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

Late February Battles with El Nino in the Cascades

I guess it was inevitable that at some stage during this Godzilla El Nino season we’d experience some of the expected (and unwelcome!!) climatic effects. The temperatures started bouncing around just before President’s Weekend in mid February. This made for less than ideal conditions – warm, damp, gales – for the weekend. Ah well – first average ski weekend of season in mid Feb isn’t bad.

The week after was warm and damp early, but luckily the temperatures dropped and so did the snow. Saturday was a 6-8 inch Mission Ridge powder day under deep blue skies. A fabulous ski day.

The following week also saw oscillating temperatures and variable precipitation. Our plans to go farther afield (to Mt Bachelor) were scuppered by a warm wet southerly, so before it rolled in, we snagged a gorgeous day of exploration at Snoqualmie and Alpental. We started by revisiting some of the steep bumpy runs off Silver Fir and the triple in Summit Central. The snow was in surprisingly good condition – it was excellent ‘nearly Spring’ skiing – and the views were darn fine.

Around 11am we hopped on the 5 minute shuttle ride to Alpental, and entered a different world. Nestled at the end of the road with steep mountains rising on either side, you quickly forget the raging freeway a couple of minutes away. An express quad serves some excellent, wide and rolling terrain with traverses to challenging bump and tree runs. This was worthy of a few quick laps alone.

Above the Armstrong quad lies an ancient double chair. It’s so slow that loading feels like gently sitting on a nicely cushioned sofa. It does the job though, and opens up a world of bowls, chutes, cliffs, gullies and steep 1500ft descents back to the base. It’s an advanced riders paradise – almost like a mini version of Crystal’s epic Northback terrain. Alpental is certainly worthy of its reputation. And we live 45 minutes away 🙂

Luckily the dampness missed Mission Friday night. Saturday turned in to a very fun Spring ski day indeed, which made us very hoppy. And on Sunday, winter returned. Hopefully to stay for a good few weeks!

Mission 8100m, 8000m, 8600m vert

Snoqualmie/Alpental 6700m vert

Mission 10,400m, 7100m vert

Season Totals 38 days, 303,800m vert, 18 powder days





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