Saturday, January 7, 2012

Skiing the Summit at Snoqualmie: Early Does It

Hey skiers and riders, sometimes do you just need to get in some turns but can't take a full, long day away for the joy? While there's nothing flashy or glamorous about skiing Snoqualmie Pass just an hour east of Seattle, it's easy in/easy out when you're short on time.

 Here's a tip for some really quick access to skiing:  Get yourself up to the Pass before 8:30 and head to the Silver Fir lift parking lot (east of the main Summit Central parking/base lodges). I consistently find a parking space in the front row just 20 or 30 feet from the lift. So it's not Crystal  Mountain (or Alpental), but you're not slogging 20 minutes up to the base from the lower lots or waiting in the cold for the shuttle.

While I assumed the lifts opened at 8:30 a.m. like they do at Crystal, they actually don't officially open until 9:00. This past Saturday we parked right in front, bought our tickets at the warming hut, and got on our skis in front of the lift by 8:40. Nobody else was there (duh!).  The friendly lifties let us scoot onto the lift anyway, and we had the slopes to ourselves for a couple runs. Whoo hoo!

After a few cruiser runs on the groomed corduroy off Silver Fir, we took the "Inter-Summit 90" crossover to Summit East. Personally I always enjoy this trail through beautiful evergreen forest.

Despite its slightly lower elevation, there are some fun little steeps and trees to ski through over at Hyak, especially since they moved the summit chairlift back over to the left side of the front hill and returned the lift to the backside last season. And it's generally less crowded because the ski school buses don't park there and it's the Nordic Center, where more mellow cross-country skiers abound and head off away from the downhill runs. 

A little skating at the beginning of the Inter-Summit 90 Crossover

 Yes, that's a Christmas ornament in the tree!

Looking across I-90 from Hyak toward the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Another tip:  Don't wear your new, light-colored parka on the backside lift.  It was dripping muddy drops onto us when we passed under the lift towers.

Even though the Summit at Snoqualmie is the ultimate local ski area and will never be a destination resort, it still always surprises me with the beauty of its majestic alpine backdrop. Any day in the mountains is a good day.

Looking northwest towards Alpental

Moi having fun!
So we got in a good three and a half hours of skiing, got some freshies in the bit of untracked fresh snow over on the backside lift at Hyak, and were back in Seattle by about 1:15. Not bad.

And how about you? Have any tips to share about how  or where you get in your skiing/riding fix when you're short on time? Thanks for your comments!

When You Go
Head east from the Seattle metropolitan area on Interstate 90 and you'll hit Snoqualmie Pass in about  an hour if the roads are snow-free and you're not speeding. This season daytime lift tickets are $59.


TC said...

I like the Ski Acres parking lot tip! Another idea is to arrive super late. We got up to Snoqualmie Pass at noon, skied a few runs, had a late lunch, then skied until 4. No lift lines after 3, and we had the slopes to our selves! 1/2 day tix start at 1, lasts until 5.


Ron said...

I suppose the distraction of spectacular scenery could be a hazard!

jill said...

Hey TC, I like it, for those who can't get up and out early, plus the slightly reduced tix price. Thanks!

Ron, yes, sometimes spectacular scenery can be a bit too distracting! I'm always challenged to pay attention to what's right in front of me, and skiing demands that.

Lesley said...

If you live east of the mountains and prefer x-c skiing, then the quick fix is Leavenworth. Snow is low this year, but they are maintaining trails well. Another fav is Echo Ridge above Lake Chelan, with fantastic views, lots of fun trails and always quiet. For a longer drive, we skied the
30K Mazama to Winthrop Community Trail last Saturday. GREAT conditions and incredible hot chocolate at Wisolla (?), the little coffee lodge about 8K into the trip. All great stuff. :)

jill said...

Hey Les! I miss x-c skiing east o' the mountains! Especially over in the Methow, maybe later this season...thanks for the tip on the hot cocoa, a good cuppa is one of life's great pleasures!