Sitting in your work cubicle with ski boots strapped to your feet? You're probably not alone. But until places such as Stevens Pass make up for last week's lost snow, there will...
Sitting in your work cubicle with ski boots strapped to your feet? You’re probably not alone.
But until places such as Stevens Pass make up for last week’s lost snow, there will be few opportunities for downhill skiing in the region.
Only Mount Baker, to the north of Snohomish County, and Crystal Mountain, to the south, are open now in the region.
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Stevens Pass officials, who had hoped to open last weekend, measured 5 inches of rain and the loss of about 13 inches of base snow.
Traditionally, the ski resort closest to the county has relied on a 36-inch snow base for opening. Monday’s measurements were 21 inches with a few snowflakes falling, said Lori Vandenbrink, the resort’s spokeswoman.
“We’re just doing some ceremonial snow dances, itching to get started,” she said. “But if it does snow, you never know what you’re going to get.”
Stevens Pass usually opens by the end of November, Vandenbrink said, ushering in more than 500,000 seasonal snow enthusiasts who participate in downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding or inner-tubing. During the past 20 years, there have only been four December openings, and even that is in question this year, Vandenbrink said.
Other downhill-skiing centers also are waiting for heavier and more enduring snows before opening, and rangers with the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest report few opportunities to break out the snowshoes yet.
But all isn’t lost, said Matt Vadnal, the coordinator of the Everett Mountaineers’ Nordic Ski Course. Where skiing opportunities now elude the late-fall buff, a class for beginners and more-advanced skiers alike might do the trick.
About 20 people have signed up for the weekly class throughout January, and there’s room for about 20 more, Vadnal said. The course will focus on cross-country techniques and includes three field trips into the backcountry.
“We’re counting on snow because we can always go to higher elevations,” Vadnal said. “One of the places we can go is Lake Wenatchee State Park, and there’s always been enough snow there.”
Skiers must provide their own equipment, but Vadnal said nothing fancy is needed. He stresses the importance of a pair of good-fitting boots rather than expensive skis.
Though downhill skiing at Stevens Pass is the main attraction, Vandenbrink said cross-country skiing and inner-tubing can be an introduction to the faster-paced options.
“Often, people come here and it’s their first time on skis, so downhill and snowboarding are intimidating,” she said. “But once they see it, they often want to make that transition. Cross-country and such are just entry drugs.”
Christopher Schwarzen: 425-783-0577 or firstname.lastname@example.org