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Originally published December 21, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 19, 2007 at 6:32 AM

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Skiing during holiday break? Here's the rundown

Mount Baker is 56 miles east of Bellingham on Highway 542. This mountain leads all maintained North American ski resorts...

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Washington

Mount Baker

Baker is 56 miles east of Bellingham on Highway 542. This mountain leads all maintained North American ski resorts in snowfall (700 inches a year in many winters, and a world-record 1,140-inch cumulative snowfall in 1998-99). The lift system can be confusing to navigate, the terrain occasionally intimidating; this isn't the best place for beginners. But Baker's deep snow, steep chutes and gullies, and wide-open powder fields — most on an arm of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker's next-door neighbor — have become a national draw for snowboarders and deep-snow skiers. For newbies and intermediates, the groomed stuff's great, too. On clear days, views of the North Cascades are downright majestic. An ongoing multiyear project, nearing completion, is converting all double chairs to quads.

Elevation — 3,500-5,000 feet. Lifts — Eight: four quads, two double chairs and two rope tows. Lift prices — Mondays-Fridays (nonholidays) all-day adult $32.04 plus tax. Weekends and holidays all-day adult $39.46 plus tax. Operating hours — Daily 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Lodging — Closest overnight lodging is in Glacier, 17 miles west of the mountain on Highway 542. Details: 360-734-6771. Child care — None. Mountain information — 360-734-6771. Snow phone — 360-671-0211. Web sitewww.mtbaker.us

Stevens Pass

A popular commuter area 80 miles northeast of Seattle on Highway 2, Stevens is known for its steady, healthy snowfall and, increasingly, its diverse terrain. The front side is a beginner/intermediate paradise now graced by a remodeled, upgraded base village and a string of modern high-speed lifts. The addition of back-side runs and lifts elevated the mountain from so-so to standout, when the weather cooperates. This is the closest commuter area to Seattle that gets reliable snow. When the backside is open, Stevens is the real deal. The area's major challenge — finding enough parking for all its fans on weekends — has been met at least partially with an ever-expanding shuttle system from Sultan on Highway 2. Save yourself some white-knuckleage and use it.

Elevation — 4,061-5,845 feet. Lifts — 12: two high-speed quads, one fixed quad, four triple chairs, three double chairs, two new conveyor lifts. Lift prices — Daily all-day adult $47.97 plus tax to $52.58 plus tax. Operating hours — Thursday-Monday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (night skiing 3 p.m.-10 p.m. conditions permitting), Tuesday and Wednesday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Lodging — SkyRiver Inn in Skykomish (16 miles away), 800-367-8194; Stevens Pass Motel, 360-793-6633; Dutch Cup Motel in Sultan (40 miles), 800-844-0488. Additional lodging available at Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth (21 to 37 miles). In Leavenworth, the Best Western Icicle Inn is popular, 509-548-7000. Child care — Kids' Club for 3 to 6 years. Mountain information — 206-812-4510. Snow phone — 206-634-1645. Web site — www.stevenspass.com

Summit at Snoqualmie

Low elevation, but unbeatable location, 47 miles east of Seattle on Interstate 90. The owner, Booth Creek, has been working to upgrade the area's reputation as a first-time-skier factory. The four combined areas at The Summit offer a variety of runs ranging from easy (nearly everything at Summit West) to expert (mostly at Alpental). One lift ticket is good on all the lifts, and there's free shuttle-bus service between areas on weekends. The family-oriented area is among the nation's most convenient night-skiing sites, and continues to improve and expand its terrain parks and other amenities for snowboarders.

Elevation — Alpental at The Summit, 3,140-5,420 feet; Summit Central, 2,840-3,865; Summit West, 3,000-3,765; Summit East, 2,610-3,710. Lifts — Summit West, two quad lifts, two triple chairs, two double chairs, one magic carpet and two rope tows. Summit Central, one high-speed quad lift, two triple chairs, four double chairs, two magic carpets and one handle tow. Summit East, two double chairs. Alpental, one high-speed quad lift, three double chairs and one rope tow. Lift prices — All-day adult, $46, plus tax. Operating hours — Open daily, Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Note: Some ski areas closed on certain days. Lodging — The Summit Lodge, 81 rooms, 425-434-6300. Child care — None. Mountain information — 425-434-7669 or 206-236-PASS. Snow phone — 206-236-1600. Web site — www.summitatsnoqualmie.com

Crystal Mountain

Washington's premier destination ski resort, 39 miles east of Enumclaw off Highway 410 near Mount Rainier, has been updated dramatically in recent years by its management company, Boyne USA, which plans even greater enhancements — including a massive summit tram and new hotel. The in-bounds terrain is among the state's most diverse, and backcountry skiing can be among the best in the West, conditions permitting. Lines can be a hassle on weekends, but Crystal midweek after a hefty dump is a thing to behold. Summit views of Mount Rainier are sublime. A $6.2 million midmountain lodge opened in Campbell Basin in 2004.

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Elevation — 4,400-7,012 feet. Lifts — 10: two high-speed six-passenger lifts, two high-speed express quads, two triple chairs, three double chairs and one surface lift. Lift prices — Daily all-day adult $53. Operating hours — Daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Night skiing limited, call to check. Lodging — For slopeside lodging at Alta Crystal Resort, call 800-277-6475. For Crystal Mountain Hotels, The Village Inn and Alpine Inn, call 888-SKI-6400. For Crystal Mountain Lodging Suites, call 888-ON-THE-MT or 360-663-2558. Child care — None. Mountain information — 360-663-2265. Snow phone — 888-SKI-6199. Web site — www.skicrystal.com

White Pass

The mountain that spawned the Mahre brothers, Olympic medalists of the 1980s, White Pass is 51 miles west of Yakima on Highway 12. A good mix of terrain (and, often, drier snow than many westside areas) makes this an excellent family area. For the harder core, the Great White express quad will burn out most legs by lunchtime. The area also offers something rare for Washington state: slopeside lodging (privately owned condos, across Highway 12 from the base).

Elevation — 4,500-6,000 feet. Lifts — Six: one high-speed express quad, one triple chair, two double chairs, one platter lift and one magic carpet. Lift prices — Monday-Friday all-day adult $31; weekends and holidays all-day adult $43. Operating hours — Daily 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. Night skiing until 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays from Dec. 26-March 11. Lodging — Slopeside condominium units available. Village Inn, 509-672-3131. Motels and lodges in Packwood. Child care — Daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., ages 2 to 6, reservations recommended: 509-672-3106. Mountain information — 509-672-3101. Snow phone — 509-672-3101 or 509-672-3100 (not in service until it snows). Web site — www.skiwhitepass.com

Mission Ridge

Sunny, scenic area 13 miles southwest of Wenatchee with dry snow, impeccable grooming and a good mix of terrain. Sparse snow coverage can be a problem, but when it's deep, Mission's 2,000 acres are superb. A newly installed (in 2005) express quad running from midway to the top of the mountain just about halved the time it takes to reach the summit, and a beefed up snowmaking system is now the largest in the state.

Elevation — 4,550-6,820 feet. Lifts — Six: one high-speed quad, three double chairs, two rope tows. Lift prices — All-day adult $46. Operating hours — Thursday-Monday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Night skiing 4-9 p.m. Open daily during holiday periods. Lodging — Wenatchee offers more than 1,100 hotel and motel rooms, call the Visitor's Bureau at 800-572-7753; the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce at 509-548-5807; and in the Chelan area, 800-4-CHELAN. Child care — 3 months to 6 years, daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mountain information — 509-663-6543. Snow phone — 509-663-3200 (not in service until it snows). Web site — www.missionridge.com

Bluewood

A small, folksy area 21 miles from Dayton in Eastern Washington's Columbia County, Bluewood is a hidden treasure usually reserved for locals and the occasional intrepid traveler. Very fine, dry snow for most of the season, with more sunny days than perhaps any other Northwest resort. Crowds? They're something Bluewood regulars only read about.

Elevation — 4,545-5,670 feet. Lifts — Three: two triple chairs, one platter lift. Lift prices — All-day adult $38. Operating hours — Wednesdays through Sundays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Open daily all holiday periods. Lodging — 21 miles away in Dayton. Most notable: The Weinhard Hotel, 509-382-4032 (www.weinhard.com); Blue Mountain Hotel, 509-382-3040; Bed, Breakfast & Bluewood package, 509-382-4725. Child care — None. Mountain information — 509-382-4725. Snow phone — 509-382-2877 (out of service until it snows). Web site — www.bluewood.com

Mount Spokane

Spokane's hometown ski area is low on glitz but high on fun — and learning, serving as an entry point for many generations of Eastern Washington snowhounds. The resort, operated by a nonprofit agency on Washington State Parks lands 30 miles from the city, has five chairs and respectable stats: more than 2,000 feet of vertical, with 44 runs on consistently dry snow. More than half the mountain is open for night skiing and riding, and lift tickets are still relatively affordable.

Elevation — 4,200-5,889 feet. Lifts — Five double chairs. Lift prices — All-day adult $29 on weekdays, $35 on weekends and holidays. Operating hours — 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, night skiing 4-9:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, closed Monday and Tuesday, except on holidays. Lodging — In Spokane area. Child care — 2 and older; reservations recommended: 509-238-2220, ext. 229. Mountain information — 509-238-2220, ext. 204. Snow phone — 509-443-1397. Web site — www.mtspokane.com

49 Degrees North

A sunny-sky, dry-powder haven near Chewelah in Stevens County, 49 Degrees North is one of Northeastern Washington's better-kept secrets. No glitz, glamour or slopeside lodging, but a grand weekend destination. In 2005 they opened up an additional 300 acres in the east basin. This winter, look for a new quad lift providing access to 500 acres of terrain on Huckleberry Ridge and Silver Ridge, which flank the Sunrise Basin with 12 trails.

Elevation — 3,923-5,774 feet. Lifts — Six: one quad, four double chairs and one surface lift. Lift prices — Weekends and holidays all-day adult $40; weekdays all-day adult $34. Operating hours — Friday-Tuesday 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. through Jan. 27, and open until 4 p.m. through end of season. Open daily Dec. 18 through Jan. 2. Night skiing Dec. 23, Dec. 30, Jan. 13 and Feb. 17. Lodging — Closest lodging is in Chewelah, 10 miles away. The Nordlig Motel, 509-935-6704. 49er Motel and RV Park, 509-935-8613. Chewelah Creek Inn, 509-935-8166. Deer Lake Resort, 509-233-2081. Child care — Ages 2 to 10, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mountain information — 509-935-6649 or 866-376-4949. Snow phone — 866-376-4949. Web site — www.ski49n.com

Sitzmark

They have only one chairlift and a rope tow, but Sitzmark, 21 miles northeast of Tonasket, Okanogan County, offers great views and zero lines. The ski area has a ski shop, day lodge, home-style dining and a coffee shop and rentals. Locals tout the European flavor of the area, which also has many Nordic skiing trails.

Elevation — 4300-4950 feet. Lifts — Two: one double chair, one rope tow. Lift prices — All-day adult $30. Operating hours — Thursdays, weekends and holidays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Child care — None. Lodging — Eden Valley Guest Ranch has one-bedroom houses, 7 miles from Sitzmark (509-485-3323). There is lodging in Oroville and Tonasket; both towns are about 20 miles from the ski area. Mountain information — 509-486-2700 or 509-485-3323. Snow phone — 509-485-3323 (out of service until it snows).

Hurricane Ridge

There's only a poma and a couple of rope tows, but the price is right (cheap), with no crowds, and a quiet, family-friendly feel to the place, when winter winds that gave it its name aren't blowing you off the mountain or closing the road.

Elevation — 4,800-5,500 feet. Lifts — One poma, two rope tows. Lift prices — All-day poma $20; intermediate rope $16; bunny slope $8 (less for members), plus National Park entry fee ($10 per car). Operating hours — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends and some holidays. Lodging — 18 miles down the road in Port Angeles. Mountain and road information — 360-565-3131. Web site — www.hurricaneridge.com

British Columbia

Whistler Blackcomb

Often rated the biggest and best in North America, the dual mountains call out to Northwesterners from a lofty perch 75 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. The massive resort, which will host alpine-ski events for the 2010 Winter Olympics, usually is a four- to five-hour drive from Seattle, although Olympics-related highway construction might cause additional delays for the next few years. (For construction updates, see www.whistlerblackcomb.com/roadreport.) If you can't find what you're looking for here, wipe off your goggles.

Elevation — Whistler Mountain, 2,214-7,160 feet; Blackcomb, 2,214-7,494 feet. Lifts — 33 (both mountains). Blackcomb: one high-speed gondola, six high-speed quads (one covered), three triples, seven surface lifts. Whistler: two high-speed gondolas, six high-speed quads, two triples, one double, five surface lifts. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — Whistler and Blackcomb: Daily all-day adult $77, subject to change. Lift prices vary depending on time of season. Operating hours — Daily 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Starting Jan 28 open until 3:30 p.m. or later; starting Feb. 24, open until 4 p.m. Lodging — A broad spectrum including hotels, motels, condominiums, rental homes and bed-and-breakfast inns. Call 800-944-7853. Child care — Daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Reservations required for infants, recommended for 2-year-olds and older. Mountain information — Whistler Blackcomb: 800-766-0449 or 604-932-3434. Snow phone — 604-932-4211. Web site — www.whistlerblackcomb.com

Grouse Mountain

An eight-minute tram ride straight up from a North Vancouver parking lot, Grouse is known as Vancouver's "practically downtown" ski area. What it lacks in size it makes up for in convenience and stunning views of the city.

Elevation — 3,700-4,100 feet. Lifts — Five: two high-speed quads, two rope tows and one magic carpet. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — Daily all-day adult $45. Operating hours — 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Lodging — Many hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts in downtown Vancouver, located just 15 minutes from the mountain. Child care — None. Mountain information — 604-984-0661 or 604-980-9311. Snow phone — 604-984-0661. Web site — www.grousemountain.com.

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Remotely situated 2 ½ hours north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Elevation — 3,855-5,215 feet. Lifts — Nine: two high-speed quads, two fixed quads, one triple chair, one double chair, one platter lift, one handle tow and one tube lift. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — Daily all-day adult $54. Operating hours — 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, night skiing Fridays-Saturdays, holidays and March break until 9 p.m. Lodging — Ski in/Ski out accommodations at Bear Lodge and Deer Lodge, and others available nearby in Campbell River and Comox Valley. Child care — Day care, 18 months to 6 years old. Mountain information — 250-338-1386. Snow phone — 250-338-1515 or 888-833-1515. Web site — www.mountwashington.ca.

Big White

Big White, a sprawling, sun-splashed area above Kelowna in the Canadian Okanagan, is where British Columbians tired of the rush and bustle of Whistler go to truly relax. Plentiful lodging, modern lifts, very diverse terrain and fine intermediate runs — not to mention a healthy share of sunshine — make the resort a great weekend getaway for Washingtonians. It's a five- to six-hour drive from Seattle; or a short trip on Horizon Air to Kelowna (with new planes, twice as large, starting service in December).

Elevation — 4,950-7,606 feet. Lifts — 16: one high-speed gondola, five high-speed chairs, one quad beginner chair, one triple chair, three double chairs, one T-bar, one beginner handle-tow, two tube lifts, one magic carpet. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $65. Operating hours — Daily 8:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and night skiing 3:30-8 p.m. Lodging — Many motels, hotels and condominiums available at the midmountain village. For details, call 800-663-2772. Child care — 18 months to 6 years. Mountain information — 250-765-8888. Snow phone — 250-765-SNOW or 888-663-6882. Web site — www.bigwhite.com

Red Mountain

Resort

They've put the "mountain" back in the name of this resort (which had a brief fling with the trendy "Red Resort" name tag). No matter the moniker, it's still B.C.'s secret powder stash, and a small-town treasure. In Rossland, a friendly old mining town, skiing, not the ski scene, is the star. No wonder: Snow is deep, cold and clean, and runs are long. Excellent tree skiing, open, uncrowded slopes and light snow make this a grand place to be after a big powder dump.

Elevation — 3,888-6,800 feet. Lifts — Six: three triple chairs, one double chair, one T-bar and one red carpet. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $52 plus GST. Operating hours — Daily 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Lodging — Some slopeside lodging available. Many motels and hotels a 10-minute drive from the mountain, and also in Rossland and Trail. Details: 877-969-7669. Child care — 18 months to 5 years. Mountain information — 250-362-7384 or 800-663-0105. Snow phone — 250-362-5500 or 509-459-6000 (out of service until it snows). Web site — www.redresort.com

Silver Star

Another Okanagan Valley hidden gem, near the town of Vernon, Silver Star is run by owners of Kelowna's Big White resort. Silver Star has ballooned to large proportions, thanks to a strong expansion program. Skiers will find 3,065 skiable acres, including some 1,200 acres of terrain on two sides of the mountain, with the Putnam Creek side providing a dose of advanced, even extreme, terrain. An added bonus — slopeside lodging in the Victorian Gaslight Village — makes the resort a grand weekend getaway for Northwesterners.

Elevation — 3,780-6,280 feet. Lifts — 10: one six-pack express, two detached quads, two fixed-grip quad, one double chair, two T-bars, two wonder carpets. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $65. Operating hours — Sunday-Wednesday 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Night skiing on Thursday to Saturday and holidays. Lodging — Vacation homes, hotels, motels and condominiums at the mountainside. For details: 800-663-4431. Child care — Newborn to age 6, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mountain information — 250-542-0224. Snow phone — 250-542-1745. Web site — www.silverstarmtn.com

Sun Peaks

A formerly sleepy B.C. area near Kamloops has gone big — really big — with a lift- and accommodations-expansion plan that's even made managers at Whistler sit up and take notice. Good snow (dry, if not prolific), ample financial backing and promises of annual upgrades are a strong lure to Washington skiers.

Elevation — 4,116-7,060 feet. Lifts — 12: three high-speed quads, two quads, one triple, two platter lifts, one T-bar and three carpet lifts. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $60. Operating hours — Daily, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Open late-November to midApril, depending on snow conditions. Lodging — Hotels, condo hotels, condominiums, townhouses, vacation homes, bed-and-breakfasts and hostels at and near the mountainside. For details, call Central Reservations, 800-807-3257. Child care — 18 months to 5 years. Mountain information — 250-578-5542 or 250-578-5474. Snow phone — 250-578-7232. Web site — www.sunpeaksresort.com

Apex

Mountain Resort

The lesser-known ski resort in B.C.'s sunny Okanagan Valley (Big White and Silver Star are the others) is a worthy destination in its own right, with consistently dry snow and quality, steep runs in a more intimate setting than its nearby competitors.

Elevation — 5,197-7,197 feet. Lifts — Four: one quad, one triple, one T-bar, one magic carpet. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $54. Operating hours — Daily 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Night skiing Friday-Saturday and holidays 4:30-9 p.m. Lodging — Hotels, lodges, cabins, chalets, townhouses and hostels. For details: 866-273-9737 (Apex Accommodations and Double Diamond Hostel); 800-863-1466 (Saddleback Lodge); and 800-387-2739 (Apex Mountain Inn and Spa). Penticton, 30 minutes from Apex, also offers a wide range of motels, resorts and hotels. Child care — 18 months to 12 years. Mountain information — 877-777-2739. Snow phone — 250-487-4848. Web site — www.apexresort.com

Panorama

Mountain Village

Panorama, two hours southwest of Banff, on the B.C. side of the Rockies, offers an impressive 4,000 feet of vertical with a wide variety of terrain near the pleasant mountain town of Invermere.

Elevation — 3,800-7,800 feet. Lifts — Nine: one village gondola, two high-speed quads, one quad, one triple, one double, two platter lifts and one magic carpet. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $63, plus tax. Operating hours — Daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Night skiing Thursday-Sunday until 9 p.m. Lodging — Slopeside hotel, condos, lodges, townhouses and vacation homes. For details: 800-663-2929. Child care — 18 months to 5 years. Mountain information — 250-342-6941 or 800-663-2929. Snow phone — 250-342-6941. Web site — www.skipanorama.com

Kimberley

Alpine Resort

Kimberley, another dry-snow haven in the west shadow of the Rockies, is a reach for Seattle-area skiers. It's a nine- or 10-hour drive (four hours from Spokane). But shuttle flights from Vancouver, B.C., will get you to Cranbrook quickly for a fun snow escape that often is combined with a stop at nearby Fernie. The mountain is known for its long, gentle runs and a "European" atmosphere.

Elevation — 4,035-6,500 feet. Lifts — Eight: one high-speed quad, two triples, one double, one T-bar, two handle tows and one magic carpet. Lift prices (Canadian currency) — All-day adult $52.50 plus tax, $57.50 plus tax on holiday peak season. Operating hours — Daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Night skiing from 5:30-9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Lodging — Central Reservations, 877-754-5462 . Child care — 18 months to 12 years. Mountain information — 250-427-4881. Snow phone — 800-258-7669. Web site — www.skikimberley.com

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