West Side Snow Report 10-16-16

Gearing up the family for winter fun

By Greg Whittaker

We live in a magical place to explore if you take the time to get out of the work-a-day world and get out into our regional playground. Those of us who have been lucky enough to grow up here and to have families that ski and snowboard know that winter is a special time in Washington. You can spend a day up in the deep snow of the Cascades or Olympics, and come home to the green of the Puget Sound region. This really makes the trip to the slopes seem a lot further than it actually is.

Kids who are presented the skills to be confident in the mountains are given a gift to be used for a lifetime. To be able to confidently rip down some of the steepest alpine terrain in the US is something that very few humans are presented with, and the associated skills of driving in gnarly conditions, navigating in no visibility, and knowing how to stay warm when in inclement weather is upon us, harkens back to times when screens were not the entertainment method of choice.

For those of you new to the region, this weather pattern we are seeing is common for the NW maritime climate we have. It just gets colder. Typically not cold enough to snow at sea level here, but definitely grey and dreary with shorter days. Why do you think we are the capitol of coffee and a pioneer of legalization? Well there are healthier things to do out here in the winter, which give you a natural rush. Heading up to the slopes is a way to beat the short day blues. You are surrounded by white when you are able to get up into the mountains, it can be a light fix for the short days.

So you’re ready to get up there, and now you have to get your crew geared up on the budget you have set. You can quit your job and move to a resort and earn minimum wage while skiing every day, or you can put some thought into it and plan ahead to get dialed in.

Annually there are Ski and Snowboard Swaps, which are a godsend for those with growing kids or looking to get dialed on a budget. We (Mountain to Sound Outfitters) are holding the 7th annual West Seattle Ski and Snowboard Swap the weekend of 10/21-10/23. If you have gear that you are no longer using, you can sign up, price it, and print a tag and your old gear turns into newer gear or cash. If you need to gear up a family, this is a great option for finding that boot that can pass down a few siblings, or those pants that are in great shape but somebody grew out of. The key to a good ski and snowboard swap is to help spread the word! Who knows what that neighbor down the street has just collecting dust in the garage. The more people we can get to this thing the bigger the community, and the more gear gets re-used and loved by a new generation of snow enthusiasts.

If you miss the ski swap, there are ways to get kids or occasional riders geared up without purchasing. Season ski or snowboard rentals are good if you are just going to go a few times, or are gearing up the youngest or only child. As a general rule, if you have more than one child, buying some gear for the oldest can mean 2 to 4 years of use, depending on growth spurts. Then you can cash it out at the ski swap when your family is done using the gear.

Daily rentals are also available at every resort, or you can grab some gear for the day at your local shop and have it when you get up to the ski area. Take into account the time that it can take at the rental shop especially on busy weekends. You can spend your time getting fitted up on the mountain or down in town the day before you go.

With the growth and ease of online business, it’s important the tribe of skiers and snowboarders understand one crucial fact : You can’t get a haircut online, and you can’t try a ski or snowboard boot online. So, this is where the “brick and mortar” stores in specialty outdoor will always last as long as they are supported by the faithful. Once you have gone through the hassle and cost of “a great deal” on that sweet setup, only to find the local shop guys are charging you labor and flipping you the business because you didn’t support them; and they have it at the same price and would have thrown the mount in, you will realize the importance of supporting your local pro-shop. Some experts would agree it is paramount to shop service than simply online searching a sweet deal.

So, clear as mud? Well the real deal is that once you experience the closest thing man has to flying down the most beautiful mountains in the West, the key is to be ready to spend your time riding when you get up to the resort. Your time and physical health are the most valuable things you have, that money you are saving is a social agreement. So go through your gear bag, try everything on, and see what you need to make memories that last you and your friends and family a lifetime.

We will continue this weekly discussion with suggestions on fitness, boot fitting, and other important subjects to help you get dialed in for the season.

Here are links to local ski areas so you can visit their sites for the most up to date info. If you want to contribute, come by Mountain to Sound Outfitters and let us know how your trip was or feel free to post in the comment section. Who’s been to Whistler?

Crystal Mountain Resort
Summit at Snoqualmie
Stevens Pass
Mt. Baker Ski Area
Mission Ridge Ski Area
White Pass Ski Area
Loup Loup Ski Bowl

Make sure you check the WSDOT Pass Reports for driving conditions.

Greg Whittaker is the owner of Mountain to Sound Outfitters your West Seattle ski, snowboard, kayak, and paddle board experts that can also rack out your car so you can carry all that gear that wont fit in your trunk.

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