Editors note: Today our friends and colleagues Carrie and Lisa begin applying their Gala party and writing skills to a new canvas: The first of their series of Alpine-oriented getaway blogging adventures. Like troopers, they eschewed some ‘easy glider’ mountain, and went all-in on Mighty Killington for their debut. Kudos! – AG
THE BEAST OF THE EAST!
Carrie Rowlands Johnson
KILLINGTON, VT –The winter air embraces my body, wrapping around it like the opposite of a blanket, its breath sneaking into the teeny cracks between my carefully adorned layers.
I practice yoga breathing, processing air deep in the back of my throat in low, inaudible growls, relying on its magic to power me through my mantra: “Shoulders face the mountain, drive the knee, slide the outside ski back in.”
All of this – while quickly-melting snowflakes grab hold of my goggles. They slide slowly from top to bottom, purposefully obscuring my vision.
I deftly glance over my right shoulder, then back toward the bottom of the mountain, satisfied that my blogging and skiing partner, Lisa Champagne, is safely within sight.
We are at Killington Ski resort in Vermont, attempting our inaugural ski blog, our latest addition to our social and lifestyle pieces for #createyourlife and saratoga.com. I’ll speak only for myself, and that is that it’s almost laughable that I am authoring a ski blog. I have been skiing for a mere 6-7 years and carry with me a healthy fear of speed (aka, I am a blues kind-of girl.) Nonetheless, I can think of no better way to beat the cold than by immersing myself in it while logging solid exercise and consistently improving my skills… in both writing and skiing. Additionally, Lisa and I lead parallel lives, but yet have two distinctly different styles and personalities, so there’s bound to be a healthy dose of entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, you may have heard that Killington is known as one of the best places in the Northeast for Apres’ Ski… and we are, in fact, social reporters – we have THAT part down!
For us, that translates into visiting the fairly new Peak Lodge, a mere Gondola ride up from K-1 Lodge. Simple… if you are going straight to the Peak. However, we are first looking forward to playing with the more than one foot of new powder that fell earlier in the week. After comfortably riding the Gondola to the top (one of three on site!), we are skiing directly past the Peak lodge and weaving our way down.
Ever hear the term BEAST of the EAST? That’s Killington, aptly named because of its vast size. In other words, getting lost is basically guaranteed if you don’t stop and chart your course at one of the maps sitting helpfully near every drop-off… a lesson we learned after finding ourselves way over on the BEAST’S Bear Mountain, also appropriately named as it is littered with bumps and moguls, two terrains we are definitely NOT prepared to tackle at this point in our skiing careers.
Fast forward a number of runs and a few map studies later, and we finally navigate our way back to the Gondola, which we gratefully ride back up to the peak. As we park our skis against the rails, a gust of wind makes a solid attempt at shoving us to the ground. However, determined to make the 3 pm last call, we sort of gracefully push back and ski-boot walk our way through the doors of our Nirvana, known to the rest of the world as The Peak Lodge.
I imagine re-enacting the scene from Top Gun as we remove our helmets and shake out our now-frozen hair, walking toward the picturesque mountainside bar and after patiently waiting our turn, place our drink order just in time. Unfortunately, we’ve missed the deadline for ordering food. While that is disappointing, it provides reason enough to try again before the season’s end.
For today, the view from the top, with snow frosted gondola cars passing elegantly in front of the picture windows, is reward worthy of every twist and turn this Beast of a ski resort has to offer.
KILLINGTON, VT — It’s high time for ski season, and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than hitting the slopes at Killington Ski resort. Last year, after a fourteen year hiatus, I decided to dust off my very own skis, grab a couple girlfriends and head to one of the smaller local mountains for weekly lessons. If you’ve never skied + want to learn or you’re like me + have – but need a refresher, lessons are the way to go. All mountains, including Killington offer group or private ones.
If you’re a novice, “The Beast of the East” – site of the largest vertical drop in New England. may seem a little intimidating. I get it – I’m just breaking into intermediate status myself. Yet Killington accommodates skiers of every level including the newbie. With 155 trails (50 beginner/novice), 21 lifts and over 1,500 acres, it is the largest ski resort in the eastern U.S.
Lift tickets will run you about $100 a pop – which is exactly what we expected. Now that I’ve provided you with a few of the deets, I’ll give you the low-down on Carrie + Lisa’s ski adventure. A blast for sure, but truth be told, I also learned a few a lessons along the way…
Saturday morning’s weather was iffy at best. Warm temperatures brought rain to most of the capital region. As we left Spa-City, Carrie and I were hopeful the rain would turn to snow once we reached Vermont. Thirty degree temperatures seemed a godsend compared to the single digits we experienced so far this season.
I’ve been donning this “ninja” look since December, and I was looking forward to a mild day.
Upon arrival, Carrie + I weren’t surprised to see traffic was a bear. Killington is a hot spot on the weekends. Great skiing and a fun night-life keep this town bustling. Fortunately, Carrie had skied here before and knew exactly where to park. The $15 fee saved us time and the annoyance of walking a healthy distance through puddles and sludge. Good call my friend!
After obtaining our ski passes, we made our way inside to gear up…. Lesson #1: when you’re chatting with your friends at a ski resort, pay attention while getting dressed! Ski pants first, boots last – but that could happen to anyone right? ; )
First run of the day and I couldn’t wait! We headed to the gondola (best invention ever!) and up the mountain we went. Typically, Mountain views from the gondola are pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards on this ride. Grey skies + thick fog made it difficult to see anything.
As we exited the gondola, we skied directly to the map. As usual, we looked for the easier trails. Carrie seemed familiar with the landscape. First run was tough. Tough because I was unfamiliar with the trail but also because we couldn’t see three feet in front of us.
More thick fog.
I noticed the huge drop at the edge of the trail. It served as a healthy reminder that I needed to pay attention. Control and survival are the name of the game for me, so I set no goals in terms of speed. This is completely recreational, and enjoying the fresh air and outdoors is enough.
Thankfully, Carrie is the same way. I typically enjoy a few runs, and then always look forward to a hot toddy (or margarita) at the end of the day. After our second run, that margarita was sounding better and better…
Suddenly -Holy mogul!! As I mentioned, I’m an “intermediate” skier. Moguls and I don’t mix – yet, here they are!
I’m not sure where we took a wrong turn, but this wasn’t in our plan. Lesson #2 Assess your skill level and research trails before you head up the mountain. Snowboarders and skiers alike crept down the mountain. It was steep and truth be told, I did face plant once (okay…twice) – as a result, I decided after that run I would be ready for just about any alcoholic beverage they were willing to serve me. Lesson #3: Always know which trails are located closest to the pub.
Carrie and I decided it was time for a desperately needed break. Said break couldn’t wait until the end of the day. We stopped once again at a map and noticed we had somehow skied to the other side of the mountain… Don’t they make apps for this? Perhaps that will be my next business venture! After identifying exactly where we needed to go, we hopped on the chair lift. The adventure continues…..
By this time, Mother Nature decided to bring in the colder temperatures. Light snow had turned to drizzle. Welcome to skiing in the northeast! Third run was much like the second, only less moguls and a greater motivation destination…Peak Lodge!! By this time Carrie + I were laughing at our comedy of errors. Lesson #4 it’s not what you’re doing but who you’re doing it with!
At last we had reached Peak Lodge. We grabbed a pub table and nudged our way to the bar. It was a welcomed break after a few challenging runs!
If you’ve never skied Killington, I urge you to do so! It’s a Mecca for the both experienced skiers and novices. The town of Killington has a lot to offer in terms of restaurants + night life. A great place for a weekend stay but if you choose to make it a day trip, the drive is only about two hours from Albany. Check out their website HERE
Despite our comedy of errors, perhaps some ‘interludes of ineptitude,’ we ended up having a super fun day. You know, we always make sure we do! Lesson #5 #createyourlife.
Carrie and Lisa are two single-moms who are beasts in their own right – but they certainly clean up well when covering Galas for Planet Arthur! Look for their next appearance here helping to cover the SPAC Winter Ball on March 3 – and follow all their escapades on their Hashtag Create Your Life Facebook Page