After completing the Ski Washington Challenge on Saturday, I decided to keep visiting more areas, and dropped by Leavenworth Ski Hill on my way back to Portland. The hill here opens late, but stays open a bit late, too. It was nice to sleep in a little, and the drive from Wenatchee to Leavenworth is a very quick one. I was on the hill before they started running the rope tows, and had a chance to check out the tubing hill. Since the "play all day" pass is only $15 and includes rope tows, tubing and cross country, I decided to splurge.
I spent the morning learning the value of "Tow Guards" after destroying my gloves. These leather covers are a must for folks who want to ride the tow - too bad I didn't know. I had never riden a rope tow before, and my first attempt ended rather abruptly. On my second try, however, I had learned my lesson as far as riding the lift, and made it all the way to the top. Of course, I took one look at my gloves and decided I would be picking up a pair of "Tow Guards" before taking another ride on the rope.
I spent the rest of the morning enjoying the powder and groomers, and taking a few turns on the single jump that was set up on the upper slope. There was still a fair amount of untracked powder on the upper part of the slope, and the groomers were in very good shape. Of course, Leavenworth Ski Hill is small enough that there is basically just one run down from the top, and likewise one run down on the bunny hill. I did try them both. Eventually my grip began to give out, and I had to take a break from the tow.
By the early afternoon, it was clearly time to start my "90 minute session" on the tubing hill. One of the staff had not tried the hill yet, and offered to join me, but I was not able to locate them until after I had taken a couple of runs. The tubing hill was clearly the most popular feature at Leavenworth, and for good reason. The hill is long enough and steep enough to make for some truly speedy tubing, and includes a set of banked turns at the bottom. The walls of these turns are close to ten feet tall, and send the tubes into a hard left turn, followed by a right turn back to the base of the tow.
Early in the day, folks were starting at the top of the hill, and getting a lot of speed - so much that a few were even clearing the banked turns and leaving the course. The launching area was moved down the hill, which helped to prevent tubes from speeding over the berms, and the staff continued to shape the course throughout the day. It was busy at first, but as the day wore on, the crowd thinned out, until the wait for a ride became very short.
Finally, as the crowd thinned, the staff member who had not yet tried the tubing hill came to try a run. I waited at the top, and then went first to show the way. The staff member followed, and went sailing over the berm at the bottom of the hill. They tried a second run, and the same thing happened. Toward the end of the day, after quite a few exciting runs on the large size tubes, I decided to try my luck on a smaller tube. The smaller tube made for a very quicker run than the full size tube.
Still, I had seen a few folks go over the berm, and I was itching for my chance. On the last run, I finally got the speed I needed, and I made the crest of the outside turn, sliding over the wall and out into the ski run. I made it halfway to the bunny hill rope tow before I jumped up off the tube. It was a great finale to my weekend of snow riding, and I left Leavenworth wholly satisfied that my $15 was well spent.
Sorry, no photos from Leavenworth due to technical difficulties with the memory card in my camera.