By Brooke Geery
Editor’s note: This is the seventh part of a series called “Chasing Vertical” where we chat with the skier or rider who wins the monthly vertical feet challenge at Killington Resort. Vertical feet are tallied on the Killington Resort app and a real time leaderboard is accessible to all.
When the lifts closed on April 30, another Killington app monthly vertical winner was crowned. It came down to a race between Larry “Leaderboard” L. and two mountain ambassadors: Warren D and Manuel Herrero (a.k.a. M.H.) In the top slot, Warren DiMattia had managed to rack up the most vertical — 991,062 feet (that’s 188 miles!)— so you may be wondering why this story isn’t about him.
Allow me to explain. Back in the beginning of the season, DiMattia was selected as a random monthly app prize winner. The rules state each person can only win one prize per season, making him ineligible. Since Larry Levack was the champ in January, that made M.H. the official victor with 554,745 feet. Rules are rules. Hopefully DiMattia will survive with this honorable mention for he was the true vertical champ in April.
As for Herrero, his mission is simple: “The way I look at it is, have fun first and vertical second,” he said.
Like most people I’ve interviewed for this series, he just truly loves to ski. A “semi-retired” computer consultant, Herrero splits his time between Killington and Long Island, New York, though he is originally from Spain.
“I was skiing some other mountains a little closer to Long Island for a couple of years but once I skied Killington I found it was totally worth it to drive a little more to the greatest mountain in the East,” he said. “I never looked back. I do ski Stowe sometimes — great mountain and I enjoy skiing there — but nothing compares to Killington snow making, grooming, long season, early season, diversity of terrain, etc.”
He is patiently waiting for his wife to retire next year so they can move to Vermont permanently. However, he’s already a fixture in the community. Ten years ago, a friend of his was involved in the Killington ambassador program and suggested Herrero join too, and he has been doing it ever since.
“I enjoy being an ambassador, helping people and being part of a great community,” he said.
One of the questions he is asked frequently by guests and still struggles to answer is his favorite lifts and trails at The Beast. “Any day I can have a favorite trail anywhere in the mountain and that’s another reason why I love Killington so much. Killington is so diverse and has so many pods. You can find great conditions on different trails even in adverse weather; what wasn’t a favorite trail today could be a favorite tomorrow. This season I did a lot of great runs on Downdraft so probably that would be the run of the season for me but of course some days it wasn’t so good. Loved Solitude too on the flatter side. Busy days I like South Ridge, Canyon, Bear Mountain Quad. Most comfortable chair is Snowdon 6 with great access to tree runs, North Ridge Quad, Highline… When [it’s] cold weather I start at Bear Mountain. So much fun terrain to ski I could go on and on.”
This spirit of exploration has propelled Herrero to 3rd overall on the seasonal leaderboard with 3,110,100 total feet as of press time. He’s clocked 117 days and 2,760 lift rides to get there. Over that time, he’s become friends with many of the other skiers who use the Killington app to track their turns.
“That’s what I like about the Killington community, we all know each other,” he said. “I know Larry, great accomplishment, I too skied with Scott Howard sometimes, RIP. I also skied with Kevin B, Warren D, Mark G, Philip F, Corsi N…”
But he points out that skiing with people can actually prevent you from getting the most skiing in. It’s when he’s alone that he usually manages to rack up the most distance.
“I have a great time skiing with my friends and if they go home early, sometimes some days I go vertical. Of course, I don’t go vertical when working as an ambassador and if the mountain gets busy you need to slow down.”
Though by mid-May, when most have packed up their gear and traded ski poles for garden tools or golf clubs, Herrero plans to return to Killington and ski as long as the Superstar glacier holds up, hopefully into June.
“I just get excited about skiing every day,” he said. “It has been a great season and still going for the long haul.”