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Apental’s opening and Rome’s Premature Jibulation

Saturday morning the eagerness was swelling inside; the drive up felt like a home coming. I shot along the freeway out from the bawls of Seattle toward the mountains; Mt. Rainer blushed in pink far off to the south east. A cold, clear atmosphere, 22 degrees maybe?

I reached the exit to Summit West and made the left turn toward Alpental. Down at the end of this pot-holed mountain road lined by tall snowbanks, parked at Lot 4, is where I play most weekends during the winter—up amid the trees, along the peaks, in the powder-filled bowls.

Alpental and Summit Central joined the rest of the West’s mountains by revving up operations Friday. And yet, Saturday it was still quiet ’round here. That’s Alpental—a few old chairs, a few good folks, and, on Saturday, heaps and heaps of snow.

This second day of the season, it was already staggeringly magnificent. Never in the last several years have I seen the trees and peaks so caked in snow. Their winter burdens create a definitive majesty. The runs too, were covered with their share of the fortune. Sure, it was heavy at the bottom, but grew lighter and lighter the higher you went, until it was fluff and slashable, even in the shadows. Huge moguls obscured the runs, their valleys carved deep into the bowls, making each run a workout that called upon the deepest muscles. Early season legs seem so unresponsive and sloppy. But it’s fun, you know, carving and slashing, working for the reward.

I left the wonderland behind at Alpental after kneading the muscles down to mush and drove down the lane to Central to catch Rome SDS’s Premature Jibulation. It’s the first contest of the season here and one the many that Krush and his crew will bring to the Summit. Like many of the smaller ones, it was relaxed and saw array of mini and am shreds in neon throwing down in the jam format. It was enough to spark the stoke. The sun’s rays fueled the good vibes. We don’t get many bluebird days here.

For opening weekend you can’t do much better: Dumps at Alpental, a contest at Central and alpine-crisp blue skies to reveal the outlying beauty. It’s why we spend weekends here—the jib kids and us (older) Alpentalics.

It’s hard to reconcile the location of this winter playground—so close to the city, yet so far from its clutches. Just drive past blushing Mt. Rainer on a clear morning, zip along the 90, turn left, or right, at the pot-holed mountain road, park, gear up, breathe and grin. And then head out into the homecoming of the season.

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