There’s something rare and special about skiing through an empty lift maze, directly onto a chair, lap after lap; the lifty bumping chairs asking about each run. But deep in the Inland Northwest at Washington’s 49 Degrees North, it’s standard operating procedure. As for the widespread panic about the lack of early season snow across much of the U.S. this year? It’s a non-issue here. The mountain has received 67 inches and is 100 percent open, even though it sits under the same high-pressure system plaguing the West.
The skiing is good, too; 2,325 acres makes it Washington’s second biggest ski area, and stands of perfectly spaced trees blanket the mountain on nearly every fall line. “We’ve got constant pitches with really fun usable spacing,” says Rick Brown, director of skiing and snowboarding at the ski area. “You can get a rhythm and flow going. The visibility and sightlines are great.” Brown usually logs early laps near the chair on a good snow day before making his way to the mountain’s hidden gem, Angel Peak.
Angel Peak is part of an expansion project that 49 Degrees North is working on. At the moment, it’s nearly 400 acres of avalanche controlled, hike-to terrain complete with open runs and even more tree skiing. “The upper portions tend to hold snow a bit longer because it requires a little more investment in terms of exertion,” says Brown. –Gavin Gibson