Ski Washington Challenge - David's Diary

Blog documenting my progress on the Ski Washington Challenge

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hurricane Ridge

Today marked the twelfth ski area I have visited in Washington since mid-November. Just in time for Christmas, Hurricane Ridge opened for alpine activities today. Barring some unforeseen generous benefactor(s) (?), this will be the last area I visit on the Ski Washington Challenge. Staying in the car has helped to keep my budget very reasonable so far, but the price of admission for Cascade Powder Cats and North Cascade Heli-Skiing is a little beyond my means at this point.

Hurricane Ridge opened to an eager public today, running both rope tows, with the Poma likely to be ready in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately today was not a very good day for enjoying the off-piste, as the avalanche rating was in the highest category. So I kept to the main trail, and enjoyed a brief day of rope towed boarding. The road opened later than usual this morning (around 11:15) due to the snowfall from the previous night, which measured around six inches. I was thankful that they did finally get the road open, and had the tows running when I made it to the top. Although somewhat disappointed to not have the Poma open, I was happy to get some more use out of the Tow Guards I had purchased at Leavenworth.

The one thing that struck me most was the beauty of the area. The views in the late morning were spectacular, and the terrain in the Olympics is an amazing sight. The ski area itself sits atop the windswept ridge after which it is named, and the "intermediate" rope tow drops you off at mid-hill or up at the windy peak itself. You drop to the right, and then have the choice of a ride back down to the tow, or a route out onto a ridge, with a sweeping, perfect bowl to the left, sporting a sizable cornice. With avalanche in the forecast, and nobody to drive me back up to the tow, I decided to restrict my activity to the lift-served terrain, but I did get the vicarious thrill of watching a number of boarders and skiers tear up the fresh powder on the bowl, which was deep and smooth. Snow at the top was measured at 85 inches.

I did get my share of runs in, despite the late opening. I enjoyed the fresh coverage from the night before, and tried making a few passes over the natural jumps that formed along the left side of the ski run. I managed to catch a little air without making too much of a fool of myself, so I kept doing laps on the tow and hitting the smaller jumps on my way back to grab the rope again. Eventually my hands needed a rest, so I headed to the nice, though small, lodge, to enjoy some chicken strips and a Coke. Sated, and with my hands feeling a little relief, I headed back to the hill for another 90 minutes or so, and when I felt my hands begin to tire, and noted the sky closing in, made the call to hit the road. It was a short day, but with a rope tow the first few days are hard work - my hands simply aren't conditioned for the endurance that a full day on the tow requires.

So I beat the traffic off the hill, and made my way back to Olympia, where I sit now drinking my iced mocha, contemplating the experience of snowboarding twelve Washington ski areas in five weeks. It was a great adventure, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who seeks to know the hills in their neighborhood. It didn't require any days off from work, just a little dedication, and some driving. None of the areas were more than a day's drive away, although Loup Loup and 49ยบ North were near the limit of a one day drive. Each of the areas had something different to offer, and all of them have enjoyed a very good snow year so far. Thanks for sharing this experience with me, and I look forward to seeing you on the mountains of the Pacific Northwest this season, and in years to come. Happy holidays, and many blessings for the new year. Let it snow!


At 10:41 PM, Blogger styrofoamtoo said...

Hey David....Nice to hear from you. So Hurricane really blew you away with its scenery, eh! Must be beautiful! Avalanches are not good for anyone; glad you stayed clear. Seems like you have had your fill of the rope tows and I bet you can't wait to get on a high speed quad and relax!! We will see you soon...get some rest, Love, The Big Katuna

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Emilio2000 said...

Hi David,
Congratulations! You rule, man! You show us all the way, by example. Why do people think you need tons of vacation time to explore the local ski areas? You showed us it can all be done in a just a few weekends. And what adventures!!! Wow! Thanks for the nice "trail" you left behind, in this blog.
I am following in your tracks. Visited only 3 areas so far, but I plan to do them all too (except for the helicopter stuff).


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