Mother Nature is giving more than 110 percent.
After two consecutive poor ski seasons (one of them historically bad), the snow depth was at least 111 percent of normal at five of the Cascades’ six major ski resorts when the Northwest Avalanche Center collected data Tuesday morning. Only Stevens Pass (98 percent of normal) was below normal, but the state’s second most popular ski area still had a 100-inch base.
Technically speaking, this just means the Northwest is enjoying an above average ski season. But compared to last season when slopes were green and resort coffers weren’t, this season feels downright epic.
Just ask Crystal Mountain spokeswoman Tiana Anderson to describe this season.
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“It’s been nice to have a healthy, juicy, tasty, delicious season,” she said. “After last year, this is like champagne to us.”
Crystal limped to its typical mid-April closing date, but spring lacked its typical flare. None of the lower lifts opened. Events were canceled at Crystal and around the region.
“It’s not even a comparison between this year and last year,” said Kathleen Goyette, marketing director at White Pass.
Spring skiing is destined to be better this year, giving skiers and snowboarders a chance to give the season a proper sendoff. In fact, for those looking to make the most of the spring season, they’ll find plenty to do each weekend. Here’s a look at what’s planned:
SUNDAY (March 20)
Wild return: The Summit at Snoqualmie’s Wilder Side Sunday freeride competition was canceled last season due to a lack of snow, but it’s returning this season. Event organizers describe it as a combination of slopestyle and big mountain freeride. Check out talented skiers and boarders, ages 10-18, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Summit West near the Wildside lift. summitatsnoqualmie.com.
Military Day: The Summit is saying thanks to military families with discounted lift tickets, lessons and rentals. summitatsnoqualmie.com.
Dirt Bag Ball: Anderson says those planning to attend the 15th Dirt Bag Ball should move quickly. The annual fundraiser for the ski patrol almost always sells out. The ball in the Bullwheel (tickets are $25) includes dancing, music and drinks and is highlighted by the crowning of the Dirt Bag King and Queen. Tickets can be purchased from the ski patrol or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. crystalmountainresort.com.
Spring Fling: Crystal’s annual spring demo day allows visitors to take a run on next year’s skis. crystalmountainresort.com.
Shredfest: A party at Stevens Pass is planned to celebrate the season and raise money for youth outreach. Festivities include a scavenger hunt, music, massages, a raffle, beer garden and an opportunity for youngsters to learn snowboarding. Entry is $60 and includes a lift ticket. crowdrise.com/SeattleShredFest.
Golden Egg Hunt: Mount Baker stages a massive all-ages, all-mountain egg hunt the day before Easter. This year, resort officials plan to hide more than 4,000 eggs with more than $18,000 in prizes. The grand prize is a golden egg good for a 2016-17 season pass. mtbaker.us.
Easter: Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass have sunrise services planned high on their slopes on Easter morning, followed by fun and games later in the day. At Crystal, the Easter Bunny will be skiing with candy for those who can catch him (or her). The Stevens Pass celebration includes a bunny hop contest and large bunny snow sculpture. Egg hunts for kids are planned at both ski areas, but parents need to provide 12 candy-filled eggs if they enter a child in the Crystal hunt. Stevens is hiding eggs on the mountain for adults. A golden egg includes a season pass for next season. stevenspass.com.
Old meets new: Dust off ski gear from generations gone by and enter the Retro Fools race at Stevens Pass. The older the gear, the bigger the time credit. This is the sixth year for the race. Want to check out the future when you’re finished reliving the past? Stevens Pass also has a demo day planned. Military discounts are offered on lift tickets. stevenspass.com.
Biathlon: Stevens Pass’ nordic center plays host to the Washington Biathlon Association’s final races April 2-3. wabiathlon.org.
Free skiing: Early April is always a good time for an Eastern Washington skiing road trip. 49 Degrees North, located north of Spokane, is Washington’s second-largest ski area (behind Crystal) and opens its slopes for free skiing during its final week of the season. After a rough 2014-15 season, the ski area is reporting more than 13 feet of snow. ski49n.com.
NW Cup Finals: Mount Spokane hosts the championships for the regional youth ski racing tour April 7-10. mtspokane.com.
Stunt Ditch: A hand-built pipe and a bevvy of features including jumps and rails give participants an opportunity to strut their stuff. “But most people sit back and enjoy the show,” Goyette said. The April 9 White Pass event includes music, barbecue and a beer garden. skiwhitepass.com.
Bikini Downhill: Crystal’s annual swimsuit races are celebrating their fifth anniversary April 9. It has already carved out its place as a spring tradition.
“The weather is always interesting,” Anderson said. “Some years the weather’s nice, and some years it’s snowing, but we still race.”
Stakes are high in this race with the tagline, “Skin to Win.” Winners get a season pass valued at $1,200. Women can wear bikinis or one-piece suits. Men must wear Speedo-style swimsuits or board shorts. Skiing in your undies is prohibited. crystalmountainresort.com.
More swimsuits: If you didn’t get enough skin at Crystal, White Pass plans to follow up a week later with a ski patrol fundraiser called the Swim Suit Run. According to the White Pass website, visitors can ski the Cascade run in their beachwear or make a donation to see somebody else make the run. If you’re seeing more than you’d like, donations can be made to have skiers cover up. skiwhitepass.com.
Pond Skimming: It’s helpful to be a talented skier or snowboarder and little bit crazy if you want to try pond skimming. This is the act of zipping downhill then transitioning from alpine to water skiing. Clear the pond and you’ll get healthy applause, but the crowd prefers splashes and crashes.
The Summit planned to hold its pond skim Saturday. Crystal’s pond skim was canceled when it lost its sponsor. So if you still want to take in the hilarity this season, your closest option will be Stevens Pass’ Springfest pondskim. stevenspass.com.
An above average ski season feels epic a year removed from one of the most abysmal seasons on record. Here’s a look at snow depth data collected March 15 by the Northwest Avalanche Center and how it compares to normal and last season.
Percent of Normal
Depth on March 15, 2015
Percent of Normal
Summit at Snoqualmie