Winter ski season ‘subpar’ at best

Hanson Lee, Senior Sports Reporter

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Jack Lambert
Liberty Bell emerges from the clouds atop Washington Pass, 20 miles north of the Methow Valley.

While students and drivers are rejoicing with the lack of snow this winter, winter sports enthusiasts are less than thrilled with a slushy turnout on the mountains.

“The snow definitely hasn’t been what [it was] like last year,” said Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals (OPR) shop supervisor and CWU student, Nick Poprawski. “The last couple of years that I’ve gone to school here, there’s been a lot more snow.”

Poprawski estimated currently around 40-50 inches of snowfall on the main runs of Snoqualmie Pass and only about 100 total inches of snowfall this season. Poprawski added that the layer of ice covering the snow makes the runs less than ideal.

“There’s definitely not as much snow,” Poprawski said. “The snow isn’t as good just because it’s warmer, and so the snow is wet and slushy versus being dry and powdery.”

Andrew Kollar, a reporter for the Nisqually Valley News and ski patroller called the lack of snow this season “a disappointment.”  

“It’s frustrating,” Kollar said. “We got snow in early November, and it was pretty exciting getting snow in the mountains. Then it just warmed up.”

Kollar added that at this time last year, the weather was a lot more suitable, especially for winter sports.

Despite the subpar start to a winter season, OPR is still continuing with their winter schedule as plan, which includes their weekly ski and snowboard shuttle which began on Jan. 9.

The shuttle takes students from CWU to Snoqualmie Pass on Tuesday nights for $44, the cost of a ski pass and night lift ticket. More information about the shuttle can be found on OPR’s facebook page.

In addition to the Tuesday night shuttles, OPR will also offer two Saturday shuttles to Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass later in the quarter. However, unlike the weekly shuttle, the Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass trips will be all-day adventures.

Poprawski also warned drivers that it’s important to always stay cautious and  prepared when driving through the pass.

“Definitely make sure, even if it doesn’t say so, if you’re going over the pass that you have some kind of appropriate tires or chains, even if they aren’t required at the moment, because the weather can change like a flash,” Poprawski said. “Be prepared, make sure that you have supplies in your car like a candle, or an extra sleeping bag to stay warm in case you get stuck in the pass.”

Kollar gave more specific advice about how to stay safe out on the slopes.

“Just stick to groomed runs… When you’re in a groomed run it’s pretty safe,” Kollar said. “Make sure you wear gear that fits you, and if your buddies have gear and they’re willing to give it to you, it’s not really a good option.”