State of Shred: WashingtonBy Al Ex • Jan 14th, 2011 • Category: Features, Latest, States of Shred
State since: 1889
Total Resorts: 15
There is no better place for a snowboarder than Washington. Being an old and bitter man, sometimes I forget this. But it’s true: we’re at least tied for Number One In The Galaxy, when you factor in everything. We get the most snow, and our young mountains are steep. Nobody has a longer season. Most importantly, we’re the most American, with our state being the only one named after a President. There are four major ski areas of consequence, and I’m going to hip them to ya. (We have no “resorts,” despite what Crystal Mountain would have you believe.) Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but they’re all “best place ever” at least a dozen or so times a year. So listen up, and let me lay some truth on you beautiful bitches. I know what I’m talking about: I’ve been snowboarding at these fucking places forever, and I’m as truly Washingtonian as anyone can be: I was born in California.
BEST OF WASHINGTON
(note: all driving times from downtown Seattle—the only acceptable place to live.)
Stevens Pass is a great place to ride a snowboard around. Being a little higher than Snoqualmie, it usually gets better snow, and there’s something for everyone. It can get crowded, but it’s big enough to spread the crowds around on most days.
They have the best park in the state (out of what—two?), Seventh Heaven has some good steep shit, and the backside’s great for wide open pow. Hike a little bit and you can get some great backcountry runs too. Not sure if you’ll see Matt Goodwill there anymore, but there are plenty of goatee dudes from Everett wearing helmets with flames on them. And wakeboarders. The terrain makes it the perfect place to feel good at snowboarding.
Fun Facts: Stevens Pass is the site of America’s deadliest avalanche. It killed like a hundred people on a train, and wiped the area clean of apostrophes. They used to give free lift tickets on your birthday.
Couldn’t find a good riding video from Crystal, so here’s some death metal instead.
Everyone’s a big asshole at Crystal Mountain. It has something to do with being close to the town of Enumclaw, famous for being the place where a dude died from horse sex. Horse sex requires large assholes. Gaping anal maws. It’s too bad, really, as Crystal Mountain probably has the best overall terrain in the state. It’s the biggest area in Washington, and has two E-Z access backcountry zones that are ridiculous. If it’s a clear day, you’ll trip on the sheer size of Mount Rainier sitting right on top of you. I had my best day of last season at Crystal. It was a sunny Saturday with a billion feet of fresh snow, and there were tons of people there, crowded beyond belief. Most of them were assholes (me included). I loved it.
Fun Facts: Crystal Mountain used to have signs that said “no jumping.” They actually check for leashes. Enumclaw has horsesex. There’s a summertime Frisbee golf course off the motherfucking top!
Actually four areas in one, this is the spot where everyone in Seattle learned to ski. Only an hour away on Interstate 90, it’s pretty much the hottest shit on earth–you can be a local and still live downtown.
Summit East is really Hyak which is really Pac West. Big mudslide last season took out half the lifts (one), and they’re rebuilding. It should be up and running by now, but I heard they didn’t line the lift poles up straight. Typical. This is the place to walk around with your dog, practicing converting your splitboard back and forth.
Summit Central (Ski Acres) has the park. That’s probably the only reason you should go there.
Summit West is a giant flat wedge. I’ve never figured out why they have more than two chairs, but they do. This is the only ski area I’ve ever been at where you don’t have to turn. Go here if you’re blind or three years old and want to learn how do that wedge ski thing.
A very wise man once described Alpental as a battering husband. It hurts me over and over, physically and emotionally, but I always find myself running back into its arms. I cannot really express my feelings for Alpental here.
Fun Facts: The corndogs from the stand by the gas station are actually very good. Ducking ropes at Alpental is encouraged. The draft beers will kill you—stick to bottled.
It’s the little things that make Baker so good. So many weird little idiosyncrasies, like the quaint Canadians and their affinity for two dollar bills. The way your phone doesn’t work in Glacier. The fantastic death that looms (mostly) out of bounds.
Conditions-wise, it’s rare that Baker won’t be the best in the state that day. There are always at least nine inches of new snow in the morning. Always. The only real problem with Baker is that everybody rips, and everybody’s been ripping the same stuff forever. The tracks usually fill in within the next two runs, so it’s not too big of a deal. But everyone’s pretty much a super secret squirrel ripper, and they’re headed to the same shit. Make sure you don’t follow just anyone, either, because some of these motherfuckers are crazy.
Fun Facts: The entire town of Glacier has trench foot. The Shuksan Arm is actually part of Alaska.