The slopes are calling
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
The Brooks lift carries skiers and snowboarders up the mountain at Stevens Pass on Wednesday, the ski resort's opening day.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
A skier catches air at Stevens Pass on Wednesday morning.
A snowboarder wearing bunny ears weaves her way down a run at Stevens Pass on Wednesday morning.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald The Skyline run at Stevens Pass is full of skiers and snowboarders during the ski area’s opening morning Wednesday.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald Visitors to Stevens Pass move through the line of the Skyline Express on Wednesday morning during the ski area’s opening day.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald The Skyline Express takes riders up the mountain Wednesday morning during the opening day at Stevens Pass.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald Visitors to Stevens Pass make their way from the parking lot to the ski area Wednesday morning.
Stevens Pass is open for the season.
On Wednesday, about 2,300 people enjoyed the slopes, not caring that it was the middle of the work week.
“I have been waiting all year for this,” Matt McPherson of Bothell said.
McPherson took a day off to snowboard. His friend T.J. Watson does not work on Wednesdays but said he would have called in sick.
For him, going downhill on his snowboard is the ultimate high. It doesn't matter that he didn't get much sleep.
“I got four hours of sleep and I am wide awake,” said Watson, of Edmonds.
The mountain received about 10 inches of snow Tuesday. The snowpack was 38 inches at the bottom and 42 inches at the top, creating ideal conditions for opening day, marketing manager Nate Escalona said. Steven Pass is scheduled to be open seven days a week through the end of April.
There was an abundance of powder snow and even though the overall snow cover is still a bit thin, it was still ideal for skiing.
“Everybody can ski everywhere,” he said.
Because of La Nina, a weather system that creates colder temperatures than normal in the Northwest, there are high hopes this will be a great snow season.
Escalona believes it could also help new people try skiing and snowboarding. “Hopefully we'll get people who have not come to the mountain before.”
More snow also could mean more employment. Over the course of a normal year, Stevens Pass employs about 1,000 people in full-and part-time positions. If business is good, more people could be hired, Escalona said.
Five chairlifts were open Wednesday. Most of the skiers and snowboarders went right past the easiest runs, going directly to more challenging ones. At the base of the mountain there was a general zigzag of people avoiding each other and rushing back in line for the chairlift.
Joe Towner was ecstatic after he finished coming downhill. Stevens Pass deciding to not open last weekend was worth it, he said, because now it has more snow.
“This is what snow is all about,” said Towner, of Seattle.
Nate Irish did not go to Stevens Pass at all last season, so on Wednesday he wanted to make up for it.
The Seattle resident and five coworkers took advantage of a business perk and took a day off to come to the ski resort as early as possible. They met at their Seattle office at 6 a.m. and were on the slopes before 9 a.m.
“I want to get as many runs as possible,” he said.
Being among the first on the mountain on the day it opens is a special treat, because it gives snowboarders like Dan Hauenstein, 34, of Everett, an opportunity to ride where nobody has done so yet.
In fact, Hauenstein visited Steven Pass twice before Wednesday, not caring that the chairlifts were closed. He walked up and rode down.
Snow conditions on Wednesday couldn't have been better, he said. “It was epic.”
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