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

End of 2017-18 Season Summary

Since my last post, life kinda got on top of me. Crazy workload, trips to Europe, trips to Boston. There was time for work and skiing, and not much else. Hence here’s a brief wrap up of April and May skiing, more for posterity than anything else.

First stop was Whistler in early April. Great skiing, light crowds, hanging out with our  ski instructor friend Jess. It was funsies indeed, and a great way to belatedly hit 50 days for the season.

Friday 10,300m, Sat 11,300m, Sun 8300m vert

Saturday work meant we could only make the closing Sunday at Mission Ridge. It was the usual – great base, low crowds, Spring weather. Shame they closed.

Sunday 8000m vert

Work travel delayed the next trip until early May and a week riding Blackcomb. Despite the slightly limited terrain due to the new gondola construction to replace the Wizard and Solar Coaster chairs, there was some magnificent skiing. I love Spring at Blackcomb. Some GoPro footage of this week might emerge sometime if I buy a new laptop that can edit 60fps footage!

Sunday onwards: 6800m, 9400m, 11,000m, 8200m, 10,100m, 11,300m, 8600m vert

After a well deserved weekend at home we headed down to close the season at Mt Bachelor. The first 3 days were hardly Springtacular – the first day the lifts closed at 11.30am due to lightening (!) –  but the closing weekend brought sunny weather, silly costumes and lots of fun skiing.

3200m, 8200m, 6400m, 6300m, 6700m

Season Totals 63 days, 474,900m vert, 17 powder days

All in all, a decent season smattered with some truly wonderful skiing. Given the state of my knee on Sunday 7th January, I’m pretty pleased to still be able to churn out some decent vertical through the end of the season. The knee is far from perfect, but its manageable. Next challenge is biking season, with some long rides planned and serious training needed. If my knee survives that, there might just be some fun and games attempts to at least partially fix the bugger in early Fall.

Anything could happen.

Watch this space!

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Excellent March Cascades Skiing

We’ve been blessed with some sensational mid-late March skiing in our local resorts since returning from Lech. We started at Mission Ridge with a 6 inch cold smoke day on a typically mostly deserted Saturday. There were plenty of scraps left for Sunday too. A fabulous weekend with great snow and cold clear weather.

The following Friday was a wild one at Stevens Pass. 4 inches of snow had fallen overnight, but the solid base meant only the brave went off the groomers early. The weather then oscillated every 45 minutes or so between sunshine and absolute dumpage as the storm pulses rolled in from the west. By the end of the day, I was lapping the Winnie Chutes off Skyliner, picking up face shots. The rock solid base was nowhere to be found. Quite a day.

We carried on from where we left off Friday in some superb conditions at Mission Ridge. The late Friday afternoon storms had made it over to the east side of the Cascades and laid a soft blanket of snow on Mission’s runs. With no killer freeze-thaw cycle earlier in the week, the whole mountain skied great for the weekend under clear, cold blue skies. One day I’ll process the GoPro footage of this one. One day.

Finally, we spent last weekend at Crystal. This was one of those weekends where the weather forecast was as out of kilter as the Seattle Sounders forward line. Saturday was a fun, mostly groomer Spring day, but the promised sun never arrived to soften up the mountain.

By Sunday morning it was unexpectedly dumping. We left at 2pm and there were 5 inches on our car outside the Alpine Inn. Easter Sunday is a reliable ‘no one on the hill’ day, so all day there was freshies on the groomers, and as the base built. tasty turns were available all over the mountain. Loadsafun.

Another massive storm is rolling in off the Pacific as I write. We might be in for some fun at Whistler this weekend. I love Spring in the Cascades 🙂

Mission Ridge 8200m, 8500m vert

Stevens Pass 7800m vert

Mission Ridge 9400m, 8100m vert

Crystal 10,400m, 7900m vert

Season Totals 47 days, 340,700m vert, 17 powder days

Fabbo Mission Ridge powder weekend

Our current theory is that Mission Ridge Skiing and Snowboarding Resort is simply a front for an alcohol sales business. This end of February weekend certainly provided considerable evidence towards confirming that theory. A sunny, cold Saturday morning dawned, with 4+ inches of excellent pow blanketing the mountain. Skiing both on and off groomed was really fantastic. It even got vaguely busy about 10am, with a few minutes of almost unheard of line control on Chair 2. And waits for maybe 3 minutes for a ride. 3 minutes!!!

Then at 10.30am the bar opened. We skied on to every chair for the rest of the day. And of course, as a scientist, I offer considerable photographic evidence.

It really was quite amazing, especially given the high-quality conditions.

I also like to think management read my last blog post about only skiing groomers this weekend to help my knee recovery. Miraculously Lemolo was groomed, Allah was groomed, and the ‘tree shot’ below the top pitch of Tumwater was groomed. Unheard of! Unfortunately, it seems it was not my plea,  the real reason being the mountain acquired a new winch cat groomer. They were certainly putting it to good use. With a light wind blowing snow up these runs all day, they were quite superb indeed.

Sunday was almost weirder. Gale force winds were forecast so predictably Chair 2 didn’t open. But with serious dumpage happening, we expected horrid lift lines at chairs 3 and 4.

The reality? We skied on to every chair all day. If there were 200 people skiing, I’d be amazed.

We traversed from Chair 3 to the lower Bomber runs, getting fresh tracks every run in blower, continually refreshing pow. We hiked the cat track past Johnsons to pick up a few more dreamy pow turns. Conditions were so good they even tempted me off the groomers into trees on lower Wawa and off the Warren Miller Memorial run (aka Tillicum – geddit? it’s cryptic).

What a weekend. And by all account from my buddies this weekend, it got even better …

Sat 7600m, Sun 5400m vert

31 days, 206,400m vert, 9 powder days

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