Updates on Snow, Pass, and Driving Conditions
by Greg Whittaker
Time to dust off your winter friends. I grew up skiing Alpental, and have a crew that I annually ski, tour, and snow dance with that have been missing from my life since last March. Typically the season ends in May, but with the poor late snow year in ’14-’15, I was done by the end of March and transitioned to paddling out here in Elliott Bay and off Alki.
This year is shaping up nicely with a number of storms that have started filling in the upper elevations. Yesterday Mt. Baker had 13″ fall at the base, and they only need another 8″ to open. Snow pack at Crystal, Upper Alpental, Stevens Pass, Mission Ridge, and White Pass is up for the week as well. We have a warm front hitting right now with this windy weather, and the snow level has shot up to 7K feet, but a cooling trend is following the warm front which could lead to enough snow to open Mt. Baker and Green Valley at Crystal Mountain in the next week. All areas are staffed up and ready to go, and we are awaiting mother nature to provide us the right conditions.
In the meantime, it’s time to go through your gear bag!
Pull everything out. See what fits, and pat down the pockets of your ski pants and see if you left a fiver in your pocket. Put on your boots. Since we wear a lot of sandals in the summer, your feet can spread out and you will feel things that resemble pain, and if that’s the case come visit our boot fitter. Helmet, goggles, gloves, jacket, pass, check….is my mantra as I am walking out the door as I usually don’t forget my pants.
Regarding your skis or snowboard. Take a look at the bases. Are they dry and chalky at the edges? That would indicate you need wax. Close your eyes and run your finger down the edge to feel for rust. If it isn’t smooth (which is most likely the case if they need wax) you are due for a tuneup. If you’re on a snowboard, strap in and check your stance, feeling good? Tighten down those screws and add a breakable thread lock if they are not seating tightly. Ski bindings also have a lifespan, so if they are on some old straight skis, they probably aren’t functioning as designed. I recommend an annual binding test which will let you know if the torque values are accurate for release.
Here are some links to the ski areas so you can visit their sites. Status of commonly visited Washington ski areas, for the time being: OPEN.
Greg Whittaker is the owner of Mountain to Sound Outfitters your West Seattle ski, snowboard, kayak, and paddle board experts that can also rack out your car so you can carry all that big gear.