Stevens Pass; Mission Ridge

Hitomi's company has an annual ski trip every year. Last year we went to Mt Hood for about a day of skiing. This year, the trip was longer, starting on Thursday (2/18/10) and was until Sunday morning.

Thursday night we checked in at a Leavenworth hotel and the bus drove (back) to Stevens Pass for night skiing. I've never been there, but we had quite a number of runs, enjoyed the sunset, and stayed until the last bus.

Stevens Pass… I had never been there for skiing. I did like the garden-like terrain and felt the runs were pretty interesting, but the hard packed snow, though groomed, was pretty well scraped up and it felt pretty fast. Someday I'll head up on the chair to 7th Heaven (which wasn't open when we were there) assuming the conditions aren't too icy.

Hitomi and I ate pizza back in town at the Leavenworth Pizza Company: Sauerkraut and German sausage were the fillings. And though it was pretty good at first, it felt a bit soggy near the end.

I managed to bring up the CTV (Canadian channel) Olympics on my laptop, on the wireless network at the hotel. The hotel, the Enzian, has free wireless but I figured it would have been too overloaded for real-time streaming. We watched the events Hitomi and I wanted to see (Figure skating and curling) and went to sleep.

Mission Ridge: We took the first bus from the hotel to Mission Ridge, which was supposed to be a short drive but we were stuck in Friday morning commute traffic. I was worried about snow conditions, given how dry and warm the east has been. (No cross-country skiing from the hotel, though they had the equipment for it.) Mission Ridge is exceptionally pretty, opening up to the south overlooking the Wenatchee valley, and at the top you can see pretty much the entire Cascade mountain chain, from Mt. Hood up to Mt. Baker, including Mt. Stuart and Glacier Peak. The snow was not new, but there were pockets of powder in the trees and I began regretting not having any backcountry equipment, since the top lift provides access to some pretty sweet looking terrain.

I am not a "powder hound" (and I think those who ski only resorts must by endlessly frustrated) but I do want to practice skiing in the deep stuff. You would think that turning would be straightforward, but somehow the responsiveness isn't what you expect skiing the usual resort runs, and it throws off your balance.

Hitomi and I did a lot of the areas in the resort, including some unofficial gladed runs and moguls. Hard-packed moguls are a bit intimidating still, but I've gotten better at the rhythm of attacking them. Maybe having long skis makes it hard?

In general, none of the blue runs in Stevens or Mission Ridge were particularly steep or as difficult as the blue runs on Crystal Mountain. I'm not particularly into going fast, but it was at a good opportunity to practice building up speed and feeling comfortable making narrow, fast falling lines.

Dinner: We ate at a restaurant called Cafe Mozart. German food doesn't particularly excite me, but I wanted to try someplace classy. There's a lot of places serving family platters and we ordered one sized for two, something around $60. It was actually pretty damn good and I'd eat there again. Yet, I would probably be happier spending that money on Asian food instead.

Enzian had two hot tubs. The outside one was too cool for my taste, and so we went downstairs. It was nice to warm my sore muscles. I mixed an energy drink (Nuun), which Hitomi thought tasted like cheap cola bought at a candy store for kids.

Saturday we planned to wake up a little later and enjoy a longer breakfast. Hitomi snapped some pictures of an old man performing the alpine horn, which certainly looked cool but I didn't get the feeling he could really play it very well. We had a beautiful view from the breakfast area: Sun and mountains and I sort of wished there was some snow to play with locally.

Our second day of skiing at Mission Ridge was nice. We had a lot of fun scooting through trees and did a few moguls and whatnot. There was night skiing available on Saturday, so we did the Chair 2 area a bit later. We caught some of the last rays of sun in the valley, and it soon became cold so we headed to the lodge. A live band came on, and we had the last chair in the restaurant, right next to a stack of speakers. So, to protect our hearing, we put in our trusty in-ear headphones and munched nachos.

Again, I had the sense I needed to get more into backcountry skiing. Hopefully, I will in the spring.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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