Friday, February 7, 2014

Killington - The Beast of the East - 2/5/14

Killington - The Beast of the East - 2/5/14
First tracks on an (East Coast) powder day.
Killington has long been one of my favorite mountains, and although this tour has had several mountains bump it down on my list, I still love the Beast of the East. This trip however was a little different. This trip I earned the right to truly call myself a ski bum.

My original plan, was to drive over to Killy on Wednesday morning, but with the incoming blizzard moving faster than expected, plans needed to change. After finishing up my shift at Gunstock at 7pm, I headed home, packed all my gear and headed west at 9 pm. I have been planning on doing some car camping for awhile, but this was my first time actually doing it. I had initially planned on sleeping in Killington's parking lot, but upon being told I would be towed, I headed for the Wal-Mart in Rutland. Upon being sketched out by it being in the middle of a city, with lots of pedestrian activity, I settled on the Appalachian mountain trail head, right next to Pico. I slept surprisingly well, considering I was in the back of a hatchback in 20 degree weather, I only woke up once, and that was because I needed more blankets (which I had). I woke up around 8, and headed right to Killington, scoring a great spot right next to the K1 lodge. The drive in was extremely bad, and I was very, very happy I came down the night before, as there was no way I would have made it if I had been coming from central New Hampshire. I booted up, and managed to be in line for the Gondola (gondolas suck) before it opened. 

Because of the snow-pocolypse that raged the whole day, pictures will be kind of light in this post. Visibility at its best during the day was maybe a quarter mile, but most of the time was somewhere in the range of less than 100 yards. Conditions however, were phenomenal! Killington's snow total by the end of the storm was somewhere in the range of 10+ inches of light, fluffy pow. I put on the fat skis, and had a blast. I spent the first half of the day cruising around, looking for powder stashes to blow through, and enjoying plenty of powder to the face. Killington has some of the steepest trails around, one stand out was 'Ovation'. Covered in powder, it was murder on the legs coming down, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

The one negative thing I will say about Killington, is that the peak is a maze. It seems like there are dozens of trails, all accessible by two ways off the top. Trying to find a specific trail up there is a nightmare. I was hunting for glades, but I had a hell of a time finding some of them just because of how confusing the trail layout/map is. Even the blown up version of the peak on their trail map does little to ease the confusion. Unfortunately, every glade I did find was closed. Having been down the majority of them in the past, ducking a rope into a thinly covered double black glade is not the way I felt like getting injured. 
Summit Selfie, because the stranger who took my normal summit pic did a terrible job at it.
After my lunch break, the pow stashes were getting harder to find, so I headed for 'The Stash' to check out their natural park. It was one hell of a cool park, with tons of interesting features to hit. As I said last time, I am not the biggest fan of wood rails, so I took my pictures and headed over to the other side of the mountain to check out the other park, as their big park and super-pipe were closed. Here are photos of 'The Stash' in no particular order, as it was quite an odd layout.

From 'The Stash' I headed for the park on 'Timberline', way over on the other side of the mountain, also referred to as 'NEFFLAND'.(This is again a situation, where I would prefer to have NEFFLAND located much closer to the rest of their parks, instead of involving 30+ minutes of riding to get from one to the other.) Unfortunately the top half was closed for a rebuild, but the bottom half was one of the coolest parks I have been in, with some seriously unique features. I took my pictures for you guys, and decided it was time for another break in the lodge. Here are the standouts from NEFFLAND.

While sitting in the lodge, contemplating just how badly my legs burned from all the powder skiing, I noticed on the map that it said my lift ticket was good at Pico as well. With it so close by, and a couple hours left in the day, I figured why not knock another mountain off the list? I threw my gear in the car, and headed over. Unfortunately when I arrived, I was displeased to discover that Pico is not open mid-week. I wish either the trail-map, or the employee who asked why I was leaving Killington so early would have told me this, before I drove over there. When I returned to Killington, I parked over near the base of the lift that accessed NEFFLAND and put the park skis on. I did several laps around, and would have loved to have hit The Stash again as well, but my legs just would not have it. At about 3:30, I retired to the K1 bar for a delicious hot-chocolate filled with Rum and Baileys. Having nowhere to be that evening, I hung out in the bar, talking with the other patrons until they kicked us out. I asked the bartender for a good, cheap local restaurant, and was told to hit up Moguls on the access road. The burgers were pretty good and I am pretty sure it is definitely the most affordable place near Killington. 

Once I had finished eating around 7 pm, I got in my car, punched 'Mount Snow' into my GPS and headed south, into what would be one of the best, most unique days of skiing I have ever had in my life. The drive down was terrible, with snowy roads and low visibility. I pulled in to Mount Snows parking lot late, crawled into the back of my car and fell asleep quickly.

Tune in tomorrow for a GTNS post you wont want to miss! A celebrity makes an appearance! I promise!

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