Pacific Northwest Ski blog (and a few other places!)

Lots or reports from skiing around the Pacific Northwest, with some East Coast excursions thrown in for good measure

Skiing around Mt Rainier

I’m sure my climate scientist friends would tell me it’s sheer coincidence, but it seems that whenever La Nina takes a break in bringing huge winter storms to the Pacific Northwest, the east coast of Australia gets deluged with unwelcome summer rains. Last year it happened in January/February and Queensland got flooded, but this year it seems like La Nina has taken an early, pre-Xmas southern vacation.

The snow drought continued here through mid December, but luckily cold weather was keeping the Cascades snowpack in fine shape. We hit White Pass on a stunning, sunny Friday, cruising the new backside terrain all day long with what seemed like 10 new friends, and constant Mt Rainier views. I was impressed by the rolling new runs, with heaps of off-trail opportunities once the snow pack builds. A bit more vert on these runs, and it’d be perfect. As it is, I suspect it’s the perfect mid-winter draw for weekend crowds, leaving the advanced frontside runs for crazies like me. I can deal with that 😉

After skiing, we essentially circumnavigated Mt Rainier to get to Crystal Mountain, the king of Washington skiing. With more cold weather and sunshine, and none of the usual Crystal hoards to dodge, Saturday was another superb groomer day. Even better, the sun worked magic all morning on the steeps under the Rainier Express, making for spring-like skiing through corny, crystalline slush by early afternoon. This we exploited frantically until the sun crept away, and these lines deteriorated as rapidly as a Charlie Sheen show.

Sunday unfortunately was a little dreary. Foggy, cold, grim – a day for the diehards. We hung in until 2pm, but it wasn’t difficult to jump shop early and head home. Come back soon La Nina, we’re missing you.

White Pass – 7300m, Crystal – 8700m, 6200m

Season Totals: 11 days,  79,300 vert, 3 powder days

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