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

Tag Archives: Mission Ridge

April Riding in the Washington Cascades

Deep snow. No crowds. Generally good weather. Spring skiing in the Cascades in mid-April can be majestic.

Crystal skied beautifully all weekend on their penultimate weekend of the season. There had been lots of snow on the Friday and the remnants were plentiful all over the mountain on Saturday. Sunday a crazy wind hit the high ridges until lunchtime. Crazy as in ‘almost impossible to push off Rex and head down the hill’ crazy. The groomers everywhere were great though, soft and perfect for laying down long carving turns. By noon when the wind dropped, the wind blown off the Green Valley chairs was epic.

A great weekend of steeps and quality snow and groomers.

Mission didn’t disappoint the following weekend either. Sunny clear-ish weather meant for cold nights and warmer days. This delivered classic Spring corn snow by noon. The highlights were laps of The Castle on both afternoons. Perfect corn on a majestic Spring ski weekend.

That wrapped up another superb season at Mission for us. Just 14 days. But with included free days at 49 Degrees and Snoqualmie Pass, that adds up to 20 days on a ~$400 season pass.

We have purchased again for next year 🙂


Crystal 10,900m, 8000m vert

Mission Ridge 8000m, 6700m vert

60 days, 496,800m vert, 16 powder days


Wrapping up February at Mission Ridge

There was some seriously wild PNW weather in mid-February, and when we arrived at Mission at President’s weekend Saturday, it was clearly in ice-storm recovery mode. We had 2 inches of heavy snow on firm stuff underneath, which was excellent for 3 runs. Then it got skied off. So Saturday was ok, but by Monday the ski hill was covered in many more inches of super light snow and we had a genuine, wonderful powder day. It was a day spent in trees that now have fantastic cover. Pick a line off the cat track or sneak into Wawa trees, and there was great pow everywhere.

The following weekend was a little similar. Saturday was a good groomer day with fun off-piste excursions. Sunday was a dumping powder day. More snow. More ripping tree avoiding excitement. And there were maybe 500 people on the hill. Welcome to Mission Ridge.

Pres Weekend: 5600m, 9500m, 8500m vert

Sat 8500m, Sunday 8200m vert

Season Totals: 39 days,  321,700m vert, 10 powder days


Riding in the Washington Cascades Sunshine

January often brings ‘the doldrums’ to the Pacific Northwest. A period of high pressure gives sunshine in the mountains with little new snow for a week or two. This year, the last half of January is very doldrums-like. Still, the base is good and the occasional little top ups and cold temperatures keep the skiing kinda fine.

A Sunday at Snoqualmie was never going to be quiet. We started at the Summit East parking lot, and when we clipped in the bindings, the snow arrived. Good timing indeed. We explored Summit East quite extensively, and there is some good fall line, bumpy terrain there. By the end of the day, with a couple of inches new snow on top, these runs were ripping wonderfully. And East is not a busy spot.

We then skied from Summit East to Summit West, skirting smallish lines in Central – very respectable for a Sunday really. The killer runs were under the Wild Fire chair in West. Short but steep, bumpy, with trees to hop around and snow covered boulders to drop. And no wait at all.

The lines midweek at Alpental typically comprised the ticket checker and me. There were maybe 100 people there for a morning of high-speed frontside groomer and bump shredding. The bowl off chair 2 was pretty solid, so I avoided that, and after 20 laps of the quad, I was rolling back down the freeway to Seattle.

It wasn’t really a lot busier at Mission Ridge on the weekend. Lodges were packed with racers and families, but most chair rides required a 1 minute wait maximum. The mountain was still riding well despite having little new snow for a week. And the views were pretty darn awesome. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful part of the world.

Snoqualmie 5900m

Alpental 8300m

Mission Ridge 9200m, 7100m

Season totals 29 days,  236,300m vert, 8 powder days

Cold and Snowy at Mission Ridge

Wow it was cold at Mission Ridge on the first weekend in January. Really cold – like ‘-17C with wind chill’ cold. The skiing was rather tasty though. Despite frequent stops at Midway to warm up, we shredded silken groomers early and later played in the inch or two or new snow that fell from early afternoon. And we still got down to town in time to watch the Seahawks whip Detroit.

A little more snow fell Saturday night, and Sunday we had light snow most of the day. It was still cold, but not freeze the ‘nads off a polar bear cold like the day before. The top up of freshies made for mighty fine skiing.

With a tad of care on the drop-ins, all of Mission’s intriguing and fun tight tree lines were ready for exploration. These kinda hidden and unnamed tree shots are one of the joys of Mission Ridge. Once the lines fill in, there are numerous lightly tracked options, some genuinely steep and most a ski or two wide.

The variety this offers makes Mission such an appealing and enjoyable place to ride. Add the lack of crowds – no lines all weekend – and you know why we drive over the Cascades at weekends in midwinter!

Saturday 8800m, Sunday 8400m vert

Season totals 21 days,  162,300m vert, 8 powder days

The Great Mission Ridge New Year Deluge

A slightly solid, slightly low snow Mission Ridge on New Year’s Eve gave no hint of what was to come on the first two days of the 2017. The weather was sunny and cold, and base was good but about a foot short of ‘ski anywhere’ coverage. 2 days later and 39 inches of blower pow, that problem was put to bed. For the season.

Not even the weather forecast bore clues of the impending deluge. A couple of inches were forecast for New Year’s Day, with just a few flurries afterward. The reality was very different.

The snow started innocuously enough about 9.30am on New Year’s Day, and the steady light snowfall did a very welcome job of refreshing the groomers. By noon it was really coming down. Puking. We declared a powder day by 1pm when a run down Allah in 4-6 inches of super light wind loaded pow brought whoops of delight all around.

By the end of the day, the conditions were quite wonderful. A liftie at midway measured 11 inches of new snow on the seat of a broken chair. Every run had at least half that amount just begging to be smashed by the 200 or so people left on the mountain (the Seahawks were playing!). Every drop in off Windy Ridge was face shot territory. What a day.

The forecast for the next day had the snow petering out overnight. So imagine my surprise when I rolled groggily down to breakfast and ski buddies said 28 inches had fallen overnight. 28 inches at about 17F. 28 inches. This is Mission Ridge. 28 inches. That doesn’t happen here.

It did. There was so much snow the mountain opening was delayed, but soon after 10am we were riding Chair 4 and choking on snow on every turn. In places there was actually too much snow. You needed some angle to gather speed and hence the flat spots were a struggle. But runs like Johnson’s and Tyee and Mission’s many tree shots, that the day before were marginal, were now trips to the White Room.

I guess it was one of those occasions that you just had to see to believe. I suspect the locals will talk about the start of 2017 for many a year. I very glad we got to experience it. 39 inches in 24 hours at Mission Ridge. Really ….

Mission Ridge 8100m, 10100m, 5500m vert

Snoqualmie 6400m vert

Season totals 19 days,  145,100m vert, 8 powder days

Closing down a wonderful season at Mission Ridge

All good things have to come to an end, and the 3rd weekend in April was the time for this wonderful season at Mission Ridge to shutdown. It was a festive weekend, full of costumes vaguely related to the flamingo theme, and, well, lots of people drinking. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that Mission just uses skiing as a front to sell copious amounts of alcohol. Works for me 🙂 The skiing bit, that is.

The warm weather had damaged the sunny, Bomber side of the mountain, but the cover was excellent on the 2/3rds of the terrain that remained open. Saturday was warm and true Spring skiing. There were some fantastic soft, corned up bumps on runs like Lemolo, Johnsons, Tyee and Maggies. The groomers hung in too, helped by the 2pm closing.

Sunday was more late winter than Spring. An overnight freeze made everything off groomed pretty solid, and a cold wind was as welcome as a carton of beers at an AA meeting. We skied mostly groomed all morning, with the runs off Chair 3 particularly rocking and rolling. The sun finally worked its magic on the upper mountain bump runs by the afternoon, and by 2pm everything was starting to ride very sweetly. And then the lifts closed 😦

So that was 22 days this season at Mission. 22 very fine days. It’s a great place to call my home mountain.

6800m, 10,200m vert

Season Totals: 60 days, 483, 600m vert, 23 powder days

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




Late January at Mission Ridge

El Nino? What El Nino? Mission has a 60+ inch base up high and 50+ at the base – as good as I’ve seen in quite a while. This is a great snow year (fingers crossed it’ll stay that way!). We skied the last two weekends in January at Mission Ridge, and the conditions were tasty indeed.

The first weekend was cold and clear with plenty of pow to mop up after a storm the night we arrived. We ripped the soft snow and soaked up the spectacular views. And thanked our lucky stars that we have season passes at a treasure like Mission Ridge, where crowds really don’t exist.

El Nino did make a dramatic, brief appearance on the West Side of the Cascades after the weekend, which was as welcome as Donald Trump at an Hispanic  farming convention. Luckily the damage on the east side at Mission was minimal, and although the warm up left a firm base, the temps dropped and 5+ inches of blower pow fell, which hid a lot of lurking evil. The solid base seemed to scare most folks from venturing off groomed, which just left more for us. It was tough to take, and to be honest variable in places, but there was some very fine untracked turns to be had all weekend.

Sun 8300m, Mon 8200m, Sat 8800m, Sun  8400m vert

Season Totals 29 days, 230,500m vert, 16 powder days

Welcoming 2016 at Mission Ridge

The Godzilla El Nino-defying conditions continue to prevail in the Pacific Northwest. We spent 4 fantastic days at Mission Ridge over New Year. Very cold and clear weather for 3 days kept the conditions pretty darn primo. And Sunday brought a surprise powder day – it was all really rather fine. And totally deserted. The views weren’t bad either.

Mission has an excellent (50+ inches) base for early January with only a few tree tops protruding from some steeper slopes causing any inhibitions. Highlights were perennial favorites like Maggie’s, Bomber Bowl, WaWa trees – these are Crystal Mountain steep – and a plethora of wonderful groomers.

A little snow fell during the following week, so we headed back for another clear, cold weekend of ripping creamy groomers and chalky, steep bumps. December’s storms seem to have abated for a while, but as long as it stays cold and we keep getting a few top ups of snow, January is going to be a fine month at Mission Ridge.

New Years Eve 6600m, New Year Day 9100m, Saturday 9300m, Sunday 7200m vert,

Following Saturday 9100m, Sunday 7700m vert

Season Totals: 20 days, 152,400m vert, 10 powder days




Powder Weekend at Mission Ridge

It was about 10.30 Saturday morning at Mission. Already two or so inches of pow had come down, and while stood at the top of the Tillikum run, I heard some locals say ‘this is already better than any time last season’. I don’t normally give credence to idle ski hill gossip, but this was convincing as it was the third such comment I’d heard in an hour. The conditions were in fact very good, and getting better every minute. And last season must have been terrible indeed – a good one to miss 🙂

It pretty much snowed from 9am Saturday until 10am Sunday. Good early conditions were transformed to a ‘free refills every run’ powder day by early Saturday afternoon. This was superb skiing – there were so few people and so much snow you could leave fresh tracks on groomers by mid afternoon. Every run.

By Sunday 13+ inches had come down. Unfortunately Sunday morning suffered the Barwin Curse of the Liberator quad remaining stationary due to weather. Luckily The Curse broke by noon, and while most of the pow was crusted by the wind, the groomers and off piste areas protected from the wind were primo.

This storm will have done wonders to the ski hill base. If the weather doesn’t get crazy El Nino warm and wet, Mission could have a pretty good season. It’s certainly looking promising right now, but El Nino years are about as predictable as the GOP primaries, and sometimes a lot less entertaining. Keep those fingers and toes crossed everyone, and drink Ullr with vigor!!

Saturday 8800m, Sunday 5700m vert

Season totals: 6 days, 46,400m vert, 1 powder day