Washington State Resorts Bring Modest Upgrades To New Season

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Late to the party, Pacific storms have finally unleashed their wintertime largess on the Pacific Northwest this season -- and Washington's skiers and riders can't wait.

When they head up to the mountains, they will find couple of new chairlifts, a few more eating spots, streamlined ticketing and a bit more parking.

At Alpental -- the big brother of four-mountain Summit at Snoqualmie complex -- a replacement triple goes in on the beginner hill. It upgrades the Sessel chair, one of the older double chairs (1967) in the state. While it's expected to have minimal effect this season, plans call for a new lift to link the top of Sessel to the upper mountain.

Trying to unclog weekend and holiday lift lines, Alpental also added chairs to the workhorse Armstrong high-speed quad. All are part of a master plan to freshen up an aging lift system. Elsewhere at Snoqualmie, the magic carpet at the base of Summit Central got an upgrade, as did night lighting.

Over at Stevens Pass, another old double is out. The 63-year-old Kehr's chair has been replaced by a new fixed-grip quad to make it easier to connect to the Double Diamond chair and Big Chief Bowl. Also at the Seattle-area favorite are dedicated carpool parking in two lots.

The state's largest hill, Crystal Mountain has put in a mid-mountain yurt at the base of the Rainier Express -- the second on-hill eatery on Crystal's 2,600-acre expanse. RFID ticket access has been expanded on the mountain. And down below, management keeps trying to mitigate crowding with new lot shuttles, more RV overnight slots, and expanded bus service from Enumclaw.

About halfway between Seattle and Spokane sits Mission Ridge, a top-rated learning mountain on the eastern slope of Cascades. This season, Lift 4 got a mechanical upgrades, as did night lighting. These modest improvements are the beginning of what is planned to be a major expansion at Mission Ridge.

In other upgrade news, White Pass now required RFID ticketing for all. And, Mt. Spokane now has a rustic taphouse at the top of the hill.

And good news from the Olympic Peninsula: local hill Hurricane Ridge will reopen this season after a fire destroyed its base lodge two seasons ago. It's basic-basic for visitors to the hill withing the Olympic National Park: Temporary bathrooms and "contact station," use cars for warming and pack food. No potable water, food, or rentals right now.

 

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As Springtime Arrives, A Trio In Washington On Indy Pass Beckons

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If the skiing and riding jones persists this season, heading to Washington's White Pass, 49 Degrees North and Mission Ridge for a couple of days on an Indy Pass may be just what the doctor ordered.

Spring skiing is most often about "playing the mountain," and the different aspects at White Pass fit that perfectly. Slated to stay open daily to April 16 and weekends to April 30, its 1,400 acres and 2,000-foot drop spread evenly on two hills, each offering different sun angles at different times of the day. Expect heavy snow because White Pass is on the Pacific side of the Cascade. But that also means corn snow and soft spring conditions.

Beginners need to sunscreen up because there's not much shade on the Far East green terrain. A pair of chairs deliver to 6,000-foot summit of Pigtail Peak, where a bunch of blues a few greens pitch off to the northwest and northeast. The only blacks diamond trails live up there, clustered tightly under the two chairlifts.

A traverse from the top ends in Paradise Bowl -- the newest area of the resort. Pitch is mostly blues but the trees loosen up for some of the most persistent glade skiing in the Pacific Northwest. Again, the trail system spreads around the mountain, creating varying conditions during the day.

Mission Ridge -- set to stay open daily until April 9 and tentatively weekends to end of month -- sits on the eastern front of the Cascades, meaning storms dry out a bit before falling on its 2,000 acres. Its 6,800-foot summit is high enough to keep snow from mushing up too soon. A large cirque contains the trail system, which tends toward the northwest. Afternoon skiing and riding is often the softest of the day.

Experts get whole sections to themselves, as a long traverse along Windy Ridge quickly separates them from the less adventurous. Innumerable lines drop off the ridge that tend to be sheltered from the sun. The rest of the trail map welcomes spring conditions with dozens of wide open blues and a sprinkling of short black diamond pitches. Another place to hone playing-the-mountain skills.

And 49 Degrees North, scheduled to keep spinning through April 9, faces north in its midst but fans out to the east and west on its flanks. Good-sized at 2,300 acres, the trail network divides sensibly with greens and blues on lower half, and long-running blacks diamond trails on the upper mountain.

49 Degrees is nearly in Idaho, so the snowfall sheds moisture on the Cascades before getting there. It's a mix of Pacific-heavy and Rocky Mountain-dry, meaning spring skiing and riding will come with a wider variety of conditions than most Northwest mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

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SnoCast: Groundhog Is Right...Winter Conditions Remain

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Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter, and we agree. We're tracking winter weather and highlighting the ski conditions from coast to coast in another SnoCast. This week, we can expect a biting mid-winter burst of Arctic air across the Midwest and Northeast, along with two snow-making systems for the West Coast. Let's dive into the details for the week of February 2–8, 2023.

East

The coldest air of the season yet will settle across the Midwest and Great Lakes Thursday night, and then pour into Eastern Canada and the Northeast U.S. Friday and Saturday. 

Temperatures will plummet ~10-20+ degrees *below* average and gusty northwest winds pick up as a cold front presses east, creating dangerously cold wind chills between -30 to -50 degrees for portions of Upstate New York and New England, with the potential of even colder wind chills of -60 for interior Maine, matching some of the coldest wind chills observed in decades.

Of course, we know this might not stop you, but be smart and safe. It's the kind of cold where the lodge is your friend and good layers are essential to protect your skin from the cold. The graphic below is straight from the U.S. National Weather Service.

 

As the cold rushes in, there will be a burst of snow on the leading edge of the cold front from the U.P and northern Michigan late Thursday, moving toward Pennsylvania, New York, and New England early Friday. Expect anywhere from a dusting to as much 3 inches in spots. Locally heavier snow falls east of the Great Lakes thanks to a bit of lake enhancement.

Sunday, as temperatures rebound, the East remains largely quiet across the East but for a few quick passing snow showers over northern Michigan, the northern Adirondacks and Vermont. A quick clipper charges across Eastern Canada and northern New England with light snow possible again Tuesday (Feb. 7).

West

After a rather chilly week out West, temperatures will moderate this week with near average temperatures for early February. The first of two snow-making systems shifts onto the U.S. West coast Friday. The first, a cold front, will deliver snow from the northern Sierras (north of Tahoe) and Klamath peaks northward to the Cascades. While most see 2-6", there may be spots over 6" in the Washington Cascades, good news for Crystal, Mission Ridge, Stevens Pass and others nearby. Lighter snow is also in the forecast for the interior Northwest through Saturday. 

The next storm for the West digs in Saturday night through Monday with additional light to moderate snow for the Sierras, Cascades, and interior West. This system digs deep, all the way to the Southwest U.S. by early next week, with the chance for heavier snow over the four-corners states by later Tuesday-Wednesday. Keep an eye on that storm for Utah and Colorado, and possibly Arizona and New Mexico, too.

 'Til next week! Happy skiing and riding. - Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin

 

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SnoCast: April Showers Brings...The Diehards

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Early April is always a toss up for weather and the number of open ski areas slowly continues to dwindle. But, that doesn’t mean we’re done! Here’s what to expect in the forecast for those of you still hitting the slopes this week.

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Indy Pass Three-Pack In Washington Offer Full Spring Plate

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With two days on this season's Indy Pass or a Spring Pass, skiers and riders can cop some final spring skiing days at the big, the small and the in-between of the Evergreen State.

 

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Powder Alliance Resorts Reach Out To Passholders Of Sierra-at-Tahoe

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A half-dozen resorts of the Powder Alliance have provided pass holders at fire-damaged Sierra-at-Tahoe free access to their trails and slopes until the resort gets back on its feet.

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Western Season Passes For 2021-2022 Loaded With Extras

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The options keep on coming, as single-mountain season passes for next season have more add-ons than ever before to compete with the multi-resort mega-passes.

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SnoCast: Strong Sun for Early April Turns

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It’s sad, but true and time to face the fact there’s only so much ski season left. Whether you’re a die-hard to last chair, a pond-skimmer, or seeking out the best spring turns in a windbreaker, here’s what to expect weather-wise during the first week of April.

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Indy Pass Road Trip: Pacific Northwest

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Armed with an Indy Pass and full gas tank, the SnoCountry Road Trip team heads to the Pacific Northwest to explore what the state of Washington has to offer.

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All Over The Northwest, The Lights Go On For Night Skiing And Riding

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For Pacific Northwest skiers and riding seeking a different look, feel, and sound -- and fewer crowds -- to their experience, check out night skiing.

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2021’s Most Affordable Ski Destinations

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With ski season in full swing, vacation rental search engine HomeToGo compiled a list that revealed some of the most affordable ski resorts in the country.

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SnoCast: Recent Snow Blankets Ski Areas Both in the East and West

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With big snow happening on both sides of the US and Canada, conditions look fantastic heading into Christmas week.

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Indy Pass Adds 11, Expands Options For Passholder

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In its second year, the Indy Pass aims to corral more skiers and riders who don't go enough times to warrant a major multi-resort pass -- and prefer the ambiance of smaller, independent resorts.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Strong Storm For Groundhog Day

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Regardless of the Groundhog Day winter prediction, we have a big weekend storm to discuss, plus a lot of the season still left!

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Powder Stashes Abound In Northwest, But Heavier Than Most

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In most seasons, the Pacific Northwest can claim the most snow in the country -- and the heaviest powder. So, skiers and riders who head up to the Cascades know they have to work a bit harder to carve up the freshies.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Thankful For A Huge Western Snowfall

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Thanksgiving weekend will be especially tasty in the western United States and Canada with multiple helpings of snow storms.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: February Ends With Winter In The West/Midwest

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Pristine conditions to continue for Mt. Bachelor in Oregon. (Mt. Bachelor/Facebook)

It’s surely feeling and looking like winter across the West and Midwest as we wrap up the month. The East begins cooling off with snowmaking temps and better chances for new snowfall.

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Summit, Mission Ridge Hook Up; Crystal Mountain Goes Deeper Into Night

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That four separate mountains comprise Summit at Snoqualmie is feat enough. Now, there are five: Mission Ridge.

 

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