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Alpental spring snowboarding: sunshine and slush

Oh man, it’s not over is it? The ski season? It’s been such a good one this year. And with days like Saturday (Easter Eve), it’s hard to retreat back to the city, off the peaks and out of the glory. Thankfully Alpental will be open one more weekend. But sunny days like Saturday are cherished in the Northwest. When the spring riding is at its finest, you must stop and soak in—then go rip it up.

Saturday was slushy. Hot and slushy. Crowded and slushy. But oh, so glorious and slushy. Out the rope you could still find untracked—sticky untracked—but you just lean back and let her rip and remember what it’s like to sail through sunshine. There’s still plenty of coverage, and by the time you reach the bottom you’re trailing layers behind you, shedding those drenched in sweat. The mercury reached 45. Some pale dudes went shirtless. Some feisty chicks skied in skirts. One radical crew went in retro. Jeans were aplenty. Hoodies replaced outerwear and too many college T-shirts were on display. The slopes were awash in with spring-infused tomfoolery.

I met Nate at Chair 2 mid-morning. We took the requisite “friend pic” then ripped it up a bit, till he had to jet and I pursued the solo mission of slashing about in the slush. But he filmed the action. Check it: here. His clip captures the beauty of these mountains. In the sun, the majesty was exposed to him for the first time. His admission of that caught me off guard. It’s his first season here and he hasn’t been lucky enough to be up on a sunny day. Me, I’ve seen it many a’time. And while the surrounding scenery never ceases to enchant, I realized just how lucky I am to call this area my playground.

When the sun shines across this valley the views are remarkable: The mountains draped by curtains of bright white, the evergreens that bristle their sides, and the deep blue skies that fade into a horizon punctured by layers of peaks. It’s the ruggedness of the peaks at inspires awe. These aren’t rolling hills on the fringe of a major metropolitan. They’re savage, jagged alpine crags—the stuff of movies. Taking in the panorama, it’s not surprising that snowboarding’s roots are here. It makes the heart smile from deep within.

We weren’t the only ones to think spring skiing is a great way to spend a day. Two things come to mind when you ride up to the end of a line like this: 1. “Hooo…shit. This sucks.” 2. “Well, the resort should be open next weekend given these crowds.” Both are correct. But this is also an interesting social experiment. You’ve got an eclectic mix of folks forced to hangout together for the next 20 minutes as the line inches forward. Throw in some beer and the heat and things get interesting. There’s always friendly trash-talking; the quick catch-up with buddies; the occasional blatant flirting, and always talk of the conditions: “Beautiful day, eh?” It’s all entertaining—until someone gets up to the chair and they’re… a single.

That’s the only rule at Alpental: Do NOT get on chair 2 alone. Call “Single!” and buddy-up before entering the line. Otherwise, enjoy the beauty, the snow, the friends, the mountains, and if you’ve called it on the season, see you next year! Otherwise—see ya next week for one more round.


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