Crystal Mountain Skiing

On Saturday I did something I haven’t done in almost two full years: I went skiing! Thank to Tyla for letting me take a Saturday to head down to Crystal. It had been snowing all week and a storm was predicted for Friday night so I thought I picked a good day. I did… but so did everyone else. I forgot what time I usually left so I decided to go for 6:30. That was a mistake. There was a ton of traffic and it took an extra 45 minutes to make the 1 hour and 45 minute drive. I changed my thinking from “find some good fresh snow” to “enjoy whatever turns you get because it’s going to be wildly crowded.”

It turns out that getting older and not skiing for two years makes it a little difficult to get going again. Go figure. The skiing itself came back pretty quickly but man, I tired out quickly! I toured all over the mountain, skiing through some of my favorites and then headed out around 1:30 or so.

It was so nice to be relaxing up in the mountains with a gorgeous view all around!

Mt. Baker Chair

There is a ski lift chair being used as a bench on our back patio, and, in our guest bathroom, there’s a photo of that chair when it was part of Chair #1 at Mt. Baker. It’s a fun piece of history and nostalgia. I wrote about the process of buying the old chair and then receiving a photo of the chair back in 2008.

Fast forward to 2017 and I got contacted on my Instagram woodworking account by an artist who had seen the photo in that post and did a pen and ink drawing of it. She was asking if I could point her to the original photographer so she could give her credit. The photo came from the wife of another guy at work who bought one of the chair. Yada yada yada, we’ve lost touch over the years after I changed groups and he left the company, but I found him on Facebook and sent him a message. We were able to connect all the dots and put the artist in touch with the photographer. Yay for the internet!

You can see the drawing on Instagram at and now you can also think about this story every time you use the guest bathroom at my house. You’re welcome.

Washington Ski Areas Average Opening Dates

We had an early start to the ski season around here this year. Snoqualmie is the lowest elevation and is still waiting for enough snow, but everyone else is open. Years ago I made a chart of the opening dates on the Seattle PI blog. I’ve updated it this year with the help from some fellow skiers at work.

Whistler Baker   Stevens Summit Crystal
2006 17-Nov 13-Nov 17-Nov 2-Dec 15-Nov
2007 17-Nov 29-Nov 18-Dec 15-Dec 1-Dec
2008 26-Nov 14-Dec 18-Dec 11-Dec 27-Nov
2009 14-Nov 12-Nov 19-Nov 14-Nov 11-Nov
2010 19-Nov 20-Nov 1-Dec 25-Nov 19-Nov
2011 18-Nov 18-Nov 19-Nov 19-Nov 18-Nov
2012 17-Nov 21-Nov 20-Nov 8-Dec 21-Nov
2013 16-Nov 21-Nov 16-Nov 10-Jan 20-Nov
2014 22-Nov 20-Dec 20-Dec 28-Dec 21-Nov
2015 19-Nov 19-Nov 4-Dec 11-Dec 21-Nov
2016 23-Nov 25-Nov 29-Nov 6-Dec 25-Nov
2017 17-Nov 16-Nov 16-Nov 2-Dec 15-Nov
Average 18-Nov 24-Nov 28-Nov 8-Dec 20-Nov

Skiing With Jay

Twelve years ago, Jay patiently taught me how to ski. I had gone a couple times in my life before that, but he took the time to really get me going. I still look like a drunken ogre awkwardly sliding down the mountain, but at least I can get down most slopes without falling and I can enjoy it. We’ve spent a LOT of time riding a lift together since then, but after I moved away in 2006, those chats got cut way down. This past weekend, he came out for a visit and we spent three straight days skiing. The difference between now and 12 years ago is, well, 12 years of aging. We’re not as young as we used to be and we were reminded of that with each run.

Jay’s original plan was to come ski Thursday through Saturday. That ended up getting changed to Saturday through Monday and it’s a good thing because it rained all the way to the top of the mountain on Thursday. On Friday night, it dumped snow and we had about 10″ of fresh snow on Saturday. We spent the day at Crystal and had a great time with some pretty good powder runs. Day 2 was also at Crystal, and even though there wasn’t any fresh snow, it had stayed cold since the previous one so it was still fluffy and fun. With Jay skiing beside me, I finally explored the Right Angle Trees run. It’s a very infrequently skied double black diamond area that I’m hesitant to explore without a partner. It took us a while to pick our way down the run but there was literally nobody else around. At one point we just plopped down on the side of the hill for five minutes and enjoyed the silence.

I always take Jay to Crystal when he comes because it’s my favorite ski hill, but I figured it would be fun to show him something else. We headed to Stevens Pass for our third day of skiing. This was a Monday so the crowd was very small. There were maybe a couple inches of fresh snow and we found a couple spots off the runs that were still deep and fresh for a few turns.

I owe big thank yous to Jay for flying all the way out here, and to Juliet and Tyla who watched our kids the whole weekend while we played. That’s a lot to ask and without them, this wouldn’t have happened.