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I'll admit, I wasn't prepared for an early season start. My alarm went off at 9am and for a hot minute I contemplated nixing my plan for the day's mini road trip - I am not a functional morning person and the morning's first thought of a three hour long trip in the car was not altogether motivational. When my second alarm went off ten minutes later I decided to suck it up and get moving while my partner and cats continued to snuggle under the covers. I'd packed all my gear the night before and had only to get ready and make a quick coffee and breakfast sandwich before hitting the road - I was out of here by about 10:30 and onwards to Killington! The skies were cloudy with some flurries, and the roads were clean and it took me about an even 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to the mountain (and they didn't even ask about cannabis at the border crossing!). On arrival at the mountain, the sun came out, and the mythical K1 lodge ticket window was open. Within minutes I had my shiny new RFID reloadable pass and was on my way (back to the car, to spend another 20 minutes getting ready). I hopped on the K1 gondola and found some music for the day - I'd misplaced my ipod and thankfully remembered my old phone had a couple of decent mixes on it. I was set.... ...to hike the scenic Peak Walkway down 750 feet to the North Ridge area where Rime, Reason and Upper East Fall were ready for the taking. It seems like just a few short days ago that Killington turned on their guns (and, in fact, it was just a few short days ago!), and their tireless work did not disappoint. The base is already looking pretty solid and there was fairly even, decent coverage (except for a few spots with thin coverage) and even some "moguls" already forming due to the ongoing snowblowing. I started off on Rime, ending my first run by bailing just before the lift when I forgot to align my posture to a swiftly approaching mogul and fell back - nothing quite like the 2018 initiation fall right under the guns! Rime was decent, but a little icy in parts. After that first run I stuck to Reason (with a few park features installed already) and Upper East Fall, the latter of which is a total gun show, so that you can start building up your tolerance to those soon-to-come powder day face shots. In fact, this is the first time that both my sunglasses AND my ski goggles have literally frozen over, as your windshield would in freezing rain. Did I mention it was cold?? And it wasn't just the air temperature, there was a chill in the wind. Finally, it came time to do the hike back up to the K1 gondola to download. I took a slow amble up the steps, running into a skier who I met in 2013 and see every spring and fall, and had some great company on the gondola ride back down. I wasn't quick enough hiking back up to visit the Peak Lodge and its panoramic views, but probably for the best as I'd intended to drive the three hours back to Montreal at the end of the day. I did, however, grab a Longtrail at the K1 lodge before heading over to the Lookout for their amazing corn chowder and to browse the new gear in the Basin ski shop next door. While chatting it up with the Basin guys, they were saying they had never seen Superstar so well covered this early in the season. And indeed, the top is nearly fully covered, and I think in a matter of days, the bottom will have near full coverage as well (though I doubt it will open for some time). Maybe they are trying to make up for last year's early melting on the last weekend of the season? Finally it was time to head back home, and once again it was a swift and steady drive. I got home just before 10pm....a perfect 12 hour day trip for some great turns! I might head back next weekend if budget allows a night at the Northstar, it is expected to be able to ski top to bottom (via Great Northern) as of next weekend. Riding up the K1 gondola! Rime looking pretty good from the North Ridge Triple! just a hint of the gun show here... View towards Reason from the North Ridge Triple! North Ridge end of day pano with Rime towards centre and Reason to the right. Peak Walkway aka "the cool down". In the winter I replicate this experience by hitting the elliptical at the gym on my way back from Sauveur. Superstar viewed from the parking lot, and already in better shape than this time last year! I forgot to Trace, but for those unfamiliar, you can see Rime, Reason, and East Fall relative to the Peak Lodge, the longer blue squigley line is the Peak Walkway I think.
So Killington's spring pass, the Nor'Beaster, activated on Friday March 16th, meaning you can ski on any day for the rest of the season, which continued on last year until June 1st. Also they got 30 inches of snow through the week, and the whole mountain is still open, so taking a well-earned four day weekend and heading to Killington seemed like a reasonable plan. We took our time getting there on Friday and stayed at the Highridge condos, one of the resort properties. It was about -10C or less when we got there, and we settled in, built a fire and feasted on BBQ chicken and salad, with a taste of Starborough. Part of what makes our ski trips amazing is our dedication to delicious meals, so we love the condo setup! I'm not a functional morning person, and the mountain can be pretty glacial in the morning anyways, so the following morning started out with a brunch before heading to the mountain. I stopped in at Guest Services to say hi to Sharon and pick up my pass, then headed to the K-1 gondola. In the afternoon, it was steady but not overwhelmingly busy, I didn't wait that long in the line. I was stoked to see the trees at the peak so weighted down with pow! I started out my afternoon on Bear Trax thru SkyeWalker to Gateway, catching Great Eastern to the Vista Deck. Did you guys know they have a Brat Haus there with bratwurst?! I was sure stoked to learn this. Next I headed down Cruise Control to meet the 2:30 crew - a bunch of snow pirates with a buried treasure of Jameson and Fireball. I linked up with my friend Nathan and we stuck to Cruise Control and Bittersweet for a while, before heading over to Skyelark, High Road and the delightfully bumpy Lowroad. Conditions were delightfully powdery on the cruisers and bumpy af on the ungroomed trails. I overheard someone comment these conditions were as good as west coast and I can definitely think of some runs down Zig Zag on Blackcomb that were similar in nature. Nathan mentioned that their crew had spent the morning on Pico - it's closed Tues-Thurs, and the lift they were on was only open weekends, so they hit beautiful untouched powder first thing in the morning. Apres at the Umbrella Bar was relaxed compared to the St-Patty's party in the K1. Later that evening, I hit the Highridge sports center hot tub and had the pleasure of meeting the Killington Ski Team - a group of women from a number of States who were raised skiing at Killington and now compete with the team! What a pleasure to meet these skiers! Our evening feast that followed was bison burger with a beet & goat cheese salad paired with Reserve, an Okanagan Pinot Gris, and we spent the evening watching Star Trek: TNG (Killington is a television time warp. It hasn't left the 80s!). The next morning after brunch and mimosas, I headed up K-1 and this time hit Blue Heaven, which took me to Pipe Dream, where my work was cut out for me. Bumps!! So many bumps. I decided to take it easy following that and stuck to Bear Trax and Bear Cub, a meandering green that hits the mid point of the Skye Peak quad. I then checked out The Stash, Bear Claw and Skyeburst, and took the Skye Peak gondola back up. Eventually I made it back over to Cruise Control and then to Skyeship, to cap off my day on the Superstar quad (it's never to early to practice for spring!). The evening apres consisted of oven baked wings and a reprise of our beet and goat cheese salad paired with a Signos di Origen chardonnay. Our final morning I was determined to check out Snowdown peak, and headed up the K1 gondola to Great Northern, following it all the way down to the Snowdown quad, and back up to Mousetrap, Great Northern and Bunnny Buster all the way back to the K1. Heading back up, I hit Bear Trax again, my goal being to take it easy and follow Great Eastern all the way to the base, only I missed the turn so kept to Bear Claw and Skyeburst, taking the the Skye Peak quad back up. This time, I followed Great Eastern, a long and lovely green cruiser, all the way to the Skyeship base. Only do this if you have a lot of time to kill in the gondola ride back to the peak, as there is a mid mountain stop. I spent the end of my day on Skyelark and Bittersweet, with a quick tour of Nivis. All in all, an absolutely perfect bluebird weekend! Can't wait to do it again. Side note that the Vermont Brewers' Festival is this Saturday at Killington, and is well worth the drive down. I'll just add that while I'm not feeling the mid season bumps or glades, there is plenty of that for those who are down! It was a little windy on Saturday on Superstar top! The view down Great Northern! Absolutely stunning views of the Green Mountains from the gondola, every time. View from Killington Peak! Another shot of either Great Northern or Moustrap! I'm not sure if this is Ovation or Cascade viewed from the K1 gondola. It's a steep double black with bumps all the way down. Greeted by this beautiful sight at the top of K1.
Well the season has started! Killington opens this week after getting a dumping of snow over the weekend. Jay Peak will not be far behind. Also Shutton got 40cm over the weekend. Info here: http://www.killington.com/site/mountain/conditions/dor Jay Peak preseason POW video