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Oregon / Washington? Need some input!!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thinking about heading up north for a change. We dumped our timeshare week in Utah and will go to Mammoth if they get some snow in a hurry. It doesn't look to promising right now. I know thing scan change with one big storm.

Anyway, the kids (12 & 14) are off until Jan 8th. We've been pretty much everywhere in the Western US but Oregon & Washington. The problem is, I don't have a clue about the logistics up there. I'd prefer to go some place where I could hit 3 or 4 resorts over a week....even if I have to drive to a new location after a few days.

I'll ride anything but prefer trees (Jackson Hole & Steamboat are tops!!). My son follows me pretty much everywhere in the right conditions. The wife loves fast groomers and my daughter bounces around on blues and easy blacks at a slower pace...usually hanging with my wife. Baker has always sounded great for my son and I but I don't know where it is in relation to other resorts or an airport.

Looking for any input I can get....thanks!!!
post #2 of 15
Skiing is generally good in the PacNW. Usually lots of snow -- which can range from superb deep power to "cascade concrete" and everything imaginable in-between. However, there really aren't any full-fledged "resorts" in these parts (like Tahoe, Utah, Colorado, etc.) -- except for Mt. Bachelor (Bend, Oregon) and the Canadian ski areas. Whistler is really unbeatable. Yes, most every place in Washington will have some minimal accommodations, but nothing like a "village" or town (i.e., Breckenridge, Park City, Whistler). And the distances between the various areas is much greater than, say, Tahoe (where Heavenly, Squaw, etc. are all in pretty close driving range) or Utah and Colorado -- where the resorts are also relatively concentrated geographically. Lots of driving involved to hit several places in the span of a week. For example, I live in Seattle and Crystal is (realistically) 1 hr 45 minutes one-way. Snoqualmie is an hour from Seattle. Stevens is 90 minutes. If you set-up a base in Seattle or Bellevue, you could do Crystal one day, Alpental/Snoqualmie the next, Stevens after that, and then Baker (probably a minimum 2.5 hour drive to Baker). If you went to Spokane, you could do Schweitzer, 49 Degrees North and Mt. Spokane. The Canadian Okanogan is good and I believe Big White and Silver Star have reciprocal arrangements.

Lots of options -- but again, this is, by-and-large, "blue-collar" skiing. Don't get me wrong -- we have great terrain and conditions in the NW, but there's no on-mountain nightlife to be had.

Seattle Times Snowsports Website:


Here are some pictures from Crystal Mountain...

Mt. Rainier view:


Powder Bowl at Crystal


Green Valley Bowl at Crystal


Top of Rainier Express (Green Valley) at Crystal


I'd recommend... stay at the Hyatt in downtown Bellevue (there's a huge upscale mall and lots of restaurants right across the street for night-time activities) and do the 4 areas I suggested over a 4-7 day span. Or stay in downtown Seattle if you prefer the big city feel. If, during the course of a week, you manage to ski the backcountry at Crystal, Upper International at Alpental, Stevens and Baker in a week, you legs will be shot -- in a GOOD way!
post #3 of 15
post #4 of 15
Why not go up to Whistler? They are having an epic early season this year. I think I read that they had 19 feet of snow since Nov 1. The place is so big that you won't get bored. And, there is plenty to do off of the hill as well. Your kids will love it.:
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. It may come in handy.

I've been to Whistler (3) times. It is OK but when you factor in the bizarre weather (DENSE fog & rain?!!!) and crowds, it's not nearly all it's cracked up to be IMO.

I would definitely consider an Interior BC trip as well if the conditions are good. That will be my project tonight....Washington and Interior BC research!
post #6 of 15
No big mega resorts in Oregon. Terrain is lame, the snow is wet and it's windy all the time. We don't have any villages at our ski resorts. Everyone goes back down the hill after skiing to town. Crystal is much more of a skiers mountain. You could put every ski resort in the state together and it still wouldn't be even close to the size of Whistler. Oh no here comes another storm off the coast........
post #7 of 15
I'm rideing K2 Mod 7/8's. I really don't see your question.
Do you have some expectations? Like a nice resort or daily pow? Are you ready to explore a different mountain every day or do you want to stay on the mountain and play? I can understand the kids hanging close and playing with the mountain that is offered but what or how much variety do you want?
Crystal is both green and black, easy to play or steep and fast but the lodging is primative and shallow, as are most 'resorts' in the area. Not fun for overnighters. What do you want for the day, the week?
OK you know Crystal...what are you looking for? resort, mountain experiance, group action, multi level opportunity? where are you going here?
just for discussion are you ready for Lake Louise? four resorts within driving distance...each as different as can be.
post #8 of 15
If you didn't like the weather at Whistler you won't like it at any of the areas from the Cascade crest west. They are just like their Canadian counterpart except the top isn't as high. Good snow can be found, but not with complete reliability. You could get garbage or heaven.

None of these places, including Crystal, are "resorts." They are day areas, and Crystal has a small amount of accomodations. The skiing can be very good, but you won't have the full resort experience. You have to drive every day.

Try the B.C. interior, Silver Star, Sun Peaks, Big White, etc. if that's what you're after.
post #9 of 15

Oregon / Washington? Need some input!!

Given your preference for trees, liking jackson and steamboat, I would skip oregon and limit the remaining choices to crystal, possibly baker, and interior BC. My problem with OR areas is lack of steeps on volcanos( mt hood meadows, and bachelor (top seldom open this time of year)). Crystal probably worth 2-days to explore the hike-accessed backcountry which gets you a huge amount of terrain including some great tree skiing, steeps, and untracked if you hook up with a local. Crystal lodging OK for a single overnite, and good food at Alpine Inn. Baker small but interesting, especially if you bring shovel + pieps and patrol has the backcountry gate open and you like to hike. Remaining westside WA areas not up to jackson standards so far as terrain goes IMO, and I would definitely skip the snoqualmie pass areas and am lukewarm to recommend stevens. Agree with other posters inputs on all these areas not being "resorts".

The drive to the interior BC areas (via I5 to hwy1) can be really nasty winter driving (esp the coquihalla portion, see http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/bchighwaycam/index.aspx ) so plan for 5-7 hours drive from SEA . I've been to sunpeaks (was OK) , but if going that way again would consider silverstar, big white, apex, and red mountain which are all a few hours apart. A possible trip itin would be crystal 2-days, then drive ~4hrs to baker (or ~8hrs to interior BC) for the balance of the trip.
post #10 of 15
I'm in the same situation as you are. I'm headed up to Oregon/Washington in mid-February. I'll be there for the Presidents Day holiday. I've never skiied up there but I do have a few friends there. With their advice, I'm going to kind of follow the snow b/c the weather conditions out there can be VERY bizarre (rain one day followed by a cold dump the next). So I'm basically going to see what the weather is going to be like virtually the day before I arrive and go with the flow. You almost have to. In terms of resorts, I'm definitely going to spend two days at Crystal followed by maybe two days at Mt. Baker (potential to get ALOT of snow). The only drawback to Baker is the drive from Seattle (where I will be staying while in Washington). Down in Oregon, I'm going to hit up Mt. Hood Meadows just b/c I have a friend there and Mt. Bachelor if possible (heard it's a must if there's snow). Mt. Bachelor again, is kind of a haul from the Portland area (where I'll be staying in Oregon). So to make a long story short...go with the snow.
post #11 of 15
Hello K2rider, and welcome to the Barking Bears, BHallDDS.

You might really enjoy Mt Bachelor:

We're having a pretty good year so far with a mid-mountain base over 8 feet and still more snow falling.

While the front-side is mostly intermediate stuff, there are some good tree shots between Skyliner and Sunrise Chairs to be found. Also, the Rainbow chair is something of a little-known gem; it goes higher than the other three lower mountain lifts and, because it's fixed-grip, stays relatively untracked and uncrowded. The Summit chair has opened a few times this season already, but it's the late winter and early spring when you can really count on it for some wide-open bowl skiing.

The Northwest Territory (inset) has over 2000 feet of vertical, and Atkenson's ZoomBrookie's Run Devil's Backbone (lower)Devil's Backbone (upper)Osprey Way (lower) Osprey Way (upper)Snapshot Alley (off the top)Sparks Lake Run (lower) have enough variety and steep sections to keep most skiers interested.

Ed's Garden has some good tree skiing off to its sides, and the trees around most of the Outback Express Chair runs often hide some good powder stashes, as well.

If either of you do plan to make it out here, do feel free to PM me if you would like to meet up.
post #12 of 15
I've always thought Mt. Bachelor is the most underrated large ski area in North America. While I'm particularly enthusiastic about the 360 degree corn snow skiing in spring, it seems clear that there's a lot of tree skiing and powder potential off Northwest and Outback. Midwinter the Summit will be closed a lot, which does diminish the Bachelor experience.

I agree with Posaune's comment that if you don't like Whistler's weather you really won't like it at the lower Seattle areas.

If you want the best tree skiing anywhere, I recommend the Kootenay areas along the U.S. Canada border: Fernie, Red Mt., Big Mountain, Schweitzer, Whitewater. Flying into Spokane (cheap on Southwest from SoCal) you can hit at least 3 of those in a week.
post #13 of 15

My 2 cents on Washington Skiing

I agree totally with the Crystal recommendation. They are by far the biggest, especially if your willing to hike into the backcountry. Crystal also has the best lift system with their high speed six packs and I think the lay out works pretty well too. The terrain will keep all levels of skiers happy for at least a couple of days. The biggest piece of advice I can think of to help people out with going to Crystal is, you can get easily two to three times as many runs if you go Mon-Fri as opposed to Sat/Sun. Usually during the week there are no lift lines at all. Usually on weekends in Jan. Feb. and March the parking lots fill up all the way, and there are a helluva lot of parking spaces. Go during the week, not the weekends!
Ditto on Baker too. Baker rocks, but its pretty far out of the way. Would be worth it though if they are getting dumped on. The chances that Baker will be getting dumped on... pretty frickin good, they average almost 650 inches of snow a year.
I know that a lot of people wont agree with me on this, but I think Stevens is worth a day trip from the Seattle area if they are getting good fresh snow. Go during mid week after a big dump and the you could be skiing freshies all day long in Mill Valley on the backside. Just make sure to smile and wave to the 5 or 6 other people you see back there. If you like night skiing, you can ski til 10pm every day except Tues/Wed and its not like a lot of places that have very limited terrain open. The entire front side of the mountain is open for night skiing except the double diamond and 7th heaven chairs.
So there you go, thats my 2 cents, I hope you guys have a blast!
post #14 of 15
Oh yeah, one more thing. Bring goggles with clear lenses.
There are a lot of days in the PNW with less than stellar visibility.
post #15 of 15

Wash and Ore

K2rider. Another possib ility, look these resorts up on goggle.

Fly into Spokane, drive 1hr30min the Schweitzer in Idaho ski there until want to change take 1 day trip to 49 Degrees North return to Schweizer lodging (30-40 min drive). Leave Schweitzer drive to Red Resort in Rossland Canada (about l hr 30-45 min drive-have passport and /or good picture ID). Stay at Red or Nelson BC and ski red one day or two and then one day at Whitewater in Nelson.

You will have: Uncrowded skiing, nice small personable villages or towns (Nelson). Can even call Valhalla Cat Skiing in Nelson the day before and get standby status if available at a good price. Nelson is a really neat little Canadian town. Check out on the net and you'll see what I mean. As of today we have between 6 and 7 feet of snow and its snowing as I type this.

If you have specific Q. etc. send me a PM. And the snow over here in the inland PNW is dry and deep. No matter where you go have a great time. Pete
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