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Posts Tagged ‘Beast is Back’

The news was just confirmed late Thursday afternoon: there won’t anymore chairlift ride in the East to continue skiing. Not a real surprise after last week’s warning that they didn’t expect to have enough snow to open this entire weekend. Killington had hoped that maybe they would be able to offer us one more day on June 1 for bragging right, but making it to June has always been difficult. Even in the year they made it, it required tremendous ressources to build an “artificial glacier” high enough withstand weeks of above freezing temperatures.

Killington’s condition page said it best:

Mother Nature gives, and she takes away too. Unfortunately, the time has come to call it a season. Last night’s storm dropped significant amounts of rain and we’ve just lost too much snow to continue. Thus, we will not operate any more for this season.

Killington is proud to have delivered 192 days of skiing and riding this season, once again offering the longest season in eastern North America!

Thanks to all who encouraged us to try to get to June, but alas we will have to try again next year. With temperatures reaching 80 degrees many times through the month of May, Superstar could not hold on for the final curtain call on Monday, June 1.

This season Killington managed to offer skiers two extra May weekends of skiing compared to any other ski resorts in the East. May 25’s last chair wasn’t the latest closing in recent years, they managed to make it to May 26 two-years ago, but the coverage wasn’t on par with this season’s last day. There was an optimistic hope that they would be able to squeeze another day out of the Superstar snowpack and make it to June 1. It wasn’t going to be. With 192 skiing days, it marks the third-year in a row that the Beast managed over 190 operating days; in context, K hadn’t managed one season over 188, the last time had been as many operating days was prior to the 2002-03 season when 200+ days season was the norm for a quarter-century (see table at the bottom of this post).

There is always hope for next season, Killington fell short three times when they tried to renew with June skiing after the move from Killington Peak to Superstar for their late season focus.

Although it’s been a difficult season elsewhere on the continent; the East had a great year. You know its been a good year in the East or a bad year out West when some Eastern ski resorts rivalled or surpassed some of the main areas out West. The snow started arriving late out West; too late for many. That late season May snow helped Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin extending it’s season to June 14.

Hard times for late season turns out West as ski year-round till Labour Day Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood announced that they would cut the Summer season operations short by three-weeks, closing on August 15, 2015. Summer only area Beartooth Basin scheduled opening May 23 didn’t happen last week; they aren’t simply not going to run due to the low snow year in Montana.

The good news that lifts might have stopped in the East, but it doesn’t mean that the ski season is over. There are still many turns to be made in the East or elsewhere; for those willing to go earn-them and go further to make it happen.

Have fun !!!

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Recap of the late season runners:
Last weekend of April closers:
Ste. Anne QC – April 26
Okemo VT – April 26

First May weekend:
Wachusett MA – May 2
Sunday River ME – May 2
Miller QC – May 3
Sugarbush VT – May 3
Wildcat NH – May 3
Jay VT – May 3
Sugarloaf ME – May 3

Second May weekend:
St-Sauveur QC – May 10

Fourth May weekend:
Killington VT – May 25

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Last chair in the East since 2006:
2006: May 5 – Bretton Woods
2007: May 6 – MSS, Killington, Sugarbush, Wildcat
2008: May 11 – MSS
2009: May 4? – Sugarloaf on Monday?*, MSS, Jay and Sugarbush
2010: May 3? – Sugarloaf on Monday?*, MSS and Jay
2011: May 22 – MSS
2012: May 6 – MSS
2013: May 26 – Killington
2014: May 19 – MSS
2015: May 25 – Killington

*I wasn’t able to confirm definitely that Sugarloaf was open an extra day in 2009 and 2010.

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List of Killington Seasons since 1966-67

** 2012/2013 : Appreciation Day for one October weekend, reopened on November 5. K record states season as “October 13-15, Nov 5 – May 26”
* 2005/2006 : Open for one weekend after huge October storm, reopen on November 19. K record states season as “October 29-30, Nov 19 – May 1”
2008/09 Nov. 2-6, Nov. 19-May 2

Season Open – Close / Ski Days
2014/2015 November 3 – May 25 / 192
2013/2014 October 23 – May 18 / 199
2012/2013** October 13 – May 26 / 195
2011/2012 October 29 – April 22 / 176
2010/2011 November 2 – May 1 / 179
2009/2010 November 7 – April 25 / 153
2008/2009 November 2 – May 2 / 169
2007/2008 November 16 – April 20 / 157
2006/2007 November 23 – May 6 / 165
2005/2006* October 29 – May 1 / 166
2004/2005 November 9 – May 15 / 188
2003/2004 November 10 – May 12 / 184
2002/2003 October 25 – May 26 / 204
2001/2002 November 6 – June 1 / 202
2000/2001 October 29 – May 27 / 202
1999/2000 October 25 – May 29 / 205
1998/1999 October 22 – May 25 / 204
1997/1998 October 1 – May 25 / 205
1996/1997 October 4 – June 22 / 233
1995/1996 October 17 – June 10 / 224
1994/1995 October 3 – June 4 / 214
1993/1994 October 1 – June 9 / 243
1992/1993 October 1 – June 1 / 229
1991/1992 October 21 – June 14 / 226
1990/1991 October 27 – May 28 / 214
1989/1990 October 10 – May 28 / 208
1988/1989 October 13 – May 21 / 211
1987/1988 October 12 – June 1 / 227
1986/1987 October 10 – June 3 / 224
1985/1986 October 1- June 3 / 224
1984/1985 November 3 – June 2 / 212
1983/1984 October 20 – June 21 / 246
1982/1983 October 17 – June 16 / 240
1981/1982 October 20 – June 15 / 225
1980/1981 October 14 – May 27 / 226
1979/1980 October 10 – May 23 / 221
1978/1979 October 16 – May 22 / 219
1977/1978 October 24 – May 23 / 195
1976/1977 October 27 – May 15 / 201
1975/1976 October 30 – May 5 / 173
1974/1975 October 19 – May 12 / 190
1973/1974 November 5 – April 30 / 177
1972/1973 October 20 – April 15 / 184
1971/1972 November 9 – May 18 / 192
1970/1971 November 18 – May 21 / 184
1969/1970 October 24 – May 4 / 178
1968/1969 November 9 – May 10 / 183
1967/1968 November 5 – April 7 / 154
1966/1967 November 4 – May 2 / 180

Source: MadPatSki attic collection

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Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2015 post:
Early Easter, late Spring : Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Part 1
Melting…snow and list are melting : Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Part 2
Falling temperatures, snow and options – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 3
May or May not? Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 4
May be on Mothers’ Day, Maybe June? – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 5
Mid-May exceptions? – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 6
May be last weekend, May or June ? Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Week 7

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1 state in the East : Vermont!
1 ski area : Killington !!
1 lift running : Superstar Express Quad !!!
1 mile of skiing !!!
1 trail : the mighty Superstar
1 lodge : K1-Base Lodge
1 price for almost everyone (7 to 79) : $39 (unless you a pass, vouchers, 2for1, deals, etc). That turns out to under $2.30 per acre.
4-day long ski weekend : Friday to Memorial Day Monday.

Not much to add, for the second weekend in a row, the only lift spinning in the East is found at Killington. That hasn’t happened in over a decade. Monday will be May 25, which isn’t that exceptional in recent history: 2-years ago Killington closed on May 26. At the end of this weekend, the ski area will be the only one in the East to extend their season beyond May 22, twice! It will also mark the 3rd-year in a row beyond 190 operating days. That is more than 20 above the average days per season during the dark 2002-2012 period. The prior to that, Killington had 25 consecutive season above 200 days. The incredible 246 days happened during this time in 1983-84; that is a huge contrast to their low of 153 days 5 seasons ago in 2009-10. That’s more than an 60% difference in amount of operating days.

The writing was on the blog, although not published (I had to go see my daughter’s play this evening), that this might be the last full weekend of the season. That the snow wasn’t going to last as much as hoped and that the “some walking required” was just around the corner.

Two years ago, the resort aimed for June, but it’s hard to keep snow when the East got a waves of Summer hitting temperatures. They did everything they could to keep going and closed on June 26 with top-to-bottom skiing and walking on Superstar. This season last day might look the same if they close on June 1. As the last time, they offer skiing, walking, a lift running for free if they are open. An opening next weekend isn’t out of the question, but currently unlikely.

Hiking, walking, skiing, walking, skiing, walking and riding a lift, it has been done before. So I wouldn’t be surprise if they do it again. I seem to recall a very late May 1985 and especially June 1, 1993 on a cold day where they was probably as much walking than skiing involved, but yeah, it’s skiing in June. I’ve skied numerous times on June 1, it’s May 30 and 31 that I’ve never skied on. :O

Welcome back to the Beast !!! Best of luck for June !!!

Killington VT – June 1 tentative (Friday to Monday, hoping for June 1, less likely May 29-31)
Lift : Superstar Express Quad
Trail : Superstar
Cost : $39US lift tickets – Deals : with pass from another mountain (25% off weekends and 50% midweek).

Making it to June isn’t easy, even for the big guns like Killington; they did it before, but it required some tremendous resources to keep it going. The dynamic has changed since the annual June closings. When Killington moved focus on late season operations from Killington Peak to Superstar on Skye Peak, they fell short 3 times before reaching June on a regular basis again with June 1992. If they are committed into making to June a more regular happening, they have to analyse and make adjustments for next season.

Here is the lowdown from K itself:

4:57 pm 05/21/15–Welcome back skiers and riders. It is Memorial Day weekend and that means four days of fun here in Killington. We’ll start things off Friday with top-to-bottom skiing and riding on the expert-level Superstar Trail. In order to preserve snow we’ve kept the grooming to a minimum, smoothing just a single lane down the middle. The groomers have been working for the last two nights to reconnect the upper and lower sections so we will start the weekend with continuous skiing and riding, though we may have some walking required as weekend traffic takes its toll. Natural melting has reduced the size of the moguls so expect delightful medium sized bumps on Friday morning. Conditions change fast in late May so stay tuned for updates.

Looking ahead, we want to prepare you for the possibility that this will be the last weekend. As we’ve said all along, Mother Nature will decide when we pull the plug, and she’s getting insistent. We do plan to run the lift on Monday June 1, and tickets will be complimentary on that day. There will most definitely be multiple mandatory walking sections by then but if skiing or riding in June is on your bucket list, this could be your chance. As for the weekend of May 29-31, we don’t currently plan to operate because we just don’t think the snow will hold up well enough to handle the weekend traffic. If cooler temperatures prevail between now and then, and the snow holds up, we will reassess closer to the weekend.

The Superstar Express Quad will run 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Friday; 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Memorial Day. Stay tuned right here for updates.

Operating Day: 189

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Mid-May ski areas since 2006 :
2015 : Killington (June 1?)
2014 : St-Sauveur (May 19) and Killington (May 18)
2013 : Killington (May 26) and St-Sauveur (May 19)
2012 : none
2011 : St-Sauveur (May 22) and Jay (May 15)
2010 : none
2009 : none
2008 : none
2007 : none
2006 : none

Last chair in the East since 2006:
2006: May 5 – Bretton Woods
2007: May 6 – MSS, Killington, Sugarbush, Wildcat
2008: May 11 – MSS
2009: May 4? – Sugarloaf on Monday?*, MSS, Jay and Sugarbush
2010: May 3? – Sugarloaf on Monday?*, MSS and Jay
2011: May 22 – MSS
2012: May 6 – MSS
2013: May 26 – Killington
2014: May 19 – MSS
2015: May 25 or possibly June 1? – Killington

* I wasn’t able to confirm definitely that Sugarloaf was open an extra day in 2009 and 2010.

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Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2015 post:
Early Easter, late Spring : Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Part 1
Melting…snow and list are melting : Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Part 2
Falling temperatures, snow and options – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 3
May or May not? Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 4
May be on Mothers’ Day, Maybe June? – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 5
Mid-May exceptions? – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 6

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The early May heat and rain took its toll on the snow and remaining ski areas. Jay Peak didn’t make it to Mothers’ Day while St-Sauveur closed out its’ season last Sunday May 10: 9 days earlier than the previous two seasons. Killington has confirmed that they be open Friday to Sunday this weekend and they are still hoping to make it to Monday June 1, but nothing can be taken for granted this time of the season. Temperature has dropped this week, so there is always hope unless you want to open your swimming pool soon.

Killington VT – June 1 tentative (Fri-Sun only then weekends, Memorial day and June 1)
Lift : Superstar Express Quad
Trails : Superstar, but probably not Skye Lark and Bittersweet
Time : 8am (9am Fri) to 5pm
Cost : $54US lift tickets – Deals : with pass from another mountain (25% off weekends and 50% midweek).

Here is the lowdown from K itself:

3:05 pm 05/14/15–Another May extended weekend is upon us – and it’s going to be a good one. We had some rain pass through this week – but have no fear, Superstar is still going strong.

For Friday, we’ll be grooming Superstar top to bottom, but only along the center of the trail. You’ll find soft bumps on the sides, and the middle will bump up nicely throughout the day too. Skyelark and Bittersweet are probably done for the season – we’re going to evaluate Friday morning to see if they can open.

Open terrain is for intermediate and advanced skiers and riders only. Be aware of spring conditions and thin cover; ski or ride with care.

The Superstar Express Quad will spin 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Friday and 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

K-1 Lodge is open Friday through Sunday too offering tickets, rentals and guest services from Killington Sports (lower level). Food and beverage service will be available at K-1 Cafe, with Mahogany Ridge and Roaring Brook Umbrella Bars open for all your apres ski needs.

The Superstar Express Quad will run 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Fridays and 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May and hopefully into June (closed Mon-Thur). We also plan to be open Memorial Day, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Stay tuned right here for updates.

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The Big Question ???

The question I’ve gotten from some people is… “Wow, there is still skiing?” As demonstrated from this blog, most ski areas don’t even come close to opening in May, but there is always someone somewhere spinning in May.

“Yes, but it’s mid-May? Isn’t that exceptional?”

Let’s see, the last three seasons had MSS and Kmart go beyond the mid-May.

The 2015 Eastern ski season had Killington and Mont St-Sauveur open last weekend, the later closing on Mothers’ Day; last year we had 3 resorts still open with Jay Peak closing on Mothers’ Day. Last season St-Sauveur and Killington gave us an extra weekend respectively closing on May 19 and 18. It was the same sorry in 2013 with MSS closing again on May 19 and Kmart closing on May 26, their latest closing day since 2003, just falling short from their openly aimed June objective.

“Yes, but those are exceptions, right?

I read from your past blog posts that they were only one season between 2006 and 2012 where someone in the East was open until May 15. (In 2011 Jay and MSS closed respectively on May 15 & 22)”

I guess we can call this period the dark ages of late-season skiing in the East. The perennial late-season extender Killington stepped away from their traditional on last to close mantra. During the 2006-2012 period, Killington didn’t surpassed its rivals for “last closure” once and its average last closing day for those seasons was April 28: Falling to make it to May in 3 times in 7 years. It was also the first time that the once mighty Beast had fail to offer skiing in May since 1974. During this dark period, Killington’s had 3 of the 4 earliest closures since 1969, making it worst time for Killington late-season fans in two generations.

Mid-May ski areas since 2006 :
2015 : Killington (June?)
2014 : St-Sauveur (May 19) and Killington (May 18)
2013 : Killington (May 26) and St-Sauveur (May 19)
2012 : none
2011 : St-Sauveur (May 22) and Jay (May 15)
2010 : none
2009 : none
2008 : none
2007 : none
2006 : none

And How Late Can It Go???

Prior to 2006 (ie. Kmart dark ages), Killington made it to mid-May in every year between 1977 and 2005 : 27 out of 28 seasons. They closed on May 12 in 2004. Even better, in half of those years, Killington closing day occurred 14 times in June.

Killington has written down June 1 as their end of season goal, but has fallen the last time they officially mentioned the month of June as their goal? Is this year the year that they make to June again? In the last millennium Killington was synonymous with the longest season and June skiing when from 1982 to 1997 their stopped spinning into June for 13 out of 16 years. The last time Killington closed in June was back in 2002: it definitely feels like it was in the past millennium.

Flashback to brighter days : Killington VT : Thursday June 11, 1992

Welcome back to the Beast !!! May you continue spinning into June !!!

Last chair in the East since 2006:
2006: May 5 – Bretton Woods
2007: May 6 – MSS, Killington, Sugarbush, Wildcat
2008: May 11 – MSS
2009: May 4? – Sugarloaf on Monday?*, MSS, Jay and Sugarbush
2010: May 3? – Sugarloaf on Monday?*, MSS and Jay
2011: May 22 – MSS
2012: May 6 – MSS
2013: May 26 – Killington
2014: May 19 – MSS
2015: beyond May 17 and tentatively June? – Killington

* I wasn’t able to confirm definitely that Sugarloaf was open an extra day in 2009 and 2010.

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Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2015 post:
Early Easter, late Spring : Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Part 1
Melting…snow and list are melting : Eastern Closing Thread 2014-15 – Part 2
Falling temperatures, snow and options – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 3
May or May not? Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 4
May be on Mothers’ Day, Maybe June? – Eastern Closing Thread 2015 – Week 5

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After a decade of turning its back to its reputation of the earlier, latest, longest, biggest season skiing in the East, there were signals that the lost years were over and sounds and cries that the “Beast was Back”. The evidence was two consecutive October openings and missing June skiing by only six days last season making it the longest ski season in the East again…after all these years.

MadPat hadn’t returned to Kmart since May 2005 and I was curious to return to see if Killington was really mighty again? Had Kmart returned to its glorious Spring days of the last millennium. For this mission, I enlisted Lucky Luke, frequent Kmart late season skier and partner from the 1990s. We hadn’t been together at K since June 1997.


Lucky Luke finding peanut butter in the Squat


Foggy view

The night before skiing, I joined Lucky Luke to squat in a huge unfinished home just North of the Vermont border. A quiet early crossing into rural Vermont until we reached the metropolis of Stowe. Our first glimpse of Killington was on I-89 where we saw the low clouds hanging over Skye and Killington Peaks. I hadn’t been this far South on I-89 in a long time, but still remember the road. A major things had changed since my first visit almost 30 years this May.

Once we arrived at K-Base, we noticed a few things : it was gray and colder than anticipated. Temperature was just 34F.

Major deception!!!


What? The K1 Gondy isn’t going?


Gondies in garage

I used to be a regular at Kmart in the late Springs back in the good date (1984-1997). What I saw yesterday wasn’t the domination that existed back then. I was shock and disappointed when we arrived yesterday morning. Not that I forgot my ski pants and had to ski … in jeans, but that so little was open. Killington was only running the Superstar Express. Three hour drive for only 9 open trails which was actually less if you could it as actual ski runs? Lucky and I were so much looking forward to ski more than the usual “last Killington” terrain of May. It wasn’t going to be…the official morning runs were limited to Bittersweetness…and some Skye Lark. The steep pitch of Bittersweet was even bitterclosed with a bit-of-snow.

To make matters worse, some people were calling it a day, because everything was frozen and chunks without any grooming. There wasn’t any open bumps when we got to the top of Skye Peak, only refrozen chunks of corn. Superstar wasn’t flat, nor bumpy, but it was closed as well as the Skye Hawk bumps. Luckily that would change later on.


Superstar


MadPat skis in jeans


Superstar Headwall


Flying Luke


Flying Corn


On bottom Superstar


Superstar last’s bit


Skye Hawk


Lucky on Skye Hawk – best “official” bumps of the day


Some Bittersweetness


No walking required to overcome deception

But sometime you need to seek out “joy” and overcome deception. There was so much that we had looked forward to ski…runs like Needle Eye, Panic Button, Vertigo…which I remember skiing with my pregnant wife in late May ‘97. This wasn’t Late May 1997 and it wasn’t open. And what about the double diamond steep Ovation…or was Lucky Luke just seeing double again? Maybe it was just Vertigo? Late season skiing at Killington from the mid 1980s also brought back memories skiing runs of the K Peak like Downdraft with some walking required…but not possible today. It’s neighbours also looked very good. The Killington Peak Double with a midstation is long gone and the K1 Gondola is in the garage for the remainder of the ski season.

Eventually conditions corned up, bumps bumped up as the rope dropped on Skye Hawk and Superstar. Not the best bumps on the mountain, but the Skye Hawk bumps and lower Superstar started looking real sweet for coming weekend. Like the conditions, we eventually up having a great time, but we had to make a take a few steps and duck the ropes of deceptions to take matters in our your hands.


Nets to catch poachers???


Dizziness Subtype


Lucky seeing double


And getting dizzy


MadPat is sick


Unmarked obstacles


Skiing the best bumps on the mountain


…Numerous times


Late season = some walking required


No ropes here…


Lucky skiing Down towards a nice cool Draft


Nice corn cool icy draft


Corn skiing orgasm = wet jeans


Going down like a nice draft beer


Some nice deceptions


Lucky heading towards the bar

In hindsight, if we looked at quality/price/open terrain/distance (for us) analysis, Sugarloaf or Jay with each close to 40 open runs would have been a logical preferred choice. The Beast is awake, but not back to what it was, the “Dominator of Spring”, but at least it is a late season game once again.

And the question that is always ask : “Is Killington going to make it to June this year?” It is my observation, but from what I saw yesterday on Superstar and my recollection from the 1990s. Unless May is cold, I would be surprised if K make it to June this season.


The Ovation required us to go an encore


…on a Green run


Final Acclaim


Downing Drafts

20140429_kmart
Day’s Log

MadPat’s Gallery:
Killington VT – April 29, 2014

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