Reviewed by Joe Carberry
Dec 04, 2008
There’s no park scene at Crystal, so go for the backcountry access, limitless terrain, and the views of Mount Ranier, which most of the time you’ll have all to yourself.
Quick Tip: Alpental, one of four base areas that make up the Summit at Snoqualmie, is traditionally closed on Mondays. Go on a Tuesday to maximize your odds of getting fresh tracks and minimize the potential for crowds coming up from Seattle.
Mt. Baker holds the record for the most snowfall in a single season in the United States, a whopping 1,140 inches.
Seattle can be sloppy, wet, and cold. But drive 78 miles northeast and sloppy transforms into steep, deep, and dry at Stevens Pass, a ripper’s reprieve from fast-paced Emerald City life. There you’ll find a stable maritime snowpack, limitless backcountry access, and a massive park.
Quick Tip: The parking lot can be a disaster. Buy your lift tickets and swing back to the upper lot, west on Highway 2. You can ski down to Brooks or Skyline chairs for instant access, and at the end of the day, rip through the terrain park to reach your car.
Start Here: Get there early and ride Big Chief to Double Diamond chair. Bomb Double Diamond, skier’s left of the lift, or skate and shimmy to Wild Katz. The steep, powdery turns will wake you up.
The Stash: Take the Seventh Heaven chair to Tunnel Creek, a 3,500-foot, northwest-facing stash. A short boot-pack brings you to the boundary line on the back side of Cowboy Mountain. Ski down to Highway 2, where you can thumb it back up to the resort.
Must Hit: Partially out-of-bounds, Cowboy Mountain is a billygoater’s paradise. Access the goods from the Seventh Heaven chair. Straightline a chute or huck a cliff to access the inbounds Rock Garden.
Powder Day: Wing It Trees, in the resort’s south-side Mill Valley, was gladed in 2007 and offers 1,700 vertical feet of high-speed open trees. Or drop into the north-facing Big Chief Bowl off the Double Diamond chair for tight lines at the top and GS turns in the bowl.
Three Days LAter: Get back to Cowboy Mountain. It’s a quick hike to access terrain that hoards the soft stuff well after a storm. Some out-of-bounds terrain is unpatrolled, so bring your beacon, shovel, and probe.
Park and Pipe: The Top Phlight Terrain Park is so big, you have to go through the Top Phlight Safety School before you can huck yourself over gaps (last season’s included a 90-footer), slide a farm of rails, or chuck yourself in the pipe. See ridestevenspass.com for more info.
Backcountry access: This may be the reason you come to Stevens Pass. Three wilderness areas collide directly across the highway from the resort. All are at the mercy of your skin track. Start hoofing in the enormous parking lot on Highway 2’s north side. Skin past employee housing up to Skyline Ridge to shred steep, north-facing powder shots and cliff bands. Or continue touring into Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Area. Check avy conditions at nwac.us.
Weather: Pacific Northwest storms come in wet and go out dry. Some of the best skiing happens during the storm—so invest in some clear or yellow goggle lenses.
Après: The Bull’s Tooth in the Granite Peaks Lodge serves up Washington microbrews at a pine bar. The chandelier overhead, made of 75- and 105-millimeter avalanche howitzer shells, keeps it real.
Fuel: The Taco Stop in the Pacific Crest Lodge dishes out cheap and tasty custom wraps and homemade enchiladas.
Up All Night: The Tye Creek Lodge’s Foggy Goggle features bands every Friday evening to go with the night skiing the mountain offers till 10 p.m. Or check out the Bavarian-themed scene in Leavenworth, 30 minutes to the east.
Digs: Room up with buddies at Leavenworth’s Icicle Inn, which has a pool, a hot tub, and free high-speed internet (from $130; icicleinn.com). You can get your swank on next door at JJ Hills Restaurant and Wine Bar. =
Elevation: 5,845 feet Vertical Drop: 1,800 feet Snowfall: 450 inches Acres: 1,125 Info: stevenspass.com