Every year, before I pull on my boots for the first time, I wonder, somewhat irrationally, can I still ski? This year, the feeling was especially strong. On the other side of 60, eventually something’s got to give, right? Maybe. I try not to think about it.
Outside of one memorable October day in the Catskills, Sunday was the earliest I’d ever opened my season. On Saturday, I traveled to the Adirondacks to honor the memory of a friend. It seemed logical to ski Killington before heading home the next day.
I’d tried to find a ski partner for the day, but came up empty. On Sunday I woke Harv-early, shut down our camp, and headed east to Vermont, as the sun was starting to rise.
I parked in the K1 lot at 8:15 and got my gear together. Skiers were booting up at their cars, but I like getting ready inside, so I headed into the lodge for that moment of truth with my boots.
I pulled my ski socks on and yanked on my boot’s tongue strap to slide one boot on. Not too bad. The second boot also cooperated and with both boots on, things felt right. I zipped my shell and headed out to the line for the gondi.
It was 20 minutes before the lift was scheduled to spin. I tried to relax and take it all in. Over the last ten years, I’ve skied Killington almost exclusively in the spring, and it was cool to see another side of her.
The K1 Gondola takes you up 1600 vertical feet to the top of Killington Peak. On the way up, riding with a recent grad in the cabin, we learned a bit about KMS, the Killington Mountain School. At the same time I stared off towards Superstar taking in the relentless snowmaking prep for the World Cup.
Once at the top, I assumed the thing to do was to head down to the North Ridge Quad and begin the day there. I went with the flow, following other skiers, figuring that with the amount of terrain open, I’d have to end up in the right place.
The new quad is really comfortable and moves a lot of skiers. I spent most of the morning riding it. Every chair was full. I was surprised at how well conditions held up with so many skiers and “limited” (most in the east) terrain.
The lift travels above Rime and I watched the skiers below. Directly below the lift, on skiers left, a single line of bumps had been left ungroomed, and it looked soft. Conditions assessments made from above aren’t always accurate, but in this case, it was as advertised. Soft low bumps on blue terrain were precisely what the doc ordered for my first day of the season.
My legs felt pretty good all morning. I was a bit wobbly at times, but I was skiing forward and down the hill, mostly. I skied a 50/50 mix of tele and alpine turns. Unusual for me, on recent opening days I’ve favored alpine over tele by a wide margin.
At 12:30 and somewhat all of a sudden, my legs ran out of gas. It was time to ski to the bottom. The last time I skied Great Northern, had to be at least 15 years ago. Back then, as an intermediate, I remember the trail had a gentle slope, but was narrow and sporty in spots.
This time the trail was loaded with new soft melty manmade snow that wasn’t too grabby. It’s fun to make tele turns on soft snow, and I was smiling. When I got to the bottom, I knew I’d do another and then call it.
I’d love to see an illustration of the new K1 Lodge. Right now you’ve got the existing K1, however old it is, I love it. Then next to it, — and probably twice again as big — is the steel framework for a big new lodge.
Killington seems to specialize in forward momentum. This may sound odd, but to me it’s almost like they are a manufacturer of skiing, continually investing in infrastructure. It’s exciting to watch.
I believe Killington’s insistent upward trajectory inspires a fondness among eastern skiers. The mountain claims big daddy status and then they own it. It’s part of what makes Killington a destination.
And yet, at the same time in the venerable K1 Lodge you see skiers — Killington skiers — who are right at home, skiing their mountain.
20 comments on “Fall Skiing at Killington”
Wondering the same thing myself, “on the other side of sixty” after 35 years of skiing, mostly the Catskills and VT. First day may be this Friday at Hunta.
Wait – wait – wait…
Wait till you’re north of seventy. Then if anything can go wrong, it will.
BTW… I borrowed your K1 skeleton picture to share with a group of oldsters waiting for them to finish a new lodge at Copper.
good to read your good stuff and I look forward to another season.
thanks for your reporting.
Harv, 60 isn’t old. Do the off season prep, you won’t regret it. Great post and photos! Headed to Mt van Ho over Thanksgiving.
Heading to K. now; thx for the 70+ warning. Pushing 80 here … hope the joints still work.
I’m more than a bit older than just over 60, and this year wonder about the same thing. When I lived back east Killington was my favorite of all. So happy to read your report, Harvey. Thanks for this report. You’ve given me inspiration.
Nice write-up Harvey! Glad you got your season started. Hope our paths cross.
Well played, Harvey! And that single line of bumps sure looked sweet! See you on the hill soon!
We were there today, since I had Veteran’s Day off and the lift ticket price was just $35 if you bought the day before online. The new addition was natural bumps on upper Double Dipper. Really fun, though fast grass in places. Conditions were good but got a bit skied off at noon when we called it a day. After lunch we just knew it wouldn’t be as good as the morning so decided to beat the storm home. I thought about spending the night and skiing tomorrow but I couldn’t get an appointment to get my snowtires on by this trip and was afraid of getting stuck, not to mention I have appointments and meetings tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty satisfied with my first day out. Greek Peak is opening this weekend, so looks like ski season has started up earlier than usual. I hope this keeps up.
Was watching the north ridge cam yesterday from 9 to about 945 looking for ya and seeing that awesome looking snow. Headed up this morning and had a fun opening to my season.
Thank you for sharing. I love Killington but haven’t been there in a while. Beautiful pictures. I’m 62 and plan on XC tomorrow. We’ve only got a few inches so far. Looking forward to downhill soon.
Looked like I missed a great day! I would have loved to have joined you. The snow surface looked quite nice. I can’t wait to get up there and to make some turns with you this season.
Not quite tree worthy conditions…
Way to rip it in November!!
Turn’em as a posse real soon
Thank you for sharing. Love the snow and the beautiful scenery from all the snow resorts. Most of all I miss the sport.
Harv, Thank you for the joy your brought to our lives by sharing photos of Keith and being a part of our world.
Thanks for the hug.
Haha… I didn’t intend to make this about being old, it was just a thought I had. I have a hard time getting exercise after daylight saving ends, and I felt pretty out of shape, but I guess the adrenaline saved me.
Can’t wait to see everyone this year.
Awesome way to kick off the season, Harvey! I agree that Killington feels different every time I go there, in every season. It’s such a big mountain, and when you mix that with variable Northeast conditions, it’s constantly a new experience.
You inspired me to get up there asap. Just got back from a Europe trip and need new excitement. Looks good, considering. Oh, and not only am I older than you, I have new boots to break in. Ouch.
Bout time they built a new lodge.
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