Thursday, April 26, 2012

Summiting Killington for Turns in Fresh April Snow

With snow showers on and off for the twenty-four hours,
I just had to get up to Killington Peak to check it out.
The mountain has been calling to me,
almost mocking me,
that she has been filling up with snow and I am down here,
sitting at my breakfast table just watching her.
So today, I took a journey to find some fresh April snow in which to make some turns.
Not knowing what to expect, I started off with my skis on my pack and my Garmont Helix set to walk mode. Except for the fact that the random snow showers had confused me into layering for mid-winter conditions underneath my Mammut Eiger Extreme Mittegelli Shell & Pants, I was doing okay.
As the initial access trail turned to from a steady stroll to approximately a thirty degree pitch in the canyon, waterfalls became the name of the game. To my left, to my right...and apparently directly under the rotting snow I was hiking on. Well, at least we now know that the snow is about mid-thigh deep on climbing out of the canyon - and that it should ski pretty nicely in the upcoming week ;)
I made my way up through the soggy grass, easily kicking in every step.
Every year, as the snow melts,
all the trash littered by unappreciate guests of the resort comes exposed.
This year is no exception.
Alongside a fiddlehead taking it's first breathes
lies a pringles jar and a crushed beer can.
But we keep moving upward, until we crest up into the glades and there is finally enough consistent snow coverage to put my skis on.
Definitely enough snow on which to skin...but would it be safe enough to ski?
The trail I had chosen for my ascent turned out to be
- by far -
the best of the three options, but nothing looked really "skiable."
At least, not for someone traveling solo.
I always think it would be much nicer to drag myself down the mountain with someone to help me and tell me how stupid I was for trying to ski three inches of spring powder atop nothing but wet grass and rocks.
Eventually, I reach the highest point from which skiing would be possible today. Everything further up looked absolutely gorgeous -
but completely unskiable due to the rocky base.
We would need way more than double the snow we had to make it skiable.
But you know what?
How often do we get to enjoy the beauty of snow in April?
So I stashed my skis and poles in the woods and made the final push for the summit.
Yeah, I am pretty confident that I made the right choice.
It was quickly evident that no one had been up this way in quite some time.
Only three days after the corporation had ceased to opereate the lifts and
already this place was feeling like a ghost town.
Perfect :)
With snow having drifted in between the boulders on the summit, the view was stellar! Crystal clear all the way around, the mountains below working on their transition from the muddy browns of early spring toward the vibrant greens of late.
Vermont is becoming the Green Mountains once again.
Beginning the descent back toward where I had hidden my ski gear,
I was reminded just how stunning just a few inches of snow can be
when they grace rocks and trees.
No mud up here,
not yet anyways,
just that cold, refreshing feeling of winter.
But now it was time to ski!

One at a time, I went through the motions of prepping for the descent.
I took my skins off, stuck them onto my cheaters and
stuffed them into the wet section of my pack.
Finally realizing that it was actually chilly up here,
I threw my synthetic insulation over my shell just to keep me warm while
I had a few sips of water...
buckled my boots down...
clicked into my bindings...
And then I skied.
Down one hundred percent natural snow that had only just recently partially recovered the trail that was muddy grass only a day or two ago.
No one had ventured up here.
There were no tracks to be found, save one sole turkey about half way down.
This was my trail, my snow, my dream...
and it was glorious!

After one turn I knew this would be one of those runs that live in your memory forever.
Perfect spring snow, without a hint of stickiness.
The kind of snow that makes you feel light,
light enough to float away
on three inches of fresh April snow.
After more than my fair share of hoots and hollars,
the skis were back on my pack as I practically floated across the face of the mountain.
There was nothing holding me back now.
Just a super big grin that was barely contained by the side of my face
I had skied fresh pow in April.
It was over to Superstar, where we'd all been skiing for what feels like the past month. Back to Superstar, where spring bumps were slowly merging with the trail beneath them as they too are covered with fresh snow. To Superstar, where we will ski laps until there ain't no more snow.
It's a long walk,
but hey -
if there is snow and it's skiable...
you gotta ski it.
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Last Day...for Lift Service

The Day we all know will eventually come but never truly want to see arrive...
is here.
Today, at 5pm, the last chair will load on the Superstar Quad and the last chair sign will ascend the mountain for the final time of the season. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Final Fling with the North Side

It will be a ski day to always remember.
Over foot of snow already and still coming.
K1 Gondola opening at 10am tomorrow.
No grooming, all natural off Killington pk.
Bring Second String Skis

5:30pm 4/09/2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Superstar Headwall

It's starting to get a little tricky
...but the skiing is still kick ass!
 The soft spring bumps are perfect!!

First Paddle of the Season

Springtime in Vermont is definitly the Best!

You can get in your
First Paddle of the Season...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Superstar Motorhouse

A might have missed last chair last night, but I sure as hell didn't miss last run.  This photo is the wheels going into the Superstar Motorhouse..which I obviously inverted so you could see the textures on the metal.  Not sure if this is cool or not, but its definitely different. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

West Glade is Calling...

After the lifts closed, we hiked up to the top of the North Ridge Triple, still set up for unloading, and came upon this great cloud behind a nice mound of snow :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It DUMPS in APRIL...and I'm stuck in New York

I fell victim to the guilt trip.

"It's the only time we've celebrated the holidays at home home in so long...why can't we just do it this time?"
My parents sounded desperate.
With only two and a half snowcovered trails, Killington looked desperate.
So why not head down to my childhood home to spend the holidays?


I left my parents' house early enough to get here in time to enjoy a couple hours in the powder before they shut the lifts off...

if only there had not been a double tractor - trailor accident on the Thruway.
Exactly the length of time I had to ski.
2 Hours.

i could feel a tear roll down my cheek as the traffic slowed to a complete standstill.
I was going to miss the most epic say of the season.

As we inched along, Vespi moved into the front seat and I took my calm from her. Petting her as I played Toots & the Maytalls out of my old iPod.
Trying to convince myself that it somehow didn't matter than I was missing the April miracle snow, that people weren't finding waist deep drifts and regular snow up to mid thigh. That maybe somebow all this didn't matter because I got to spend some quality time with my family.

But I live in a ski town for the whole purpose of NOT missing days like today!!

I strolled into Rutland around 4:20pm and to watch in amazement as the rainy weather turned into a gorgeous winter wonderland. I switched my music over to Bob Gibson's Ski Tunes and began belting out the lyrics for some of my favorite ski addict songs, once again embraced by the dream of skiing :). There was snow everywhere! On the trees, on the truly was an April Miracle Snow!
Winter had returned.

My heart began to race as I made my way up the Killington Access Road.
I'm gonna make it!
I'm finally get some skiing in!
- where family comes second and skiing comes first.
it's good to have your priorities in order.

But the snow is deep.
and really heavy.
making the lower elevation skinning a true exercise in frustration monitorization.
instead of riding my powder high, this whole damn day was about bringing my breathing back under control just to get to the damn powder. Every weight every step had to be back on my heels to keep my tip from diving under the snow. Which would have been fine if it was light, fluffy snow.
this was weight lifting snow.
Dense solid and...packing a mean base that is going to be here for quite some time.
So now who thinks we'll be skiing in May and quite possible June?

As I snowshoes with my skins on through the heavy snow, I let my brain wander.
Six hours of driving (shoulda been four)
two hours of skinning (should been one)

Was I ever gonna get to the top of this freaking mountain to enjoy the snow?

Outside the woods, the winds were howling and the snow was coming down hard.
It was a veritible blizzard out there.
And while I was only gonna get one miraculous run out of this whole intensely frustrating day, there was gonna be complete and utter joy about the whole thing.

I took my skins off quickly, no time to goof around here
Took one deep breathe
And jumped off into the solid white greatness that was our April Powder Day.

See You all on the K1 tomorrow!

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
FemaleSkiBum & Vespoli

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Childhood Revisited: Sterling Forest Ski Center

For many, spring marks the rebirth of nature from her wintery grave. For skiers, it is a time to celebrate all that has come to pass over those same cold months...and all the winters before. This year marks the first time in many years that I am home, in the house of my childhood, for the spring holidays. So instead of making turns on snow I am forced to journey back to where much of my ski life began:

Sterling Forest Ski Center
in Tuxedo, NY

Every Thursday after lunch, our entire elementary school would pile into the bus. We were Goofy looking kids, clad in day-glo jackets and with jeans tucked into our ski boots. The teachers tried to organize our chaotic mess of Ski-Tote gathered skis & poles into the bus and off we would go.
I remember the first day I was old enough
- A big time third grader -
and I made the mistake of wearing ski pants.
Man, I was such a loser!

I wanted so much to be like the older kids...
they were learning how to keep their head still while their upper body wiggled underneath them.
I wanted to be like the cool kids...and bomb straight down Rainbow.
I wanted to ski backwards,
holding hands with no poles,
in a ten person long snowplow train all the way down Bunny

We were the Late Group.

After all the other kids took the bus back to school,
we stayed late.

The lights turned on
and Sterling Forest became our magical playground.

At least until the guy at the bottom wanted to see us.

No, not the guy at the bottom of the lift.
I mean the guy at the bottom of the hill.
The Big Guy, the one in the office.

How were we supposed to know that you could bounce the chair off the tower just by having everyone swinging their skis simultaneously?
Or that by jumping off the lift you were messing up the cable?

We were ten.

Who knows crap like that?

But we did know that there were no lights on the Tiger Double Chair.
It was pitch black.

Which meant it was the perfect place for screaming and singing as obnoxiously as humanly possible.

Or for riding with boys.

I could hear the noise as we stood on line for the weekly Nastar Race,
a whole bunch of innocent kids with red coca-cola bibs made of some supposingly "rip-proof" paper. At first, we wore it around our overly puffed jackets of the eighties, but then you couldn't see how kick ass they were. So we had the epiphany to wrap it around our shins. Sooo much cooler.

But then it was quick down the Racing Trail for some tin foil wrapped burgers and fries and a few rounds of Frogger in the video arcade while the high school kids began to arrive for their gate training. Oh, we could have kicked their ass if they had let us little kids race them...but, nooo, we were too little. So fine...we were cooler skiing Bunny backwards anyways.

As i walked around today, there were so many familiar smells and visions and memories that just came flooding back...but then i saw it...something that I had never seen at Sterling before. Between Tiger West and Tiger, there was something so exciting,
it practically screamed at me...

A reason to come back and give the old stomping grounds another spin...
besides, I haven't jumped off a chairlift in a while ;)

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,

Rocking Snow for the First Week of April

With snow almost every day this week, that's already more snow this month than March!
Here's a few shots from the week to leave us begging for more...including a portrait of the all powerful Superstar Glacier.
Also in here is my teenaged cousin and my over-enthusiastic attempts at claiming all the available freshies that the one lift still turning could access!
Here's to the potential for the best April ever!!

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains within You,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

First Trail Run of the Season

Vespi and I headed out for our first trail run of the season,
a five mile loop up to the top of Bear Mountain & back to check out the skiable terrain.

Oh, did you think I was gonna tell you where the snow was?
(although there is a really nice C Rail on Dream Maker)

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
FemaleSkiBum & Vespi

Monday, April 2, 2012

Skiing April?

After a disastrous warm spell the past few weeks, we received a moment of respite this morning as we woke up to a world completely covered in...