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Where to Ski near Seattle

In my opinion the best place to ski around here (the Seattle area) is Steven's Pass. They have enough challenging terrain and on the backside of the mountain there aren't too many lift lines, even on the weekends. Steven's is my typical-weekend ski area.

When I'm feeling a little bored with Stevens, though, Crystal and Baker are great alternatives that don't take too long to get to. Baker typically gets some really nice powder. The next sentence used to be "I don't have anything against Snoqualmie Pass..." but now that statement is a lie. What I have against Snoqualmie pass is:

  • The only good terrain up there is at Alpental.
  • The Edelweiss lift is too slow and you end up waiting 30+ minutes in the line as a result.
  • Alpental was closed unexpectedly for no reason that I could discern (other than "it is Monday") the last time I went up there.
  • ...so I skiied "summit central" instead which had two lifts open, very limited services, but still cost $48 for a ticket. Lame.

Once or twice a year I get out to Whistler, BC or Mt. Hood. This year I get a weekend down in Tahoe. Last year we made it up to Sun Peaks, BC. Someday I hope to check out Mt. Bachelor, Alta, Jackson Hole etc...

Here are some links to find out what the roads are like up in passes.

Checklist and Random Advice

Here's a (helpful?) list of stuff to bring with you when you go skiing. My wife Lynn got me a nice bag that holds everything but the skis/poles in one convenient place.

 winter jacket (...with lining in or out, depending on temperature)
 snow pants
 hat or helmet (I prefer helmet)
 goggles (...or sunglasses, depending on temperature)
 wallet (with $$$)

Everything else is optional. You might be cold, you might have to spend money to rent skis/poles/boots etc... But you can ski. I guess technically you could buy everything at the slopes... but that would be really expensive and skiing already costs enough!

 long underwear
 longsleeve shirt
 fleece (...or just your jacket's lining)
 face mask (...for really cold, windy days; good to keep in jacket pocket)
 ski lock? (...I don't use one but I guess I should)
 nice wool socks
 shoes that are easy to slip in and out of

I always wear sandals skiing... this is stupid, I guess, if the car get stuck and I have to push. But so far this hasn't happened. I like the sandals because when I get to the parking lot I can sit on the tailgate, kick off the sandals, put on my snow pants, stand on the sandals, put on my ski boots etc... They are easy to get on and off.

 suntan lotion (...protect your face on those bluebird days at high elevation)
 map of the ski area (...pick one up at the lift ticket counter)
 dry socks for afterwards (...in plastic bag)
 new shirt for afterwards (...in plastic bag)
 spare hat for afterwards (...in plastic bag)

I keep this "afterwards" stuff in the same ski bag as the rest but I keep it in a big zip lock plastic bag so that it doesn't get all wet. This is stuff to change into after a long day of skiing.

 some granola bars / lunch

Going in for lunch sucks because it means you have to stop skiing. Also, for me at least, it takes me a few runs after lunch for my legs to get back into skiing. Also, while everyone else is eating lunch the slopes are less crowded. So anyway, I eat a good breakfast and pack a couple of granola bars in my jacket. Then I can ski all day, eat granola on the lift rides if I get hungry, and skip lunch. On the way home from skiing maybe you can find a local dive bar with good burgers and bar fights for your entertainment.

 two-way radios (with cool mic/speaker gadget!)
 charger(s) for said radios (...if you're going for more than a daytrip)

My parents gave us some little FRS (walky-talky type) two-way radios for Christmas last year. They make skiing with a group much easier. You can (and I have) also bought a little mic/speaker attachment. The idea is that the radios are hard to use with gloves on. It's too clumsy to dig for them and talk/answer. Instead this mic/speaker thing plugs into the radio with a long cord and mini-phone plug. That way the radio stays in your pocket and the mic/speaker can clip on your collar. Highly recommended.

 Transportation to carry you and gear (...I use a Subaru Forester for this purpose)
 Ski rack (...and make sure it's closed/locked.)
 Tire chains? (...I've only used mine once but some roads require them)
 Ice scraper

I'm embarrassed to admit this... it is further proof of how dumb I can be sometimes (especially very early in the morning). One fine morning me and some buddies were going up to Baker. About two minutes after getting on the highway I hear this strange noise. Yes, I forgot to close and lock the ski rack on top of the car. When I pulled over the skis were all there (thank goodness) but were being held by friction alone. The worst part is that I have done this one other time since then. So now there is a rule that, while loading the car, someone says "locking the ski rack" and someone else says "check."

While we're on the topic of me being stupid let me warn you to be careful of diesel fuel pumps in Canada. Unlike here in the States they are not idiot-proof (here we make them not fit into the gas tank pipe of a non-diesel car). Suffice to say I was in a hurry and learned this from experience. Duh.

Another little tip: when you park, flip the windshield wiper blades on your car up. That way if it snows (or ices) three inches while you are skiing it will be easier to clear off your windshield.

Hope you have fun! See you on the slopes.

index.html was last updated 19 July 2013 and is Copyright (C) 2002-2019 by Scott Gasch (scott.gasch@gmail.com).