Westside Snow Report: A Guide to Washington’s Ski Resorts

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Mountain to Sound Outfitters assists our community to help prepare for the winter skiing and snowboarding season. Do you know your local mountains? Which one has the best lines or the best view?

The staff at Mountain to Sound Outfitters is diverse and each member chooses a mountain based on various factors. First is travel time, how far are you willing to drive for snow? Second is what the mountain has to offer, does the mountain have youth lessons, food and speedy chair lifts? Third is annual snow fall, do they have regular pow and/or regularly serviced runs?

Skiers and snowboarders are not the only ones gearing up, so are resorts. We got in touch with Brianna Stoutenburgh, Marketing Assistant at Crystal Mountain; “This time of year it seems as if everyone is running in five different directions at the same time. We start switching back over to winter-mode at the end of our summer operations in late-September. Our mechanics are maintaining ski lifts throughout the summer, as well as doing required load-tests and such to meet industry standards and to make sure our lifts are ready for another ski season. They are also maintaining our snow-cats and other resort appliances. The retail shop switches over to winter products after a summer of tourists and hiking necessities.”

Just like choosing your new equipment, with the variety of ski area options that we have in the pacific NW you can choose a mountain that caters to you and your family’s needs. We have chosen four local areas that are popular for West Seattle residents. These are not the only options, but provide a good overview of where to explore if you are living in Seattle.

Crystal Mountain Resort
Bigger, higher and busier. Crystal is known for terrain variety and abundant annual snowfall, with the only Gondola in WA that gives access to the upper mountain when snow levels are high early and late season. Crystal is very popular mountain and can get crowded on the weekends; however that can be said for any ski area during the great snow conditions on weekends as there is a healthy skier population in the Seattle area. The Gondola built in 2014 makes for an easy ride to the top and great maintenance means crisp groomers when needed. Crystal is keen on family skiing and offers seasonal lessons and cozy lodges. On the flip side, Crystal has more than 35% Black Diamond runs, including the steeper side runs ‘Northway’ and Southback which fulfills the advanced skiers need for a challenge but can be rough on beginners. There are in bounds hikes to great snow at these accesses as well and it is recommended you use appropriate rescue tools and have a buddy with you.

The Details
Summit Elevation: 6,872 feet
Acres: 2,600 acres
Runs: Approx 57
Average Annual Snow Fall: 486 in
Best Attributes: Largest Resort in Washington, Gondola to the top, Views of Mt. Rainier
Lessons: Daily, weekend and private lessons, plus backcountry tours and guided excursions
Distance from Seattle: Two hours, 80 miles.

Daily Lift Tickets:
Adult – $74
Youth (11-15) – $50
Kids (0-10) – FREE

Season Lift Tickets:
Adult – $1,200 – Early bird has already passed!
Youth (11-15) – $800
Senior ( 65+) – $800

The Summit at Snoqualmie and Alpental
The Summit at Snoqualmie offers 4 different ski areas that are all joined by a common ticket and Season Pass. There are a variety of peaks that offer different types of skiing/snowboarding. Although located just a short shuttle ride from one another, The Summit offers Summit West, Summit East and Summit Central territories, which contain 70% beginner and intermediate runs; while Alpental offers its own unique terrain that is much steeper with only 10% intermediate blue runs. Although it operates with only four chair lifts, the locals love the challenge of Alpental and the lift access backcountry that can be had by traversing off of the upper lift. The Summit at Snoqualmie offers the shortest drive from Seattle, an abundance of lessons, and night skiing 6 days a week until 10 pm so you can get your mountain fix after working in the city.

The Details
Alpental Summit Elevation: 5,420 feet
Summit Central Summit Elevation: 3,865 feet
Acres: 1,994 acres
Total Lifts Summit at Snoqualmie): 25
Average Annual Snow Fall: 429 in
Best Attributes: Shortest drive from Seattle, complimentary on-site shuttle between Snoqualmie and Alpental and low pricing on season passes.
Lessons: Daily, weekend and private lessons available. Over five different lesson chalets at Snoqualmie to choose from in addition to Resort options.
Distance from Seattle: One hour, 55 miles.

Daily Lift Tickets:
Teen & Adult (13-61) – $66
Youth (7-12) – $45
Senior (62-69) – $45
Super Senior (70+) – $12
Child (0-6) – $12

Season Lift Tickets (Through Nov. 4th):
Adult – $479
Teen (13-18) – $389
Youth (7-12) – $319
Senior (62-69) – $319
Super Senior (70+) – $89
Child (0-6) – $89

Mount Baker
The northern, wallet friendly mountain, known for its annual snowfall, Baker is located close to Bellingham, Washington making it an adventure destination for Seattle skiers and snowboarders who want new terrain to explore. Nestled in the Northern Cascades, Baker tends to be colder and steeper with variable terrain similar to Alpental. Many ski it for the inbound backcountry chutes and cliffs, others for the fresh snow and wilder runs. There are also beginner cruisers for family fun, and the views of Mt Shuksan are incredible on a clear day.

The Details
Summit Elevation: 5,089 feet
Acres: 1,000 acres
Total runs/lifts: About 26 runs and 8 quad chairs
Average Annual Snow Fall: 659 in – Wow!
Best Attributes: Season pass rates haven’t increased in four years, world record snow fall in 1998-1999 of 1,140 inches, spectacular views of surrounding Cascade Mountains.
Lessons: Beginner lessons, private lessons, multi-week lessons and race development programs, plus snow science education!
Distance from Seattle: Two hours 30 minutes, 135 Miles.

Daily Lift Tickets:
Adult (16+) – $59
Youth (11-15) – $40
Child (7-10) – $30
Senior (60-69) – $51
Super Senior (70+) – $38
Kid (0-6) – FREE
5th Graders – FREE

Season Lift Tickets (Through Nov. 4th):
Adult (18+) – $725
College (full time student) – $625
Young Adult (16-17) – $495
Youth (13-15) – $285
Child (7-12) – $210
Senior (60-69) – $430
Super Senior (70+) – $120
Kids (0-6) – $12

Stevens Pass
A tree covered mountain with quality snow, night skiing and solid intermediate runs, Stevens is a classic ski resort with a healthy mix of blue intermediate terrain as well as black diamond options.  A famous chair lift called ‘7th Heaven is known for steep challenging runs with drops and chutes. The front side is perfect for beginners and long time skiers looking for longer, scenic routes. Locals love the number of runs open for night skiing and the epic tree lines Stevens has to offer.

The Details
Summit Elevation: 5,845 feet
Acres: 1,125 acres
Runs: 39
Average Annual Snow Fall: 460 in
Best Attributes: Partnership with Outdoors for All to provide adaptive youth programs, beautiful tree skiing, good night skiing terrain and lighting.
Lessons: Beginner lessons, youth, senior and adult lessons, group and private lessons, D-Team for advanced skiers and snowboarders
Distance from Seattle: One hour 30 minutes, 85 Miles.

Daily Lift Tickets:
Ages 16-69 – $67-74
Ages 7-15 – $45-50
Ages 70+ – $15
Ages 0-6 – FREE
5th Graders – FREE

Season Lift Tickets (Tier 2 Pricing, limited availability):
Ages 7-15 – $429
Ages 16-69 – $649
College – $369
Ages 70+ – $129
Ages 0-6 – FREE
5th Graders – FREE

To Sum it Up
Many of us live in this region because of our proximity to a variety of mountains. We also have just a short time until ski areas start opening for the season, and any big snowfall should mean that resorts will begin opening. If you are looking for seasonal, daily or weekend rentals, stop by Mountain to Sound Outfitters to beat the rental lines on the mountain, plus receive access to rental tunes and shop experts year round.
Below are links to all the local ski areas so you can visit their sites for the most up to date info. If you want to contribute this dialogue, come by Mountain to Sound Outfitters and let us know how your trip was or feel free to post in the comment section.

Crystal Mountain Resort
Summit at Snoqualmie
Stevens Pass
Mt. Baker Ski Area
Mission Ridge Ski Area
White Pass Ski Area
Loup Loup Ski Bowl

Make sure you check the WSDOT Pass Reports for driving conditions.

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Westside Snow Report: A Guide to Washington’s Ski Resorts

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