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Sixty-Something: Those Getaway Ski Vacations

T.J. Clemente

The author on the slopes. (Courtesy Photo)

Many folks love being in the mountains. The feeling of being surrounded by tall tree covered hills that go up and then up some more always invites adventure. In the winter when the mountains are blanketed in snow thoughts of skiing down fresh new powder on trials surrounded by towering pines is always on my mind. If you live on the East End of Long Island when you look up you usually see a big sky yet while in the mountains when you look up and first you see tall peaks before you see the sky.

Now I come from a skiing family. My dad and mom skied, my brothers and sister skied, and our children all ski. Members of my family have skied in South America, Europe, Canada, Iceland, and all over the U.S.A. However Vermont skiing has a most special place in our hearts and souls because that is where dad bought the family ski getaway. Pops was a pioneer, he purchased one of the original duplex ski condominiums in the northeast. In fact I never even heard the word condominium until he owned one at the base of Killington Mountain.

I remember us driving to Vermont with only our weekend bags because we were lucky enough to keeps our boots, skis and ski clothes up in our rooms at the condo. We needed 4-5 cars to ferry us all up there when we married and had kids. Christmas in Vermont was special. I still remember dad and mom cooking breakfast for all of us with the phonograph playing records like Neil Diamond, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, (my dad's favorite). We would head to the mountain in waves and meet up at Killington Mountain and then head over for a full family run down Rams Head Mountain.

In fairness it was my brother Elia who first started our family skiing when he attended Great Barrington Prep School in the early 1960's. My mom introduced us to skiing but Elia took to it. He even worked/skied at Vail, Colorado in 1967-68 when the village was just a few buildings and the resort had only seven chairlifts. (Vail now has almost 50 lifts and 10-15 miles of condos, apartment and homes.) It was on the slopes in Vermont that we honed our skiing skills. We knew the trails through the woods that where not on the maps, we knew where to go when the holiday crowds occupied the mountain. We knew when and where the snow would be best all hours of the day. Sometimes we all skied together as a family group like a posse. Jim, Elia and John loved to race each other with me (the hockey guy) too slow to race them as the judge. Eventually John grew into the fastest skier and actually represented Killington in Jr. Downhill Skiing events all over Vermont. However it was Elia's son Matthew who would eventually ski in the Junior Olympics and have a world ranking.

I taught my daughters to ski before they were three. They actually skied races in Chamonix, France as part of a "Panda" program at the Grand Montets that they attended for ten years, but they enjoyed social skiing and I was happy they did not want to be racers.

This last week I once again skied up in Vermont gathering the old skis, boots and warm ski clothes. I now prefer skiing at Stowe, Vermont. Being sixty-something I like the traditional laid-back atmosphere there mid-week with walk-on lifts lines and no crowds. Cruising through the pines and seeing those amazing top of the mountain views never gets old. It was cold but it warmed my heart and soul to be back in the mountains. Sometimes you have to pack up the car and just go on a ski getaway.

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