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question for people in WA (Baker vs Crystal)

Poll Results: softter snow conditions

 
  • 50% (2)
    Mt. Baker
  • 50% (2)
    Mt. Crystal
4 Total Votes  
post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Guys,
  I've always skied Utah/CO until moving here.  First season.  Never skied here, keep hearing of 'wet/heavy' snow.
  Which resort gets less of that? ;)  Or am I equally screwed in the PNW :(

 

Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by clustermagnet View Post

Guys,
  I've always skied Utah/CO until moving here.  First season.  Never skied here, keep hearing of 'wet/heavy' snow.
  Which resort gets less of that? ;)  Or am I equally screwed in the PNW :(

 

Thanks in advance!


Welcome to the PNW. Now you get to learn what real crud is.

post #3 of 15
Well, what type of skiing do you like to do? Any touring? Where will you be based? Seattle ? Tacoma? Bellingham? Transit time's a factor. Family involved? Kids? If you've got the frowny face going even before you get here, you're in for a long crummy winter. If you're plain old happy skiing, you'll have a great time.
post #4 of 15

Flawed poll!  biggrin.gif

 

 

OK. Seriously. It is. What is it that you really want to know? On average, the WA Cascades deliver some of the best snow to be found anywhere. And usually lots of it.

 

You mention UT and CO. Let the doubters doubt, but most years the snowpack here makes CO look like kind of a joke - at least with respect to off piste snow opportunities. Blue skies and amenities - yeah CO delivers. But if you want snow and terrain - the Cascades are right up there. You should be very happy to be "equally screwed", if you get my drift.  In that light....

 

Do a little searching here and at TGR. There have been many many threads in the past couple of years dissecting the differences between Cascade areas in terms of snow, terrain, vibe, etc.

 

You skipped two major passes between xtal and Baker. Any particular reason? Especially worth contemplating since one gets notably high quality snow due to microclimate and aspect. And the other has lift accessed BC skiing that is literally the stuff of legend - even among pros.

 

This is one of the epicenters of fat rockered ski adoption. There is a reason. If you are in Seattle proper, swing by Evo and look at the wall. It contains what it does for a reason. A number of other local walls have been morphing that way quite quickly the past couple of years.

 

I guess the one caveat is that my views come with a decent dose of off piste bias. On-piste here is "good enough"  - again, the various existing threads should give enough info about that.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Well, what type of skiing do you like to do? Any touring? Where will you be based? Seattle ? Tacoma? Bellingham? Transit time's a factor. Family involved? Kids? If you've got the frowny face going even before you get here, you're in for a long crummy winter. If you're plain old happy skiing, you'll have a great time.


I prefer hiking/backcountry/snowcat/heli. Wet is probably as bad as ice...

My question maybe... since baker is much more north than Crystal, maybe the snow quality gets better?

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

Flawed poll!  biggrin.gif

 

 

OK. Seriously. It is. What is it that you really want to know? On average, the WA Cascades deliver some of the best snow to be found anywhere. And usually lots of it.

 

You mention UT and CO. Let the doubters doubt, but most years the snowpack here makes CO look like kind of a joke - at least with respect to off piste snow opportunities. Blue skies and amenities - yeah CO delivers. But if you want snow and terrain - the Cascades are right up there. You should be very happy to be "equally screwed", if you get my drift.  In that light....

 

Do a little searching here and at TGR. There have been many many threads in the past couple of years dissecting the differences between Cascade areas in terms of snow, terrain, vibe, etc.

 

You skipped two major passes between xtal and Baker. Any particular reason? Especially worth contemplating since one gets notably high quality snow due to microclimate and aspect. And the other has lift accessed BC skiing that is literally the stuff of legend - even among pros.

 

This is one of the epicenters of fat rockered ski adoption. There is a reason. If you are in Seattle proper, swing by Evo and look at the wall. It contains what it does for a reason. A number of other local walls have been morphing that way quite quickly the past couple of years.

 

I guess the one caveat is that my views come with a decent dose of off piste bias. On-piste here is "good enough"  - again, the various existing threads should give enough info about that.


Greatly appreciate your response! 
Most fav. mountain in CO is Wolf Creek, or Crested Butte if it snows :)
Anything like that here?

Since Baker is more north, will the snow be generally less wet? 

post #7 of 15
Quote:
My question maybe... since baker is much more north than Crystal, maybe the snow quality gets better?

 

 

Here it's as much east-west as north-south since the weather systems are coming in off the pacific. Mission Ridge generally has drier snow compared to the west side.

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by clustermagnet View Post


I prefer hiking/backcountry/snowcat/heli. Wet is probably as bad as ice...

My question maybe... since baker is much more north than Crystal, maybe the snow quality gets better?

 

If this is your gig, then the whole length of the Cascades is your oyster. There's more touring here and in the coast range of BC than you can cover in a lifetime. Best thing to do is ski around once your here. Maybe pick up a pass for Alpental that includes a few days at Crystal. Stop by Stevens, do some days at Baker, and figure out which is the best fit. Ditto the note about east/west vs. north/south. Will it rain during the winter here at altitude during the season? Yes. Count on it. Will it dump and be stupid? Yes. There are also a ton of videos with segments filmed at Baker, Alpental, Steven, and Crystal. There's a reason. We're also relatively off the radar for most skiers, particularly those in CO and UT as we don't really have any comparable 'destination' resorts and resultant main stream glossy mag buzz. That said, pick up 'Ski Journal' and start re-adjusting your attitude. :)

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

Flawed poll!  biggrin.gif

 

 

OK. Seriously. It is. What is it that you really want to know? On average, the WA Cascades deliver some of the best snow to be found anywhere. And usually lots of it.

 

You mention UT and CO. Let the doubters doubt, but most years the snowpack here makes CO look like kind of a joke - at least with respect to off piste snow opportunities. Blue skies and amenities - yeah CO delivers. But if you want snow and terrain - the Cascades are right up there. You should be very happy to be "equally screwed", if you get my drift.  In that light....

 

Do a little searching here and at TGR. There have been many many threads in the past couple of years dissecting the differences between Cascade areas in terms of snow, terrain, vibe, etc.

 

You skipped two major passes between xtal and Baker. Any particular reason? Especially worth contemplating since one gets notably high quality snow due to microclimate and aspect. And the other has lift accessed BC skiing that is literally the stuff of legend - even among pros.

 

This is one of the epicenters of fat rockered ski adoption. There is a reason. If you are in Seattle proper, swing by Evo and look at the wall. It contains what it does for a reason. A number of other local walls have been morphing that way quite quickly the past couple of years.

 

I guess the one caveat is that my views come with a decent dose of off piste bias. On-piste here is "good enough"  - again, the various existing threads should give enough info about that.


"You skipped two major passes between xtal and Baker. Any particular reason? Especially worth contemplating since one gets notably high quality snow due to microclimate and aspect. And the other has lift accessed BC skiing that is literally the stuff of legend - even among pros."

Which is the pass that gets the best snow?  and the BC skiing access? ;)

 

Thanks!  Im new to WA

post #10 of 15

Which is the pass that gets the best snow?  and the BC skiing access? ;)

 

Arguably, Stevens Pass has the best possibility of lighter snow because, being a major pass through the mountains, the warm, wet air off of the ocean rises up the west slopes and often overtops the cold air flowing in the pass from the east.  This creates some great snow storms from time to time.  Stevens is also 1000' higher than the other pass, Snoqualmie.

 

As far as the BC access, I think he was referring to Alpental at Snoqualmie Pass.  Mt. Baker also has huge backcountry that is available from the lifts.

 

I've skied this region for 49 years so I'm used to the "heavy" stuff, but it appears that most of the skiers I see are having a good time.

 

Mt. Baker being farther north is cancelled out by it being lower than both Crystal and Stevens.  It's smaller too.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by clustermagnet View Post


Which is the pass that gets the best snow?  and the BC skiing access? ;)

 

Thanks!  Im new to WA

 

Well, it all depends. You can cover a bit of each when you're here.

 

For better PNW ski info:

 

http://www.turns-all-year.com/

post #12 of 15

What everybody else said above icon14.gif.  Voted for Baker because they get MORE snow.  There are no losers in this group, all of these mentioned are really good ski areas.  Personally have skied Crystal most of the bunch mentioned till this year.  When you ski coastal ranges elevation makes all of the difference in snow quality, and you will get better at skiing by braille.

 After a year or two of the local goodness and you go back to Utah or Colorado think you will be in for a pleasant surprise.  

 

Enjoy the neighborhood.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

  When you ski coastal ranges elevation makes all of the difference in snow quality, 

 

Well, as Posaune alludes, there is much more going on than elevation.There are many microclimate effects in play. Baker is near Baker which makes its own weather patterns. Crystal is near Rainier... Both of those volcanoes are on the global podium for snow generation.

 

Stevens and Alpy are both heavily influenced by two important phenomena. The first is the Puget Sound Convergence Zone - PSCZ for short. Google it. But the short story is that when storm tracks come from the right direction they split around the Olympics, "converge" east of the sound, and where they meet, push upward and drift west. The air that is pushed upward is moisture laden and produces *very localized* intense precip. Like I said, look it up... Then compound that with the "pass effect". As big low pressure systems come in, there is a pressure differential between the two sides of the Cascades. The result is colder interior air being "sucked" through the Cascade passes. Which can take the snow level in the pass hundreds of feet lower than it would be otherwise. And in the case of Stevens in particular, often results in surprisingly good snow quality. When the Convergence Zone and pass effects line up right - good times for sure.

 

Lots of locals pay close attention to these patterns on a daily basis. It is not unusual for one location to get a foot or more while others only a few miles away get inches. It is often a last minute roll of the weather dice. Which argues for maintaining some flexibility and open mindedness. Some of that may depend on where exactly you live.

 

Aspect matters a lot as well. Both in terms of deposition and sun impact (yeah, that happens smile.gif ). And the Cascade areas have very different combos of elevation and aspect.

 

And then Whistler is 4.5 hours north.

 

Also, regarding Mission  - it is east of the crest. It gets interior/continental weather & snow. While the snow is drier, it gets a fraction of what the other usual suspects get. Now and again it wins big, but it is not unusual to see Stevens or Alpy (both nearby as the crow flies) get a foot or two and Mission collect a few inches.

 

As I said, do some searching in all the "usual" places for info on the specific areas and the contrasts between them... And for info on the sidebounds and BC at each...

 

OK...getting long winded... I've never skied Wolf Creek. But given what you've said - think about Monarch on roids with Mirkwood type terrain being lift served or maybe things like CB's Teocalli with a ton of snow, minus the shark fins... Not really the best comparison, but the bast I can come up with. As for heli, cat, etc --- there is a cat operation that seems to limp along near Stevens. But honestly, in a decent year, if you know what you are up to, you can get some pretty sick turns inbounds. And definitely sidebounds & BC.

post #14 of 15

http://www.shredsite.com/heliDetail.cfm?id=923

 

heli and cat skiing, North Cascades.

post #15 of 15

Yeah. Ooops - forgot North Cascade. Although unless you do the one day trip  pickup on the west side, it is about as long to get to Mazama as to Whistler or points north.... Still, some pretty cool movie segments shot there the past few years. A favorite of some pretty serious skiers. And a super scenic place to stay. Pretty short operating season though.

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