Opening Day at Killington (Photo Courtesy of Killington Resort)
Congratulations to Killington Resort on being the first eastern ski area to open for the season! This is Killington’s first October opening since 2005! Welcome back to October, Big K.
Enthusiast skiers and riders hope the momentum is kept going through late season. Perhaps Killington will not only be first to open for the season, but also last to close?
Sunday River also got T2 going this weekend and will be open through Halloween. Props to both mountains for getting it done when mother nature allowed.
This past Sunday, a 31-year-old New Hampshire man with ties to Plymouth State University was riding a closed trail at Cannon Mountain and had an accident. That accident killed him. According to the Concord Monitor, Joshua Vigeant had a bachelors degree in Psychology, rode frequently, and had a huge passion for the outdoors and the mountains. With exception of not wearing a helmet and number of planks, the above description very likely could have been my own.
In the past two weeks, I have enjoyed three excellent powder days (two of which were at Cannon) due to skiing closed trails. The news strikes close to home but it won’t change my early season powder hunting modus operandi. What I have been reconsidering is my occasionally reckless and frequent habit of solo skiing off piste. In Joshua Vigeant’s case, his friend couldn’t save him. And neither could patrol. But the outcome is beside the point. Accidents happen and its best not to be skiing solo when disaster strikes.
I actually enjoy skiing with others vastly more than skiing solo (with occasional exception). Most of my best days most fondly remembered occur when I ski with others. Company to share the adventure with always makes a great day epic. But my last minute destination choices, lack of planning, scattered social network, lack of skiing friends nearby, and regional preferences make meeting up with others difficult. My introverted nature hinders joining other groups I might chance upon (if such other groups even are changed upon). I just need to make an effort to pick up the phone more often and share my excitement. I do too many other things right when going off the map to fail so poorly at the most basic and important aspect of safe off piste skiing.
Not much skiing related has been happening here at TSW-HQ this summer. After ending the season at Cannon during a freak two foot snow storm during the last week of April, I transitioned into skiing hibernation mode. I began rehabbing my left knee which suffered an over use injury during the ski season that I pointedly ignored. The rehab meant that I was sidelined for the spring skiing season. But the rehab has been successful and I am optimistic that I will begin running and hiking again before the start of the next season.
One key component to the rehab process was strengthening my quadricep in my left leg. It turns out that road bike riding is a great way to build muscle strength while causing minimal impact to the injured knee. This weekend I will pass my 1000th mile. I had not done much road biking since college, a dozen years ago. This summer has rekindled my love for pedaling. I am taking biking seriously and doing it for fitness but also enjoying more fully exploring my home… this vast stretch of amazing land from the Lakes Region to the Whites. I have some larger rides planned including a metric century, a Ride Around Winnipesaukee, some notch riding in the whites, and a full century. My fitness is greatly improved compared to last year so I am hoping that translates into the ski season.
New boards for turn earning are ready for mounting. The new earned turn powder rig will be Watea94s mounted with Dynafit Vertical 12s and BD Ascension skins. This will be my first fatter board with an AT binding an it should serve as motivation to earn my powder as both the up and down will ski better with 94mm under each foot.
In other news, frequent readers may have noticed fewer pictures than normal this past season. This was due to my dog destroying my Cannon A630. As a temporary solution, I purchased a used A570 on the cheap but did not enjoy the interface or the quality of the pictures. After having watched closely the digital camera market for the past two years, I finally decided it was time for a major upgrade.
I just purchased a TL-350 which is a brand new camera from… Samsung? It appears that Samsung has gotten serious about cameras and all reviews for their new top end compact P&S lineup including the TL-500 and TL-350 have been full of praise. Look for a lot more photos this winter.
Finally, I am committed to upgrading TSW to the latest v3.0 of WordPress before the season starts. I have held off due to concern for plug-in compatibility. I am unsure of how I will proceed with photos (currently sourced through Gallery software).
Suffice to say There may or may not be some practical and/or visual changes before the next season begins.
Hopefully we’ll be making turns again in less than three months. Until then, I will be pedaling hard and trying to find time for badly needed upgrades to the web site. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Sunday River became the first eastern ski area to open for the 2009-2010 season today. Utilizing the uploading and downloading capabilities of the Locke Mountain Triple’s mid-station, Sunday River has T2 currently open with potentially more trails open for this weekend depending upon temperatures and snow making. Today featured an unannounced “soft” opening featuring free skiing and riding until 3:30 P.M. Thursday through Sunday, skiers and riders can enjoy T2 from the mid-station of Locke Mountain for $25.00. Snow making continues as temperatures allow.
This season saw a significant early season snowmaking push from former ASC brand resorts Sunday River (now owned by Boyne USA Resorts) and Killington (now owned by Powdr Corp). Both resorts began snowmaking operations earlier than any other year in recent memory and dropped hints of an early opening. Currently, Killington has neither committed to nor denied opening this coming weekend. Since Sunday River has already opened, the race is over and the pressure is off Killington for first to open honors.
The mid-mountain load station on the Lock Mountain Triple lift provides the Newry, ME based resort with significant advantages for opening faster than other ski areas. Unlike Killington and other ski areas in the early to open race, Sunday River need not have top to bottom skiing to open. Whereas Killington and other early opening mountains generally need temperatures to drop low enough to allow snow making top to bottom.
Thus begins the 2009-2010 ski season!
With the 2007-2008 season completed, TheSnowWay.com has compiled a season cost calculator detailing how I spent every penny of my money during the ski season. This calculator includes lift tickets, cost of gas, and season passes. Absent are costs of equipment which are not strictly a one season purchase. Additionally, I have not calculated in food expense.
I would estimate half of my meals were purchased from ski area food services so that is not an insignificant cost compared to brown bagging. However, my obsession with calculating total cost did not entail advanced computation of what the difference is between brown bagging a meal versus paying the ski area. Besides, sometimes you just WANT a tasty burger and cost is not an issue and comparing to brown bag is apples and oranges. Other complications such as having to spend pre-purchased Mad Money at Mad River Glen further complicated the idea which I decided not to implement.
Gas costs were calculated obsessively and with precision. Every ski day would begin by stopping at the local gas station two miles from my house. The gas tank would be filled and the trip odometer set to zero. Upon returning from skiing, I would stop at the same gas station, refill the tank, and record miles driven, gallons used, cost per gallon, and total cost of the fill up. All information except for miles driven was on a receipt for easy record keeping. Actual gas costs were slightly higher than included on the cost calculator as I did not include gas costs for the two miles to and from the gas station and my home.
Recording this information had an effect on my driving habits. For shorter trips, especially those under an hour, I would routinely drive just under the speed limit instead of my usual 70 MPH highway speed in order to maximize MPG. Longer drives, such as to Jay Peak, I would drive normally as extra cost of gas was not worth more time on the road. Very rarely did I miss a gas procedure but I occasionally did forget to set my odometer and estimated based on previous trips or I forgot to fill up once or twice and utilized an average MPG for that destination in question.
The total season cost was just over $1700 for 52 days including lift tickets, season passes, and gas but not including equipment purchases and food.