On the Wire

Alpental Ski Area, Cascade Mountains, Washington
By Steve Hoenisch
Last updated on January 14, 2008
Copyright 1996-2008 www.Criticism.Com
Table of Contents
1 Alpental: Steep and Soulful
2 About Alpental
3 Alpental Trail Map
4 Related

1 Alpental: Steep and Soulful

Small but steep, deep, and soulful, Alpental is one of my favorite places to ski in United States. I rate it right up there with the likes of Alta, Arapahoe Basin, Mad River Glen, and Powder Mountain. Here's why:
  • Simply put, Alpental has soul -- a rarity in a world characterized by liquid modernism, where All That Is Solid Melts in Air.
  • Alpental's easily accessible backcountry makes what appears to be a small ski area with essentially two chair lifts (plus two beginner-intermediate chairs) into a miniature Jackson Hole. Cliffs and chutes abound. Even when the backcountry is closed, Elevator gate is usually open, thanks to the work of the highly competent pro patrol. Elevator gate gives you access to high-angle tree skiing, chutes, and steep open faces with names like Rock Face, Roxoff, Elevator Shaft, and Gun Barrel.
  • The steeps: International, a steep run off the summit of Chair 2, that I never tire of skiing. Skier's right is usually smooth, letting you carve turns on the steeps.
  • Average annual snowfall is about 400 inches of maritime snow. No, it's not the light and dry of Little Cottonwood Canyon, but it comes down consistently, bonds well, and sticks around well into May.
  • Uncrowded. Even on weekends in the middle of January, I can usually find a quiet place to stretch in the down-home lodge.
  • The people: Unpretentious, environmentally conscious, mellow. In a word, they are skiers -- not golfers, not rich people with entitlement disorders, not SUIys. They are there to ski, and it shows. The people help give the place soul. (See FreeAlpental.org).

3 Alpental Trail Map


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