My favorite posts on social media involve friends sharing their passions, particularly those of an artistic, outdoorsy, athletic, or adventurous nature. Kindred spirits exploring and engaging both the world around us and ourselves, each of us doing so in our own special way. None of us able to adequately describe what drives us. But the drive needs no explanation because we share it.
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. But there sure as shit is such a thing as free skiing. Killington opened the Superstar lift today free of charge to anyone adventurous enough to ski with some walking required.
While the cover shot of this blog post shows limited snow on the final pitch of Superstar, the upper and middle of Superstar were still wide and deep. After hiking down half of the Headwall, the snow was wide open and continuous throughout the entirety of Middle Superstar to the rollover before the final pitch. Middle Superstar was groomed flat which was a treat.
Normally I prefer bumps in the spring. But the novelty of opening up huge edge to edge turns during the last week of May was amazing. So I let it rip on Middle Superstar. The Headwall and Lower Superstar both satisfied the bump itch with great coverage on the Headwall and sporty coverage on the final Lower pitch.
Just over half of Superstar was continuous and wide open. Hiking was required to get down to the snow on the Headwall and again 2-5 times (dirt/grass skiing threshold depending) below the rollover on Lower Superstar. But it was a small price to pay for the quality turns on Middle Superstar. I made it three runs before setting up tailgating shop and hanging out in the sun.
Huge props to Killington for going all in for late season skiing this season. Despite a season snowfall total one third of normal, Killington blew piles of snow on Superstar that were taller than the lift towers. During the heart of the season during an abysmal year, Killington made a total commitment to skiing until June. And they would have made June if it wasn’t for a meltdown this past weekend with highs in the 80s-90s all weekend.
I used to throw considerable shade at Killington. But those days are long past. As recently as six years ago, Killington was closing up shop in April despite promising May skiing. That closure came with Upper Ovation and Skyelark still open and nearly edge-to-edge top-to-bottom skiing on Superstar. Adding insult to injury, a major snow storm buried mountains in New England a few days after they threw in the towel. Yet they still would not reopen.
It is hard to believe the turnaround and attitude change during the past few years. Killington has been going later and committing to May during the past few years. But this year, Killington attempted the impossible in shooting for June despite one of the worst snow years in history (and almost making it happen, if not for a meltdown Memorial Day weekend). No more shade from me. Killington is the Beast of the Beast, the King of Spring, and the yardstick against every other ski area will be measured for first to open and last to close honors.
Standing at the top of Superstar, I couldn’t help but smile. Today was something I had been wanting for months… a perfect sunny spring day with top to bottom bumps. It made up for at least a third of this shitty season. May was more than halfway over and Superstar was still going strong despite one of the worst seasons on record.
Killington did not have to do this. Everyone would have understood if they had not blown Superstar a lift tower deep in man made snow. No one would have criticized Killington if they called it quits on May first like the other major resorts in New England. Years ago, we grew used to Killington closing with Superstar still edge to edge and top to bottom.
But not this season. Perhaps, never again will we have to make excuses. Maybe, never again will Killington make prudent financial decisions instead of running their business like the late season means something. Like the mountain has soul.
This was the last weekend of operation for the Heaven’s Gate Triple so I thought it prudent to use my voucher for Sugarbush before Lincoln Peak closed for the season. Sunshine and warm weather combined for a fun day despite the lack of quality bumps.
Organgrinder was pretty much it for a full bump run. Ripcord had occasional bump lines. Stein’s Run had horrific widely spaced mounds in between hard pack icy crust. But my most enjoyable runs were down Lower Organgrinder.
The forecast suggested new snow at higher elevations in Northern Vermont. I had a voucher to burn so I set my alarm extra early and made the drive to Stowe looking forward to a few inches (which would be a top five day of the year for my season). With modest expectations, I boarded the Forerunner and prepared for disappointment.
What I found was startling…