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PNW - Getting Pounded?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

It seems like much of what I have read recently is about the Pacific Northwest getting hammered by huge snowfalls making for some great early season skiing.  

 

Is this early season snow usually indicative of an epic season to come?  ie: When it snows early there is that telling of a weather pattern that continues into the rest of the season?

 

Suggestions on where to head if flying into Seattle or Portland?

 

 

What I need:

Great slack-country... steeps, powder, trees...

A few cold beers...

 

What I do not need:

Fancy stuff (resort, hotel, restaurants...)

off-slope activities (we ski hard and then pretty much fall asleep)

 

Crystal? (sea)

Baker? (sea)

Whistler? (sea)

Bacherlor? (portland)

others?

 

thanks,

 

 

post #2 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by asland View Post

It seems like much of what I have read recently is about the Pacific Northwest getting hammered by huge snowfalls making for some great early season skiing.  

 

Is this early season snow usually indicative of an epic season to come?  ie: When it snows early there is that telling of a weather pattern that continues into the rest of the season?

 

Suggestions on where to head if flying into Seattle or Portland?

 

 

What I need:

Great slack-country... steeps, powder, trees...

A few cold beers...

 

What I do not need:

Fancy stuff (resort, hotel, restaurants...)

off-slope activities (we ski hard and then pretty much fall asleep)

 

Crystal? (sea)

Baker? (sea)

Whistler? (sea)

Bacherlor? (portland)

others?

 

thanks,

 

 

 

The WA cascades are the antithesis of 'fancy'. :)   Whistler is fancy.

 

Bachelor, Hood, fly into PDX

 

Crystal, Stevens, Alpental,  SEA

 

Baker, Whistler, YVR... yes, even for Baker unless the airfare to YVR is significantly more expensive (which it sometimes is). It's a long bus ride/border crossing/Vancouver crossing/Sea to Sky commute... don't waste precious time. 

post #3 of 24
Quote:

 

Is this early season snow usually indicative of an epic season to come?  ie: When it snows early there is that telling of a weather pattern that continues into the rest of the season?

Rather than being a predictor, it may be more of a result of the "neutral" (not El Nino or La Nina) year we are having. Our biggest, fiercest, record breaking storms have come in neutral years. If you are interested in weather you can read about this:

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-faltering-el-nino.html

 

You don't need to worry too much about lack of snow here (WA) in general, though.

 

Crystal is the only WA area that has lodging* at the base. It's not fancy. If you want to ski, drink beer, and pass out, go there.

http://www.epicski.com/t/111990/crystal-stevens-baker-etc-recs-and-lodging-intelligence

 

*That's not quite true; White and Snoqualmie Passes have a motel on the highway. But you probably don't want to stay at those.

post #4 of 24

Between Whistler and Crystal, for my money I'd head to WBC (Bachelor's a nonstarter for what you're looking for and Baker is a bit remote).  Don't get me wrong, Crystal is a great mountain and my home base.  It fits the bill for your criteria but it's not cheap if money matters, especially for what you get.  The mountain caters to Pugetropolois and that means most of the overnight visitors are also from the area staying for a just a few nights so they can get away with charging a lot. I'm heading up Friday and staying overnight with a couple of buds and our smallish hotel room is close to $300.  We could get a sweet condo for way less in Whistler.  Crystal is also an almost 2 hour drive from Seatac.  You can get from Vancouver airport to Whistler in not much more time. While I love Crystal, it ain't no WBC.  Yeah, WBC can be as fancy as you want, which I'm not into either, but it's easy to ignore the glam and just ski, drink and sleep. I've got about 50 days skiing there and it's as good as you've heard and IMHO Whistler should be on every skiers bucket list.


Edited by Fairdog - 12/10/12 at 7:50pm
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by asland View Post

 

What I need:

Great slack-country... steeps, powder, trees...

A few cold beers...

You should consider Mt. Baker if OB skiing is a high priority.  There is huge terrain just outside the ski area boundary; pretty much unlimited.  There are also beers.  However, you have to drive at minimum 17 miles (and 2600 vert.) to get there from any lodging.  And don't be a pretender because the BC will eat you up.

 

As far as weather "patterns" are concerned, the only thing this portends is that there will be weather in the future.

post #6 of 24

Those are good points about Crystal. I agree lodging is overpriced. If you can fly nonstop to Vancouver for a decent price, Whistler is a good option.

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful input.  

 

I'm finding flights to be about the same price to anywhere in PNW (Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver) so there are many very good options.

 

I guess I'm balking at $90+ a day to ski whistler but I'll have to take lodging... into account.  

 

I usually like the local vibe at smaller ski areas as well but can get spoiled by the varied terrain at huge larger ski mountains.

 

tough choices...

post #8 of 24

You should be able to bring lift ticket prices down if you buy them with your hotel or condo (the site I like, alluradirect.com, offers discounts when you book a condo; so does the official WB site). Unfortunately the best discounts were for people who booked before the season started. I only pay something like $60 a day with my Edge Card (you have to live in WA or Canada to get this); I forget how expensive it can be for people that go last minute.

 

All of us here in Seattle that saw the Warren MIller movie got a 2 for 1 (weekday) coupon; maybe there's an Epic member that isn't planning on using theirs.

post #9 of 24

Things here can be highly variable over the course of a season. So far so good. And as noted, there are some happy correlations with neutral years. But like anyplace else, we get what we get. One good banana express can do a lot of damage... And an assortment of microclimate effects can leave one area with 2-3 feet and another only a short distance away as the crow flies with crumbs. So flexibility is a good thing...

 

Stevens currently has a great early season snowpack. Lots of others do too. Whistler with good snow is spectacular - but can be annoyingly crowded at times. 

 

When you talk about slack country - be aware that while this is not a continental snowpack, it has its own issues.  Both in terms of slides and NARSID. Worth taking very seriously. Last year's Tunnel Creek slide still casts a long dark shadow in the community here. Among other events... If you plan to go OB here, know what you are getting into and do it with knowledgable partners.

 

If you are not used to the scale of snow here  - on really big days, even inbounds, some prudence is called for. Baker and others are not above requiring avy gear and a partner in certain areas on some days. Heck, Stevens has recommended gear and partners inbounds a couple times this season. That said, most of the areas around here offer stunning inbounds powder skiing if you hit a good storm cycle - so sidebounds is often not "needed" to get some fine skiing. If you find the videos I posted last year, all of that was inbounds on good but not the best days. Also worth noting, much of our best skiing is usually storm skiing. Bring goggles suitable for low vis flat light wink.gif.

 

As noted by others, we have nothing resembling real resorts in WA. Pretty much day use ski areas - despite xtal's pretensions. This used to offer some shielding from crowds. Seems that's not so much the case anymore.

post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by asland View Post

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful input.  

 

I'm finding flights to be about the same price to anywhere in PNW (Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver) so there are many very good options.

 

I guess I'm balking at $90+ a day to ski whistler but I'll have to take lodging... into account.  

 

I usually like the local vibe at smaller ski areas as well but can get spoiled by the varied terrain at huge larger ski mountains.

 

tough choices...

Check with any 7eleven in the lower mainland or the two in Squamish which are beside the highway on the way up. They have been offering reduced rate passes for years but I'm not sure about this year or the discount. Still worth a try. Also, if you know or meet  somebody with a season pass they can also get a reduced guess pass rate at the window.

post #11 of 24

If your from Washington State or B.C. and going to ski multiple days get an edge card, that is the cheapest way to go, 3 day $249.00, 5 day $379.00 you can get them online
 

post #12 of 24

OP, I hope you are on your way. Getting pounded almost seems like an understatment at this point.

post #13 of 24

local hills around Vancouver all reporting huge dumps, Mount Baker in WA easy 4-5 feet in the last week

post #14 of 24

Washington DOT said there will probably be no joy at Baker this weekend.  They expect the road to be closed till at least Monday.

What a waste.

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Washington DOT said there will probably be no joy at Baker this weekend.  They expect the road to be closed till at least Monday.

What a waste.


On the positive side of this, I got my Christmas shopping done today and will put up the tree tomorrow.

post #16 of 24

Wow, bummer. I wonder if Stevens will be more crowded tomorrow as a result.

post #17 of 24
post #18 of 24

From Mt. Baker's web site:

 

 
Notes Mt. Baker Ski Area General Manager Duncan Howat spoke with Department of Transportation officials around 11:00 am today confirming that the Mt. Baker highway is expected to re-open sometime this evening and in time for the SKI AREA TO RE-OPEN ON SATURDAY DEC 22 at 9:00 am.

DOT crews are making great progress on clearing the 100+ trees that had fallen over the section of the road east of Glacier during the past storm cycle and expect the work to be complete by this evening. The storm brought more than 98 inches of snowfall to the ski area in just six days.

Mt. Baker will resume operation Saturday with both base areas open and all lifts running. Forecasts are calling for a return to more normal and settled weather, with light snow showers expected on Saturday and Sunday with nice cold temperatures and snow levels around 1,000 feet. This should make for some beautiful snow conditions.
post #19 of 24

I am so happy to be wrong on that one. Got my info from a DOT notice on Thursday.  

The Grinchy old DOT will not steal this Christmas present.

post #20 of 24

Darn have to work, Cypress here in Vancouver reported 2.5 Meters in the last week, thats over 7 feet!
 

post #21 of 24

Anyone go to Baker yesterday??
 

post #22 of 24

I couldn't go yesterday, so I set out early today to get there ahead of opening.  They had the Mt. Baker highway closed and nobody knew for how long.  I waited about 30 minutes and heard a rumor that it wouldn't open until noon, so I turned around and went home.  Of course, it opened at 9:15, about 30 minutes after I left.  Damn!!

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

I couldn't go yesterday, so I set out early today to get there ahead of opening.  They had the Mt. Baker highway closed and nobody knew for how long.  I waited about 30 minutes and heard a rumor that it wouldn't open until noon, so I turned around and went home.  Of course, it opened at 9:15, about 30 minutes after I left.  Damn!!

 

We definitely feel your pain. Next time...

post #24 of 24

The worst part is that I won't have another chance to go skiing for a week.  After that I'm free for the rest of the season, though.

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