Wed, Mar 21, 2012 10:22 AM
Besides the bonus of sun and soft snow, spring traditions
include early tans, fun events, live music, great sales and ticket
deals. Big soft spring bumps are a bonus, or bane, depending on
your perspective, but they sure make things interesting.
Plus, the opening of the umbrellas at the new Roaring Brook
Umbrella Bars and Deck next to the K-1 is sure to set a new
tradition for soaking up warm rays and listening to live music
while taking in the action on Superstar.
However, as expected with the unusual warm weather, fewer trails
are open than normal for this time of year statewide (69 versus 89
trails last year for Killington, March 19). In fact, many ski areas
have closed, (Magic, Mad River, Bromely and Suicide Six are closed
with Pico, Mt. Snow and Okemo closing this weekend.) So, barring
any major dumps or return to colder temperatures, Killington's
2011-12 late-October to late-April season will end on the same
snowmaking and grooming reliance that Killington is known
Kudos to the snowmakers and groomers! Take advantage of their snow
whenever you can and enjoy the bonus of bluebird days as long as it
Pico season finale
There we were at the top of a steep section on Pico's Forty Niner.
It was a surprisingly warm day for March 12 and full of sunshine so
that meant our skis were moving slowly in the 55-degree "heat wave"
- or so it felt compared to what we were used to.
Out of nowhere comes the bare-top 'Dude.' He zipped toward us with
a "howdy ladies" and huge smile and disappeared so fast I would
have sworn he was a figment of our imaginations had we not been so
delighted with his proud 'first' of the season.
Ah, the delights of spring skiing.
Technically, it wasn't spring yet. But the 'heat' did cause one
perplexed skier to query, "What wax do I use? I have three
different ones, but they only go up to 50 degrees."
I shared his dilemma as my silver wax didn't really do much for my
sliding, and I skied to a tune, of "I'm going get'cha" as sticky
afternoon snow snakes threatened smooth sailing.
Fortunately, March 15 was a tad cooler and thanks to the nights
being cold, we had great fast conditions at 9 a.m., perfect spring
conditions at 10 and 11, and glorious untouched groomed soft
granular on Panhandler at noon. They had just taken the bamboo and
rope down so with the trail only touched in spots where a few
racers had practiced, we got lucky and had glorious soft corduroy
Literally, which caused my sister to observe we were the only ones
for our three runs. Hallelujah! The rewards of not going in for
lunch at noon!!
By Thursday March 15, we were still skiing corduroy in the morning
- frozen to start but soon soft all over. The temps had dropped at
night, so some of us got fooled as the cloud cover meant we were
cold in our spring attire when the day only got up into the high
40s. Bare spots and melting areas were appearing, but it was still
a fine day until 1:30 p.m. when parts of upper Forty Niner had
boot-topping loose granular that made me careful not to catch an
That was when I met a family just starting their season - "first
day," Mom told me. Her snowboarding daughter was so entranced by
the views that she sat down to take photos. I mentioned how great
conditions had been earlier in the day in hopes they would get out
early for some fast tracks the next few days. Mercifully, the luck
of the Irish brought a beautiful weekend so they probably enjoyed
Realizing warm weather could melt Pico's snow before the projected
April 1 closing date, I enjoyed four hours of nonstop express quad
rides and runs, figuring the time was fast approaching to move on
to Killington for the season's finale.
That was a good move as on March 18, Pico announced that the area
would be closed March 19-23. Pico's website noted, "We plan to
reopen, conditions permitting, for one last big weekend on March
24. Pico season passes, P39's, 4-play passes, and Buy with Me
passes will be valid for their remaining value(s) through April 1
at Killington Resort."
The Killington Stockpile
Although fully aware that this winter's weird weather hit the Big
K, too, I recall so many wintry March and April days there that my
psyche has a hard time computing that the season could ever end
before the target date. But the record-breaking warm weather
forecast for the week told me that despite colder temps at the high
elevation peak, chances were great that I would most enjoy early
morning skiing before the sun turned soft granular snow to mashed
Going back many years, we skied the North Ridge (Glades) area for
its high elevation great spring skiing. Ditto the top sections of
Cascade and Downdraft and then East Fall with the Canyons Quad
meaning you didn't have to do the runout to the peak lift.
When Superstar came along, it became the star of spring with its
snowmaking whales making for a long season into April and even May
and June some years.
The latter stockpile tradition is alive and well, so, despite the
warm spell, there is still plenty of snow and skiing/riding on this
In addition to the aforementioned areas, Snowshed was still skiing
on Monday the 19th as were the Stash and Superpipe at Bear
Mountain. A check with Jeff Temple, director of mountain
operations, assured me that Killington intends to remain open
through the end of April.
Temple works with a snowmaking production team who plan an ample
base of machine-made snow for spring skiing on the high-elevation
trails where colder temperatures typically prevail. "The machine-
made snow is denser and therefore sets up a better base that lasts
longer," he said.
Acknowledging that this year's weather was more challenging than
usual, Temple added that, "Killington made more snow later (through
February). We took advantage of optimal snowmaking temperatures and
built up the base to be prepared to ski through the end of
Spring Time Bonuses
As warmer temperatures arrive, ski areas entice guests to the
slopes with discounted lift tickets like the 4-play ($199 for 4
days until end of season) and deals on next year's season passes.
The recent spring tradition of early-bird pass sales offers a
savings for buying in advance. Keep in mind that some of these
passes include a bonus of free skiing and riding for the remainder
of this season, plus there are some new twists to discover in the
And, for those who like to shop till they drop or simply savor a
sweet bargain, spring is the time to look for for deals on
equipment and clothing. With a host of great sports shops in town,
you are sure to find something to strike your fancy or replace an
outgrown, worn out, or lost item to get you ready for next