Free To Ski

Throughout January, as students, staff and faculty adjust to the change in pace of J-term, the editorial staff of Middlebury Magazine has been making its way around the campus to discover just what goes on during this month.

The snow is perfect. The sun is shining. It’s a Thursday afternoon in January. Time to catch the shuttle to the Snow Bowl.

Several students are standing at the bus stop by Adirondack House, skis and snowboards propped up beside them, waiting to catch the 12:55. A passerby greets one of the kids.

“Going skiing?”

“Yeah,” he answers, “it’s my seventh day in a row.” The big white and green ACTR bus lumbers up the hill and turns into the circle. The doors swing open and the riders maneuver their equipment so they can clamber aboard with boots, poles, skis, bags, and whatever else they are carrying. Some deposit their gear in the back and find a seat. Others sit with all their gear surrounding them, settling in for the half-hour ride. Some students arrive late and Larry, the driver, waits for them.

One guy opens the Campus and begins to read. A girl is on her cell phone and gets into an animated discussion with a friend who was supposed to meet her but grabbed a private ride instead. A row of guys begins to talk about the party they were at the night before. Their conversation then swings into topics that seem particularly Middlebury-like. What foreign languages they’re taking this spring; what countries they’d like to do their semesters abroad in.

Seventeen riders are on the bus today. According to Larry, that’s a light load during January. The bus holds 35 and it’s usually full. “I often have to turn kids away.” With six runs up and down the mountain during the week, the shuttle is hauling skiers all day long. During the regular semester, only half as many are heading to the mountain on a weekday.

The bus pulls into Bread Loaf and seven of the students get off. The rest climb out at the Snow Bowl. One lone skier gets on for the ride back. The bus rambles down the mountain, empty, but when it pulls into Adirondack Circle, a new crop of students stand ready, skis and snowboards in hand, to board the shuttle for the mountain.

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