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!
We started this website originally to share our own alpine touring and freeriding adventures, and now we are so stoked to be sharing so many of our friends adventures too. The one video I want to close the year with is from our very good friends, the Harder family ( I mean the Harder ski posse). Autumn and Aspen Harder might only be a third of my size, but their passion for skiing is every bit as large as mine.
I hope you enjoy their season edit as much as I did, then get out there and make some great turns in 2013!!! Happy New Year, and always “Live to Ski Another Day” Snow Troopers!
Our good friends, Tara and Carl Simpson, had a blast during the 2012 SNOWmageddon at their home ski area, Crystal Mountain this past Dec 16th through the 21st. The third week of this month was certainly a week I will remember from our zone in the Cascades and I sure glad the Simpsons captured their Cascade zones fun to share w/ us as we drink the morning cup of joe.
The video below is a pov compilation of a solid week riding the Cascade mountains and a bar stool or two.
This past week Andrew Eckels, Jacob Mandell and Cory Tarilton headed up into one of my favorite front yard trees zones, up here at Hyak, WA. Below is a short video and report of their half day adventure.
On Thursday December 27th Jacob, Cory and I set off to explore some tree skiing off of Rampart Ridge. We left the crowds of snowshoers on the Gold Creek road and set off through the thick young growth forest finding solitude and beautiful scenery. The first 500 vertical feet consisted of navigating brush and young forest while breaking trail through heavy snow. That took a couple of hours.
Once into older forests with a deeper snowpack progress was much quicker minus a few really steep sections that involved holding onto trees while kick-turning. From where we topped out we enjoyed a thousand feet of vert of great tree skiing, and then worked our way to the bottom through progressively thicker undergrowth and heavier snow. It wasn’t the best work to reward ratio, but it was great having the forest all to ourselves and discovering a new zone that will be great with more coverage.
Our friends Drew Hunter and Sam Gillin were getting the most of SNOWmageddon 2012 right along with us, just not with us. I saw them for a moment a time or two in line, wish we could have connected to get some shots of them killing it. Anyway, below is their week all wrapped up into a pov edit they are calling “Kittysode 2″.
A couple weekends back we had an event called the Jib This, Jib That going down at Summit Central. This park event is spilt into two days, boarders going the first day and skiers the second. Last year I made it over and threw up a quick edit but this year, I’m thinking it was the powder that kept me away from the park. However, the Summit at Snoqualmie has a new park crew member that can film and edit too. His name is Garrett Porter and the video below is the event through his lens.
The next video is from our friend Abe Krieger, who also helps out the Summit with some filming and editing, but now is going to school in Maine. Lucky for us, he came home for the holidays and hooked up with his posse for some fun in the Central Park. Some of his filming including the “Jib That” event, so check it out!
December 26th was opening day for Summit East aka Hyak. This was the Summit at Snoqualmie’s 4th and final base area to open. They hit it perfectly this year with each area opening on days loaded with fresh powder. Summit East is a 1,000′ mountain that has better continuos vertical than most mountains twice the vertical drop. The crowd for opening day this year was similar to the standard weekend crowd. However, I only saw a few locals (very rare). First lap was a mad dash for pow back down to the bottom East Peak chair, then I spent the rest of the morning in the Ewok forrest skiing my favorite lines at a nice easy pace while everyone was chasing what was left on the open trails.
below is a short video from today