Summer Skiing: Killington, Vermont

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Summer skiing at Killington really begins in January, when the resort brings its world-class snowmaking artillery to bear on the Superstar trail and builds up a boast-worthy 25-foot base. The trail's snowcover becomes visibly convex, and at its highest point is nearly as tall as the hardwoods bordering the run. In a good year, skiers play on this manmade "glacier" well into June. But skiing is only part of the appeal of a Killington summer.

The perfect summer ski day is a mix of soft bumps and hardcore socializing, of warm sun and cold beer. For the best conditions, arrive early on a sunny day and cruise the groomed as it corns up in the warming May sun. When that gets sloppy, dive into the now-soft bumps on Outer Limits or Superstar. By 2 pm, only true Calvinists require further punishment; the rest have retired to the deck at Bear Mountain or Killington Base Lodge, where every sunny day is a beach party: bare chests and bikini tops, suntan oil and barbecue smoke.

Thanks to an imaginative Killington marketing department, most weekends are special occasions. The bumpmeisters turn out each April for the Mogul Challenge; Deadheads descend in droves May 8-9 for the Sunshine Daydream weekend (bring your bongos and join the drum circle); and racers get one last speed fix June 1, when Killington celebrates summer with a slalom race.

By then, many of the storied Access Road watering holes are shuttered, but there's always an après-ski beer to be found if you know where to look. "I like to sit on the deck at the Grist Mill and watch the shadows lengthen on Superstar," says Killington native John Crowley Jr., 33. "When the sun passes Pico Peak, I know it's time for the check."

Among the locals and class-skipping college kids are out-of-towners who come for ski-and-stay packages as low as $59 per person, per night. At the nearby Gifford Woods State Park, a ski-bum tent town booms, then busts. By the final day of lift access, only the ultra hardcore remain, and clothing is optional. Falling down while skiing naked is not pretty. Then again, it can be. ¿Joe Cutts

Hot Facts
1998 Closing Date: May 25
Summer Terrain: The late-spring action is on Bear Mountain, while the snow lasts. From there it moves to Killington Peak and the KBL deck. In the end, only the Superstar "glacier" remains.
Lift Ticket: $10-$20, depending on terrain; free on the last day. Don't Miss: The nightlife at the Outback/Nightspot (especially if you're single). Even in summer, it's in mid-winter form. Contact: (800) 621-6867; www.killington.com

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