Lori Sanwall knows she has it good.
The 27-year-old Wenatchee resident holds down a job at Arlberg Sports Inc., where her schedule is flexible enough for her to ski or board three days per week.
She says she’s lucky enough to have what many call Washington’s most underrated ski hill just 15 minutes down the road.
“Mission has more sun and less crowds than anyplace in the state, and it’s cheaper, for sure,” Sanwall said. “The snow is drier than Stevens, so you are going to have a lot of good days.”
This is why Sanwall has been a regular at Mission for nearly a decade.
If you go, she suggests you do the following.
COOK IN THE MICROWAVE
Whether she’s on her skis or board, Sanwall usually heads to the top of the ridge and hikes over to ski Bowl 4 and Microwave Bowl.
“There’s never any people over there, so on a powder day you can make fresh line for a long time,” she said.
BOMB THE BOWL
There is no better area at the resort for a long cruiser run on a groomed intermediate slope than the Bomber Bowl, Sanwall said.
“Bomber Bowl gets a lot of sun,” Sanwall said. “It’s a fun run.”
Sanwall is also a big fan of the shorter Tillikum run.
“It’s a great place to warm up or go really fast,” Sanwall said. “Mission has the best groomer runs I’ve ever skied.”
SCOPE THE VIEW
The top of Mission Ridge offers stunning views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams as well as much of the rest of the Cascades.
RIDE THE CLIFFS
A little hike gets you to the Bomber Cliffs, Mission’s expert area.
“You’ll find open glades in there,” Sanwall said. “And it’s a good place to find a lot of snow that is not skied out.”
GET AN AUTOGRAPH
Tom Rothrock, a 2002 Olympian who lives near Spokane, is a regular at Mission Ridge.
“It’s pretty cool that you can ski with one of the best skiers in the country,” Sanwall said.
Rothrock, 28, told The News Tribune last season his favorite run is Skookum – Mission’s race hill. Rothrock is currently listed on the U.S. Ski Team’s B team roster.
HANG OUT IN THE LODGE
You’ll find the regulars hanging out at the lodge bar when they’re not on the slopes.
“The best thing on the menu is the Black Butte Porter,” Sanwall said.
Mission has skiing only nine nights per season, so it tries to make those nights a special experience.
“The cool thing is the bands they bring in to play in the lodge,” Sanwall said. “There are local rock and jazz bands and even reggae. Some people come up just for the music.”
Mission Ridge is on the east side of the mountains, so the snow tends to be lighter than it is at west side resorts.
The drive from Tacoma to Mission Ridge will last about 3 hours, 20 minutes and take you over two mountain passes.
THE BIG RUN
Vertical drop: 2,200 feet
Lifts: Take Chair 1, and then ski over to take Chair 2.
Hardest way down: Take an intermediate run over to the Bomber Cliffs for a double-diamond drop to your choice of more intermediate runs.
Easiest way down: Take the intermediate Katsuk run, and hook up with Toketie, then Mimi, both beginner runs.
Summer grooming and widening of the Skookum run means it now meets International Ski Federation standards and can host races and international teams training for the 2010 Olympics.
Lift tickets: $46, $40 ages 13-17, $28 ages 7-12 and seniors, $7 ages 6 and younger
Season pass: $509, $369 ages 13-17, $219 ages 7-12, $73 ages 6 and younger, $369 ages 62-69, $249 ages 70 and older.
Night skiing: $12, with only nine planned nights of skiing
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays
Terrain: 900 acres including a 3.5-acre terrain park, the highest in the state at 6,400 feet
Lifts: Three two-seat lifts and one high-speed quad
Trails: 36 runs (10 percent beginner, 60 percent intermediate, 30 percent advanced)
Summit elevation: 6,820 feet
Base elevation: 4,570 feet
Vertical drop: 2,250 feet
Annual snowfall: 135 inches
Cross-country: Ten miles of trails located four miles away at Squilchuck State Park
More information: 1-509-663-6543; snow line, 1-509-663-3200; missionridge.com