Andy Traslin shot this one over the other day of a fun looking chute out of Squamish this past Feb. The target for he and Jamie Bond was the “Gun Sight Couloir” which was accessed from the Sea to Sky gondola. The pow may be mostly over now, but the BIG mountain fun is looking good here in the PNW!
X Games Big Air and slopestyle champion, Bobby Brown, was spotted this week at our home mountain, Alpental. The world class skier was doing some filming for his fans. Pictured here is just one of the kickers built on the lower part of the mountain: it’s hard to make out the flight path – we’ll have to watch his film when it comes out to see how he lands it. There was 0 room for error but obviously no problem for Brown who took Silver at X Games Big Air earlier this year. That was his 6th X Games medal. In 2010, Brown became the first skier at X Games to win two gold medals (big air and slopestyle). He was also on the inaugural U.S. Olympic Team for slopestyle skiing in Sochi, Russia. That same year, he won the Junior World Championships for slopestyle and won silver in the Euro X slopestyle. Winning is in Brown’s DNA. He has stood on the the podium countless times, from X Games Aspen big air to Dew Tour slopestyle to AFP World Champs slopestyle. Follow Brown on FB – we’re sure he will be thrilling fans for many years to come. Thanks for visiting Alpy, Bobby. Remember, Alpental is open this weekend both Sat. and Sun. 9-4. While there, pick up your 2016/2017 season pass at the lowest price of the year.
WSDOT has announced that the North Cascades Highway will open this Friday, April 22, 2016 at 11 a.m. That’s earlier than the May timeframe announced when work began mid-March. WSDOT’s west and eastside crews are working through the final 2 miles of this part of State Route 20, the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range and expect to meet up today. This Friday’s opening provides access to some of our favorite backcountry skiing, riding and touring terrain. Designated a Scenic Byway, the North Cascades Highway, SR 20, cuts through Washington Pass and the rest of the “North American Alps” – check our video below to see why the area is so deserving of its name. The early opening means this Scenic Byway will be open in time for not only Winthrop’s 49′er Days, the first week in May, but also for this Saturday’s opening weekend of fishing season. Time to check and get your backcountry gear ready. If you have Dynafit Radical bindings, check our post for warranty issues and visit Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, WA, the only Dynafit Compentence Center in the Northwest. Their 40% off sale is on now. Also, check out ProGuiding Service at the same location for spring ski tours and guiding in the area.
We’ve been able to ski and ride in T-shirts (and many others in less) every weekend in April at the Summit at Snoqualmie. The weather has been glorious. Alpental started out the month with a season snowfall total of 610″ so in spite of record setting temps, there’s still 78” at the base and 139” at the top of Alpental. Conditions are simply amazing. So amazing that the Summit at Snoqualmie’s not yet ready to call it quits. Yes: Alpental has announced that it will be open next Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24, 9-4. With Seattle on track this week to set another weather record, this time for consecutive days in April with 80+ temps, and the foothills already past 90 degrees as I write, we can think of no better way to escape the heat than skiing and riding at the pass. Plus, Crystal Mountain Resort is now closed for the season. Join us Alpentalics for what’s sure to be another fabulous weekend of spring skiing and riding.
Attention owners of Dynafit Radical Speed, Radical ST and Radical FT bindings: check if you have the original versions sold in 2011 and 2012. Dynafit is offering to replace the original heel posts from those model years with improved, stronger heel posts. The heel posts in the original three Radical binding models sold in 2011-2012 can crack or break so the upgrade is vital. View the video below to check if your Radical bindings need to be replaced. If so, those of us in WA are fortunate to have the Northwest’s only Dynafit Competence Center located at Pro Ski and Mountain Service in N. Bend, WA. Just bring in your skis -they will replace the heels free of charge since this is covered by Dynafit’s warranty. The replacement takes only 10-15 minutes unless they’re out of the parts in which case they will contact Dynafit and order the parts for you. Spring ski touring season is upon us, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to check and prep your gear -before heading out. Dynafit stands behind their products and is providing the upgraded, replacement heel posts for all of their original Radical Speed, Radical ST and Radical FT bindings no matter how long you’ve had them. Dynafit also has an anti-rotation device that prevents the original Radical binding heels from turning and slipping out of touring mode. Those can be installed by Pro Ski and Mountain Service as well for $25/pair. Watch the video and spread the word. Live to ski another day.
The Summit at Snoqualmie announced today that it is adding 77 acres that will connect Summit West and Summit Central. The 77 acres parcel acquired by the resort was formerly owned by the Mountaineers Club of Seattle. As part of the expansion, Dan Brewster, General Manager for the Summit at Snoqualmie stated that the resort will be “working together with The Mountaineers and others on a new route for the Pacific Crest Trail that will provide a better experience for all recreational users – summer and winter.” The ski area expansion increases total skiable acreage at The Summit at Snoqualmie to well over 2000 acres. Limited trail work on the property itself may start as early as this summer but most work is anticipated to happen in 2017. The resort will be working with the USFS in designing trails. Eventually, the area will include trails lit for night skiing. A portion of the newly purchased land will be open for the 2016-2017 winter season and will be accessible via the Wildside and Triple 60 chairlifts.
WSDOT’s spring cleaning has begun. Crews started clearing the North Cascades Highway from the west on Thursday, March 17 and from the east last Monday, March 21. Crews are optimistic that this part of State Route 20, the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington, could be open in six weeks. With most ski resorts nearing the end of their season, we begin our countdown to when these gated roads to Washington state’s backcountry skiing and alpine touring zones swing wide open. Here is the list of tentative opening dates (weather permitting) for key roads leading to our vast backcountry (click on the links for videos and info from our past trips to these favorite zones).
*By July 4th weekend typically, we hope(!): Artist Point
WSDOT crews working on the North Cascades Highway have cleared 18 miles in their first week, leaving 26 more to go. On Thursday, they found the total snow at the Washington Pass summit was 10 ft deep – more typical of our “normal” snowpack than last year. However, in some spots debris on the road is deeper than seen in years. In addition, the usual spring avalanche cycle has not yet taken place. So, when it does, that can affect the clearing effort, especially below Liberty Bell Mountain where the avalanche chute starting zones are at 7,000 ft (2,000 ft above the roadway).
Visit Tamarack Resort before they close this Sunday for the season. With 8″ in the last 72hrs and more snow on the way, conditions couldn’t be better. Skiers and riders who purchased a 2016-17 season pass to Bogus Basin during their Tier 1 sale (Feb. 15-21, 2016) get one free day of skiing (show your 2016-17 Bogus Basin pass or proof of purchase at the Sports Dome). Plus, on Saturday, Tamarack will be hosting the first annual State of Idaho Pond Skim Championship competition beginning at 1pm (registration starts at 11AM on the Canoe Grill Patio), followed by an after-Party featuring a live DJ. A Sunday Easter Egg hunt will wrap up the season with prizes that include a Tamarack 2016/17 season pass, summer Bike Park lift tickets and more.
We skied there recently and it was incredible. We were ahead of the big storm so not the best viz but we skied fresh tracks all day, on a Friday. As seen in our video, we had no trouble getting in long shots without any other skiers or snowboarders. Tamarack continues to be, as the locals say, where the powder goes to escape the people. Back in 2013, we compared Tamarack to Blue Sky Basin in Montana because of its well planned, upscale mountainside lodges and homes. But we’re starting to imagine that Tamarack might be more like Yellowstone Club, MT’s private, members-only ski resort? We wonder – because Tamarack remains so unbelievably uncrowded – we felt like we were skiing in our own private Idaho resort. With 2800′ vertical, Idaho’s 3rd longest (slightly more than Yellowstone Club by the way), and 1000 acres served by Idaho’s fastest and newest lift system, Tamarack is an impressive “private” resort.
Tamarack also remains on track to be a luxury four season resort. Since new ownership and management began operating the resort last year, there have been a series of multi-million dollar improvements -from continued real estate development to expanded snow making and terrain. We were anxious to check out the reopened 100 acre Wildwood zone. The patrolled side-country terrain is an easy ski/skate off to the right of the Summit Express lift. Even though it lost its lift (and thus was closed in ‘09), we found it easy to ski back into the resort’s main trail system and catch the express lift. So easy that we ended up lapping that zone several times. Tamarack’s other side-country zones, Grouse and South Bowls, to the skier’s left were closed the day we visited but were enjoyed on a previous trip. With no crowds, no lift lines and high speed lifts, Tamarack offers as much vert as you can take in a day. In addition to the Wildwood zone, we counted the Staircase, Blaze and Pursuit expert trails (which were cleared and improved for this season) among our favorites. The 7 Devils Pub at the base and their steak fingers also made our list of favorites.
Being the first newly permitted four-season resort in North America in more than two decades (with some areas still under development), this four diamond in the rough resort offers one of the largest, if not the largest, selection of affordable luxury on-mountain and base area lodging options in the Pacific NW. We stayed at the beautiful new Lodge at Osprey Meadows, a short walk from the base area, and wished we stayed longer (photos below). Perhaps we’ll return for Tamarack’s mountain biking season. Their bike park is currently scheduled to open on June 25th with Tamarack Express lift service now outfitted for bikers.
Tamarack is located in Donnelly in Idaho’s Valley County, just two hours from Boise and about a half hour from McCall, Idaho. Its location is also just down the road from boating and recreation on Lake Cascade, nearby rivers and national forests. Our drive from WA’s Snoqualmie Pass was about 7.5hrs via the beautiful Palouse Scenic Byway and through Hells Canyon – if you’ve never been, allow some extra time to make several stops along the way.
This past Monday evening, the snow hammered down once again and the freeway was shutdown, due to spin outs etc. Just the kind of report we love up here (as long as you aren’t stuck off the Pass). Having had only a small window of time to ski the following morning/yesterday, I decided to walk up Summit East, if the Snow Gods kept adding to goodness already on the ground. BINGO, I rolled out yesterday morning around 6:30 AM and my timing was perfect catching a fresh, “guide like” skin track up the face. Turned out that skin track was set by Andrew Winstanley, who is seen rocking the East Peak chair line in the video below.