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Pacific NW beginning of Dec

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Turn out the only week I'm able to ski this season is the second full week of December. Have never skied the NW and heard good things about Baker and Crystal but don't know much else (recent snow report noted multiple feet in the last couple days). Any thoughts/suggestions/recommendations for this time of the season and how to approach, or is there somewhere else to try and hit-up (Tahoe, SLC)?  Will be just myself traveling and am and intermediate/advanced an enjoying getting off the groomers. Realizing this is my only chance this season am just wanting to be able to get out and ski. Thanks for any comments.

 

post #2 of 28

PNW is a pretty big, non-specific area.  Where are you going to be exactly?

post #3 of 28

I can speak for the North Cascades, and it looks like this will be a good year for the second week in December.  We're being nuked as I type and should have decent bases at the ski areas by the end of the week.  Decent meaning nearly 100% open or better.

 

Baker is already reporting bases of 67" at the bottom and 72" mid-mountain.  The totals will be adding anything from 2-6 feet of snow in the next couple of days.  Some places think that's a good top total for the year.  We've just begun.

 

I'm sure Tahoe will be better, though.

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

Sorry about that, should've specified. Was initially thinking of flying to Seattle, the 2 areas I'd heard most about were Crystal and Baker. Although would certainly consider Oregon and doing Mt Hood and/or Bachelor. Just not familiar with how feasible and worthwhile it may be for that time of year. Would really only be spending 3-4 days out there and don't know if I should stick to one place or try and make it to a couple different ones. Am pretty much open to anything.

post #5 of 28

Justin, both Baker and Crystal are great areas with some serious and seriously fun terrain! It's just dumping right now in multiple feet. Neither are true 'destination resorts' a la the big real estate development, mega full service resort/spa/five star dining base area. There's lodging at Crystal and a couple of places to grab a beer, and there's lodging at the mountain. If you're staying in Seattle, be aware that it's about 1h45-50m to Crystal, and 2h30-40 to Baker. For Baker, try Bellingham for a place to stay, or maybe you can find a timeshare type rental around Glacier on the way up to the area. Snow tires and chains are a must if you're driving.

post #6 of 28

If you're thinking of Crystal and Baker, you should also consider two other areas that lie between them: Stevens Pass, and Alpental.  Both of these places have great, challenging terrain and Stevens often has the best snow of all of them.  Both are closer to Seattle than Baker and quite a bit easier to drive to.  Alpental is right off of I-90 only 45 minutes from the city while Stevens is about 1.5 hours up US 2, depending on where you start.

 

All of these four ski areas (Crystal, Baker, Alpental, and Stevens) have terrain that is top notch and much more varied and challenging than Hood or Bachelor.

post #7 of 28

from http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/winter-buyers-guide/My-Favorite-5-Glen-Plake.html

 

3. The Pacific Northwest
They’re ski areas—not resorts—and they’re all great. Only one or two of them have lodging. Here’s what you do. Fly into Seattle and ski Crystal; go do a day in Alpental, drive to Mission Ridge in Wenatchee, Washington, and then drive back over to Stevens Pass. If you have time, go ski Mount Baker, but don’t plan on seeing Baker—chances are it’s all socked in with a snowstorm. pnsaa.org

 

from http://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/north-america/united-states/My-Favorite-5-Mike-Hattrup.html

2. Crystal Mountain, Washington
They just put in a new gondola and some better lifts, but it’s never gonna have a big hotel or crazy bars and restaurants. What it does have is the best view of any resort in North America: from the top, Rainier is right in your face. And it has 2,400 vertical feet of great skiing. Afterward, hit Snorting Elk for great food and beer. It’s old and it feels like an Austrian ski hut. crystalmountainresort.com

 

Also, if you're driving to Stevens, Alpental (Snoqualmie) or White Pass (not on the above lists but has really good snow) you'll want to plan around closures for pass clearings. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/passes/default.aspx

 

Crystal was great opening day last Friday. Summit W (adjacent to the yet to open Alpental) was good too, though at lower elevation, snow wasn't as stellar as Crystal's. Alpental is lowish too but gets it's own weird little microclimates & secret stashes.

post #8 of 28

Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

If you're thinking of Crystal and Baker, you should also consider two other areas that lie between them: Stevens Pass, and Alpental.  Both of these places have great, challenging terrain and Stevens often has the best snow of all of them.  Both are closer to Seattle than Baker and quite a bit easier to drive to.  Alpental is right off of I-90 only 45 minutes from the city while Stevens is about 1.5 hours up US 2, depending on where you start.

 

All of these four ski areas (Crystal, Baker, Alpental, and Stevens) have terrain that is top notch and much more varied and challenging than Hood or Bachelor.


Great advice here, and as Posaune said earlier, the WA Cascades have been getting pounded so far this November and looks like things will be in pretty good shape by mid December.

post #9 of 28

FYI

There's a LivingSocial thing (kinda like groupon) going on for the next 6 days for Crystal

 

http://www.livingsocial.com/escapes/150379-crystal-mountain-hotels?msdc_id=27

 

Escape Kit

  • A One-Night Weekday Stay for Two with Breakfast ($89) or a Two-Night Weekend Stay ($179) at the Alpine Inn, The Quicksilver Lodge, or The Village Inn

 

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thank you all very much for the suggestions. Will try and make it to Alpental in addition to Crystal. Are there any places to stay near Alpental other than the Summit Inn, or is it better to stay in Seattle and make the drive?

Reddirt, that issue of Outside Magazine is sitting on the coffee table at home and haven't even had a cance to look through it yet, thanks for posting that link!

post #11 of 28

Keep an eye on Alpental for coverage.  Some of its best terrain is steep stuff that may have difficulty with coverage depending on circumstances.  If you make the decision about whether to go or not after you arrive, it would be best.  Crystal should not be a problem.

 

My gut reaction to staying at Snoqualmie Pass is don't.  Stay in an eastern suburb like Issaquah.  The drive to the pass is almost always quick and easy.

post #12 of 28

Remember everyone always gets excited when the first major snow storm reports start coming in  but there is often a follow-up warm front to melt a lot of same. With luck late November -mid December can be good, but it is still early season and a gamble.   

post #13 of 28

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post

Remember everyone always gets excited when the first major snow storm reports start coming in  but there is often a follow-up warm front to melt a lot of same. With luck late November -mid December can be good, but it is still early season and a gamble.   


True enough.  As good as the skiing last week was, we've got a high pressure system settling in now with dry sunny days forecast for most of this week.  And this on the heels of some above freezing temps and rain.

 

OP is still 2 weeks out... anything could still happen between now and then, between some nice dumps or a pineapple express.

post #14 of 28

The biggest problem with hitting any more than one of these areas is the driving. My suggestion would be to pick either Crystal or Baker, find a place to stay and skip the hours and hours on the freeway.

 

Baker is the most reliable, Crystal has the most terrain. Alpental and Stevens are both very cool, but less reliable early season.

 

14 day weather is looking drier than normal over the entire western us. Should not be a problem for keeping the area open, but not looking like we're going to pick up much snow until the high pressure breaks. Check back in a week.

 

PS - had a client from Philly today. Apologized for the meh conditions...she laughed at me. Seems our "meh" is an east coast "very good".

post #15 of 28

yes Sunny and 12 deg Celsius in Vancouver today. Fresh snowline on North shore mountains now non-existent. Even rained to mid mountain at Whistler on sunday.  

post #16 of 28

I would choose Crystal over Baker unless you are a snowboarder.

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky View Post

I would choose Crystal over Baker unless you are a snowboarder.



 

Is there something that makes Baker not good for skiing?

post #18 of 28

Well, now that we're getting closer to the OP's timeframe (should be next week if I read his post right), things aren't shaping up to be very snowy.  Everyone is pretty much 100% open, coverage is thin in spots off trail.  More importantly, this high pressure doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  So, if you like sunny days and old snow, next week should be perfect. :)

 

With any luck, this high will break up and we'll return to more normal weather, but that's not currently in the forecast that I see.

post #19 of 28

True...but in spite of that, the skiing has actually been really nice. While we haven't been getting any new, it also has been staying cold enough that the snow has not iced up, at least up here.

post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecimmortal View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky View Post

I would choose Crystal over Baker unless you are a snowboarder.



 

Is there something that makes Baker not good for skiing?


No, unless you have something against snowboarders, because they make up the majority at Baker.

 

post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 

jaobrien6, you're correct I'll be out there next week (Mon-Fri). Looking at the weather from the last couple weeks it certainly appears to be staying the course. While not ideal timing the reality is these were the only few days I'd get a chance to ski this season. Any skiing is better than no skiing at all! At least looking forward to going to an area I've never been to and have been wanting to see for a few years now. If there're any Bears around Crystal and would like to catch a few turns please let me know.

Thank you to all for your suggestions and comments, very much appreciated.

post #22 of 28

Il be around there on Mon and Tues. Was planning on skiing crystal on mon and snowqualmie on tues. Seems like its gonna be mainly groomers. This will be my 1st time to the area as well. ? for the locals... is Alpental worth it right now with the current conditions or in other words where can I find the best steep groomers? thnks

agreen

post #23 of 28

I don't know about coverage at Alpental, but you won't find steep groomers anywhere in WA that I've experienced.  Maybe it's how you make the definition but from my perspective, when it gets steep, they quit grooming.  Snoqualmie Summit is pretty flat.


Edited by Posaune - 12/7/11 at 7:30pm
post #24 of 28


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 is Alpental worth it right now with the current conditions or in other words where can I find the best steep groomers? thnks

agreen

Yes Alpental is worth it, it is a really good smaller area.  You will find steep bumps there, Upper International is the real deal.  Steep groomers not so much.  

 

Crystal Mt, try Snorting Elk.  Ride the Green Valley chair and take the trail to your right behind the peak.  Snorting Elk is the first bowl.  Middle Ferk's (used to be Icicle) is nice sustained pitch, not killer steep but fun.
 

 

post #25 of 28

What Posaune said. 

 

One example: Alpental has legendary terrain. Exactly zero of it is groomers.

 

Another: Folks who have skied only the groomers at Stevens tend to, reasonably enough, view it as a small-ish "intermediate's mountain". People who experience its off piste terrain with good coverage tend to think of it in a rather different light...

 

The WA Cascade areas offer pleasant enough groomer skiing to pass the time when there is no fresh snow. Like now.  And the views can be awesome. But groomer skiing is not what they are really about IMO. If there is no major fresh snow, just go mess around and enjoy looking at the Cascades.

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 is Alpental worth it right now with the current conditions or in other words where can I find the best steep groomers? thnks

agreen

Yes Alpental is worth it, it is a really good smaller area.  You will find steep bumps there, Upper International is the real deal.  Steep groomers not so much.  

He was asking about current conditions and if it's worth trying Alpental NOW, not if it's a good place to ski.  It is, but what are the conditions there now?
 

 

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

He was asking about current conditions and if it's worth trying Alpental NOW, not if it's a good place to ski.  It is, but what are the conditions there now?
 

 



Exactly. Ive read about Alpental and what it has to offer. But it seems its perfect for newish snow and maybe not so great for current conditions. I wouldnt mind workin on my bump skills... they need some improvement for sure. Ill be taking my new carving skis (Dynastar Contact Cross ti) and just want something with decent pitch to have some fun on. I shouldnt have said steep groomers now that I think about as steep is quite a relative term. I dont expect to be hittin up the backcountry this time round so should I just ski Summit central and not Alpental? This may be moot as I think Alpental was closed mon-wed this week and maybe the same for next week? Ill definitely ski Crystal one of the days but prob cant there twice. thnks.

agreen

 

post #28 of 28

I skied Summit Central (Ski Acres then) a lot in my youth and there are some short steeper pitches.  If you plan to ski on the south side of the freeway it's the best one IMO, but it's not in the same universe as Alpental.

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