I’ve enjoyed beating up on Killington over the years, especially my anti-capitalist anti-consumerism post-college-angst years (if aren’t a socialist in your 20s you have no heart, if you’re still a socialist in your 30s you have no brain). But in recent memory, I’ve always had good early and late season days there. Killington came at this season with a completely different attitude. There has been a void in New England skiing for a long time and it is nice to have that void finally refilled.
As Sugarloaf and Sugarbush both close, Killington is not just still open but talking about June. Maybe they will get there, maybe they won’t. But the talk is hardly hypothetical marketing bluster, it is absolutely doable.
Unlike in past years when “The Beast” announced an earlier than planned April closing despite ample snow just before a massive storm that they would not reopen for, Killington is honestly playing for keeps this season. And it is about time. All hail Killington, undisputed King of Spring with the earliest opening, latest closing, and longest season. Thank you.
“This is going to hurt.”
Foreboding feelings of pain were strong going into this weekend. I am in the worst shape of my life. An honest self assessment suggested I could get the job done but only at the cost of several days of pain. But even in the worst shape of my life, I’m still more capable than I give myself credit for and I’ll need to remember that as I start rebuilding my body and, perhaps more importantly, the rest of my life.
Yet another spring weekend without corn snow. The disturbing trend continues. While last weekend’s full on winter days at Smuggs were both excellent, I am getting really desperate for a nice warm spring corn day. And skiing aside, mentally some warmth and sunshine would do my psyche some good.
My original plan was Mount Washington. But the weather did not cooperative with summit temperatures dipping into the single digits Saturday night and the wind honking into the 60+ MPH range. While Sunday was clear and sunny, it was not optimal for great skiing nor going for a summit. I changed plans from NH’s highest peak to VT’s highest peak, hoping for alpine skiing above the trails and corn bumps below.
Today is my eighth day skiing Smuggs and the mountain still gives me the warm and fuzzies. A month ago, I reported that The Honeymoon Still Isn’t Over. Nay, I think it has barely just begun. And I would be hard pressed to say when it might end.
The phrase of the afternoon was “one more run.” I took a half dozen “one more runs” — I couldn’t tear myself away from the mountain. The skiing was just too good. I continually pushed through physical soreness to keep going until mental fatigue started to set in near the end of the day.
Weather varied tremendously throughout the day ranging from warm and sunny at the base to full on winter with two inch per hour graupel and hail. Visibility ranged from miles to feet but clouds were always nearby even when things started to clear. Every run seemed to feature a completely different weather pattern than the last.
Snow conditions were also quite variable though generally pleasant despite occasionally being a challenge. Water saturation was quite high but mank/chunk levels were moderate and controllable so long as visibility would allow foresight in planning turns.
Days like today reinvigorate me with that overwhelming feeling of living to the fullest. My body unleashed testosterone and aggressiveness that combined and fueled a kind of visceral mania. My eyes opened wide, I stumbled out of the shadowed state of depression, and felt a lost but not forgotten passion. Where has it been? I have it now but I know it can be fleeting. So I need to use it while I have it, internalize it, and make it mine again.
The bright light of spring split the clouds in the early afternoon. The metaphor was not lost on me as I slowly skied the traverse, looking around, breathing deep, feeling human again. Or at least feeling like myself again. Well, except for the poor physical conditioning.
I soon found myself in an elevator shaft, in the trees on upper Madonna Mountain. A pair of trees towered over partially buried deadfall and an ice patch. I could make the turn but I had a hunch that there was either glare ice or rock under the snow where I planned to turn. There wasn’t much room for speed control below the trees, so it was to be a straight line into an eight foot wide 35 degree elevator shaft. I looked to my left and other tracks had opted for discretion leaving the line untracked with two inches of fresh covering who knows what beneath. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have even been thinking about the calculation, I’d already be at the bottom. I wasn’t going to back off it, I was out to recapture something that I lost. And what a place to do it.