Live Like There’s Snow Tomorrow

2022-2023 Ski Season Preview


Skiing (and snowboarding) is back and this year’s conditions look more promising than ever. Scientists are predicting a 76 percent chance of a La Niña Winter, which means more cold weather systems and snow in the mountains. In a La Niña year, snowfall can increase by 36 inches in the Cascades. With skiing growing in popularity and a constantly changing pass structure, it can be difficult to know where to start the season.
Here’s a look at some notable resorts in the area, as well as a guide to navigating the numerous season pass options available.


The Summit at Snoqualmie:
At a glance
Acres: 1994
Lifts: 19
Vertical: 2280’
Less than an hour away from Seattle, The summit at Snoqualmie is Seattle’s closest resort. It consists of four base areas–West, East and Central, which are all connected, as well as the steeper Alpental. West is the best option for beginners, Central has a terrain park and night-skiing, East has a front and backside, and Alpental has some of the best freeride terrain in the state. The Summit has something for everyone, and it’s convenient and fairly priced.

Stevens Pass:
At a glance
Acres: 1125
Lifts: 10
Vertical: 1800’
Located off Highway 2, an hour and 45 minutes (plus traffic) from Seattle, Stevens Pass is a staple in the Seattle ski scene. Stevens opened in 1937, making it the oldest resort in the area. The resort boasts everything from a rope tow for beginning skiers, to double blacks for advanced skiers, to cross country trails- for those a little less motivated by fun. The mountain consists of both a front side and backside, and two peaks–Big Chief and The Cowboy. In 2018, the mountain was acquired by Vail Resorts, which has led to plans for a new lodge and the expansion of parking lots. Stevens also now offsets all the energy used to run its lifts with clean energy credits, making it the only 100 percent sustainable resort in the PNW. When heading to Stevens make sure to get an early start as traffic gets bad and the parking lots fill fast.

Crystal Mountain:
At a glance
Acres: 2600
Lifts: 11
Vertical: 2600’
Sitting in the shadow of the majestic Mt. Rainier, Crystal Mountain is a backcountry skiers paradise. As the largest ski area in the state, Crystal offers something for everyone. Those looking for a challenge (and a little hike) should head up chair six to Southback- a backcountry region on the far side of the mountain. Sitting at the top of two prominent peaks- Silver King and The Throne, Southback contains long, steep, deep powder runs minus the crowds. At the other end of the mountain Northway and Snorting Elk Bowl provide fun, long tree runs through rolling glades. A two hour drive combined with limited parking space means a weekend trip is a good way to maximize ski time. Good options for lodging include cabins at the top of the Gold Hills lift, and the Silver Skis Chalet next to the upper parking lot.

At a glance
Acres: 8171
Lifts: 23
Vertical: 5280’
Whistler-Blackcomb, located just across the Canadian border, is the largest ski resort in North America. Consisting of two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, connected by a gondola 1,500 ft above the valley floor, the resort is an international destination for skiers. Between the two mountains, the resort has the highest uphill lift capacity in North America, and garners approximately two million visitors annually. Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, which still holds the viewership record. Because of its large size the resort has three base villages, which consist of lodging, restaurants, shops and snow related activities. Despite a hefty cost, the world class skiing and village amenities makes a trip to Whistler-Blackcomb worth it.

Big Sky:
At a glance
Acres: 5850
Lifts: 24
Vertical: 4350’
Big Sky is in Montana, an 11 hour drive from Seattle. Most access the Mountain by flying into Bozeman which is an hour drive away from the mountain. Big Sky is a popular vacation destination for Seattle skiers given that it is accessible with both the Snoqualmie and Ikon Pass. Big Sky is, as its name implies, big. It has plenty of terrain for all skier levels, a top tier park and some of the best inbounds steeps in the country–although some runs require avalanche gear to ski. If you’re looking for a big ski vacation this winter, Big Sky is a good bet.


Ikon Pass:

949$ young adult pass
749$ young adult base pass
The Ikon Pass no longer offers unlimited skiing at Crystal Mountain, but it still offers 7 days at Crystal and Snoqualmie with no blackouts* (5 with blackouts for base pass). The Ikon Pass is not a no-brainer for Crystal skiers as it has been in years past, but can provide tremendous value if you ski your 14 days locally and go on a vacation to one of their many top tier resorts, like Big Sky and Jackson Hole.

Epic pass:

949$ Epic Pass
649$ Stevens Only
The Epic Pass is the only pass that couples unlimited skiing at a local ski area (Stevens) with access to many other destination resorts such as Vail and Whistler. If you plan on skiing a lot and taking a ski vacation, you can’t beat the Epic Pass’ value.

Summit at Snoqualmie:

589$ Teen Unlimited pass
529$ Teen Limited pass
The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass pass provides unlimited skiing at Seattle’s closest resort and surprisingly good benefits for a reasonable price. For someone looking to get into skiing, a Limited pass is a great way to start. It grants access to everything except Alpental on weekends. You’re sure to get a lot of time on the slopes, especially considering the Summit’s legendary night skiing. For those looking to ski Alpental, the Unlimited pass is the way to go. It has additional benefits of 3 free days and 50% off of additional days at sister resorts Big Sky and Brighton. However, the pass is still well worth it if you only ski at Snoqualmie.

Crystal Mountain:

$1,249 young adult
$1,549 young adult +Ikon Pass
After discontinuing unlimited usage for Ikon Passholders, Crystal Mountain is again selling season passes– the Crystal Legend Pass – at a significantly higher price than their last offering. The only pass on this list with a comma in the price tag offers access to just one mountain, although you can add an Ikon pass for 300 dollars. We would recommend this pass for a non-price sensitive customer that is keen on skiing Crystal.

*Blackout- dates in which the pass is not valid, often holidays or peak weekends.

Art by Fiona Real