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Showing posts with label the Summit at Snoqualmie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the Summit at Snoqualmie. Show all posts

Is Spring Fling Pass From Summit at Snoqualmie Worth The Money ?

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Spring Fling Pass From Summit at Snoqualmie allows skiers, and snowboarders "ski more, spend less" !

From their website :
Skip the ticket window and head straight to the lift. Summit passes are an unbeatable value, providing access all season long and the freedom to hit the slopes whenever you want. We're so close it's easy to get your money's worth!
But is the Spring Pass really worth the money ?

Spring Fling Pass From Summit at Snoqualmie

Night Skiing and Snowboarding At Summit Central

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Go skiing under the lights when you buy a night lift ticket from the Summit at Snoqualmie !

Night skiing near Seattle has a certain appeal: fewer crowds, no lift lines, and discounted lift tickets ! 

Time - 4pm -10pm 
Ticket prices start at $31 for adults, and $25 for kids ( save $$$ by buying online !! ) 

Looking for more outdoor adventures in/around Seattle ?
Find more here - Washington Adventures


Learn Backcountry Basics At Alpental, WA For Free

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If you are an avid backcountry traveller, you know that you must have "the standard " avalanche gear: beacon, probe and a shovel. But unfortunately, there are lots of people who think that having the right gear is all they need to venture beyond ski area boundaries. But just like the great American writer Mark Twain once said, "Knowledge without experience is just information".

Fatbiking Kendall Peak In Washington State

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Even though fatbiking is gaining popularity in such outdoorsy states as Alaska, Oregon, California, Colorado, Utah, in Washington state it's still relatively new and exotic. I can personally attest that these kooky-looking bikes attract a lot of eyeballs, and everybody wants to talk to you, and give it a try.

Over the past few years fatbike popularity has skyrocketed. More and more fatbikes and fatbike brands are springing up ranging from cheap Walmart brands to expensive adventure racing and hunting specific.

Many "hard core cyclists" see these bikes with the clown sized tires as silly and unnecessary. While most definitely fatbikes are not for everyone, they aren’t just a passing fad, and they're here to stay.

Personally for me, fatbikes are all about possibilities and fun ( but I've got to admit, it's kinda cool to get all that attention too :)) !

Snow Tubing At Summit At Snoqualmie

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If you are looking for good old fashioned wintertime fun, you have got to head straight to Summit at Snoqualmie's tubing center ! It's a great place for an epic winter adventure !

Located across from Summit Central, snow tubing is fun-filled, carefree way for family and friends to enjoy the exhilaration of sliding on snow !

Snowshoeing Alpental Backcountry - Snow Lake

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Snowshoeing in Washington state

I almost gave up on snowshoeing this year. After my first "backcountry ski" trip to Mt Margaret this winter, I thought it would be boring going back to snowshoeing. I am glad I kept my snowshoes.

It doesn't matter if you prefer snowshoes or touring skis, there is no substitute for getting out in the backcountry when it is snowed over. But keep in mind that backcountry can be a very dangerous place in winter.

Fatbiking At Iron Horse State Park In Washington

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A few years ago, almost nobody had heard of fat biking. Nowadays, fat-biking ( don't mistake it with ski-biking ! ) is gaining traction around the country, especially in places where winter is more than just 3 calendar months.

Fatties have been around for more than a decade but have only captured the mainstream cycling world's attention over the past couple of years because of their versatility and a rise in extreme adventure races.

To grow the popularity of this new snow activity, more ski resorts are offering fat tire bikes for rent, and grooming snowy trails specifically for fat biking enthusiasts.

Fat biking is slowing but gradually gaining popularity in Washington state, especially in places with established cross country skiing traditions such as Leavenworth and Winthrop.

Basically, wherever there is a cross country trail ( groomed or not ), fat biking is allowed.

This year, I finally managed to get my hands on a relatively affordable fat bike, and really hoped to enjoy Winter Wonderland in a new and exciting way !

I couldn't wait to test ride it at one of my favorite cross country skiing Snow parks - Hyak Sno Park which is located withing the Iron Horse State Park.

But unfortunately, 2015 was another horrible ski season in Washington state. Some say, it could be the worst ski season in 40+ years ! Many ski areas around the state closed lifts (or shut down completely) and canceled lessons as the warm, wet weather washed out skiing and boarding.

During my trip in the middle of February, Hyak Ski Area ( Summit East ) was closed, with barely any snow on the slopes, and non on the ground.

I rode my fat bike for a few miles, crossing patches of snow now and then, but eventually, I decided to give up.

But I still had tons of fun ! Fat bikes definitely make it easier to ride in such "impassable" conditions as in snow, sand, mud, ice or over rocks. But that doesn't necessarily make it effortless. You might stay more upright, but you still really need to muscle your way through snowdrifts or thick sand. You're definitely going to get in a workout !

Cross Country Skiing At The Summit At Snoqualmie

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Looking for some winter fun beyond snowboarding or downhill skiing? Try cross country skiing !

Using the recommendations from 100 Best Cross Country Ski Trails in Washington that I mentioned in my previous post, I went XC ( cross country skiing ) at the Summit at Snoqualmie.

Nordic Center at the Summit at Snoqualmie ( also known as The Summit East ) offers an incredible system of trails that boasts a network of over 50km. It's an amazing place for cross country ( nordic ) skiers and snowshoers of all ages and skill levels. Beginners and families can easily hone their skills, while experts can take on the challenge of steep terrain and an array of un-groomed runs.

Winter Hiking And Sledding At The Snoqualmie Pass

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As I previously wrote, sledding or tubing are not allowed around the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area during operation hours. The only two places you can do are : the Summit's tubing center or Hayak Snow Park ( also known as John Wayne Pioneer Trail at ex 54 on I - 90 ).

Another option is to come to the Summit during off- season to enjoy your snow toys.

If you and your little ones don't mind a short hike, you can try PCP ( Pacific Crest Trail ) trailhead that offers a steep approach that you can use as a hill. But since it's a popular snowshoeing, winter hiking, and ski touring trail, make sure you use caution when sledding.

This weekend we decided to combine a bit of backcountry hiking and sledding at a popular Snow Lake trail.

Testing Ahnu Hiking/Backpacking Boots On Mt Si

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Mount Si, the monolith looming over Interstate 90 at North Bend, is Northwest icon, Washington state's most popular hiking trail, and the proven training ground for anybody getting ready to summit Mt Rainier.

But whether you dream of summiting Rainier, skiing Mt Adams, trad climbing Mt Shuksan, or hiking/backpacking the Wonderland Trail, Mt Si is the place to test yourself and your gear.

As I mentioned in my previous post, choosing a pair of good hiking boots can be the difference between a memorable experience and a miserable misadventure.

Recently, on a typical PNW winter day, I put my pair of Ahnu's Coburn hiking boots to a grueling test through dirt, mud, puddles and snow of Mt Si's 4-mile hike with about 3500 ft elevation gain.

Having summited both Rainier and Shuksan, and thru-hiked the 18 miles  Enchantments Traverse (aka the Death March), I knew exactly what I was looking for in hiking/backpacking boots.

Without getting too technical, I'll just focus on a few specs that were especially important to me :

Whether you are a hard core thru-hiker or a casual weekend warrior ( like me ), the Ahnu's Coburn hiking boots are light, breathable, waterproof, and will work great in all weather conditions and on any terrain.

My feet get easily cold. Keeping them dry and warm ( but not overheated ) is extremely important to me. After hiking for 3 hours in mud, puddles, and snow, at the end, my feet remained warm and (relatively) dry.

Leather boots tend to be on a heavy side. Same goes for synthetic ones once they get wet, adding weight and slowing you down. And we all know that a pound on the feet is like eight on your back. Even on the way back, the Coburn boots were as light as at the beginning of the hike.

Whether you are going on a leisure hike on a relatively flat trail, or  scrambling over piles of rock, the taller ankle height is a welcome feature for hikers who are looking for greater ankle support without having to upgrade to much bigger, stiffer, heavier boots.

Non-marking, slip resistant lugs provide the ultimate grip and traction. I was especially blown away by this feature ! In winter, the upper part of Mt Si's trail is (almost always) covered with snow requiring hikers to use either spikes or snowshoes. The boots' aggressive tread was amazing at gripping both wet rocks and snow. One of my knees is messed up, and I'm always concerned about slipping/sliding on the way down, even with extra effort (on my part) it was hard for me to make these boots slide.

All in all, the boots answered all the questions asked  when it comes to choosing a great pair of hiking/backpacking boots.

Now, the last question left unanswered - " How long will they last ? "

Snowscooting - Winter Fun For Kids And Adults !

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Being a (extra) hyperactive father to an even more hyperactive son means coming up with more fun as much as possible as often as possible. Skiing, snowboarding, snowskating, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing... are not enough for my kid. We are always on a lookout for more thrills, fun and adventures !

Browsing Craigslist for more gear, I came across a pretty interesting find - a snowscooter ! My son has already been having fun riding his push and electric scooters, and I thought the snowscooter would be a great addition to his own outdoor gear collection.

We took the snow scooter to our favorite ski area in Washington - Alpental. Its steep slopes were ideal for this fun little snow toy. Light, maneuverable, and durable the scooter worked great for both of us !

NOTE: During ski season sledding of any type is not allowed around the area. Just like our training snowboard, the snowscooter doesn't have metal edges and a leash, the safety feature required for (any) snow gear to be used on the slopes. 

That's why, you can only use it during off hours/season or away from crowds in specifically designated areas ( like sledding slopes ).

Learn A New Snowboarding Trick

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About two years ago I discovered for myself the joy and fun of riding at a terrain park.

At first it was quite intimidating ( and painful ! ). After catching a rail across my chest, hitting my head against a box, and twisting my knee after a bad landing I invested heavily into protective gear.

As I mentioned before, I couldn't find any classes that would teach the basics of park riding. With all my protective gear I felt saf(er), but my lack of knowledge greatly hindered my progress.

My only sauce of instructions were these short Youtube videos. So far I've "mastered" "Ollie", "Nollie", 180 frontside and backside spins, and finally overcame my fear of jumps.

If it wasn't for park riding, I think I would have lost interest in snowboarding ( at a ski area ). Just because you're an adult snowboarder doesn't mean that once you learn the basics, you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again. There are many ways in which you can alter your riding. You can do it by changing the terrain, the weather conditions, and how you ride. That's one of the great things about snowboarding: there's always room to stretch yourself and try new things. But only if you want to.

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Absolutley No Sledding At Summit West

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In my post about our trip to Tubing Center at Snoqualmie , I mentioned that they really don't allow any forms of tubes, sleds, or toboggans anywhere around ski area, and I meant ANY AREA : whether it's Central, East, West, or Alpental ( "Personal sledding devices are not allowed for liability reasons").

I personally think this rule blows; it's a huge mountain, and prohibiting such a popular winter activity is just plain wrong.

But you know me, if there is a will, there is always a way...

There are a few "official/unofficial sledding areas" around Summit East, but if you don't feel like driving or paying ( one of the areas - the Hyak Sno-Park requires a Washington State Sno-Park Permit which is $20 (!) a day ), you can just park at Summit West, cross the road and head out to PCT parking lot

If you've ever gone hiking/snowshoeing there, you know that the road to the parking lot goes uphill, and is steep enough for a few good runs.

But this time, we decided to combine hiking/snowshoeing/sledding in one, and took our sled for a mile+ hike along PCP trail

With the recent snow fall, relatively warm weather, and away from the crowded ski area, we had a great trip that gave us a chance to try our new Yamaha Snowmobile, as well as challenge my son's riding skills

How Hard Is Snowskating ?

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...if a 4 year old can do it, you can do it too !

I think snowskating is a great way to learn the basics of snowboarding !

Bi-level snowskates are hybrids between snowboards and skateboards. They are light, easy to use, and don't require any additional gear like boots and bindings.

You don't have to sit in the snow to strap in, when you get off balance, you can just jump off of it. No face plants !

They are light, so you can just grab one, walk up the hill, and ride down !

Ski Washington

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Just two months into 2011, and I feel like my Bucket List is getting full ( one drop at a time).

One of the ideas/goals for this year was to ski at as many ski areas in Washington state as possible.

As an employee at the Summit at Snoqualmie one can ski/board at ALL Washington ski areas/resorts for FREE !

Because the Summit at Snoqualmie is a member of the Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association’s Exchange Program, the Summit's employees are eligible for discounted and/or free skiing at other PNSAA participating ski areas around the country !

2011 is my third year working as a ski instructor at the Summit, but I still haven't taken the full advantage of this awesome benefit. May be because there are just too many of them. There are 12 ski areas in WA :

The Summit at Snoqualmie
49° North Mountain Resort
Hurricane Ridge
Mission Ridge
Leavenworth Ski Hill
Mt Baker
Stevens Pass
Mt Spokane
Crystal Mt
Loup Loup Ski Bowl
White Pass
Ski Bluewood

My very first "painful" experience was at Leavenworth's Ski Hill just 3 years ago.

During my visit to Winthrop, I stopped by the Loup Loup Ski Bowl to get a few runs before heading home.

During the last two weeks I managed to squeeze in two (!) trips : White Pass and Stevens.

The Summit's sister resort Crystal Mountain is just 1.5 away from where I live, but for the past three years I've skied there just a handful of times. This year, I finally had a chance to try out it's famous Mt Rainier Gondola !

I've also skied at Mt Baker, Mission Ridge and Hurricane Ridge.

Skiing/snowshoeing Mount Margaret

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One of my Bucket List adventures for this year was to venture into backcountry, skiing or snowshoeing. AT/Telemark ski gear and backcountry essentials ( beacon/shovel/probe ) might be quite expensive, so I decided to use my cross country skis for some "ski touring".

Since there is no avalanche danger, snowshowing/skiing Mount Margaret is safe and is great for beginners, but at the same time it gives you that feeling of "exploring the backcountry".

That was my first time at Mt Margaret, and I absolutely loved it !

Though, in winter it's a very popular snowshoe route, I'd personally recommend to use skis. Believe me, you'll get a greater workout, and the way down will be a breeze. Classic/touring skis will work just fine, and you won't even need the skins. At Summit East ( formally known as Hayk ) you can rent a pair of skis for the day.

Even if you choose to stick to your snowshoes, make the trip down fun !

Use an airboard, snowbike, or a snowskate

I'm not giving the description of the trail, since you can easily find it either on WTA web site or in Snowshoe Routes Washington book.

Ice Climbing In Washington State : Alpental At The Summit At Snoqualmie

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How are you doing with your New Year resolutions ( dreams/goals ) ? In my previous post I wrote about some of the activities I want to try this year. And guess what ? Two weeks into the new year, and I already can cross one thing off my list.

I've always wanted to try ice climbing, and last week I had a great opportunity to go ice climbing at Alpental. The experience was ....unbelievable !

The trip was organized by Pro Guiding Service and led by the company's owner himself Martin Volken.

The weather conditions that day left a lot to be desired : lots of fog , concrete ice, dripping rain. But we went anyway. We took a chairlift to the top of Armstrong, and walked down ( since it was impossible to ski at all ) to Stellar Falls (Kiddie Cliff falls).

The ice formations were just absolutely beautiful. Ice was very thick in many spots and pretty solid. We bouldered around for some time to warm up, then Martin gave a quick introduction to lead climbing, and set up three top rope routes ( from easy to more difficult ). The small size of the group ( 4 people ) allowed plenty of time for everybody to climb.

If you think ice climbing is not for you, think again. There are no requirements to sign up for the course ( other than decent fitness shape). You don't have to own your own ice climbing equipment : ice axes, crampons, climbing harness, helmet, snowshoes - all that can be rented. Even though the course takes place at Alpental, you don't have to buy a ski ticket, you can just snowshoe to the climbing site.

For some people this might be a "once in a life time kind of opportunity" ( something you do just to say "been there, done that), while for others - a life long hobby. Anyway, it's totally worth trying !

Pro Guiding Service also offers ski, rock and alpine guiding trips. All their guides are highly qualified and AMGA ( American Mountain Guides Association ) and UIAGM (Union Internationale des Associations de Guides de Montagnes) certified. Small client -to -guide ratio dictates to a large extent what you can accomplish on a course.

Cross Country Skiing : Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

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Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

I went cross country skiing at Summit East ( former Hyak ) several times last year , and had no idea that there was a perfectly groomed, nearly level, 7 1/2 mile xc ( cross country ) trail right across the street !

Hyak Sno-Park is an old Milwaukee railroad stop within the Iron Horse State Park. In the winter it is a very popular Sno-Park with easy access, sledding hill, groomed ski trail (with marked snowshoe route) , and heated bathrooms !

The railroad grade provides an almost level tour with a double set of groomed ski tracks ( perfect for beginners ), while the open area between the tracks is mostly used by "serious fast-paced skaters ". Off the groomed trails , you will sometimes see snowshoers along the way. In the Snow Park's parking lot, there is a nice little sledding hill for the whole family to enjoy.

Cross country skiing at Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

Though, the trail is flat , don't let it fool you. I went almost 13 miles ( round trip ) to the intersection with the Lost Lake trail ( if I am not mistaken ) and it felt like a great work out ! Make sure you know when to turn around, as the trail goes as far as Easton ( cause for a moment I was wondering how far I could push myself).

Dogs are not allowed on the "main" trail, but there is a section of the trail ( past "Lost Lake road") that allows dog sledding ( I actually saw a few dog owners "skijoring" . Looked like fun ! )

I wouldn't call this trail particularly scenic , but there are sections of the trail where you can catch the views of frozen Keechelus Lake.

Keechelus Lake at Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

Note: If you decide to use Hyak Sno-Park, you will need a permit !
Permit Requirements: Daily Sno-Park Permit and Daily or Annual Discover Pass; OR a Seasonal Sno Park Permit plus Special Groomed Trails Permit sticker, without Discover Pass.

Tip: If you want to save $$$, you can park at Hyak ski area ( FREE ), and walk to the trail...
But, personally, I pay the park fees to support the great job they're doing to provide us with this amazing opportunity to enjoy this beautiful surroundings !

Tip: Don't have your own gear ? You can rent full cross country setup at Hyak ski area ( BUT they only allow the use of their rentals on the ski area... BUT... nobody will know if you use them on Iron Horse trail 😉 😜)

Another option ?
Buy your own gear ! 


Shop for cross country skiing gear on Amazon

Snowshoeing Snoqualmie Commonwealth basin

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Backcountry skiers are passing the creek

Beautiful view of Guye Peak
Commonwealth Basin- a good turn around point

Sunny view of the Commonwealth basin

Follow the Pacific Crest trail

Unmarked "trail" for CB

Another beginning of the trail - right under the bridge.

Unfortunately for me, this winter,I wasn't' able to do as many winter activities as I wanted. Being busy with teaching kids skiing , I got away with only a couple outings.

I decided to finish this winter with a short snowshoe trip. My work place ( Alpental ) was my first choice. Forest Service interpretive snowshoe walks on Snoqualmie Pass offer a chance to experience winter's beauty while learning about snowshoeing and winter ecology.

They offer 3 programs. The first , a moderately paced interpretive walk that generally last 90 min. The second a half day outing to Commonwealth Basin (CB)- requires a higher level of fitness and winter preparedness.Group size -8 people. Leave at 9:15 am - come back around 3pm. Third program-" Kids in the snow " will include an introduction to winter exploration and some snow play time. Forest Service provides snowshoes for all of their walks.Donations for 90 min walks- $ 10, for the half day- $ 20. Reservations are required , please call 425-434-6111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              425-434-6111      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (Thur-Sun 9am-3pm).

If you ,do, decide to go on your own, couple things to keep in mind: there is no official trailhead ( look at the pic above ), several switchbacks ( map is not necessary, but helpful. Otherwise fallow alongside the banks of Commonwealth Creak), avalanche danger. As for the trail itself- not marked, but well used (just fallow the wide path ); not scenic, but on a good sunny winter day-very pleasant ;not challenging , but great for beginners, or a pleasant walk in the morning. I couldn't find any information about snowshoeing at the Summit (google or the summit's web page). The best way- is call them and see for yourself, if you'd like it.