March creates snowsports madness

Midway+up+Edelweiss+Chair+at+Alpental%2C+looking+over+Lake+Keechelus.+March+is+one+of+the+most+underrated+times+to+ski.
Midway up Edelweiss Chair at Alpental, looking over Lake Keechelus. March is one of the most underrated times to ski.

Midway up Edelweiss Chair at Alpental, looking over Lake Keechelus. March is one of the most underrated times to ski.

Andrew Kollar

Andrew Kollar

Midway up Edelweiss Chair at Alpental, looking over Lake Keechelus. March is one of the most underrated times to ski.

Andrew Kollar, Staff Reporter

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Birds are chirping, snow is melting and people are thinking more about the upcoming college basketball tournament than they are about skiing. People are putting the ski gear away and breaking out the shorts but ski season is not over.

“March is pretty sweet. I remember toboggan training got out early last year and we had blue bird at Hyak (Summit East) and it was heaven,” said Ski Patroller Mark Lauderback. “I love March, it’s the best time of year.”

March has already dumped over 20 inches on Snoqualmie Pass, with another 13-25 inches by the end of the week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The last weekend of February was the best weekend of the year,” Lauderback said.

Historically speaking, March has always been a month to count on for snowfall. Last year, March delivered 105 inches and ski areas are on pace to have a similar number this year if the weather stays cold.

“Saturday we had about three inches of new snow overnight and we took a run on the backside of West,” Lauderback said. “There was four feet of snow without tracks since nobody had been back there in a month.”

More snow and less people is what winter enthusiasts long for. Late February and early March haven’t only been filled with snowstorms, but temperatures are warmer, sunshine becomes more frequent and lift lines are non-existent.

“Tuesday was absolutely fabulous. It was beautiful powder and the minute you got back to the top of the lift it was automatic refill,” said Ski Patroller Caroline Petgrave. “The sun came up, the views were incredible, and by noon all the people had left. It was just the perfect day.”

There is no doubt that conditions for the last few weeks have been some of the best all year. Snoqualmie Pass has had plenty of deep snow days throughout this years’ ski season, but with a 100-inch base and more snow on the way, conditions will continue to stay good for a while. With rumors circulating that Crystal Mountain will be open until at least June.

In the heart of ski season, the pass is overflowing with families and the slopes can be packed with kids in ski school. By the time March rolls around, those same families are getting their kids involved with spring sports.  “You could ride straight down all of the steep bowls at Alpental—it was almost like surfing,” said Petgrave, about conditions this last week.

Whether you are looking to go to Snoqualmie, White Pass or Stevens Pass, the conditions for skiing and snowboarding look promising. NOAA is anticipating the current storm to keep delivering the goods for Washington ski areas for as far out as they can forecast.

Andrew Kollar

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March creates snowsports madness