Wouldn’t you love to ski Stevens Pass (pictured), Crystal Mountain, and Alpental on one pass? Well now you can. PHOTO: Garrett Grove
Seattle skiers have always had the luxury of choice when it comes to their local hill. Do you like low-key ski areas with tons of backcountry access and no attitude? Stevens is your jam. Do you need cute avy dogs, big mountain terrain, and a few more amenities to make that season pass worthwhile? Crystal’s going to treat you well. Do you feel like a tourist driving a few hours to your “local” hill, like to save gas money (and the environment), and have a fondness for steeps? Snoqualmie’s your best bet.
The downside, though, is that despite Seattle’s status as a “Big City,” the ski community is pretty tight-knit. And it totally sucks to find out that your buddy decided Crystal was the move right after you locked into Stevens. There are only so many reliable carpools around, after all. Despite all three areas’ proximity to the city--under a two-hour drive away, traffic willing--it’s common, as a Seattle skier, to ski entire seasons without hitting all three. After all, why drop $74 on a ticket (all three areas share the same peak pricing) when you can hit your own hill on a season pass?
That’s why Snoqualmie, Crystal, and Stevens joined forces for the Cascadia Pass, a $199 add-on to a traditional season pass at any resort that will give local skiers three days at each of the other “Cascadia” resorts. So, you drop, say, $599 on an early-bird season pass at Stevens, add on the Cascadia pass, and ski three days apiece at Crystal and Snoqualmie (with no black-out dates).
“It's a great way for skiers in the Seattle area to discover ski spots they are unfamiliar with and I imagine that is part of the attraction for these three resorts-an attempt to pull customers away from their current season's pass to a different mountain. But I also think it helps ease the sticker shock of skiing for most people, too,” says Alex Meilleur, a Seattle skier and product information coordinator at evo. “I have a lot of friends that have not gone skiing with me because they had a pass to a different mountain and could not stomach the 65-75 bucks for the day.”
The Cascadia Pass drops the per-day cost to about $30, less than half-price, and opens up a lot of new terrain to explore and the freedom to ski with your friends who’ve pledged allegiance to a different hill without worrying about the money.
“The majority of my Seattle friends and family ski elsewhere in the area--White Pass, Alpental, Mission Ridge, and Crystal,”says Amanda Powell, a born-and-bred Stevens Pass skier based in South Seattle. “The great thing about the Cascadia Pass is that it allows friends and family who typically ski at different resorts to get together for a few days during the season without breaking the bank. One thing I love about skiing is that it can be great way to bring people together--this Pass is just another way to help facilitate that.”
But it’s not a perfect solution to the unique problems posed by skiing out of Seattle, because the toughest part isn’t choosing where to go. It’s the commute, and the ever-increasing traffic on that commute that can have you sitting in your car for more time than you spend on your skis. It also makes being anything but a weekend warrior pretty tough for 9-to-5 city folks.
“I think the most exciting deal would be something that would diversify my access to include weeknights,” says Powell, who works as an accountant. “The perk of Alpental is that it’s so close to the city, you can get a few hours of skiing in after work. I would definitely be interested in an add-on to my Stevens Pass if it allowed me to get more time on the mountain.”
Meilleur’s thinking a little bigger: “My personal hope is that they figure out a way to offer a Cascadia Unlimited season's pass to all three places. That would be the dream.”
So, listen up Cascadia. We know you’re busy plotting your secession, but before you figure that out, why don’t you make night skiing and combo passes available for everyone. And mandate carpooling while you’re at it.
[Editor’s note: the Cascadia secession movement is, in fact, entirely separate from the Cascadia season pass.]