With snow on the mountains since mid-October, Washington skiers are justified in eagerly anticipating a long and blustery ski season.
The elevation of Cascade Mountain resorts generally assures skiers of good bases and frequent powder, although east-side slopes usually receive a drier version of winter.
Crystal Mountain offers one of the state’s most spectacular backdrops for skiers, with 14,400-foot-high Mount Rainier in the distance. Crystal is popular with the deep-snow lovers who snowboard and ski the resort’s varying natural terrain.
The big news from Crystal is that it will join forces with Boyne U.S.A. (owner of Boyne Mountain, Big Sky and other resorts), which will assume the assets and liabilities of Crystal and invest $15 million over the next 10 years, with $8 million spent in first five years on capital improvements - lifts, lodging and restaurants. Meanwhile, skiers can expect the fine service and skiing they’ve found at Crystal for the past four decades.
Location: Off Highway 410, 76 miles east of Seattle
Tickets: Adult $35; teens (12-17) $30; children (7-11) $25; six and under $5. Weekday discounts available.
Day care: For children 6 months to 11 years. Children up to two, $30 half day, and $46 all day. Kids over two are $27 half day, $39 all day.
Lessons: Group lesson $25; private $50 an hour.
Phone: (360) 663-2265.
Reservations: (360) 663-2558.
Snowphone: (206) 634-3771.
E-mail: Can E-mail from web site.
Snoqualmie Pass Ski Areas
A breadbasket of slopes, the Snoqualmie Pass Ski Areas include Alpental, Ski Acres, Snoqualmie and Hyak.
With an average snowfall of 350 inches, skiers find a wide variety of terrain, conditions and night skiing. One lift ticket covers all four areas - that’s 1,916 total skiable acres, including the 900 acres lit for night skiing.
The Snowflake Tubing and Snowplay area opens with a new lodge facility to warm up the tubers. The center rents the gear and sells $6.50 tickets for the use of four rope tows day or night. Open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturdays and 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.
Location: Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 is 47 miles east of Seattle.
Tickets: Adult $28; youth (7-11) $22; six and under $5; seniors (62-69) $22; master seniors (70 and over) free. Midweek discounts available.
Day care: Available at Ski Acres for children 1-6 years at $4.50 per hour or $30 a day. Reservations (206) 236-PASS, ext 3301.
Lessons: Group $20; private $37.
Nordic: 55 km groomed trail for $8 adults, $7 kids, and 5 and under free. Tickets good for both upper and lower trail systems.
Phone: (206) 236-PASS.
Reservations: (800) 557-7829.
Snowphone: (206) 236-1600.
Internet: http://www.snowlink.com/ thepass
An astonishing 750 inches of snow falls on Mount Baker annually, which makes for a long ski season and great skiing. With seven lifts, Mount Baker skiers find scads of trails in bowls, in trees and in the open.
Although no lodging is available at the ski area, overnight camper parking is available for self-contained vehicles. Lodging is available 17 miles down the mountain.
Location: On the Mount Baker Highway (U.S. 542) 56 miles east of Bellingham.
Tickets: Adult $29; youth 7-15 $21.50; senior 60-69 same; 70+ $5; 6 and under free. Midweek discounts available.
Day care: Children must be potty trained. Call for rates.
Lessons: Group $18; private $50 for 90 minutes.
Nordic: 30 km at nearby Salmon Ridge. Trail fee is a $4 donation.
Phone: (360) 734-6771.
Reservations: (360) 671-3990 for the Bellingham-Whatcom County Visitors Bureau.
Snowphone: (360) 671-0211 or (206) 634-0200.
The snowboard park at Stevens Pass is a big draw, especially the half-pipe where boarders catch air. The terrain at Stevens Pass is mostly intermediate slope, although 35 percent of the slopes are designated advanced skiing.
The exciting news at Stevens is the new high-speed quad, which replaced the old Barrier Chair. Skyline Express becomes the only high-speed quad in Washington lighted for night skiing.
Stevens Pass is another ski area that doesn’t lack for snow. With an average of 415 inches, Stevens has no need for artificial snow. Lodging facilities are located in Leavenworth and Skykomish. Night skiing runs seven nights a week.
Location: On U.S. 2, 37 miles west of Leavenworth.
Tickets: Adult $34 (9 a.m.-10 p.m.); child $24 (7-12); 62-69 $26; 70+ $5.
Day care: Children must be out of diapers.
Lessons: Stevens has 26 different ski schools with a variety of options. Call for a brochure (360) 973-2441.
Nordic: The 25 km of track skiiing is groomed Friday through Sundays and holidays. Trail fee is $7.50 for adults and $6.50 junior and senior. The Nordic center is five miles east of Stevens Pass on U.S. 2.
Phone: (360) 973-2441.
Reservations: no lodging available.
Snowphone: (206) 634-1645.
On the east slope of the North Cascades is the light and dry powder of Mission Ridge Ski Area. Of the over 2,000 skiable acres, 60 percent is for intermediate snowboarders, downhillers and telemarkers.
Some days it seems that skiers at Mission Ridge have the runs entirely to themseves. It’s quiet and quaint, and that allows for lots of personal attention from the ski school, the lift attendants and the snack bar.
Improvements at the Ridge include a widened Upper Skookum run for an easy glide from the top of Chair Three; a widened Upper Basin for a longer Bomber Bowl run; a recontoured Pika Peak beginner area; and a new Bombardier grooming machine. Also new this year is the Ski Playground snowplay and introduction to skiing for kids 3-6 years.
Location: 13 miles from Wenatchee, 165 miles from Spokane.
Tickets: Adult $30; senior 65+ and juniors $16 (7-15); midweek discounts available.
Day care: 3 months to 6 years, $30 all day, $18 half day.
Lessons: Group $25; private $45.
Nordic: None. Phone: (509) 663-6543.
Reservations: (509) 662-4774 or (800) 57-APPLE.
Snowphone: (800) 374-1693.
Ever since those Olympic medalists, the Mahre twins, let America know they trained at White Pass, the ski area has been on the regional ski map. White Pass is a family area that offers both Nordic and alpine skiing.
This is an east-slope mountain that features the highest base area on the Cascade Crest. Although it’s not the closest to the large metro areas, White Pass attracts those skiers looking for less-crowded slopes and a relaxed atmosphere.
Location: 52 miles west of Yakima on U.S. 12.
Tickets: Adults $31; seniors and juniors 6-12, $19; 5 and under, free.
Day care: Ages 2-6. Call (509) 672-3106 for reservations and pricing.
Lessons: Group $15; private $30 an hour.
Nordic: 15 km groomed trails for $7.
Phone: (509) 453-8731.
Reservations: (509) 672-3131.
Snowphone: (509) 672-3100.
Internet: http://www.sportsite.com/ whitepass
Tucked away in southeast Washington near Dayton, Ski Bluewood is locally known for great tree skiing and light snow. New this year is the Terrain Garden for snowboarders. A half pipe was added a few years ago.
Ski Bluewood averages over 300 inches snowfall each year. It has the second highest base elevation in Washington, so it tends to receive cold, dry snow. Skiers can ski up to the slope-side expresso bar for a hot one, although they shouldn’t plan to drink a latte in the lift line, because at Bluewood, there are no lines.
Information: 22 miles southeast of Dayton
Tickets: Adult $25; child (1st-8th grade)/senior (65+) $19; college students $21. Preschoolers ski free.
Day care: None.
Lessons: Group $17; private $34; free beginner lessons for first-timers.
Phone: (509) 382-4725.
Reservations: (509) 382-4725.
Snowphone: (509) 382-2877.
xxxx Good deals in Washington Most of the Washington state ski areas offer great deals on midweek lift tickets. Crystal Mountain’s Club Vertical members join for $29. Members receive $5 off lift tickets, a personalized “Ski Key” lift ticket, and they can choose auto-charge program to bypass the ticket line. Ski Key tracks vertical feet of skiing. For every three days skied, club members get $5 of Snow Dough good for lifts, lessons or rentals. Members also have use of an on-mountain messaging system for friends and family to leave messages. At Snoqualmie Pass Ski Areas, good deals include the Midweek Special lifts and lodging for two. On Sunday through Thursday nights, $79 gets two lift tickets and lodging for two. The Bargain Buster special at Hyak is night tickets on Friday and Saturdays for $10, Dec. 26 to Mar. 9, 1997. At Ski Bluewood, $37 per adult buys you lifts, lodging and continental breakfast in nearby Dayton. Students and kids pay less. Two-for Tuesdays at Bluewood gets skiers two lift tickets for $25 (except Dec. 24 and 31). And starting Feb. 18, all weekday lift tickets are $15 at Bluewood. The “Washington Winter Magazine” is a free publication by Sports Media that gives information on all the state’s alpine and Nordic ski areas. Call (206) 522-4283 for a copy. At Stevens Pass, night skiing Sunday through Thursday costs only $12 (except during holiday periods). On Mondays and Tuesdays, tickets are $18 to ski from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.