Another harsh winter to hit Snoqualime

Hanson Lee, Staff Reporter

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Ellensburg’s upcoming winter season is shaping up to be a La Nina, meaning a period of extreme cold weather. With all of the snowfall that occurred last winter, it’s only safe to expect that this year’s La Nina will be just as harsh.

“We actually have had some snow in Ellensburg already,” said Walter Lackey, a staff member and trip leader for Ellensburg’s Outdoor Rentals and Pursuits. “Hopefully we end up getting a few feet of snowfall in Ellensburg because that’s always fun.”

With expectations running wild because of last year’s winter frenzy, it’s important to take precautionary measures towards staying safe, especially when travelling.

“I would suggest getting your car inspected and don’t drive in a vehicle that is questionable,” Lackey said. “Breaking down sucks in the summer, but in the winter it can be dangerous. Definitely carry a small emergency kit, as well, that would have items such as chains and road flares, just in case anything happens.”

Current predictions are that the road conditions on Snoqualmie Pass could have excessive amounts of snow and ice. With that in mind, the OPR team plans on doing their best to stay safe by taking precautionary measures when going on winter adventures.

“It’s looking like there’s going to be a lot of snowy and icy days out there and so we’re always going to be checking pass conditions for our ski shuttles,” Lackey said. “If it ends up looking too icy then we may have to cancel a few shuttles.”

Former CWU student and Alpental Ski Patroller Andrew Kollar said to be extra safe out on the mountains. He also gave advice for what to expect from travelling conditions this winter.

“Winter conditions are always more dangerous,” Kollar said. “What I recommend is to check the Washington State Department of Transportation website frequently to see if they require chains for your vehicle.”    

For many people, taking advantage of the winter time here in Ellensburg usually means making the most of whatever Snoqualmie Pass has to offer.

“Usually [the activities] begin starting up in late November or early December and they open up the west summit,” Kollar said. “Then they move and open up the central summit, and then the Alpental summit opens up usually by about week two or week three of the winter season.”

Snoqualmie Pass currently has plans to add another successful winter to their books. That being said, people heading to the mountains should be able to take full advantage of the summit runs that are made available.

According to Kollar, all of the summits should be open by Mid-December.

“For beginners, definitely go to the west summit,” Kollar said. “The central summit is more for intermediate [skiers and snowboarders], while the terrain at Alpental is pretty steep.”

Just like when travelling, it’s important to stay safe and be smart when having fun out on the slopes.

“Make sure your equipment is properly tuned and waxed,” Kollar said. “Wear gear that fits you. If you have a friend that skis or snowboards and you are looking to get into it, then I wouldn’t recommend using their gear because if things don’t fit then you’re going to have a miserable time.”

Although precautions and safety measures should be everyone’s first priority when making plans this winter, it’s still important not to forget to have fun in the process. With that being said, hopefully the snow can hang around for awhile this year.

“[Snoqualmie Pass] stays open as long as they can. Usually things start to wrap up when there gets to be big areas of no snow because you can’t really push on in these situations,” Kollar said. “I think the last two years we’ve gotten all the way to [keep things open all the way up until early May,] or the weekend leading up to it, so hopefully this year is similar.”