Kristen Russell, Danielle Centoni, Charlotte Austin and Lara Roche-Sudar
Seattle’s Ski HillGet your winter blast fast at The Summit at Snoqualmie When powder fever hits Seattle, the closest snow is less than an hour’s drive east on I-90. At The Summit at Snoqualmie (summitatsnoqualmie.com), a yearly average of 436 inches of the white stuff blankets nearly 2,000 skiable acres across four ski areas—Summits West, East and Central, and Alpental. At Summit East, there’s also a cross-country, Telemark and snowshoe center, and a brand-new quad chairlift (“Rampart Chair”), hauling ever more shredders heavenward. The nearby Summit Tubing Center (complete with rope tow) is a low-tech scream. The amenities might be a tad basic—and the snow occasionally slushy—but you can’t beat the proximity; there aren’t a lot of major cities with such an easy commute to après-work snowboarding and skiing (until 10 p.m. on some runs).Now, something swanky slopeside comes: This season marks the opening of the major chunk of an ambitious multi-use development. The brainchild of former pro skier and Seattleite Bryce Phillips, the so-called Pass Life (thepasslife.com) includes a restaurant, microbrewery, museum and dozens of sleek, green loft townhomes.Inside a Pass Life townhome; Photo by Aaron LeitzPhillips, the founder of Fremont-based sports retailer Evo, says he wanted to create a place for people to linger after open-air adventures: “This project was always meant to be a catalyst, helping to strengthen the community, creating a place for people to connect.” Hungry skiers can come together over hearty comfort fare at the Commonwealth Café (from the creators of Ballard’s brilliant La Carta de Oaxaca) or a pint at brewery/taproom Dru Bru (by engineer turned brewer Dru Ernst). Between these two hubs, the new Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum will display artifacts of our state’s long love affair with snow sports—and chill ski swag, such as Phil Mahre’s World Cup trophies and Debbie Armstrong’s Olympic gold medal.At press time, the cafe and brewery were scheduled to open mid-December; the museum, later in the season. The lofts are selling quickly—usually before they’re finished—at prices beginning in the low $300Ks. No plans yet for a hotel or short-term rentals, but that could follow. All this upscaling may take a bit of getting used to for longtime locals who love our unshowy but surefire backyard playground. KRISTEN RUSSELLClimb IceHave you ever dreamed of strapping on crampons and scaling a frozen waterfall? Stand aside, James Bond. World-class ice climbing is closer to Seattle than you know. In December and January, Mazama is an ice-climbing mecca, and it’s only a five-hour drive from Seattle via Stevens Pass and Wenatchee to Highway 20 in the Methow Valley.Ice climbing in Mazama, Washington; photo by NCMGYou’ll need to schedule the trip on relatively short notice, since conditions can be fickle, but luckily, there are experts in the area. North Cascades Mountain Guides will help you tackle the frozen waterfall on the 700- to 900-foot Goat’s Beard (a couple miles west of the Mazama Store on Lost River Road). Because the ice forms naturally, routes vary, but there are always a variety of options for beginners and experts alike.“People don’t think of Mazama as an ice-climbing destination,” says local guide Mark Allen, “but this place actually has a very rich history of attracting some of the world’s strongest climbers. When the stars align, it’s some of the best ice in the state.”At the end of the day, refuel with local fare and specialty cocktails at Kelly’s Restaurant (Winthrop, 18381 State Route 20; 509.996.9804; kellys-wesolapolana.com), then settle in for a night of glamping in a tiny, modern cabin on wheels at the Rolling Huts (Winthrop, 18381; 509.996.4442; rollinghuts.com) next door. Bask in the backcountry silence and enjoy panoramic views of snow-covered mountains—or check out the GoPro footage from your day on the ice. Prices start at $340/day. North Cascades Mountain Guides; 509.996.3194; ncmountainguides.com CHARLOTTE AUSTINSnow DogsGet your mush on in Mt. Bachelor, OregonDogsledding is a surprising study in contrasts. The outing begins with a cacophony of yelping and barking as eager dogs are secured in their harnesses. But lift the sled brake and cry “mush,” and all is silence—or nearly: There’s just the swish of sled runners gliding over the trail and the panting of happy working dogs. With the brisk wind on your face and the smell of evergreens in the air, it’s an unforgettable experience.Follow in the tracks of Jack London with a for-real dog sled adventure; photo: Jay MatherJerry Scdoris, founder of Oregon Trail of Dreams, has been taking novices out with the pack since 1977. His daughter Rachael got so hooked, she became a four-time Iditarod racer, and she now helps Scdoris run the business. Choose one-hour trips or half-day, 26-mile “marathon” runs (adults only) that include lunch at the rustic Elk Lake Lodge, which offers craft beer on tap and dishes made with local meats and produce. The sleds hold four people or 450 pounds, making the short trips a great option for families looking for a low-risk thrill ride. You’ll even get to feed and care for the dogs, and learn about the Iditarod as you glide along trails deep in the pristine Deschutes National Forest. Six-hour drive from Seattle to Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. Sled trips start at $85 for adults and $45 for kids. 800.829.2442; Facebook: “Oregon Trail of Dreams.” DANIELLE CENTONI
Somewhere in our attics or basements lurk dusty boxes containing old family photos, newspaper clippings, marriage licenses, death certificates, maybe even an 8-mm movie taken long ago—remnants of the past and orphans of the digital age. It’s a shame to abandon those precious personal effects, but a daunting task to organize them in a meaningful way. North Seattle–based Molly Bullard, owner of Seattle Photo Organizing (seattlephotoorganizing.com), understands that completely.
You know the feeling well: You’re limping along in the gray Seattle mist when alas--the sun breaks, the clouds clear and our favorite mountain appears. So long, blues! Cancel that move to Los Angeles. Whether you favor Mount Rainier for its snow sport capacity this time of year or just its sweeping views from Seattle or Tacoma, it’s time honor the roots of our favorite local peak and revisit all it offers.
Officials determined that the Orca whale found dead earlier this month died from a bacterial infection from her fetus. Sad.
Helpful holiday note for anyone traveling through Sea-Tac: Volunteers for the nonprofit USO Northwest will again host a free gift-wrapping station inside the airport's central terminal.
In our bi-monthly Seattlemag.com column And Another Thing..., Knute Berger--who writes regularly for Seattle Magazine and Crosscut.com and is a frequent pundit on KUOW--takes an in-depth look at some of the highly topical and sometimes polarizing issues in our city.
This article originally appeared on Avvo.com.
The Seattle Times reports that since 2010, hundreds of family pets have died, were injured or were lost while traveling by plane. If you’re considering flying with pets, know the regulations and take precautions to keep your pet as safe as possible.
Airline policies for pet plane travel differ
When a Seattleite discusses why he or she moved here, it usually involves two things: a new job and Amazon. For chef Caprial Pence (and husband/chef John Pence), such is the case--just without the Amazon part.
Seattle city officials blocked off the intersection of South King Street and First Avenue temporarily last night when they discovered a crack in King Street they feared might become a hole. There is concern the crack may be linked to the recent sinking of Alaskan Way Viaduct (1.2 inches this fall near the mammoth tunneling device Bertha).
While you sit in the audience watching Pacific Northwest Ballet perform The Nutcracker with flawless grace, the backstage is buzzing with quick costume changes and last-minute fixes. This is the purview of PNB’s Sherri J. Thompson, who waits—needle and thread at the ready—should the Nutcracker lose a button or the Sugarplum Fairy tear her tutu. “Everything I do is to avoid chaos,” says Thompson.
Blackberries. A cluster of them, fat and ripe, one of Seattle’s sweetest freebies. Normally, I’d pick them—they aren’t growing next to the road, after all. But on this summer day, I’m standing on Harbor Island in South Seattle, designated as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hazardous-waste Superfund site, and looking at the lower Duwamish River—also a Superfund site.
Washington marijuana companies report they are struggling to profit significantly due to a 25 percent excise tax the state collects on pot at each stage of processing: as it transfers from growers, to processors, to retailers. While Seattle’s Cannabis City has had over $2.5 million in sales in the past six months, owner James Lathrop told Crosscut, "We're just struggling to stay alive."
Protests continued in Seattle this weekend against the recent grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers who killed young black men in Missouri and New York. On Saturday, seven people were arrested when a few hundred marched to the Seattle Police headquarters downtown.
From giving change to Salvation Army bellringers to donating gifts to homeless shelters, there are countless opportunities to give money and goods to worthy local causes throughout December. If you prefer the face-to-face experience, though, or are short on cash, here are a few feel-good, hands-on activities to help restore the season's original spirit.
1. Serve holiday meals and more at Union Gospel Mission
The free cloud-based storage and file sharing service Dropbox, headquartered in San Francisco, has announced that it will open an engineering office here in Seattle in mid-2015. It's the first West Coast office for the company outside of its South Beach (within South of Market) neighborhood digs.