Washington offers ample snow sporting chances

January 1, 2014 

If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s getting pretty cold. Winter sports at schools are confined to the indoors, and people do their best to stay warm.

Not everyone is staying inside, though. The Pacific Northwest offers several wonderful skiing, snowboarding and even inter-tubing opportunities.

I’ve never been skiing, but there are ample chances for beginners and veterans alike to catch some powder.

Here’s a look at a couple popular skiing destinations:

 • Crystal Mountain, 7,012 feet at the summit

 • 2,600 total acres

 • 53 runs

 • Lessons, restaurants, rentals

From www.skiwashington.com:

“It may be called Crystal, but it is the diamond jewel of Northwest skiing. With 3,100 feet of vertical, 53 runs and a full complement of restaurants, ski shops and runs for all levels, Crystal Mountain offers skiers a day of extraordinary skiing. Located on the sunny side of Mount Rainier, Crystal Mountain offers magnificent views of Mount Rainier and enjoys near world-record snowfall.

“Come here for lessons, or stand atop the mountain with a variety of challenging ways to reach the bottom.”

Crystal Mountain is less than two hours away from Gig Harbor.

 • Stevens Pass, 5,845 feet at the summit

 • 1,125 skiable acres

 • 37 runs

 • Three day lodges

From www.skiwashington.com:

“Wind your way to the top of Stevens Pass and discover a winter wonderland of vast valleys and jagged peaks beckoning you. Conveniently located on Highway 2, Stevens Pass offers the Seattle area easy access to one of the finest ski resorts in the state.

“Stevens offers abundant snowfall and a variety of runs for all levels of skiers. Wind your way down groomed trails, or glide through deep powder in Mill Valley. A variety of lifts and high-speed quads mean more time skiing and less time waiting.”

Stevens Pass is a little farther than Crystal, but it offers a nice change of pace.

If you’re in the mood for a longer road trip, you could head north past Bellingham to Mount Baker, home of a world record snowfall.

From www.skiwashington.com:

“So, Mount Baker resort has the great honor of having the record for the most annual snowfall ever. Like, in the world ever. How much? Next time you’re on the ninth floor of a building, look down ... yep, about that much – 95 feet.

“What’s this mean? That when you head off to Mount Baker, you are going to find some of the most amazing conditions on the planet. Snow on even the steepest, craggiest terrain. You’ll get a long season, and a variety of runs to make sure you never get tired of it all.”

Wherever you go, it’s important to keep safety in mind. I’ve had friends who have watched the “Art of Flight” movies and suddenly get an unwarranted ego and appetite for danger.

Chances are, you’re not good enough to jump out of helicopters and get sponsored by Red Bull, so be realistic and safe.

Keep these rules in mind:

 • Don’t go off trail. The signs are there for a reason.

 • Get proper instruction.

 • Wear the proper equipment, including a helmet.

 • Do not ski trails above your skill level.

 • Most importantly, have fun!

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