The Snowdon Six Express is up and running, whisking skiers and snowboarders, six at a time, to the Snowdon summit in weather-protected comfort. New RFID gates at Killington and Pico lifts have eliminated the time consuming nuisance of individual ticket scanning. Three tunnels—two on Snowdon and one on Skye Peak—are shuttling skiers and snowboarders under, and over, what were once busy intersections, improving the flow and feel of the mountain. Snowguns across the resort are now supplied by new snowmaking pipe—a whopping 44,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe. K-1 Gondola passengers are enjoying the view from new quieter and smoother riding gondola cabins carried by a brand new haul rope.
Ten months after Killington announced $25 million worth of capital improvement projects, the resort has a fresh feel and the skiing experience, especially in the Snowdon area, has been transformed. But there are a couple important pieces of the project yet to be completed, including one of the most highly anticipated—the new South Ridge Quad.
According to Jeff Temple, director of mountain operations for Killington and Pico, fans of the old South Ridge Triple, which was removed in 2011, won’t have to wait too much longer to see lift access to the popular area restored. The new South Ridge Quad is one of three projects on the capital improvements list still awaiting completion. The other two are the storage barn for the Snowdon Six Express bubble chairs and the relocation of the old Snowdon Poma surface lift to the Swirl trail on Ramshead.
“We had hoped to have all of these projects completed ahead of the Christmas holiday period, but that’s the nature of construction in Killington’s mountain environment; sometimes things just take longer than planned,” Temple said.
One factor that contributed significantly to the longer than expected completion time was the unusually heavy November snowfall in Killington. Fifty-six inches of snow blanketed the resort in November, nearly double the November average for the area and the highest November total since 1968. Killington skiers and snowboarders greatly appreciated the generous early season snowfall, but it created headaches for construction workers, who found even the simplest tasks taking longer with the job site buried in snow. Even transportation to and from work sites slowed down, as crews were forced to use snowmobiles, grooming tractors and other tracked vehicles to transport personnel and materials.
Temple says that both the Poma lift on Swirl and the Snowdon Six barn are nearing completion, and should be wrapped up in the next few weeks. Up on Swirl, the crew recently installed and spliced the haul rope. Meanwhile, at the bottom of Snowdon, the barn building is watertight and crews are working on the rails and elevators that will move the bubble chairs from the lift terminal into the barn for storage away from the elements overnight.
“Finishing up the Snowdon Six storage barn has been a very high priority for us,” Temple says, “being able to get the detachable chairs out of the elements and inside at night will allow us to get the Snowdon Six running faster on challenging weather days. We’re seeing this already on the K-1 Express Gondola, where we also have a newly enclosed storage barn. It’s making a difference in how quickly we can open the lift.”
As for the South Ridge Quad: “it might be a little further from completion than the other two projects, but it is progressing and we are still hopeful that it will open before the end of January,” Temple says.