Killington skiing: What’s the draw? We asked two Vacasa team members in Killington—Business Development Representative Luke Colombo and Local Operations Manager Jorge Mada—how they tame the Beast in the East (aka Killington Resort).
Q: What sets Killington Resort apart from other Vermont ski resorts?
Luke: There’s diverse terrain for all skiing levels. The Beast also has six parks with 130 features. The après-ski is some of the best in Vermont.
Jorge: It’s called The Beast for a reason. With an elevation of 4,241 feet to the summit of Killington Peak and 1,977 skiable/rideable acres, there are more trails for riders of all levels to take compared to neighboring mountains.
Our take: Killington has some serious accolades: the highest skiing elevation in Vermont, the longest ski season in the Eastern U.S., the largest ski resort by acreage, and the largest vertical drop in New England. Killington passholders also have access to Pico Mountain just five miles down the road. In other words: It’s hard to get bored here.
Q: What would you tell a first-time visitor to the Beast?
Luke: Get up early and go to bed late. There’s a lot of fun to be had.
Jorge: Make sure to bring good snow tires if you’re visiting during the winter season, Even with 4×4, if you don’t have the right kind of tires you could fall victim to the inclined roads at Killington if we are having bad weather.
Our take: When Luke says get up early, he means get up early: If corduroy (i.e. groomed) tracks get you jazzed, then you’ll want to be first in line at 8 a.m. If you’re not super rushed to get to the mountain, try breakfast at Maple Sugar & Vermont Spice (Luke and Jorge joke that Sugar & Spice is the unofficial meeting place for Vacasa staff in the area). Also, prepare for the cold. Killington skiing is much wetter and colder than out West, so bring lots of layers. Avoid cotton at all costs out here, make sure you have something to cover your face and eyes, and come prepared with an extra pair of insulated, water-resistant gloves.
Q: How’s the snow and snowmaking?
Luke: The snow is good, it can be icy at times (like they say, “Ski the east—if you can”). The snowmaking is great. There have been a few recent publications that show the level of investment Killington has made.
Jorge: Obviously weather dependent, but generally very good! We have the best snowmakers working the mountain as well. Every year Killington’s goal is to have the longest season in the East, and they have always succeeded! Especially now that we have the Audi FIS Ski World Cup being held in Killington for the next couple of years.
Our take: Killington has been ramping up their snowmaking, often beating Mother Nature (and many Western ski resorts) to the punch with one of the earliest seasons around. First turns on the manmade snow are reserved for season passholders, of course, but Killington skiing still starts well before most other resorts. So if you can’t wait till Thanksgiving to hit the slopes, this is the resort for you.
Q: Is Killington equally friendly to skiers and snowboarders?
Luke: Yes, the terrain parks and the mountain welcome all.
Jorge: Absolutely! I’ve interacted with friendly skiers and snowboarders during my trips to the lifts and gondolas. Everyone is welcome and out to just have a good time!
Our take: Come one, come all! Snowboarders and freeskiers will be equally thrilled with the terrain park offerings at Killington. For a more natural experience, explore the Stash on Bear Mountain. For an out-of-this-world vibe, check out the space-themed NeffLand on Ramshead Mountain. And of course, if you need some air, you’ll want to hit the 18-foot Halfpipe on Bear Mountain.
Q: What’s your favorite run?
Luke: Big Dipper—it’s a long [double-black diamond] run from the top to the bottom. It’s a very challenging [glade] run.
Jorge: My all-time favorite run is starting from the top of K1 and taking Bear Trax over to Launch Pad and cruising my way down to the Skyship Gondola on the famous Great Eastern Trail. It’s such a long, awesome, cruising run with lots of long bending S-turns towards the bottom. Really puts you into another state of mind while on this trail.
Our take: Vacasa employee John Miskey, Integration Training Manager and East Coast local, says that his favorite part about Killington skiing is the long, meandering trails through the woods. Unlike the steep-piste, rocky, and sometimes barren bowls out West, Vermont has a gentler pitch and is at a lower elevation. So go and get lost in the woods for a bit—you may find it restorative!
Q: What’s your favorite alternative winter activity?
Luke: Snowmobiling. There are a few places you can rent and ride them in the area.
Jorge: There are some other activities you can participate in during the winter, like taking a snowmobile tour or hitting the downhill tubing hill.
Our take: Alt snow bunnies may also consider a ride on the Beast Mountain Coaster (4,800 feet of, “Weeeee!”) or a Snowcat-drawn sleigh ride.
Q: Where’s the best place to grab a drink or grub afterward?
Jorge: Depending on the type of atmosphere you’re looking for, I’d say go to The Lookout Bar & Grill or Sushi Yoshi! This is a tough question to answer because even the delis have some amazing grubbage.
Our take: First-timers from the West, don’t be alarmed: There isn’t a “base village” as you think of it. Though there are a few dining options on the mountain or in the lodges, most of your après-ski options are all along Killington Road. The bus can get you from the mountain to eats without a problem—just prepare to travel a bit.
If you’d like some live music to go with your après-ski, hit up the Wobbly Barn. Looking for something a little more unique? How about a Snowcat-drawn sleigh ride to the Ledgewood Yurt? They have select family-friendly nights and also do ski-in/ski-out lunch during the day.
If you can swing it, try and skip the mad lunch rush at noon (a good old PB&J is always a solid go-to snack—just make sure to put it in a pocket where it won’t get squished!) and eat a little later. If you must lunch at noon, Luke and Jorge recommend a visit to Preston’s at the Grand Hotel, known for offering fuzzy slippers in place of your ski or snowboard boots, or the Clubhouse, which is right by the Tubing Hill.
Q: If your parents were coming to visit, where would you tell them to stay?
Luke: Top Ridge 34A.
Jorge: For a more mountainous, breathtaking view and luxurious stay I would have my family stay at Top Ridge 34A, or Maple Landing for a more secluded, in-the-woods trip but still not far from all the adventures that Killington has to offer.
Our take: A vacation rental will take your Killington skiing trip to the next level with lots of space and privacy, a full kitchen for preparing a big post-last chair meal (and saving some money), and amenities you come to expect like WiFi, cable, and so on. Top Ridge 34A is definitely the mother lode: It includes arcade games and a sauna, plus ski-in/out access.
Killington skiing is best enjoyed all day in lots of layers, but like Luke and Jorge said: With a mountain this big and with this many options, it’s hard to go wrong.
Featured image courtesy of Hyun Lee
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