Northwest starts ski season early

There wasn't a ton of snow at the Government De-Rail at Stevens, but that didn't stop people from sending it; photo by Kade Krichko

There wasn’t a ton of snow at the Government De-Rail at Stevens, but that didn’t stop people from sending it. Photo by Kade Krichko

After a few early season storms dumped measurable snowfall on the northwest corner of the United States, resorts in Washington and Oregon decided to give their faithful something to celebrate, opening up for a few days of October skiing. Last week Crystal Mountain in Washington became the first ski area open in North America, followed a few days later by Stevens Pass, also of Washington.

“There was too much snow to open our bike park,” explained Stevens Pass vice president of operations Joel Martinez. “So we said, ‘why not go skiing?'”

Stevens opened last Saturday for one day only, setting up a mini terrain park and calling it the Government De-Rail Session. About 400 people showed up for the event according to Martinez, loading the Hogsback Quad to ski and board on the mid-mountain patch of snow. A few days earlier, on October 1, rival Crystal Mountain opened up its Green Valley Bowl for 75 lucky skiers and boarders looking to score some early season powder. Tickets sold for $15 for the day dubbed “Rocktoberfest.”

While each only stayed open for one day, the resorts inspired other area hills to follow suit, including Timberline Resort in Oregon, who has decided to open two chairlifts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this week after nearly two feet of snow fell on the area over the past week.

Early season snow isn’t without its hazards, and resorts acknowledge that obstacles may lie just an inch beneath the surface. Early season skiing and riding is for advanced participants only and should not be taken lightly. Snow conditions are often variable early on and can change quickly. Even still, getting out on the hill in October is a nice perk to living in the Northwest. Save some for the rest of us would ya?