Greg Dennis: Long winter extends ski season
This is the time of year when skiers tell their non-skiing friends that they’ve just been on the slopes — and their friends respond with quizzical, slightly depressed looks.
“Oh, are they still skiing?” someone will ask, incredulous, as if that should be confined to the Himalayas.
Yes, a few of us possessed people are still skiing.
This is no longer a climate where Vermont has 10 months of winter and two months of bad sledding. But thanks to snowmaking and some folk’s willingness to pay $120 a day, you can still spend your weekends on the slopes well past Easter, when sane people have begun to think about fishing and their golf game.
The Snow Bowl closed early this month, but a few hardy locals are still skinning up Worth Mountain to crank big turns down the Allen or do laps on the back side.
Sugarbush has finally dialed it back to open on weekends only through May 6. Jay Peak says they’ll be open every day through May 1 and maybe for one more weekend after that, bankruptcy be damned.
Killington, which likes to brag that it stays open later than anyone else in the East, seems determined to keep at least one lift going until the last mogul melts or the resort runs out of money, whichever comes first.
But it looks like The Winter That Would Never End finally ended last weekend.
A lot of us thought it would be over by early March. But this wobbly winter — early December snow followed by a January thaw of 60-degree days that were then superseded by a Siberian freeze — turned out to have many more surprises in store.
March lived up to the month’s reputation as our snowiest.
A week of storms dismayed Green Mountain gardeners everywhere. But the prodigious snowfall brought the ski season back from the brink. The hills were pasted with four feet of fresh snow, some of which is still up there.
When the blizzards finally abated, the April version of Old Man Winter threw a little bit of everything at us, enabling some late maple sugaring.
In the valleys, chilly winds sliced through all but the warmest jackets.
In the mountains, it was hard to tell exactly what was falling from the sky. We had a week of freezing rain, snow, sleet and I’ve probably forgotten what else. At higher altitudes, I swear there was some Superglue in there to smear it all together and make it impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead.
Last Friday brought a full return to midwinter conditions at Sugarbush. Several days of mixed precipitation had smoothed out the bumps. Then it snowed a foot over several days. Suddenly we were skiing the way we should have in February.
It’s part of the magic of the Greens that this time of year, conditions can change overnight. So this past weekend The Big Skier in the Sky finally sounded the corn horn. The soft, smooth, granular snow of spring had at last arrived.
Of course a lot of it turned to mud by mid-afternoon. But it was Beer Thirty by then anyway, time for a cold one and the drive through Granville Gulf, Hancock and back over Middlebury Gap.
At the Snow Bowl there were still a couple cars in the lot, a few stragglers who’d spent that glorious afternoon up on the hill.
Some crazy people never know when to give up. I’m happy to be one of them.
Gregory Dennis’s column appears here every other Thursday and is archived on his blog at www.gregdennis.wordpress.com. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @greengregdennis.
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