Go Big, Go Deep On Ikon's Mountains In Pacific Northwest
A trio of ski and snowboard resorts of the Pacific Northwest take the Ikon Pass, and each offers something different for those venturing into the Cascades.
Start with Crystal Mountain, which is owned by Alterra Mountain Company and, thus, Ikon-ers can ski and ride for free all season long.
Under the shadow of Washington's Mt. Ranier, Crystal has got skiable space (2,600 acres) and vertical drop (3,100 ft.) to rival any U.S. resort. It's a steep hill, with almost 90% of the trails rate blue or harder, with tons of ridge-traverse steep bowl pitches. Novices do get a nicely contained area for themselves near the base. North Pacific storms roll right in, so no need for much snowmaking.
New this season is a couple of yurts for more food and more beer, and EV charging stations in the parking lots.
Because Crystal sits so close to Seattle, it fills up on busy days, and parking has become an issue. This season, non-pass holders must pay to park Friday-Sunday; season pass holders must register license plates online before every visit. Carpooling of four or more also free parking, and shuttle service from Enumclaw upgraded.
Even closer to Seattle, Summit at Snoqualmie is big pow' on four mountains of 1,900 acres with 2,400 vertical drop -- all but 10% rated blue or black. Ikon pass holders get seven days free. North Pacific storms love to hover over Snoqualmie, and Seattle's powderhounds head there for freshies.
Summit East, West, and Central interconnect, which Alpental is a short ride away. It divides neatly according to abilities, with East for beginners, West and Central more blue-ish, and Alpental for the adventuresome. Three of the four mountains comprise the most night skiing acres in the U.S.
Loyalists won't get any surprise this ski and snowboard season, because there's nothing major to report as new at Snoqualmie for this season.
Do you want large? Head south to Oregon's Mount Bachelor. The 3,600-acre trail map encompasses nearly 180 degrees of the volcanic cone. On a clear day, skiers and riders get the most above-treeline terrain anywhere off the 9,000-ft summit. Plenty of hike-to off the backside. Halfway down in the trees are tons of trails and glades of blacks and blues. Down below, Bachelor has built a major terrain park complex around Skyliner, Sunrise, and Rainbow chairs.
Not much new this season, except that the tubing park will be shut down so that Red Chair can pick up more first-chair riders out of the village parking lot. Bachelor also has the controversial Fast Tracks add-on for cutting lines.