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Which Seattle area resort??

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Attn OP: I tried to put this post in the Northwest discussion forum, but it keeps kicking it back into the "General Skiing Discussion" area.  Could you please put it in the right place?

 

Hey all!  I'll likely be moving to the Seattle area over the next month or two, and I would like to hear everyone's latest opinions on Steven's Pass vs. Snoqualmie.  All of the websites show Steven's Pass as getting the edge, but I would appreciate the local knowledge.  The last couple of seasons I've lived 15-20 min. away from Snowbird resort in Utah, so I'm used to steep, advanced terrain.

 

I realize that conditions, snow quality, and vert are going to be way different and that I'll have to temper my expectations (so no need to keep re-posting that).  What I am looking for are valid opinions from advanced skiers who go up almost every weekend and can give me the rundown, since we'll be looking to get season passes and choose where we live to limit the drive time every weekend.  I do a lot of off-piste skiing and I'll head into the backcountry once I find some good people to go with, but I also enjoy screaming down long groomers with my 8yo son and my "groomers-only" wife.  I saw that Snoqualmie seems to have a lot *more* terrain (and lifts), but Steven's seems to get the nod for snow quality, quality of terrain, and shorter lift lines.

 

Is that accurate?  I know that some of you have strong opinions for one resort over the other, so I don't mind hearing your biased reviews of each!  Thanks!!

post #2 of 19

CRYSTAL!  NO COMPETITION!

 

Forget Snoqualmie!  Only 3k feet above Sea Level Limited Vertical 

 

Alpental can be fun but limited, particularly fun for night skiing.  The rest of the Snoqualmie is virtually worthless (summit West and Central)

 

I have skied Stevens, Snoqualmie and Crystal since the early 60's 

 

I have skied Stevens hundreds of times...Crystal is far Superior IMHO!  4500 foot Base 7,000 Plus summit. 

 

I have found Stevens lift lines are awful!

 

Total Vertical 3100 Ft.

 

Crystal Has a Gondola  that goes from Base to Summit and  is around 2500 Feet of Vertical and the area is 2500 Acres. 

 

Lotsa of Patrolled Side Country,  Southback and Northway area!

 

WWW.CRYSTALMOUNTAINRESORT.COM


Edited by Atomicman - 1/2/16 at 3:41pm
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Isn't Crystal like 2 hr. from Seattle?  That's a bit far to drive up and back every weekend, or does everyone buy/rent cabins for the season?  Is it that much better than Steven's and Snoqualmie?

post #4 of 19

Both Crystal and Stevens are roughly 1.5 hours from Seattle proper, Snoqualmie is 50 minutes.  Stevens Pass access is north of the central city, Snoqualmie is east, and Crystal is south, so it depends on which end of the urban area you end up in as to how long it takes to get to a particular destination..

 

Snoqualmie is low, crowded, flat (except for Alpental) and boring compared to the other two places.  However, Alpental is a genuine experts' area with some very advanced terrain, though it's small and lacks variety.

 

Both Crystal and Stevens have a lot of varied terrain for all ability levels, both groomed and off piste.  Crystal is larger with a higher top altitude.  Stevens has more snow than any area in the state other than Mt. Baker on average.  Both are worthy.

 

I don't know where you're coming from, but prepare for large crowds on weekends from Christmas to the end of February at all of the above mentioned places.  Night skiing is a good option to beat the crowds.

post #5 of 19

I grew up skiing the Seattle area, and while it has been many years, I will give it a shot:

 

Snoqualmie does not really have more area than Stevens. There are four areas, three of which (West, Central and East) are small and don't have much for an advanced skier. Alpental does have more advanced terrain, including back country, but is still sort of small.

 

You didn't mention Crystal Mt., which is bigger than Stevens with a large variety of terrain for an advanced skier, but is a bit longer drive, depending on which part of Seattle you are starting from. Maybe a bit more more expensive also. Probably has the best snow, but not by a large margin.

 

With respect to the drive time, it makes a big difference as to what prt oif the Seattle area you are starting from. North would favolr Stevens, South would favor Crystal.

 

All will be crowded on weekends, if that is when you have to ski.

 

There is a good Unofficial guide for Stevens here on Epicski, but not for any of the others.

 

I am sure some other Western Washington locals will chime in.

post #6 of 19


PowderChamp

 

Welcome to the PNW!!

 

In my humble opinion, with good snow it doesn't get any better than Crystal.  It really is an advanced skiers Mt, with bowls and steeps galore.   Being 2 hr from the Puget Sound Metropolitan area though it can be a zoo on weekends with the crowds.  And compared to the Rocky Mt Climate of The Wasatch, the climate is quite different in the Cascades, with a fluctuating freezing level going from 0 sea elevation to a freezing level of say top of Mt. Rainier @ 14,000ft.  A low  freezing level can mean fantastic skiing, and a high freezing level can translate to god-awful crud with big rain storms:  Pineapple Express ( but not ALL the time Ha-Ha.)

 

If you are fortunate to be at Crystal when it's good, it is a Fantastic Mt.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PowderChamp View Post
 

Attn OP: I tried to put this post in the Northwest discussion forum, but it keeps kicking it back into the "General Skiing Discussion" area.  Could you please put it in the right place?

 

Hey all!  I'll likely be moving to the Seattle area over the next month or two,

 

[snip]

 

Moderator here . . . about the Northwest Group . . . EpicSki Groups are a bit odd.  Anyone can see the Group threads but only Group members can post in the Group.  Most of the time, people don't find the Join button so Groups don't get used much.  In general, it's fine to start a thread about any region/resort in Resorts, Conditions & Travel or General Skiing.

 

There is an ongoing PacNW thread:

http://www.epicski.com/t/141997/2015-2016-pacific-northwest-discussion-weather-news-and-information-also-inclusive-of-stoke

 

For Usage Tips, click here.

post #8 of 19

My response in the other thread is here....http://www.epicski.com/t/141997/2015-2016-pacific-northwest-discussion-weather-news-and-information-also-inclusive-of-stoke/240#post_1958022

 

Atomicman claims familiarity with Stevens, but that is not evident from his post history on the topic. It has significant challenging terrain both inbounds and OB. Both direct off lift and hike to. On average, Stevens gets the best snow in the area - without a doubt. And usually a bunch of it.

 

Alpental too offers more than meets the eye. The Alpental BC is world famous. There are pros who get paid to do heli gigs who might say that some of the best runs of their lives were in the Alpental BC. Check out http://alpental.com (URL not owned by Alpental).

 

Sidebounds/BC has gotten pretty busy everywhere.

 

As I noted in my "other" post above, Crystal definitely rocks.I think the description of Crystal as a "mini Jackson" rings reasonably true (as does the framing by some of Stevens as a mini Alpine).  I'm spending more and more time at Crystal (and still have much to learn). It sounds like a good bet for you. Unless you happen to end up living north or north/east. In which case perhaps consider Stevens if you are concerned about driving times.

post #9 of 19
Like others said, it depends on where you live in Seattle. I live near Green Lake and Stevens is 10 minutes closer to me than Crystal, but it's much more crowded and I prefer Crystal. It takes me 1:50 to get to Crystal. If you live in West or south Seattle, it will be a little less. No, generally we don't have cabins at the ski areas; our areas are largely day use, our mountains are relatively undeveloped, and there just aren't that many developed areas with cabins. So yes people regularly drive 1.5+ hours, which is pretty typical if you live in a city in the US. You can make the drive shorter by living in a suburb closer to one of the areas. Live in North Bend and you're 30 minutes from Alpental (though Alpental doesn't sound like a good fit for your family, since though it has your expert terrain, it doesn't have your wife's groomers). SLC is pretty unique for being a major city so close to skiing.

I'm not sure why people are going on and on about crowds at area resorts including Crystal. I am very crowd averse and I don't find Crystal crowded. I doubt very much it's anywhere close to being as crowded as any SLC area resort. There was a thread recently where someone broke a list of ski areas down by skiers per acre and Crystal had quite a low ratio.

Will you be working in the city, or in the suburbs? If you're working in the burbs, you might as well live there too and be closer to skiing.

There's no apostrophe in Stevens.
post #10 of 19
Also, since you need "long" groomers, that completely knocks Snoqualmie out of the running. Groomed runs are short there. I wouldn't say any of our areas are known for grooming-you don't find resorts like Deer Valley here.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone!  I would be working downtown near Capitol Hill, but not living there (we enjoy suburban life).  This is all helpful as we try to figure out where to live to minimize the work and snow(!) commutes.  It sounds like Stevens is a shorter commute from N/NE Seattle, but gets more crowded than Crystal, and they are both fairly close as far as terrain and snow quality.

 

I have been looking at N/NE, but we haven't made up my mind (and should probably look at more than just one area).  The schools seem to be rated better there, I was told that the worst commute traffic comes from the south and east, and it seems you get more for your money house-wise.  I also heard that most of the school districts in the area are pretty good though, so maybe I'll have to expand my search a bit more and explore the southern part of the metro, too (since it's a shorter commute to Crystal).  Are there any culture differences between different parts of the metro?  I imagine Bellvue/Kirkland is mostly Microsoft employees, and I've heard that along the shores and on Mercer are the more wealthy people.  My son is also big into soccer and golf, but I don't mind driving a little for those... or better said, my wife doesn't mind!  :-)

post #12 of 19
We've got very constrained geography, too many people and not enough transit that's not on surface streets. So, traffic here is no joke. I'd make priority 1 figuring out a good commute for the 5 days a week you'll be coming into the city for work, and figure out your skiing after that. Hopefully you will get a reconnaissance trip in before you move as yes, there are big differences between the suburbs.
post #13 of 19
First of all the only area in Washington or Oregon that will at all compare to Snowbird is Crystal. Not Stevens and not Snoqualmie.
That being said, if work and family take a big chunk of your time like it does for most people, you can make Snoqualmie work. Here's how;
If you can afford it, buy a house in Bellevue. Best schools, best (relatively) commute, close to the mountains.
Buy the $400 pass to Snoqualmie that includes 5 days at Crystal. We go there as exercise as often as possible, 30 to 40 days a year, often for only a couple three hours. There is tons of backcountry around if that's your preference.
Both Whistler and Schweizer are easy 3 day weekend trips and Mission Ridge is an easy 2 day weekend. Salt Lake, Anchorage, and Reno are easy quick flights
post #14 of 19
By the way, be advised, that compared to Snowbird, the snow conditions in the PNW can be a humbling experience. But the snow's much dryer up the road a bit to Canada's powder highway. Still, nowhere else like Snowbird/Alta.
post #15 of 19

Crystal is awesome !

 

Depending on where you end up living, it could be a further drive, though.

post #16 of 19

There is surprisingly good skiing to be had in the Pacific Northwest  (and Whistler is not too far either) but the snow is going to be a lot different than you are used to.

post #17 of 19

Change your screen name--hardly ever powder on the western slopes of the Cascades, except the local kids call anything fresh, including the tiny white wet sponges that fall from the sky, powder.  It doesn't rain, but sometimes we do get Cascade Clear Flake.

 

Don't ignore Whistler.  Great mountains, great village, amazing views, often very good snow.  The Edge Card lift discount card starts at US$212 (CDN$285) for 3 days.  The Canadian dollar is currently about 4 for 3 against the U.S. dollar.  Some things are higher (some like gasoline are always higher), but some things are quite a bit lower.  (The Canadian dollar value follows the crude oil price expressed in US dollars, their major export, with about a 78% correlation.)  If you don't yet have your Washington State drivers license, you can get an Enhanced D L that can be used for I.D. to cross the border instead of your passport.  Many health insurance plans do not cover foreign care--check.

https://edge.shop.whistlerblackcomb.com/passes/EdgeCards

http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/edl.html

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/rpg-mrp-eng.html

 

For any Whistler skier over age 65 reading this, look at the senior season pass costs next spring.  Last spring they were C$599 which included 2015 spring lifts, summer gondola, lifts this winter, half off mountain food last spring & 20% off mt. food this winter, 20% shop discounts, promo discounts like 50% off at Sun Peak & 25% off at Silver Star, more.

post #18 of 19
:eekQuote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post

We've got very constrained geography, too many people and not enough transit that's not on surface streets. So, traffic here is no joke. I'd make priority 1 figuring out a good commute for the 5 days a week you'll be coming into the city for work, and figure out your skiing after that. Hopefully you will get a reconnaissance trip in before you move as yes, there are big differences between the suburbs.

^^^Most practical advice on this thread.  Optimize for your commute when it matters.  At 6am on a weekend (on your way to the mountains), you can cross the city on I-5, or cross the eastside on 405 in in 10-15 minutes max. 

 

Welcome to the PNW.  Crystal and Stevens both have their virtues.  If you are a "weekend warrior" (like I am), I think that Crystal is easier to manage, both in terms of the drive and avoiding crowds (at both Crystal and Stevens, a bit of local knowledge goes a long way toward avoiding lift lines). 

 

Alpental is outstanding from a terrain perspective as well and can be magical on the right days - think the A-Basin of PNW (vertical, steep and more terrain than meets the eye) - but the snow conditions can be iffy due to lower elevation and weekend crowds until post-lunch are atrocious.  Hyak is also worthy, particularly on powder days (see the last sentence re weekend crowds at Alpy), but I probably shouldn't be sharing that secret so broadly.

 

1.5 to 2 hours is pretty normal day trip range - SLC is really an outlier.  Most Seattle skiers daytrip.  Baker is a bit outside the range for a reasonable day trip unless you live pretty far north - but then Stevens is an option as well.

 

In my view, the biggest advantage of Crystal over Stevens (on a weekend) is the drive home.  From Crystal until Enumclaw there is only 1 route, but there are no traffic lights or stop signs (excluding the turn from Crystal Mountain Road on to 410 which is a right turn with no on coming traffic).  The variable is road condition, but otherwise it is reasonably predictable and steady.  And once you get to Enumclaw, the cars disperse in a zillion directions (either to Seattle, South sound or the Eastside).  The post-ski return west from Stevens is a bit more of a slog.  Highway 2 is the only way to get from Stevens to Monroe, but the lights in the towns along the way can really back things up.  It didn't used to be like this. . . I used to favor the Stevens drive.  But population explosion in the suburbs/xburbs east of MSFT has really changed the nature of this drive.  It is a bit of a zoo (as is parking at Stevens).  So my take is that if you are willing to commit, unless you are particularly loyal or local to Stevens, Crystal is the place.  If you want info re Crystal ski school you should PM @markojp - he is a stud.

 

That said, you have an 8 year old kid (who may be a shreader for all that we know) and your wife sticks to the groomers.  So if your family is still learning and you want to reduce the impact on your life (and maybe do 1/2 days, nights, etc. . . ), don't get "bro bahed" out of a Snoqualmie pass and appreciating place like Ski Acres (Summit Central) for its merits.  It is an excellent learning hill with nice stepped progression in terrain for kids to master.  A lot of us put in "hard time" at Ski Acres and Snoqualmie (West) with our kids for the payoff of having awesome ski partners at Crystal or Alpental downstream.  Remember - for kids it is all fun.  Kids don't know the difference between Ski Acres and Crystal . . . until they do.  And until they do - it is just your ski day expectations (and ego) that you are managing.

post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
 

Change your screen name--hardly ever powder on the western slopes of the Cascades, except the local kids call anything fresh, including the tiny white wet sponges that fall from the sky, powder.  It doesn't rain, but sometimes we do get Cascade Clear Flake...

 

Disagree. In a normal year, this area gets a solid number of powder days. Roll in a few other textures of nice fresh snow and the picture is pretty enviable (at least if you have modern gear).

 

The reason the Cascade areas are not more widely regarded for their snow is a lack of marketing for one simple reason --- there is no point in doing national or international marketing. These are ski areas, not resorts. Colorado and UT each have about ten bazillion beds to fill every night. The WA Cascade areas have, maybe, if you are generous with your definition of ski lodging, a few hundred between all of them. There are plenty of places elsewhere  that are well regarded for their snow that are a joke in terms of snow quality and quantity compared with the areas we are talking about. 

 

Yes, the Cascades can get rain events. We sometimes get ugly upside down snow cycles. Whatever. The fact that this place normally just gets so much snow compensates for that -- you just get a ton of everything. The fact that the moisture content is a bit higher is IMO a good thing. The snow sticks and accumulates at angles that are almost unimaginable in someplace like CO. It fills in chutes that'd be just plain nasty otherwise. It builds a base that likewise would be almost unimaginable in much of the Rockies Depending on the area, it is typical to have well over 100 inches of settled snow on the ground in the latter part of the season.  I've seen Stevens go from 70 inches to 140 inches in about two weeks in a really good cycle. And so on...

 

There are precious few places in the US that can routinely  beat the snow picture here. The cottonwoods and GT are the only ones that come to mind at the moment. 

 

Of course in any given year, you get what you get... And it certainly pays to be good with cloudy days and storm skiing,

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