All is calm, all is bright on a Powder Night

Summit West from a distance. Photo Courtesy - Mike Gilbert

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Sneaking out of the office around 4 o’clock in the evening wearing dress slacks and a button down-shirt, it felt like we were planning a heist like Mark Wahlberg in the Italian Job. And we were “of sorts…” Instead of gold bullion we were planning on stealing some fresh powder turns on a Wednesday night up in the nearby mountains. Wait what? Where can you ride or ski fresh powder on a Wednesday night?!?! If you live in the greater Seattle area then you know exactly where. There is such a fabled place and it is called Summit West.

Snow Removal on Snoqualmie Pass - Photo Courtesy WSDOT
Snow Removal on Snoqualmie Pass – Photo Courtesy WSDOT

Nighttime Pow Mission

Summit West from a distance. Photo Courtesy - Mike Gilbert
Summit West from a distance. Photo Courtesy – Mike Gilbert

Hopping into our ride we rush out of Seattle and take I-90 east towards Snoqualmie Pass. With a one track mind we set our sights on our destination and are almost unaware that we were swimming upstream. We are so focused on our mission to get powder we hardly even notice everyone else was heading home. Our windshield wipers push the rain away as the traffic continues to subside. After about 30 minutes the traffic is virtually no existent and the road becomes windier and desolate. Rain drops begin to get chunkier and eventually transition into wet snowflakes. The weather forecast for the past three days called for continued snowfall through Wednesday with no end in sight. We had finally arrived. Pulling into the parking lot huge walls of snow block our view of the ski area, this added to the suspense and excitement. With only a few cars and snow falling steadily, it was almost unbearable. The stoke was high, so as soon as we parked we bail out of the ride and quickly change from our office attire and through on the most comfortable clothes we own…our colorful snowboard gear.

Untracked pow at night? No way!

Photo Courtesy - Sergio Bonachela
Photo Courtesy – Sergio Bonachela

Rushing to the chairlift we look up and see huge open runs with only a few tracks on them. How can that be? Okay, let us fill you in on a little known secret. Summit West is closed from Monday through Wednesday and only opens at 4:00 pm in the evening. Translation, first tracks and fresh pow after work! As we ascend up the chairlift we look down at a few people taking turns. This is the perfect stress reliever after a long day at work. Hooting and hollering in excitement, they make turns in the fresh snow. We finally reach the top and strap in. For a moment we stop and slap high fives as we look at the open field of snow in front of us. In the orange halogen lights we make turn after turn in the virgin snow screaming for joy just like the others we saw from the lifts. At the bottom we look up the hill studying the tracks we made in the snow. It was only an hour ago that we were stuck in a cubicle and now we were transported into a winter wonderland. With a grin we get back on the lift to do this again and again.

Recipe for getting untracked Powder during the week if you work a 9-5

Photo Courtesy: Sergio Bonachela
Photo Courtesy: Sergio Bonachela

If your work schedule isn’t flexible then there is a few ways to get the goods even mid-week.

Find a resort that has Night skiing

Even out west there are 1 or 2 ski resorts open at night. From Keystone in Colorado to Boreal in Tahoe this then gives you a chance to get the goods mid-week.

Check the Weather forecast

For the best possible conditions check the snow levels of the storm and when the snow will fall. If the resort is open all day having a storm that starts in the afternoon will make it more likely to find untracked powder at night versus a storm that starts in the morning.

If possible, find a resort that is closed during the day and only open at night

If you are lucky enough to live in the Seattle area Summit West at Snoqualmie is closed Monday, Tuesday, and only opens at 4:00 pm on Wednesday leading to a high likelihood of feet of fresh powder to slash when the sun goes down. With these 3 basic rules you will be able to keep your normal job, but at the same time quench your hunger for some epic turns. Let us know of a resort in your area that is good for a powder night.

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