Opening Day at the Big K

October 28th is too early to go snowboarding. Don’t get me wrong, when I heard Killington was opening two weeks ahead of schedule thanks to nearly three feet of natural snow, I was excited—I was going. But then began the process of “going snowboarding. I don’t have boots yet, since my lucrative job boot testing won’t kick in until December, and my snowboard had been sitting alone in the garage all summer. You know those get ready to shred articles you’ve been seeing? I wasn’t. Not at all.

But I’m tough, so I dug out some boots that were uncomfortable two years ago. I brushed the off dust and the cocoon that had grown on my board. I searched and finally found my gloves, goggles and hat. I had my outerwear and the only thing missing was my handy tool belt, which still remains MIA. I found an old studded belt though, and decided to overlook the fact that it was so three years ago. And I was ready to go.

The cards were stacked against me though. First my alarm didn’t go off. So instead of arriving for the first chair, I didn’t even get up until after it the chairs were running. Of course, I wouldn’t have made first chair anyway, since some of the local kids had gotten up and to Killington at six a.m. to make sure they nabbed first gondola. After the slow process of getting dressed, I got in my car and realized I had no gas. I also attempted to forget my snowboard. Finally, around nine, I was on the road with everything I needed. I figured no big deal being a little late, I mean, it’s not like it’s a powder day.

When I got to Killington, team rider Pat Fenelon was waiting at the bottom of the gondola for me to getting my shredding act together. When we finally got going, he informed me we’d have to hike the park, since the chairlift that accessed it had already broken down. A grumbled a bit, but once I finally strapped on my snowboard, I came to a quick realization that October 28th is definitely not too early to snowboard, at least, not this year at Killington.

Between the natural snow and a week-plus worth of snow making, it felt more like January than October. The open terrain included more than 30 trails, and more opened though out the day. The early season park was set up and ready, with two boxes and two rails and a make-shift grooming ridge quarterpipe. The open trails were seriously covered top to bottom and even though everyone and their brother and been standing in the gondola line waiting for it to open, the number of trails and lifts made it barely even crowded. And don’t worry, the park chairlift was back up by noon.

Oh, there was another thing I was wrong about. It was a powder day, at least by east coast standards. I’m not trying to make you jealous or anything, but I took some runs that reminded me more of opening day at Mt. Baker than Killington.

Before you get too excited though, this was just for the weekend. Killington will power down the lifts Monday, likely until their originally scheduled opening day,

November 11. “We opened early because we were able to offer a quality top to bottom product and if we have the goods, we’re definitely going to open, Killington Communications Coordinator Matt Zogby said. “The temperatures next week aren’t going to stay cold and we won’t be able to create manmade snow and we won’t have the product. If we have to sacrifice quality, we’ll close.

So you’ll just have to wait, but only until November 11th.

Check out the slideshow for more sweet photos.