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Stevens Pass Ski Area

This article is about the ski area. For information on the mountain pass along US Highway 2 where the ski resort is located see Stevens Pass

The Stevens Pass Ski Area is a ski resort located at the crest of Stevens Pass in Washington, United States. The base elevation is at 4,061 feet (1238 meters) with the peak at 5,845 feet. The Mill Valley "backside" of the resort drops to an elevation of 3,821 feet (1165 meters).

History

The ski resort was started by Don Adams and Bruce Kehr both passionate skiers in the winter of 1937-38. The original lodge was constructed in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps a government funded work force. In 1940 this lodge burned down.

Area Overview

Stevens Pass offers a nice mix of skiing from beginner to advanced. Because there is no lodging at the base, Stevens is a day resort, and therefore is busiest on the weekends, especially during ski schools in January and the first half of February.

The base area offers access to the chairlifts Daisy, Hogsback, Brooks, Skyline, and Big Chief, in rough order of difficulty. All descriptions are facing the mountain.

Daisy is a beginner's lift that offers access to a nice mix of beginner terrain directly in the middle of the ski area. Directly to the right of Daisy is the high-speed quad Hogsback, offers intermediate runs that end where Daisy unloads, and longer intermediate runs on the right side of the lift. Further to the right is Skyline, another high-speed quad that offers the longest intermediate runs on the front side of the mountain, with a smattering of advanced runs in skyline bowl, windy ridge, and chutes that lead off the ridge to the right. Furthest to the right is Brooks, an old fixed double lift that primarily provides access to the terrain park. Finally, furthest on the left is Big Chief, a fixed double providing access to a very consistent cruiser with small bumps on the left side and an ungroomed slope leading to a valley on the right side.

There are also 3 higher chairlifts on the front side. Skyline lift provides access to Seventh Heaven lift, a fixed dual which features several long bump runs off to the left, and several advanced chutes to the right side of the left. Hogsback lift provides access to Tye Mill lift, a fixed triple that provides access to the backside and to nice intermediates on the right side, a few bumps in the middle top, and, with a bit of effort, a few turns in Tye bowl to the left. Local knowledge is recommended when traversing to the bowl as there are some cliffs to worry about. Big Chief offers access to Double Diamond lift, a fixed triple that provides access the backside and also to Double Diamond, an experts-only run that at one time was the steepest in-bounds run in the state. Travelling on the backbone of the ridge to the right towards the top of Tye Mill brings opportunities to take several steep, tight, and bumpy expert runs back to the frontside.

While the slopes on the frontside of the area have been smoothed over the years, the backside (named "Mill Valley" but universally known as "the backside") provides a more natural environment with lots of sparsely treed runs. The backside features two lifts that load from the same immediate area. On the left is Jupiter, a fixed quad that unloads next to the top of Tye Mill, providing access back to the front side of the mountain. Heading left from the top of the left first brings you to Corona bowl, a short steep bumped expert run with a tight entrance through the trees. Continuing straight brings you to Gemini, an intermediate run that flattens out and winds under a set of high-tension lines. At the bottom, the skier can continue down an intermediate run above the lift, or head out to the left to either ski bump runs or take a cat track to the bottom. To the right of Jupiter, a short run on the ridge or a traverse across the face takes you into Aquarius, a long run the eventually runs into the top of Gemini.

The second run on the backside is Southern Cross, a fixed triple that is the same physical lift as Double Diamond on the frontside. It provides access to the frontside via the Double Diamond run, though most would prefer to ski along the ridge all the way back to the top of Jupiter. Note that because the ridge dips near Jupiter, getting to the frontside from the ridge requires some gentle climbing. Immediately to the left of Southern Cross at the top is Orion, a long and winding run, and it is also possible to ski under the lift and even to the right of it. In fact, because of the slope it is possible to ski most of the slope between Orion and the far right of the backside.

Grooming on the backside depends on how much snow there has been recently and skier traffic, but Gemini is usually groomed, Aquarius is often groomed (though sometimes only the bottom half), and Orion is rarely groomed. The stuff in between runs is never groomed.

Ski Instruction

Stevens Pass is somewhat unique in the ski school environment. In addition to the ski schools run by the resort, the resort has for decades sold concessions for independent ski schools to operate on the mountain. Starting in 2002, the resort has reduced the number of concessions that they sell (from 29 schools down to 6) in a move to improve the revenue that they generate from the Stevens Pass ski school.

This move has generated a considerable amount of controversy

The following schools are operating during the 2007-2008 season:

Future

The growth of population in the Seattle area has led to increased use at all the Cascades ski areas in Washington, and Stevens pass will reach their capacity on weekends during January and February. In June 2007, a Master Plan was submitted to the Forest Service. All of this information is obviously tentative.

The changes can best be visualized by viewing the overhead view of the existing and new plan.

Development Objectives

  • Improve the mountain experience at Stevens Pass by diversifying its terrain offering, including a variety of trail width and aspect, as well as gladed terrain of varying difficulty.
  • Increase the Comfortable Carrying Capacity of both the ski trails and the ski lifts to better match actual demand, making use of the majority of skiable terrain that is now underdeveloped.
  • Balance the ski terrain skill max to match the market, within the limitations imposed by the Stevens Pass terrain.
  • Provide additional 'in bounds' and 'hike to' adventure skiing opportunities.
  • Provide a diverse range of gladed and other off-piste skiing possibilities.
  • Better manage lift accessed backcountry use.
  • Improve guest satisfaction through lift and trail system upgrades.
  • Relive pressure and congestion in the base area with the establishment of on-mountain facilities.
  • Develop new terrain, as well as re-grooom (grade) and re-vegetate existing terrain, with climate change predictions and Visual Quality Objectives in mind.
  • Provide a small-scale snowmaking system focused on the super-pipe and facilities near the base area.
  • Design new terrain development to bring a net gain in forest health and diversity with the SUP area.
  • Develop a summer lift accessed Mountain Bike product to satisfy a growing demand, as well as other related, appropriate outdoor activities.
  • Plan for and develop other mountain products and facilities as use increases.

Front Side

A Northern exposure area is planned to the left (east) of the current Big Chief lift, with a Northern Exposure detachable quad providing access to runs and glade skiing. This expansion would add 115 acres of total terrain.

Brooks will be upgraded from a double to a triple. If easy access from the top of Skyline can be established, Brooks will be shortened to end at the top of the terrain park.

A Grace Lakes area is planned to the right of the top of Brooks, heading off downhill to the right (north), consisting of groomed cruisers and gladed runs. The area would be served by a fixed quad lift, and add 80 acres of total terrain. Additionally, there would be new adventure runs from the top of skyline down into the Grace Lakes area.

Big Chief would be upgraded to a fixed quad, and the loading area would be moved slightly down the mountain to improve access.

A new fixed quad "The Katz" would be added to the right of Big Chief, extending up and to the right.

Back Side

Backside improvements happen at the right (east) side. To the immediate right of Southern Cross, new trails and glades provide expanded area, and a proposed permit expansion into Highlands Bowl to the right of that would provide a backcountry experience for those willing to do some hiking. A catch trail at the bottom would return back to Southern Cross. This expansion would add 75 acres of terrain.

There are no lift changes planned on the backside.

Base Area and Facilities

Solitude lodge would be constructed near the top end of Skyline.

Smaller yurts would be constructed at the top of Tye mill, at the top of the terrain park, and at the base of the lifts in the back.

The base lodges would be expanded and reconfigured.

A new mini-lodge and ticket area would be constructed at the base of the Northern exposure lift.

470 new parking places would be added.

An overpass or tunnel from the parking lots on the other side of highway 2.

Mountain statistics

Elevation

  • Base 4,061 ft (1238 m)
  • Summit : 5,845 ft
  • Vertical: 1,800 ft (457 m)

Terrain

  • — Lift serviced
  • Advanced/Expert: 35%
  • Intermediate: 54%
  • Beginner: 11%

References

External links

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