds. The stereotype says that many of the people that make up those crowds are young snowboarders, who ride at out-of-control speeds, putting themselves and others in danger.
If you factor in limited early season terrain, and lots of discounted lift tickets, the risks seem even higher. But, my wife and I had some of those discount tickets, the mountain had gone from 5 open trails to 16 trails in the previous 2 days, and it was a chance to ski with some friends before the lifts are spinning at Sugarbush. By this coming Sunday, I'll be doing some "work" at Sugarbush. I don't get to ski on my own just for fun very often, and I don't get to ski with my wife very much either. So, this was a perfect opportunity for that.
We were at the mountain by 8:30 or so on Sunday morning and we got a decent parking space. We were on the gondola a little after 9:00, heading for the summit. It was cold at the summit and a number of trails were slick already, but not too bad. We did a number of laps off a triple chair just below the summit, making sure we hit all the open terrain except for the terrain park.
The trip down to the base area was a little bit hairy, with tight trails and ubiquitous snowboarders moving at high speeds. There were also a number of racers from other mountains at Killington, so there were some skiers moving very fast as well.
From there, we headed down to meet a friend who was arriving later than the rest of us. We skied off the Snowdon Triple for about 90 minutes, and then headed back to the summit. Someone suggested a bathroom break and that led us to the new summit lodge at Killington. The inside of the lodge is very nice and the views in every direction were stunning. The only things more stunning than the views were the prices for food. But, the lodge wasn't very crowded and we were hungry, so we decided to eat. I had some sort of artisan free range limited edition burger, topped with bacon made from pigs that were hand fed grapes by Italian virgins, or something like that. The burger needed salt. After all the flowery prose defining what I was going to eat, would it have been too much to put a little salt on the ground beef? My wife and I each had a burger and a soda. My wife had $47 cash in her pocket, but that wasn't quite enough to pay for lunch. Ouch!
After lunch, we did a few more runs off the higher triple chair, but conditions were now very slick. We headed back down to the Snowdon Triple area. On the way down, I was thinking about the fast moving snowboarders and how you never know when one is going to hit you. Within seconds, it happened to me. Luckily, she was small and I stayed on my feet during and after the collision. Without so much as an apology or even an acknowledgement, she simply sped away down the hill. I may have yelled something not-very-polite in her direction as she continued down the hill.
Down low, we found that a number of guns were blowing very sticky snow. One of our group went down hard when the sticky man-made snow simply stopped his skis, but he kept moving forward. After that fall, I think we did one more run, and decided it was time for a post-skiing beverage.
We quit relatively early - about 2:30 or so. But, it was the first day of many to come. It was nice to ski with my wife, and nice to free ski with some of my friends/co-workers from Sugarbush. We get to ski together during the season, but frequently, we are in training sessions, rather than simply skiing for fun. And, fun is why all of us do it. We enjoy the teaching aspect as well, but sometimes, it's nice to just be out there doing your own thing, with no responsibilities for students. That part of the season will come soon enough.