Precipitation inundates the Pacific Northwest each fall and winter. And while locals don’t celebrate each rainstorm that hits the city, most outdoor adventurers do appreciate the fresh snow that falls in the mountains this time of year. As soon as the snow conditions are suitable, countless urban dwellers flock to ski resorts in close proximity to Seattle, including Stevens Pass, The Summit at Snoqualmie, and Mt. Baker. With ski and snowboard season just around the corner, Seattle’s diverse winter-sports resources promise to inspire, excite, and prepare adventurers to hit the slopes.
Take a class. Before booking a ski or snowboard lesson at a mountain resort, winter-sports professionals recommend attending a preparedness class pre-season. On November 3, REI and Washington Ski Touring Club will team up to host a free class on “Fitness and Flexibility for Ski Season,” taught by two-time Olympian skier Scott Macartney. With a focus on “functional fitness,” Macartney will discuss the demands of skiing and the importance of preventing injuries as he guides attendees through the 90-minute participatory class.
Join a club. Winter-sports and recreation clubs offer an opportunity to connect with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts and avoid the dreaded Seattle Freeze. Established in 1906, The Mountaineers is dedicated to outdoor education and stewardship, and the Seattle branch organizes more than 1,000 activities every year, including avalanche preparedness, cross-country ski lessons, and back-country ski and snowboard treks. The LGBT club Ski Buddies offers free membership and aims to make affordable ski trips available to the Pacific Northwest LGBT community. Washington Alpine Club is 100 percent volunteer run and offers members access to a wide variety of classes, with a chance to get involved in conservation, service, and leadership activities.
Watch a ski film. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from watching the pros. On November 18 and 19 at McCaw Hall, ski aficionados and movie buffs are invited to a screening of Here, There, and Everywhere by ski-film pioneer Warren Miller. The film follows some of the industry’s best athletes as they ski through Squaw Valley, Calif.; Crested Butte, Colo.; Cordova, Alaska; Greenland, Switzerland, and other epic destinations. Attendees will also receive vouchers for free lift tickets at Stevens Pass, Mission Ridge, Crystal Mountain, Mt. Bachelor, and other popular ski resorts. Can’t attend a screening? Netflix is currently streaming three snowboard documentaries—Deeper, Further, and Higher—that follow professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones and other leading freeriders to the world’s wildest back-country slopes.
Do some research. With all of Washington’s ski-resort options, enthusiasts have the opportunity to tailor each ski and snowboard trip to their individual needs. But which mountains are best for children, night skiing, accessibility, or price? Many useful apps take some of the guesswork out of planning these wintertime excursions; check out Ski & Snow Report, Liftopia, Powder Project, and On the Snow for real-time weather reports, lift ticket discounts, navigation, and advisories. Intermediate to expert skiers and snowboarders should also check out Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes–Washington, a guidebook that includes 80 routes throughout the state, with detailed information on elevation, route distance, time requirements, fitness level, permits, and driving directions.