The Devil's Half-Dozen: Outer Limits Killington, Vt.

Devil's Half Dozen 1003

Phil and Steve Mahre, and their Swedish nemesis, Ingemar Stenmark, needed a place to train before the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. Killington had just cut a wide, half-mile run in the fall line on Bear Mountain called Outer Limits. It proved too steep for alpine training, but it has evolved into the longest, steepest, nastiest mogul run in the East. Former world mogul champion Nelson Carmichael remembers Outer Limits' "wicked bumps with long slick spots in between, all set on a steep, rolling hill. It was very different for a Western kid like me."

1. How to ski it: As you exit the main quad, ski around the bend into the upper section. (The first time I did, it looked so steep. I thought, "Oh my God! I've never seen anything like this.") Decide whether you want to go to the right, under the chair, where people will be cheering at you from above, or take the narrower path to the left. Both lines can be good, depending on the day.

2. The middle section, more than 100 yards below the top, is the heart of the run. People struggle to describe the size and meanness of the moguls here. The pitch is unrelenting but consistent. If you want softer snow, look along the edges of the run. When I was a kid, I skied in a rat pack with other bumpers. The more we skied together, the better the lines we created for ourselves. To shape bumps to your liking, ski Outer Limits repeatedly, with people who ski like you.

3. Many Killington locals say the only part of Outer Limits that matters is near the bottom. That's baloney. Lots of competitions take place down low, but the bottom is easier than the top. There are fewer crisscross tracks, and the moguls round out nicely because skiers are more relaxed-not because they see a flat run-out (there is none), but because the hill seems less harsh. You?ll make your best turns here.

4. Another 50 yards and you're back at the lift. You see people all around Killington wearing "I survived Outer Limits" T-shirts. That's not exactly a badge of honor. Some days half of the run is groomed smooth. That's where most of those guys skied.

The Gear
Straight mogul skis or twin-tips work best. You don't need a lot of length (I now ski it on 168s, while once I used 195s), but you also don't want a ski with too much sidecut. Shaped skis may hook back uphill in odd-shaped moguls. Shorter poles help keep your motions fluid.

The Prep
The best time to ski Outer Limits is on a warm day when the bumps are soft. Study the moguls and look for a rhythmical line of descent-where the troughs between bumps are symmetrical. The run is more than a football- field-and-a-half long. Break it up into 50-yard sections. Don't try to ski it all at once unless you have the thighs of an NFL running back.