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

Cruising the Cascades in early January

The only place in striking distance where new snow was forecast was the Washington Cascades, so that’s where we headed for the first weekend of 2013. First stop, Mission Ridge, delivered it’s usual mix of soft packed and wind blown pow, shredding groomers and  little treasures lurking in the nooks and crannies of the mountain. And due to the NFL Playoffs, it felt like we had the mountain to ourselves.

Next stop was Crystal Mountain, where the storms were due to hit big time. On Monday we benefited from 3 inches overnight, and constant snowfall in the morning. This started to freshen a somewhat frozen front side of the mountain, while on north facing slopes we found fine powder skiing as plentiful as dykes at a Florence + The Machine gig. It kept snowing lightly into Tuesday, and propelled by wind, Powder Bowl was a billowing powfest and groomer pow was everywhere and wonderful, even on the surprisingly finely manicured Glacier (aka Middle Ferk).

The big storm was due Tuesday night, but like the Republicans acceptance of tax hikes for the rich, it arrived somewhat late. But when it arrived at 7am, it turbo dumped. Northway had been closed the previous day, so as the new snow built up on yesterday’s freshies, the skiing was amazing. So few people were competing for the terrain, virtually top-to-bottom lines of deep untracked were available for the picking by mid-morning. The wonders of midweek skiing had me smiling like Ted Nugent at a gun rally.

We headed home via White Pass, where we hoped the remnants of the storm would be available for the picking. First lift rides confirmed these hopes, but the frontside untracked and wind blown layer hid mine fields beneath. The groomers rode like semi-freddo, but angular frozen bumps and steeps with death slide potential lurking off groomed soon made us enthusiastic to explore the newer terrain off the Couloir Express. The difference was remarkable. Additional altitude kept the base soft, and the lack of crowds kept the pow plentiful. Low angle cruising through the trees in the beautiful, cold sunshine kept us happy for the rest of the day.

Mission Ridge: 9600m, 8400m vert

Crystal: 9500m, 11200m, 10200m vert

White Pass: 7400m vert

Season Totals: 31 days, 15 powder days, 281,400m vert

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