Local ski areas prepare for winter season
By MEGAN MANAGAN
Mercer Island Reporter Reporter
November 21, 2011 · Updated 9:55 AM
It's starting to look a lot like – well ski season. Thanks to some early winter weather in the mountains, several local ski areas opened last weekend, and more expect to soon.
Last week a storm dropped several feet of snow in the mountains, and even some in the lowlands, kicking off the newest winter season for mountain enthusiasts.
One of the first to open, Crystal Mountain, located next to Mount Rainier, officially kicked off the season on Nov. 18 with limited operations.
The mountain enjoyed a solid first weekend, but closed earlier in the week because of warmer temperatures.
Mount Baker, located east of Bellingham, also opened on Friday, Nov. 18 for it's seven day a week operation.
According to the ski area's website "The big storm did indeed bring us a significant dump of new snow on top of our existing base, and forecasts are calling for continued light snowfall …". The mountain opened the base area and six chairlifts Friday.
Both Mount Baker and Crystal warned skiers who planned to visit in the first couple of days to remember it's early season conditions, which can be rough on new ski equipment.
Farther north, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia announced it was opening Whistler Mountain six days ahead of schedule on Nov. 18 thanks to La Nina.
"The return of La Nina, forecasted to bring greater ethan average snowfall, has skiers and snowboarders excited about the start of the ski/ride season," said the resorts website. Blackcomb Mountain, scheduled to open on Thanksgiving, marked the resorts official opening day.
While enough snow has dropped on Whistler to create a solid base, the staff has also been making snow, turning over 50 million gallons of water in to the white stuff this year. That equals about 250 football fields with up to one foot of snow, according to the resort.
The Summit at Snoqualmie, the closest ski area for Kirkland skiers, opened the Summit West area on Saturday Nov. 19 with limited operations. The ski area was closed earlier in the week, but reopened Wednesday for the rest of this weekend. The Summit also offers night skiing once the ski season is fully underway. Alpental remained closed, as did the Summit Central area and Summit East.
Stevens Pass, located off Highway 2 east of Everett, opened last week, also with limited operations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. While the area was open, the Nordic Center is not schedule to open until Saturday, Dec. 17.
Hurricane Ridge, located on in Olympic National Park just south of Port Angeles, is not yet open for the season. The smaller ski area typically opens in mid-December with operations on the weekends and some holidays.
The ski area has two rope tows and one Poma lift with 10 trails for skiers and snowboarders.
It could be another record breaking year for local mountains, with La Nina forecasted to bring in lots of snow throughout the winter.
For anyone headed east of the mountains, the Mission Ridge ski area outside of Wenatchee, opened for the weekend on Saturday, Nov. 19 and will be open again on Nov. 25. The ski area has 36 dedicated runs on 2,000 acres.
More information concerning all things skiing in Washington can be found online at www.skiwashington.com.
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Reporter Megan Managan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 232-1215 ext. 5054.