Killington, VT Kosher Ski Vacation
Let’s just jump into it – fun, healthy, expensive … and fun. It’s less expensive when going during Yeshiva Week break and there’s a minyan. Apparently SnoMazel brings the largest single group to Killington, Vertmont each year for 20+ years because, you know, Jews are good at that sort of thing. The staff person in the hotel thought we all must be part of the same religious institution because they get church groups and things like that. “No, actually, before I came here I knew about 2 out of 100+ people here though I successfully played Jewish geography with a few more.”
The mountain is located about a 4.5 hour drive from the NJ / NY area of lots and lots of Jews. It’s actually bunch of different mountains and it’s just … nice. For example, a typical locker room at a NJ / NY ski resort will have signs saying “don’t place things on top of lockers” and overcharge for lockers. So people strew their boots and whatnot all around. Killington is just like … “yo, here’s a side of the lodge with nice rows of metal shelves . . . feel free to leave your non-valuables here.” RFID cards are used to let you into some of the main lifts – no “sir, can I see your lift ticket?” fuddling around while wearing a winter coat and gloves. It’s just – don’t well with customer satisfaction in mind.
We went during a winter with very little snow and warm early winter … when we got there for Yeshiva week (late January) just about every trail was open and covered with snow. The beginner hill (“Snowshed slope”) is also … just nice. It’s very long, very wide, and flows with small crests and drops. A high speed detachable quad chairlift allows for easy on / easy off for beginners and it’s a fun trail even for experienced skiers.
That being said, trail designations can vary greatly from actual difficulty. There are three trail designations for skiing … green, blue, and black (and double-black). In NJ / NY what we call a black, they usually call a blue in Vermont. However, there are blues in Killington which are like greens … at the top of the mountain there are only blue and black trails down. This was scary to someone I was with who shall remain unnamed and we asked a ski patrol guy and he said “nah, it’s really a green. We just relabeled it as blue to keep absolute beginners from coming up here.”
Back when I was there years ago the greens also meandered across blue and black hills which could be anxiety provoking as skiers came down these hills quite fast. They’ve replaced many of these cross-points with tunnels that you ski right through. They’re fun too.
There’s also no shortage of trails – Killington is big … plenty of fast lifts, plenty of places to explore. There’s the more-vertical-than-horizontal trails, the wide trails, the narrow trails, the meandering trails, … the choose this one this time and that one next time and then arrive at the same next joining point …. and many parts of the mountain, upper, lower, and that mountain over there … that’s relatively easy to get there.
Here’s the best part – it was so empty. No lines anywhere. Parking available very close to the slope at all hours. The people there were mainly a) retired, b) locals; c) full-time serious skiier people … mostly the first kind. I chatted up some families on gondolas who tended to be from the Southeast for whatever reason. In any case, did not meet a single rude person on the trip.
It was also very cold – it was the end of January and the temperatures were from -11 to 27 degrees Fahrenheit (Fahrenheit is superior to Celsius when measuring air temperature – that’s for another article.) During the day temperatures didn’t get lower than 7. 🙂 I didn’t even have to tell my family to keep the windows closed and stop “heating the outside”. Someone opened a window once … only.
None of this was really a problem … Amazon sells some killer winter gear at low prices and high customer ratings. I’ve been through snow pants – got the best pair of life than at any other time. We were plenty warm – even with the tip of my nose sticking out it was totally fine.
Okay, so skiing is one of the most expensive sports there is. At the time of this writing the regular price for a one day midweek lift ticket at Killington is $149. Snomazel gets them for $76! It’s an insanely good price. It still adds up when paying for a family and paying for multiple days though multi-day tickets are cheaper and they don’t need to be used on consecutive days – you can skip a day. Full pricing – rentals, lessons, multi-day are here with Snomazel which you can compare to regular Killington prices here.
Rentals are expensive at Killington – you can keep them from day to day when going for multiple days rather than having to get fitted, fill out forms, etc, each day. What I did notice about the rentals is that they were decent basic skis … better than the cheap slow things you get at smaller places.
On top of this you have cost of clothing, cost of lodging, and cost of food.
Some people rented houses using AirBNB nearby . . . there are also plenty of local hotels. The minyan is in the HighRidge Condominiums so we opted to stay there. (Make sure you have good tires because when it was snowing we couldn’t get up one of the hills with the stock tires that my new car came with.)
The condo was really nice … there are different sizes and they do fill up quickly even during Yeshiva Week so rent early. The rentals have nothing to do with Snomazel per se and the units are privately owned and rented out so it could be that many units simply aren’t available at all. In our two-bedroom was a living room with pull-out couch, table to seat four, fireplace with wood. One bedroom was on this floor with a hall bathroom. Upstairs was a loft with another two beds overlooking the living room having another bathroom and small sauna.
The place also has a perpetually locked game-room, perpetually accessible pool until 10pm or so, and an outdoor hot tub. That’s the best. Nice and warm in the hot tub while your hair freezes in place. Love it.
As noted above, the minyan is in the HighRidge Condominiums. Shachris was at 7am, if I remember correctly. The mountain opens at 9am and closes at 4pm. Shkiyah is not long after that – sometimes you could find a minchah minyan near one of the lodges during lunchtime or around that time. Then there was a late maariv, I want to say at around 9pm back at HighRidge.
Bring your own food and utensils. In a nearby mokelet there was kosher wine and plenty of kosher food, though not specifically a kosher place (yogurts, tuna, drinks… that sort of thing can be found kosher nearby).
If you’re a man – great. Everyone is tznious but for some clothing tight on the but for.
If you’re a woman – see this article by Rabbi Yair Hoffman. There are details there about the halachic issues and it is very common to see women in skirts on the ski slope.
Anything I missed? Ask questions below.