We are stoked to have Josh Jorgensen sending us videos from his new home mountain. As I have mentioned before, Josh has taken the reins of this super sweet ski area and has assembled an excellent team. Within that team are a few guys capturing quality video of what Mission Ridge has to offer and then sharing it with all of us. Thanks Josh!
My good friend Obadiah Ehly stopped in at Snoqualmie Pass last week. He was on his way from Sandpoint, ID to his new home mountain, Sugar Bowl, CA. He has skied Alpental on Cinco de Mayo and wanted to hit it again. But, with only a trace of snow over the New Year, I thought about taking him up to one of our secret powder stashes instead. As we headed out for his first day, the temps were in the teens, super thick fog and 18 mph winds out of the East, making me wonder how the day would pan out for Obadiah’s visit. However, when we dropped into our NW powder stash the winds were blocked and the visibility was excellent because of the beautiful old growth forest. Mid day, the fog lifted, improving the viz and providing some long distance views for Obadiah’s visit. After a little more exploring and some great powder skiing, we called it a day.
Day one was so rewarding, we chose to do it again the next day, but only after calling 5 more solid friends/snowriders (Karter Riach, Shaun Maurer, Cole Barrett, Jacob Mandell, and Andrew Eckels). We later heard reports of the conditions 1,000 ft. higher than us being sun effected with a nasty crust. I guess sometimes a little fog can be a good thing.
Granite Mtn as see from the powder playground.
We’re heading to Colorado in 2 weeks for the Snow Sports Industry Association’s Snow Show 2013. Seeing as we’ll be spending several days skiing there, we’ve been watching the snow. Or more accurately: waiting for the snow. Check out the low snow levels at sample resorts as of today. What the heck? Is it just us (who are spoiled by the massive Pacific NW snow pack) or are the numbers below normal for CO? We checked with NOAA and they confirm that this isn’t the norm. NOAA indicates that CO is still experiencing drought conditions and the outlook for the first quarter of 2013 doesn’t look good for that zone. They’re predicting below normal precip and above average temps. Below are NOAA’s forecast models for the new year. If CO doesn’t get a good dump soon, this will be the 3rd year in a row with low snow and no steep skiing while we’re there (most double blacks remain closed at many resorts). Disappointing.
Our very good friend and fellow Snow Trooper, Silas Wild, has been part of a very cool intro Tele or Rando/A.T. program for a few years now at the Summit at Snoqualmie. This intro class is a 6 week program that kicks off at Summit West (in bounds) tomorrow night, January 9th, from 7:30 to 9:30PM. The class will meet for the following 5 Wednesday nights. The total price of the 6 week program is $180.00 (click HERE for the Summit Learning Center’s web page and find the look for the 4 programs down the page). Silas had also mentioned, if you are a member of W.A.C. or the Mountaineers be sure to check with your club for a discount.
Pre season skin at Summit West, Guy Peak in background.
Please note: this is just an intro class to show you the gear and how it works on a nice mellow ski area. If you have a good time and want to take the next step, we HIGHLY recommend contacting Pro Guiding Service. This group of guides are amongst the best in the world, based in North Bend, WA, but guide world wide.
The National Weather Service has issued another winter storm warning for the Washington Cascades: HEAVY SNOW IS FORECAST OVER THE CASCADES ON MONDAY. A PROLONGED PERIOD OF WET AN ACTIVE WEATHER WILL BEGIN ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST ON MONDAY AS A STRONG WARM FRONT ARRIVES. THIS SYSTEM WILL BRING AN ABUNDANCE OF MOISTURE TO THE REGION WITH HEAVY PRECIPITATION EXPECTED ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON. FORECAST MODELS SHOW HEAVY SNOW ACROSS THE WEST SLOPES OF THE NORTH AND CENTRAL CASCADES WITH STRONG WESTERLY FLOW ALOFT. HEAVY SNOW WILL LIKELY PERSIST THROUGH LATE MON NIGHT BEFORE TAPERING DOWN. HOWEVER, ANOTHER ROUND OF HEAVY RAIN AND MOUNTAIN SNOW IS POSSIBLE ON TUESDAY AS ANOTHER WET SYSTEM MOVES IN. SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS: MOUNT BAKER, STEVENS PASS, SNOQUALMIE PASS, WHITE PASS, PARADISE.
* TIMING…SNOW WILL INCREASE IN COVERAGE AND INTENSISTY EARLY MONDAY MORNING…AND LIKELY PERSIST THROUGH LATE MONDAY NIGHT.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS…UP TO 18 INCHES OF SNOW IS POSSIBLE AT THE VOLCANOES. EASTERLY FLOW THROUGH THE LOWER PASSES WILL HELP SUPPORT A WINTRY MIX OF FREEZING RAIN AND SNOW…WITH A CHAGEOVER TO RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.
* MAIN IMPACT…WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED.
* SNOW LEVEL…BETWEEN 4000 TO 5000 FEET. HOWEVER, EAST WINDS WILL KEEP THE TEMPERATURES NEAR OR BELOW FREEZING AT THE PASSES INTO THE EARLY AFTERNOON.
Joey Mara sent this one over of a great sunny pow day on Mt. Herman (which is accessed from the Mt. Baker ski area, just adjacent the Heather Meadows parking lot) last month to pump up the stoke for while we wait for the next big system.
If you’re planning to ski or ride for a living or take time off to be a ski bum, be sure to put Washington state on your radar. It tops our list of best places to be skiing for a living because as of January 1, 2013, it boasts the highest state minimum wage in the country. At $9.19/hr, those in the Evergreen state can earn almost 27% more than their counterparts in states paying the same rate as the Federal minimum wage of $7.25. Our neighboring Pacific NW state of Oregon pays $8.95, the 2nd highest in the country. See the list for minimum wages at other skier/snowboarder-friendly states. On top of that, Washington state has no state income tax and Oregon has no sales tax. The only other states where you can ski/ride and not have to pay state income tax are Alaska, Nevada and Wyoming. Oregon happens to be the only state where you can ski/ride and not pay any sales tax. There are other ski/ride states with no general sales tax but they have local or specific sales taxes: Alaska (local taxes), Montana and New Hampshire (specific sales taxes on lodging and more). If you read our earlier post on the nation’s snowfall leaders, you already know the main reason we live to ski (and ski for a living) in Washington: it receives some of the greatest snowfall totals and deepest snow pack in the nation. And this year is no different (so far anyway – fingers crossed): Mt. Baker has 129″ at its base lodge (elevation 4300′) and 158″ at Pan Dome (elevation 5000′). We have another storm system moving in tomorrow that’s going to add to that. Lastly, we have the most glaciated regions outside of Alaska so we can ski and ride year round. Yeah, we’re pretty lucky we can call Washington home.
Andrew Eckels just whipped out this sweet edit and trip report of an awesome chute they did this past December 30th, called the Blackhole Couloir. Bandit Peak is located just outside of Leavenworth, WA in the Wenatchee Lake area. Below is Andrew’s edit along with his write up for their epic day.
While making plans to ski on Saturday I hit up Scott Mcallister (A split boarder who has ridden several first descents in the cascades) on facebook and asked if he wanted to ski with Cory and me. He was already planning on riding the Blackhole Couloir off of Bandit peak, a line that I’ve been dreaming of skiing ever since I saw the picture of it on John Skurlocks website, and extended the invitation for us to join. I knew the approach was pretty long, about 7 miles and 1500 vertical feet up the Napequa river valley to get to the bottom of the line, but it was supposed to be a clear night with a near full moon, perfect weather for an alpine start. Scott’s buddy Ben Starkey and our mutual friend Garret Roth made up the rest of the crew and we were all leaving Scott’s place in Gold Bar around 10 PM. On our way over Steven’s Pass Ben’s van started overheating and spewing smoke so we stopped to investigate. I know hardly anything about how cars worked so I watched as they all agreed that pouring all of our water into a tank was the solution and hoped they were right. We refilled at a gas station east of the pass and we’re at the trailhead north of Lake Wenatchee shortly after midnight.
We had agreed that starting at 3 was reasonable, but looking at the cold snowy ground we decided it would be better to just get going and pull an all nighter. It turned out we were wise to start early. Scott had been up the valley 3 times before and was an indispensable guide, but we had to break trail through a foot of light snow and navigate several sections that were tricky to skin and ended up getting to the bottom of the couloir just as day broke. I was feeling pretty tired at the bottom of the line having only stopped once in the night for food, but a good break with food, water, and coffee gave me a strong second wind. We set off bootpacking up the 4000 ft line through denser powder that one could kick steps in without wallowing, taking turns breaking trail. After about 3 hours we were in the choke of the chute and Ben who had already been taking long turns at breaking trail got ahead and took over for the rest of the way up. Most of the upper half of the chute was a steady 40-45 degree pitch but the last 40 ft were about 50 degrees and finished with a 4 ft wide choke between rocks. This pitch was the only part of the climb where I felt exposed and was relieved to pull through the choke onto the col but a bit concerned about how I was going to get back down between the rocks.
The top was cold and windy so we quickly ate and changed over to downhill mode. The three boarders went first and side slipped their way through the choke. Cory went next and took about a minute to carefully finagle his skis through the rocks and meet the boarders on the small bench just right of the choke. I felt safer making a few turns on a steep but wide exposed ramp skiers left of their line and then traversed to the bench they were on. Ben dropped in first making careful hop turns on his snowboard down the 50 degree section and then rode the chute to the first safe zone. I went third after Garret and was super stoked on skiing such an aesthetic line in powder, but could only make so many turns before my legs started screaming. From the safe zone I offered to go first and film from where the chute opens up and enjoyed stupendous powder turns between the tall rock walls. The stoke overrode the pain in my legs and I skied right out of the chute with speed making huge GS turns down the open bowl that the couloir emptied into before constricting again. I watched and filmed with glee as the rest of the crew ripped up the epic line.
From the bowl we got to enjoy another 2000 vertical feet of 30 degree powder skiing in shots as long as our legs could take. By the time we were at the bottom there were only a couple of hours of daylight left so we transitioned back to skins (the approach went up and down a lot along the creek) and took off to get as much of the deproach done as we could before nightfall. I think we were all pretty beat by this point but only at the car could we truly rest so we kept up a good clip until nightfall. As the last light faded and the stars came out we enjoyed coffee by the creek and I fantasized about food at the diner on highway 2. We were only halfway done with the deproach but the darkness skewed my sense of time and sleep deprivation made me see faces in every snow-covered tree and the last two hours passed by easily. We got to the car at 7:30 delirious, stoked, and exhausted. The trip totaled 18.5 hours on our feet to go 15 miles and 6000 vertical feet. I slept all of the next day.
Just down the hill to the West of Snoqualmie Pass is the small city of North Bend, that is where our friends Cascade Crew call home when they aren’t in their high mountain hideaway. When we are in a dry spell, like this past week and most people are riding ski area hard packed snow, this posse of local Alpental riders fire up their sleds and keep the powder stoke rocking. The video below is the Cascade Crew 2011/2012 season edit.
As I have mentioned in earlier posts, our friend Josh Jorgensen has taken the reins at Mission Ridge this year and now, there sure seems to be a bigger buzz than ever before, along with a lot more eye catching media! Speaking of media, below is a video from our new friend, Royce Graham, that shows the goods Mission Ridge has to offer.
This is the second video we have shared of Royce’s this season, and he is 2 for 2 getting us super stoked to get out and ski some pow ASAP. Be sure to check out this video, then go visit Mission Ridge!