Resorts all over the West put gravity mountain biking on the top of the summer attractions. Those who crank up the lifts in the off-season put on bike racks and bring riders to great heights.
Vail Resorts launched another salvo in the battle to own the winter destination market and a larger slice of the ski marketplace with the purchase of Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort, Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, Crested Butte in Colorado and Steven Pass in Washington Monday.
Looking for a landing spot. (Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience)
Whenever favorite stashes get carved up, or the maddening crowds threaten your first tracks, it may be time to shell out the bucks for a helicopter ride deep into Powder Country in the West.
Smoke darkens base area at Crystal Mountain (Crystal Mountain Resort)
A rapidly expanding forest fire has forced the evacuation and closure of Crystal Mountain facilities, and fire fighters remained in place Monday (Sept. 11) to protect any structures.
Hittin' the summer ski scene at Squaw. (Squaw Valley/Facebook)
After one of the best snow season in recent times, a quartet of Western mountains will keep the lifts turning well into what should be the season for sun-bathing and surfing.
Crystal Mountain returns to local owner. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
In an era of consolidation, Crystal Mountain is going against the grain, as its longtime CEO has purchased the largest resort in Washington state from Boyne Resorts.
Cruisin' at Snoqualmie. (Summit at Snoqualmie/Facebook)
Everyone else seems to be doing it, so why not joint season pass programs for the ski and snowboard resorts in the Pacific Northwest?
With an unrestricted season pass in hand from one of the three Washington state resorts for 2017-2018, skiers and snowboarders can add on three days at each of the two other mountains for $199 – if purchased before May 31 – or $33 a day.
Each resort is within a couple hours’ drive of the Seattle area, so the goal of the program, according to officials at the three mountains, is to “give skiers and snowboarders living in the Puget Sound more reason to stay local.”
Resorts across the Northwest are ramping up discounts on 2017-18 passes. At Stevens Pass, the first layer of discounts has begun. A renewal costs $549, a new pass $599 for a limited amount. When the “first tier” of passes is sold out at Stevens Pass, the price goes up.
Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie have yet to put next season’s passes on sale. Three resorts in the Northwest link into the Colorado-based M.A.X. Pass, which offers five days of skiing and riding at 44 resorts around the country. Included are Mt. Bachelor, Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie.
Cruisin' at Snoqualmie (Summit at Snoqualmie/Facebook)
Cascadia Pass works at Stevens Pass. (Stevens Pass/Facebook)
More pow' days at Crystal. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
Jumpin' at White Pass. (White Pass/Facebook)
The Snow Gods have been spreading the wealth around the country this season, and now is the time for the Pacific Northwest to count its blessings.
After a decent start to the season – though nothing historic -- the ski and snowboard resorts in Washington and Oregon gathered steam in late January and early February. OpenSnow.com reports that the jet stream that dumps on Lake Tahoe, Utah and Southern Rockies has slipped northward – good news from the resorts of the Cascades and beyond – but Pacific storms may soon take a break.
Always critical in the ocean-sensitive Northwest is the rain-snow elevation, but skiers and riders from the region know how to adjust to widely varying conditions.
“Heavy snow, spotty freezing rain, a rain/snow mix (above 5,500 ft.) – then back to snow,” reports OpenSnow’s Larry Schick. “A low with a warm front is moving in from the Southwest. This system is the causing of the variety of precipitation and this wild weather transition.”
The first weekend of February brought double-digit snowfalls to many resorts, including Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass and White Pass with at least three feet. But, again, the threat of thaw has been ever present. At Crystal Mountain, some 250 inches have fallen but the settled base is 77-88 inches.
In Oregon, a few dumps came early but resorts have had to make do with intermittent snowfall throughout the first two months of the season – and fluctuating temperatures around freezing. For example, Mount Hood SkiBowl reports 209 inches of snowfall this season, settling to about 80 inches of base.
The long-term forecast doesn’t have any major dumps on the horizon, but OpenSnow predicts colder temps and modest snowfall that to keep base depths on the mountain longer.
“Between February 13-17, the western U.S. and most of Canada will experience high pressure, sunshine, and mostly dry weather,” said OpenSnow’s Joel Gratz.
The snow gods smiled on the Pacific Northwest this season, with most mountain resorts getting at or slightly above normal snowfall – meaning they are pushing closing dates to the limit.
Just when we thought El Niño has petered out on the mountains of the West, the metrological maiden has come on with force to put down as much as two feet as April begins.Thus, a number of resorts in the West have decided to stay open a bit longer.
El Niño’s largesse has fallen mostly on Sierra and Pacific Northwest resorts this season, prompting several to extend their seasons and others just happy to make it to their usual closing date.
The northwest corner of the continent is set to have some of the best powder days in the nation this week – a far cry from last year but a welcome “return to normalcy” to the a region that typically measures snowfall in feet.
Vertical Express for Can Do MS, the only national event series that combines skiing and fundraising to empower people with multiple sclerosis (MS), kicks off Feb. 6 with seven ski resort events across the country. This event supports lifestyle empowerment programs for people with MS and their support partners.
A phalanx of snow storms continues to course off the Pacific and dump double-digit depths on the Cascades and environs.
It’s no secret that last season was difficult for ski and snowboard operations in the Pacific Northwest, given a record low in snowfall and persistent above-freezing temperatures into midseason.
More than a hundred wildfires in the mountains of the moisture-starved Pacific Coast have yet to cause any damage to ski and snowboard resorts, although a small fire near Snow Summit and Bear Mountain forced temporary evacuations and closures around the Southern California slopes.
Bits and pieces of winter will sprinkle across the country for the next week, with Front Range Colorado getting the bulk of new stuff while New England’s winter weather gods just don’t seem to want to let go.
A couple of weeks of serious storms brought 100 inches to Wolf Creek and a welcome three feet to the Tahoe area. But they are done with, and it appears that spring skiing will be the order of the day for the near future.
Many resorts along the West Coast are sweetening ticket and lodging deals to entice skiers and snowboarders into the mountains. The deals are prompted by a winter season that hasn’t come close to even delivering an average snowfall.