Pacific Northwest

This region is famous for its consistent heavy precipitation. The Cascade volcanic peaks receive the most snow in the United States and have permanent glaciers and snowfields above 7,000 feet. Snowfall at Mt. Rainier National Parks Paradise ranger station has averaged a whopping 670 inches since 1960. Mt. Baker ski area's snowfall is comparable to this, but from a skier's perspective the high water content of the snow means a reliable early season base but doesn't translate to ecstatic powder. Altitude is the most important factor in determining snow conditions in this region because winter rain becomes increasingly frequent as elevation decreases. Alaska resembles other Northwest areas in low altitude and high snowfall, but generally colder temperatures keep winter meltback to a minimum.

There are two tables below: The first contains all the statistics while the second contains summary information plus comments and analysis.
Color-coded areas link to my detailed Resort Guide published in Inside Tracks or First Tracks Online.
Explanation of Column Headings
Home Page and Other Regions

  Lift Serviced   Season Dec.-Mar. Percent Percent Average        
PACIFIC Altitude Season Standard 6+ Inch High Mths Low Mths Maximum Direction of Exposure
NORTHWEST Range Average Deviation Powder Days GE 90 in. LT 30 in. Base Depth North East West South
                       
Mt. Baker, Wash. 4,300 3,550-5,050 648 182 26.7% 63% 5% 193 50% 25% 25% 0%
Crystal Mtn 1, Wash. 4,400 4,000-7,100 340 108 13.8% 22% 18% 74 30% 50% 0% 20%
Crystal Mtn 2, Wash. 6,100 4,000-7,100 410 113 16.6% 28% 8% 109 30% 50% 0% 20%
Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore. 5,400 4,523-7,300 454 129 18.3% 36% 9% 133 35% 50% 0% 15%
Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,420 N/A 627 157 26.0% 62% 4% 196 N/A      
Snoqualmie Pass, Wash. 3,000 3,200-5,400 387 119 17.4% 37% 14% 92 10% 40% 40% 10%
Stevens Pass, Wash. 4,061 3,821-5,800 475 141 19.0% 36% 8% 106 50% 10% 10% 30%
Alyeska 1, Alaska 1,500 250-2,750 495 142 20.7% 47% 10% 149 35% 0% 40% 25%
Alyeska 2, Alaska 2,750 250-2,750 644 157 25.9% 67% 6% N/A 35% 0% 40% 25%
Thompson Pass (Chugach), Ak. 2,450 N/A 438 171 18.3% 43% 18% N/A N/A
Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350 6,000-9,065 385 120 15.5% 26% 18% 142 50% 20% 20% 10%
Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore. 6,800 5,800-8,400 430 121 17.8% 36% 8% N/A 360 degree peak
Whistler, B.C. 5,413 2,140-7,160 418 95 17.1% 34% 10% 105 55% 2% 40% 3%
Blackcomb, B.C. 5,002 2,140-7,420 366 92 14.7% 19% 13% N/A 30% 0% 55% 15%
Whistler Base, B.C. 2,200 2,140-7,160 190 81 8.3% 5% 49% 34 55% 2% 40% 3%
Mt. Washington, B. C. 3,926 3,500-5,200 394 112 16.2% 30% 11% N/A 10% 0% 45% 45%

  Lift Serviced      
PACIFIC Altitude Season Weather Restrictions, Powder Potential  
NORTHWEST Range Average and Other Considerations Best Time to Ski
         
Mt. Baker, Wash. 4,300 3,550-5,050 648 Highest snowfall of any lift-serviced area in North America. 20 years of monthly snowfall records very similar to Mt. Rainier. Prodigious depths of Northwest snow attract off-piste skiers and snowboarders. Early season for deepest natural snow base of any area.
Crystal Mtn 1, Wash. 4,400 4,000-7,100 340 Large backcountry available north and south of patrolled area. January/February for best combination of coverage and surface conditions.
Crystal Mtn 2, Wash. 6,100 4,000-7,100 410 The higher you go, the drier it gets. As above.
Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore. 5,400 4,523-7,300 454 Not well protected, frequent storm closures. Big dumps common but snow quality variable. Excellent base structure preserves snow well into summer. What do you expect in glacier country? December-February for surface conditions. Timberline in summer after Bachelor closes.
Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,420 N/A 627 First weather station in the world to record over 1,000 inches snowfall in one year. Used to be a ski area there but sorry, no lifts now! Good ski mountaineering into early summer. Late spring and summer for mountaineering on glaciers.
Snoqualmie Pass, Wash. 3,000 3,200-5,400 387 Good area in a storm, plenty of protected trees. December/January on high snowfall but low altitude.
Stevens Pass, Wash. 4,061 3,821-5,800 475 Big snow and good vertical. Bowls challenging and medium-sized dumps common. December-March
Alyeska, Alaska 1,500 250-2,750 495 Far more snowfall mid-mountain than recorded at bottom (208 inches), which also gets some rain. February to early April, due to restricted daylight earlier.
Alyeska, Alaska 2,750 250-2,750 644 Top of Alyeska lift service rivals Mt. Baker's snowfall. Upper snow is better quality than other Pacific Coast areas. February to early April, due to restricted daylight earlier.
Thompson Pass (Chugach), AK 2,450 N/A 438 Thompson Pass near Valdez is at the base of several ski plane and heliski operations. Snow is denser and more stable than interior B.C., allowing access to more extreme terrain, over 4,000 feet above the pass. Open late February to late May. Late March through mid-April is best balance of conditions vs. flyable weather.
Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350 6,000-9,065 385 Summit chair serving half the terrain and nearly all expert runs is closed for wind or visibility at least 30% of the time before April. Excellent early season reliability: only three years in past 24 with Christmas base depth under 4 feet. April/May for best spring skiing on continent; 1,700 vertical feet of corn on Summit, 1,300 of salted cruisers below. Average December maximum base depth is 77 inches.
Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore. 6,800 5,800-8,400 430 15 miles NW of Crater Lake, Mt. Bailey has steepest snowcat skiing in U.S.: 27 north facing powder chutes in winter. NE, E, S & W facing bowls for corn in spring. January-March for powder, into April for corn.
Whistler, B.C. 5,413 2,000-7,200 418 Peak chair must close in storms for wind or avalanche. Limited lift capacity to two of five major bowls and upper mountain. Better surface conditions than Blackcomb in warm weather to early June with more north-facing terrain. February/March for better coverage and visibility on bowls and glaciers and a longer ski day.
Blackcomb, B.C. 5,002 2,140-7,420 366 Seventh Heaven and Glacier Express have better weather protection and greater lift capacity than Whistler Peak. Blackcomb operates 700 vertical feet of glacier on T-bars in the summer. February/March for better coverage and visibility on bowls and glaciers and a longer ski day.
Whistler Base, B.C. 2,200 2,000-7,200 190 Lower Franz's run to the Creekside base can have better spring conditions than the more heavily trafficked runs to Whistler Village. December/January for better surface conditions and less rain near base.
Mt. Washington, B.C. 3,926 3,500-5,200 394 Vancouver Island area can get huge snow, nearly 800 inches in 1998-99. Vulnerable to rain in warm years like 2014-15. December-February for best surface conditions.

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