Killington - Opening weekend, October 21, 2018!
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.