Killington was the first ski resort to open for the season in New England.
But not in the East.
That honor belongs to tiny Cataloochee Ski Area in North Carolina (elevation of 5,400 feet, 740-foot vertical), which started its lifts last Sunday, Nov. 3, at 8:30 in the morning.
Killington kicked off its 2019-20 season for Ikon and season pass-holders at 11 a.m. on the same day.
But while Cataloochee has sat unoccupied since opening day, Killington has remained open in Vermont, running the resort’s new North Ridge Quad throughout the week.
Cold temperatures throughout the region have finally allowed for more snowmaking, with Killington winning the annual race to open — and remain open — in the East.
Hat tip to Cataloochee though.
No other New England resorts have announced their opening dates quite yet, but we’re getting closer, with a handful having turned on the snow guns in anticipation of getting things started within days. Sunday River (pictured above) fired up 192 snow guns on eight trails last Saturday, showing off its upgrades to the resort’s snowmaking system in an effort to double its already-impressive capacity. Stowe and Okemo announced that they both began making snow at higher elevations over the weekend, while New Hampshire’s Wildcat Mountain began layering its Lynx trail with a fresh coat. Wachusett Mountain announced on Monday that it would be firing up the guns Thursday night, with an eye open to possibly open as soon as Sunday.
Last year, Killington was the first resort to open in the East on Oct. 18. We haven’t seen nearly the sort of snowfall in the mountains that we did in 2018, so early-season conditions will apply in a sense that they didn’t during the epic beginning to last fall.
But, whatever. Ski season is here.
In the new news
As is the case each year, there are plenty of new wrinkles to look forward to as the 2019-20 ski season kicks off. That’s only one of the features you will find in the newly-released November edition of New England Ski Journal. Among some of the highlights: the Indy Pass is looking to create a niche market in a world of Ikon and Epic, Bretton Woods has a new gondola to show off, and Attitash will, once again, have summit access with a revamped triple lift. I’m looking forward to checking out Bolton Valley’s revamped night lighting, making an improvement on what should be regarded as some of the best night skiing in the region already.
Best of the best
Ski Magazine recently released its annual resort rankings, with Quebec’s Mount Tremblant taking the top spot in the East. New England saw its first entry at No. 2, occupied by Smugglers’ Notch, followed by Mount Snow and Killington. There was also a lot of love for independent ski areas, with Mad River Glen taking No. 8, and Magic Mountain No. 17. Aspen Snowmass took the No. 1 slot in the magazine’s overall Top 50 resorts.
Of course, these lists are made for arguments.
There are plenty to have here.
On the rebound
Tenney Mountain announced this week that it will open this season, celebrating its 60th anniversary. The New Hampshire ski area, which shut down in 2010, has been quietly revamping, with soft openings each of the last two seasons. The ski area also announced that season passes were currently on sale for $329.
The Magic of free
Ski Boundaries, a lift ticket deal web site, is offering a free day for its members at Magic Mountain on Feb. 3. It’s also free to become a member.
Inside the weather
New Jersey’s first indoor ski landscape is finally set to open next month. Big Snow will kick things off on Dec. 5 at the American Dream Meadowlands Mall, becoming North America’s first indoor ski center. The 180,000 square-foot, 16-story ski slope will remain a temperature-controlled 28 degrees year-round. Just don’t expect the skiing to get too gnarly. Big Snow will only feature a 160-foot vertical drop.
The 38th annual Boston.com Ski and Snowboard Expo is upon us, taking place from Nov. 14-17 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the SkiSnowexpo web site. It’s always a good time, and the sure sign that the season has begun…whether you’ve gotten out already or not.