This past Friday (4/18/2014), Jeff Rich and Chris Olsen enjoyed an awesome ski day on Mount Pilchuck, with not another one or two plankin’ living soul for miles and miles. Mount Pilchuck is a peak found off the “Mountain Loop Highway”, about 60 miles NE of Seattle. On a clear day it offers epic views from the “old fire lookout”, which now can be a welcomed skier or hiker shelter on a not so perfect PNW outing. Be sure to check out the short video Jeff put together of their day on Ole Pilly.
Crystal Mountain, WA has some BIG plans in store for us. We’re not just talking about tomorrow, Sat. April, 19, 2014 when they’re packing in 3 fun events: Bikini & Board Shorts Downhill, King & Queen of the Hill Freeskiing and Riding Competition (video below) AND Washington’s Jr Freeride Championships. Sure, Crystal Mtn. looks like the place to be tomorrow – but even more so in years to come: we are super stoked to share news that Crystal will be adding TWO new chairs for the 2014/15 season, TWO MORE new chairs out of B and C parking lots and a new slopeside hotel! For next season, we’ll see a new fixed grip double “Chair 6″ (which replaces the High Campbell chair taken out by an avalanche on March 10, 2014) and a new Quicksilver fixed-grip CTEC quad (replacing the double). TWO MORE lifts planned for the next couple of years will be Kelly’s Gap Express and Bullion Basin out of the B lot and C lot, respectively. The latter will provide access to some of the best ski-touring terrain in the area. Crystal’s goal is to build both of these lifts within the next 3 years, with one as early as next summer. Lastly, in the next few years, Crystal will be breaking ground on a new 150 room hotel where the Chapel building is currently located. The hotel will start with an initial 45 rooms spread out over three floors with additional rooms built as single-family cabins scattered along the hillside. More slopeside rooms, lifts from B & C lots – wow, now that’s good news – Crystal, you rock!
All eyes are on our WSDOT teams as they began work this month on clearing snow off two of Washington’s most popular mountain passes: North Cascades Highway SR20 and Chinook Pass -gateways to some of our favorite backcountry skiing terrain. The WSDOT teams are working hard (as usual) to get North Cascades Highway open by mid-May and Chinook Pass open on Friday, May 23 in time for Memorial Day weekend. The opening of Cayuse Pass usually happens between those two (or as early as May 2? this yr per Mt. Rainier NP’s site – which also has White River Rd. to White River Campground pegged for a 5/23/14 estimated opening). When WSDOT measured snow depths back in mid-March along the North Cascades Hwy, the summit of Washington Pass measured almost 10 ft, which is double the depth of last year. Snow on the highway below the Liberty Bell avalanche chutes averaged 35 ft deep. As of yesterday, the West and East side crews are 11 miles apart (at MP 153 and Spiral Gulch MP 164 just 1 mi. east of Liberty Bell Mtn, respectively). The forecast is calling for up to 9″ of new snow by tomorrow at >4500′ but we hope WSDOT continues to plow on through. Once open, the North Cascades Highway, a Scenic Byway, provides the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington and access to the 684,000 acres North Cascades National Park complex (with over 300 glaciers, the most in the U.S. outside of AK). Cayuse Pass located at 4,675 ft elevation and at the junction of State Routes 123 and 410 is about 5 mi west of the 5,430 ft high Chinook Pass summit. Cayuse Pass connects to Chinook Pass and White Pass on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park. As we count down to this year’s opening, check out this video featuring WSDOT’s Avalanche Specialist, John Stimberis, and Crystal Mountain’s King of the Hill, Andy DeVore, from a past opening day at Chinook Pass. Also, study up on Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes Washington, the definitive guide by Martin Volken and his team at Pro Guiding Service. Live to ski another day!
This past April first, began a 3 day powder fest for Matt Heffernan and a few friends. When you see the vid below of the deep pow they choked on for 3 days, you might think the April Fools joke was on all of those who didn’t make it up to either Big or Little Cottonwood Canyons. Knowing Matt has spent some post season time destroying the big jump lines of Mt. Hood, I’m hoping we can talk him into heading a little further North to join us for some Spring BIG line skiing here, in the Central Cascades! Photo credit – Matt Heffernan / Skeier – @Doctor_Grey
Our friend Jackson Dove had so much fun last year on his trip to Golden Alpine Holidays, that is was just revisited recently (this trip was to the Sunrise lodge – seen in pic from the G.A.H. website). Below is a short writeup from Jackson, along with his sweet short edit, that sums up their trip to this remote lodge located in Esplanade Range of the Selkirks. So remote, G.A.H. gets you out there via heli.
This March we spent a week at Golden Alpine Holidays‘ Sunrise Lodge. The forecast of a sketchy snowpack with several deep persistent weak layers from earlier in the season would keep us to low angle terrain below treeline. The weather also delayed part of our group and supplies from flying into the lodge the first day. Luckily a weather window opened and we got in the next day. Then it started dumping snow and combined with the amazing terrain and pillow zones at Sunrise Lodge made for another all time week of human-powered shredding in the Esplanades. By the end of the week we were beginning to go native, and hoped that the storm would continue and prevent us from ever flying out.
No time to type about our day from yesterday, ’cause we gots to go play, eh!!! Get out and get some sun and snow too!
Little “Hans Solo Production” messing around skiing to a lake (in the 4K to 3K zone) the past two afternoons. Very relaxing, even though the timber below 3,500′ is becoming a little testy, with more and more debris / holes appearing every day. Heading up higher than the pass today, to seek out open sunny slopes to play!
As many of you know, our snowpack at 3,000 feet in the Central Cascades is looking good. Here’s a quick peek at our biggest peak, and how it’s lower elevations are looking (apx 10,500′ to 5,500′), as we move forward into our post season adventures. Be sure to check out Carl Simpson’s edit from this past Monday (4/7/2014). BTW, if you want a super long glacier skis like the one below, that yields over 5,000′, then be sure to click the link in our “sponsor” window to get info about H2O Guides / H2O Outdoor Gear, so you can book a trip before their AK heli season wraps up for 2014. (photo/edit credit – Carl Simpson)
Calling this edit, “Real Snowriders”, because it was one of those weekends where everyone I skied with (no matter what tool they were rocking to ride the snow) was having a blast riding the truly Spring conditions. The fresh snow off the top was good fun to start the day off on both Saturday and Sunday, but became much heavier in the afternoon. Oh yeah, we also got a little wet Sunday afternoon, but we looked at that as an aid to speed up the lower mountain sweet corn. Below is the somewhat short edit with a bunch of friends just having fun! Alpental is open until Cinco de Mayo, so mark it on the calendar and we will see you this weekend.
The Northwest Avalanche Center has announced changes to their spring weather and avalanche forecasting schedule. After April 12th, NWAC will cease daily forecasts and transition to weekends with forecasts releasing on Fridays and Saturdays for the last two weekends in April. Thereafter, NWAC will issue an avalanche and weather outlook highlighting potential avalanche concerns for the upcoming weekend (but not a specific avalanche danger rating) every Thursday afternoon during the month of May. This weekly outlook will not be updated unless unusually hazardous spring avalanche conditions are expected. NWAC will continue the past practice of issuing special avalanche statements when unusually hazardous spring avalanche conditions are expected.
With our PNW spring weather expected to be warmer and drier than usual, we’re looking forward to plenty of great days of skiing and riding in the backcountry. To help you prepare, join NWAC tomorrow, Thursday, April 10 at 7:30pm at Second Ascent for “Making the Transition from Winter to Spring: How to Plan Big Lines and Multi-Day Tours without a daily Avalanche Forecast”. The session aims to equip you with the tools to evaluate conditions leading to good decisions in the backcountry. Be sure to attend if you’d like to learn how to plan and execute a tour without the daily forecast, tips and tricks on how to time your tour with the weather, and what to look for in the spring snowpack so you don’t get caught in the shed cycle. Sign up here. Live to ski another day!