Killington's Superstar Glacier - My Negativity
How could a person be negative about that?
It’s not something one would normally hear something negative about. For most of the people that enjoy snow sports here in New England, the longest season in the east is something to look forward to each spring. There aren’t very many places in the region where a person can get runs in May and June that are easily accessible.
Yet, here I am, a snow sports enthusiast, saying that there is something negative about the whole thing. A few things turn me off from going up there at the end of the season.
The first, and most obvious, is that it’s only one trail. I will say that there are far fewer people heading up to Killington at the end of the season than there are during the season, but it’s still only one trail.
Well, there are other places at the mountain that one could ski and ride if they wanted to get out their hiking boots and skins. However, I’m pretty sure most folks are still heading to the lift and the lift drops folks up on Superstar.
Anyway, the point is that just about everyone that is skiing and riding is on one trail.
Think about how much of a pain in the backside it can be on a busy day during the season. We’ve all seen the photos and videos of crowds of people trying to make it down the trail with no room to move. For some of us, those photos and videos have been a reality. I know, most folks just deal with it, but I don’t think there is anyone out that really likes skiing or riding on days like that. My evidence to support that is all of the hate that was sent towards Vail and their properties for overcrowding this past season.
With that said, getting every visitor on the hill onto one trail, especially when the season is coming to an end, could quickly lead to crowds that folks just don’t want to deal with, even though they do end up dealing with them.
Speaking of the people that could be up there, a noticeable percentage of those folks probably shouldn’t be up there. What do I mean?
Well, something that you see during the beginning and early season is folks that are skiing and riding outside of their skill level. We know that early season conditions can present issues that some people are not experienced enough to handle. This is also true of the late season. As the snow melts, the conditions change and not everyone should be up there.
That includes me. I’m not the best bump skier in the world. I tend to stay away from the fields of bumps as much as I can. Now, the Superstar Glacier can get pretty bumped up as the day goes by, making for conditions that I know I shouldn’t be on. I might hurt myself, or worse, I might end up hurting someone else, which is something I really do not want to do. That isn’t to say that most of the people skiing and riding during the last weekends of the Killington season aren’t being careful. The majority of them are. In fact, a lot of them are up there to tear up those bumps and are more than capable of skiing and riding them. The folks I am talking about are absolutely in the minority. They are a small group of people that just get too excited to ski late in the season, people who just don’t know what it’s like to ski or ride in these types of conditions, or even some try-hards that think who they are and are just wrong. There really aren’t that many, but it does only take one person to ruin a good time.
As I said, that includes me, as I am not a great bump skier. I don’t want to be the person that ruins a good time for everyone else.
Now, I am going to move on to the third issue I have and stop there. Why stop at three? Well, maybe that’s all I have. Just the three examples. But, and this is a spoiler for this written piece, this issue is actually what turned all of this around for me. It made me think more about it and why I’m wrong when I say, or in this case, write things like the beginning of this piece.
Lastly, the traffic is the last thing that turns me off from partaking in Killington’s season-ending skiing. If you have never been there, Killington is at the top of a 5-mile or so access road. It’s actually pretty cool. Plus, there is another way around it, but I’m not telling you. I do use that way around sometimes and you’ll have to find it on a map yourself.
Anyway, as one gets to the top of that, there are cars and foot traffic everywhere. Folks are just parked up and down both sides of the road. I guess I don’t blame them, since it puts a person as close as they can get to the Superstar Express Quad. We all want to park as close as we can to the lift, right?
Though I don’t blame anyone for wanting to do such a thing, it does make it a bit of a pain to get around. That would go double for anyone that isn’t too fond of pedestrian traffic. With the number of people walking around and the road getting more and more narrow with every car that parks alongside, it gets tougher and tougher to get around up there.
But, as I said, this is kind of the reason that I had to rethink my negativity and see this whole “mess” for what it really is.
You see, I received a reaffirmation of the three things I pointed out in this piece. I went over to Killington to meet up with Scooter and Brian From IG, two fans & friends of Ski Rex Media, both of which you have seen or heard about if you follow Ski Rex Media on social media or listen to the podcast. They’ve both been guests on the program.
They were visiting Killington on May 7th, and though I did admit that I probably couldn’t keep up with the two of them skiing, I ran over there just to hang out with them afterward. You know, get in on that après ski scene. It’s not that far from the HQ, so I didn’t mind just driving over to hang out for an hour or two. But, though I didn’t ski that day, I did learn that the end of the season here at Killington is, in part, anyway, the reason we all ski or ride in the first place.
As we hung out by the cars, the other two changing out of their boots and ski clothes, those pedestrians I spoke about were walking by saying “hello”. But it wasn’t just “hello”. Almost every single last one of them either asked how the guy’s day was or was quick to tell their story from the day. It wasn’t just chitchatting with a passerby, either. All of these folks we talking to and about each other as if they had been longtime friends.
It only continued after Scooter left. He had to get back on the road, but Brian and I decided to take a walk up the hill to see what was going on at the bar. It took us a little bit to get up there, though. Was it that Brian was worn out from his day of skiing?
Not at all. It was more talking and hanging out. Though I may have made mention of the parking on the side of the road as a negative, it turns into one, long tailgating gettogether. Just about every vehicle has its own little party that is part of the big party and every single person walking either up or down that mountain road is invited. There were people with music playing, grills running, with coolers full of food and beverages of all different kinds…some of which were available to be shared.
As for the talking, it was hard to take a few steps without getting into some kind of conversation with other people. Sure, some of them were just a quick “Hi” or “Hello”, but there was more than enough chance to get into a full, real conversation with people.
In the time it took us to walk from where we were parked to the bar, Brain and I shook more hands and swapped more stories than I could even count, with more people than I would even try to count. I swear a person could make more friends here than they would ever know what to do with and that’s without the mention of social media.
As we moved along from a tailgate hangout to the bar, we encountered more of the same. Again, more conversations with more people than one could count. In fact, there were so many people, that one may never cross paths with those people again. On the other hand, there were those that were not only skiing for the day but were considered local heroes and legends. The kind of folks one can’t help but see again. In this case, pro-skier and Olympian, Hannah Soar, was spotted ripping bumps that day. Also, Brian & Scooter were able to get a photo with local legend and bump master Randy “The Hammer” Grasso. During a time like this, legends and champions are no different than street-level skiers or riders and they are more than happy to mix up with any one of us.
After we had our fill of the late-season, springtime après scene at the Superstar Glacier, we walked back to the cars, shook hands once more with each other, and parted ways to head home, which was in two different directions.
Driving home is when I came up with the idea for this written piece. I realized that having been negative about anything that had to do with this time of the season at this mountain was kind of a dick thing to do. I had to admit that I was kind of being a dick. I mean, some of what I said are real concerns, but as you read, that’s all they are. Just concerns to think about before heading up to Killington to ski that last lingering bit of snow on Superstar. They’re just things one learns after their first trip or from those that have been there before. Which I have been, but it was many years ago, back when I was a more negative person.
No, these concerns, though valid for me in the case of not having the proper skill set, should not stop anyone from having a good time. Even if you just go up to hang out and listen to stories of the day from those that can shred the place with few concerns.
You see, in my quest to be a less negative person, which is a quest that I have been on for a few years now, I have realized that anyone can find something negative about everything. The trick is realizing what is actually negative or even matters, or if something is really a negative or just something to keep an eye out for.
In the end, at the end of the season at Killington, the skiing, riding, and party that the Superstar Glacier offers, is just another example of how much snow sports are social sports. Of course, one can participate in these sports by themselves. I ski alone a lot during the season. However, I always end up in conversations on the lift, conversations in the lodge or ticket lines, and even running into folks that I didn’t know was going to be there on the same day.
Even when one goes and skis or rides alone…they are never really alone.
That’s what the days spent on the Superstar Glacier, at least in part, are about. Don’t worry about anything that could be said with any kind of negativity. You go up there, you get your bump runs, you have a beer, you catch a bite to eat, and make some new friends. That holds true for any time of the season, but in this case, the closing weekends at Killington are all about the social aspect.
Oh…and with all that said you might want to ask, “Tim…will you ever go back up to ski the glacier, as well?” The answer is that I don’t know. Maybe, at the end of next season as May turns to June, maybe I’ll get up early enough on a day that I know they groomed and bang out a morning before bump time. But even after lunch, I’ll probably hang around just to hang out. We’ll see.