2005 | Fun, but not for everyone

November 6, 2005 

The steep slopes of the International run at Alpental make it a favorite of experienced and professional skiers.

PETER HALEY/THE NEWS TRIBUNE FILE

If Debbie Armstrong had to pick her favorite ski run in Washington, it would not be Debbie’s Gold next to the Armstrong Express lift at Alpental.

“That is my favorite giant-slalom run,” the 1984 Olympic giant-slalom gold medalist said of the run and lift named in her honor. “But my favorite run? I wish I could come up with something more original, but I’d have to say International.”

News Tribune readers and experts from around the state agree with Armstrong.

Upper International, a steep double-diamond drop from Alpental’s Denny Mountain at the Summit at Snoqualmie, was voted the state’s toughest run by readers and the best run by the pros.

“It’s a classic for a reason,” said Armstrong, who lives in Taos, N.M., in the winter and Seattle the rest of the year. “In terms of length and pitch, it’s an all-time great.”

Once you link Upper International with Lower International, a steep single-diamond drop under Denny’s cliffs, you will have dropped 2,310 feet.

A few years after winning her gold, Armstrong remembers taking a break from the World Cup tour to come home for Christmas.

“I remember skiing International and thinking, ‘There’s not a better run in the world,’” Armstrong said. “Here, I’d skied in New Zealand and all over the world, and I’ve got terrain as good as any place right here in my backyard.”

Although, she warns, you’d better know what you are doing if you take on International.

“Let’s just say, I’m a pretty good skier, and I appreciate the challenge,” Armstrong said. “You’ve made it as a skier when you can ski International.”

Craig Hill, The News Tribune

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