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A weekend's skiing near Seattle in January?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi Folks

Can an occasional poster from Scotland get a bit of advice on skiing in Washington please? (first dustng of snow on the hills here smile.gif)

 

I find myself going to a conference in Seattle (Redmond actually, so guess where...) w.c. January 17.  I'm plotting to fly out on the Friday before and have Saturday and Sunday (15th, 16th) skiing somewhere.  A quick google says Crystal Mountain is the largest area, but given I think that's a holiday weekend I'm not sure if it's going to be the best destination. Also, my initial plans were to stay beside the slopes on Friday and Saturday night but there sure doesn't look like there's much 'life' around there.  I'm now thinking maybe just check-in to where I'll be staying for the week in Redmond and 'commute' daily.  It cetainly means I could go somewhere different each day, or even hold off the decision to the last minute based on the weather/conditions?

 

Is Crystal Mountain the place to be heading for, or is there somewhere 'better'.  I know 'better' is a bit subjective, but are there places folks enjoy more?  After 45+ years of skiing there's not much I won't have a go at, but I'm kind of past finding any appeal in parks and pipes, and the body cries 'no' when I see big mogul fields now. So just some decent snow and runs with some interest in them. 

 

Also, are the roads cleared or do I need to rent a 4x4 or chains to any of the areas - I know nothing of Washington but I've a time-share in Tahoe and know the problems of being allowed through there sometimes without a 4x4/chains.

 

I'm treating this as a few days of bonus skiing - I've got a trip to the Alps planned for Feb, plus the Tahoe place in March so it's not as if my season hangs on these few days, but it would be nice to get some decent skiing somewhere I've never skied before.

 

Plan B is to fly into Vancouver and get up to Whistler, then drive down to Seattle.  Only thing that discourages me is I've skied Whistler a few times before and I fancy ticking somwehere else off the 'skied there' list.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 18

Worthy places to ski in order of distance to Redmond (closest to farthest) are: Alpental, Stevens Pass, Crystal Mountain, Mt. Baker, Mission Ridge.

 

If you are planning on skiing on the weekend in the Seattle metro area in January be prepared for monster crowds.  Weekdays are uncrowded, but if you can't do it then, prepare yourself.  If lack of crowds and interesting skiing are what drive you, then you might think about Mt. Baker.  The weekend population there is much lower than in the urban WA areas.  There is no slopeside lodging, but that's the same everywhere but Crystal.  You could get a place in Glacier, about 25 minutes away and commute, though you would need to make reservations since this is all private cabins, B & Bs, and condos.

 

Most times a FWD car would work just fine.  Chains are required from time to time, though, so if you want total indemnity from the horrible fate of putting on chains, then a 4WD is needed.

 

post #3 of 18

The list above is a good one.  A few more points:

1. I believe the 17th is King Day (not George, Martin) which many people have off, so that weekend is potentially extra busy.

2. Check the ski reports; based on conditions one area may be a much better choice than another.

3. There are sometimes chain controls on roads to all ski areas.  Check with the rental car company when making arrangements.

4. Both Stevens and Crystal can be epic in good weather - totally world class.  I haven't skied Alpental in years & never at Baker (shame on me!)

post #4 of 18

You just never know... In a La Nina year, there is at least the possibility of being pounded every day that time of year (let's hope). I'd try to rent an AWD vehicle & get the chains hassle mostly off the table. Then play it by ear a bit.

 

As noted above, the various microclimates are such that a particular weather cycle can massively favor one area over another - even overnight and not that many miles as the crow flies. I'm talking one area getting feet and another getting inches...

 

Do you know where you are staying?

post #5 of 18

All good advice above, I'll add my $.02.

 

I haven't been to Baker, but have been to Stevens, Alpental and Crystal.  In my experience, the roads are kept more clear than either OR or CA, and the chain restrictions are less common around here.  However, if it's going off and the chain restrictions are in place, you'll be out of luck w/o AWD.  Just for a weekend, I'd probably try to rent something with AWD so that you just don't have to worry about it.

 

If you're gonna stay in Redmond, I'd just wait until you see the weather and snow reports at the last minute.

 

Finally, one word of warning, Alpental can be *ridiculously* crowded on a weekend with good snow.  Much worse than either Stevens or Crystal.  The worst lines I've ever waited in outside the east coast at Xmas time have been Alpental on a weekend after a good dump overnight.  Happened to me twice, now I won't go there on weekends anymore, just not worth it to me.

post #6 of 18

With a wee bit of luck there will be a lot of snow for you then.  Everything listed above is great.  We are all biased, I like Crystal. 

 

Crystal may be able to handle the crowd a bit better on a busy weekend.  There will be 3 lifts getting you out of the base area, plus a couple more lifts you probably don't care about.  This should make quite a difference for the enjoyment factor.  It is also the largest by far.  If you want to stay slope side there are a few places available to you, and The Snorting Elk will entertain you for a evening or two.  You would not be bored here and it would reduce the driving, just one trip up the hill.  A pretty good little demo shop up there too. 

 

Anything up off of Snoqualmie Pass will be a zoo that weekend; that said, Alpental rocks.  Great skiing, and it would be the easiest access from town.   

post #7 of 18

It just struck me that nobody has asked how long your conference is.  If you're in town for a few days, you could take advantage of the extensive night skiing available at Stevens Pass and/or Alpental.  After the conference finishes for the day you could be on the slopes in about an hour or so.  Night skiing at Stevens is not available on Tuesday or Wednesday, however.

post #8 of 18

If you will be staying in Redmond than you want to go to Mt. Bachelor over near Bend only about an hours drive or less.  I just spent several days in Redmond this past summer and you can see Bachelor clearly in the distance along with the Three Sisters.  The cool thing is they are all volcanos!  I was also was able to ski Mt. Bachelor 2 seasons ago for a week and had a blast.  Never a lift line and we had 2 of the best powder days of my ski life.  Being a Vocano you can ski 360 degrees around the cone.  You take the chair to the top.  Go right and you go the the only extreme area where the volcano last blew its top and ski into the crater.  Go left and you strart traversing around the cone and you can drop down anywhere you like eventually hitting a cat track for the run out.  Great tree skiing on the back side.  I would go back again.

 

Rick G

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickg View Post

If you will be staying in Redmond than you want to go to Mt. Bachelor over near Bend only about an hours drive or less.  I just spent several days in Redmond this past summer and you can see Bachelor clearly in the distance along with the Three Sisters.  The cool thing is they are all volcanos!  I was also was able to ski Mt. Bachelor 2 seasons ago for a week and had a blast.  Never a lift line and we had 2 of the best powder days of my ski life.  Being a Vocano you can ski 360 degrees around the cone.  You take the chair to the top.  Go right and you go the the only extreme area where the volcano last blew its top and ski into the crater.  Go left and you strart traversing around the cone and you can drop down anywhere you like eventually hitting a cat track for the run out.  Great tree skiing on the back side.  I would go back again.

 

Rick G


Wrong Redmond Dude.  He's going to Redmond, Washington, not Redmond, Oregon.

 

As far as ski areas near Redmond, Washington, I prefer Stevens Pass over Crystal.  Crystal is most definately bigger, but I had more fun at Stevens by a long shot.

post #10 of 18

I have had "epic" days at both areas. Here are the web connections:

 

Mt Baker has great snow and outrageous terrain, if not too warm. All chairs are regular quads, no high speed. The best "out-of -bounds" skiing "in-bounds," you will ever ski. Holds the world record for deepest snowfall in a season(approx. 1100 inches in 1999?)

Farthest from Seattle approx. 3.5 hours.

Crystal Mountain can also have good snow and great terrain but as previously mentioned can be very crowded. 2 hours from Seattle.

Both can provide you with an outrageous ride.

 

 

 

http://www.mtbaker.us/index.php/snow-report

 

http://www.skicrystal.com/

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by FujativeOCR View Post




Wrong Redmond Dude.  He's going to Redmond, Washington, not Redmond, Oregon.

 

 

Oooppps!  Nevermind.  Carry on.

 

Rick G

 

post #12 of 18

I agree with the "stay at your hotel and check for powder".  Baker, Stevens, Crystal are all great mountains.  Check out the Northwest Avalanche Center's website for real time snow fall and temp info.  http://www.nwac.us/  They do a pretty good job of predicting how much snow will show up in a specific region.   I'd also recommend skipping out on the conference all together and just skiing.  

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice folks.  Plan is therefore to just stay in Richmond and drive up both days - probably to Crytsal - but we'll check the reports out first.  I've always taken my own gear gear everywhere but for 2 days skiing out of a weeks's trip I think I'll just take boots and hire something.  That'll be a new expedience.  Say 'Hi' if you spot an old bloke in an orange jacket with skis far too close together by todays standards

post #14 of 18

If you want to avoid crowds check out White Pass....

 

http://skiwhitepass.com/mountain/trailmap.cfm 

post #15 of 18

Crystal!

 

Crystal is no farther then Stevens from Redmond, WA. There is a more direct route to take from Redmond then heading back through Renton and Maple Valley.

 

Takes me an 1:25 from Bellevue.

 

PM me for route details.

 

Also the road to Crystal is not a Major Mountain Pass Route. It is a destination to Crystal since Chinook and Cayuse Passes are closed during the winter. Read no Semi Trucks or Cross state traffic to deal with.

 

Crystal is opening a new Gondola from the base (The 1st in Washington State) in December. 9 minutes to the top! They have dramatically upgraded the food choices and there is amazing in-bounds lift served "Back-Country Terrain".

 

Crystal 3100 Vertical feet and 2600 Acres (2300 Lift Served) 300 In-Bounds Patrolled Backcountry. 12 lifts including  Base is about 4450' top a bit over 7K

 

 8-passenger gondola
2 high speed six-passenger
2 high speed quads
2 triple chairs
4 double chairs
 

Stevens by comparison has about 1100 acres and 1800 verts. 10 lifts Base about 4100' top about 5900'. Stevens usually gets about 80" more snow a year then Crystal.

 

 

Also there are accomodations at the base of Crystal, even though somewhat humble. The Quicksilver Lodge (adjacent to the main upper parking Lot) is not bad. I have stayed there numerous times.

 

No on-hill at Alpental (which I wouldn't even bother with for a short stay and weekend crowds)  And yes i have skied Stevens and Alpental since 1963 hundreds of times.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

OK folks, thanks for the advice.  Leaving UK tomorrow and plan to ski Saturday and Sunday before getting to a conference at Redmond.  I've just had a look at the forecast and it's saying snow/rain - shame but hey it's skiing so not all bad ;)

 

Staying in Bellevue and have a rental 4x4 so at the moment I'm guessing I'll just go to Crystal Mountain both days, unless anyone can come upwith somewhere this weekend that might miiss the rain?

 

If anyone spots an old Scottish bloke wth an orange jacket and Scott Missions on the hil looking lost and wet, pop up and say hi :)

post #17 of 18

Unfortunately, it looks like you're not getting above the freezing level no matter where you go, but sounds like you've got the right attitude to enjoy the weekend anyway.  Have fun!

post #18 of 18

With the current weather forecast, your best bets would be Whistler, Mission Ridge or Baker...if you wanted to ski cement instead of straight rain. Mission is your best bet for minimizing moisture.

 

My advice for the weekend - stop and buy a set of Grundens before going up.

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