Stevens-pass Stevens Pass, shown here, and Crystal Mountain have charted divergent paths since the local ski areas were purchased by larger ski players Vail and Alterra, respectively, in 2018. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Three years after being acquired by big ski conglomerates, Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain faced their biggest test yet: COVID-19.

The two biggest rival corporations in ski resort management staked their claims in Washington state in 2018 by purchasing two of the Central Cascades’ most beloved ski areas.

Vail Resorts, based in Broomfield, Colorado, bought Stevens Pass, the lovably crusty ski area on one of the continent’s snowiest mountain passes reachable by road; meanwhile, Denver-based Alterra Mountain Company snapped up Crystal Mountain, a resort founded by Seattle ski bums at the edge of Mount Rainier National Park. 

Then, the pandemic winter of 2020-21 brought coronavirus public health restrictionsincreased demand for outdoor sports and a La Niña weather pattern that dumped snow. It made for one of the most challenging ski seasons in recent history. As the season ends, we examine how Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain are faring under the industry’s biggest ski conglomerates, which have steadily divided up North American snow country. (Boyne Resorts, which owns Summit at Snoqualmie, is a distant third in this two-horse race.)

 Read the full story at