2020/2021 Ski "Season" Recap

November 2020 - May 2021

An early spring ski-to-climb of the SW Rib of SEWS

So what really is a...

ski "season"?? When you have a backcountry skiing setup, the season is whenever you can get on snow, and in Washington, that is all year round! However I am the type of person who enjoys sports that can only happen really in the spring/summer months, so I tend to go hard skiing during Novemberish to Mayish. For my tracking purposes, I decided to define it by the first date of a WA ski resort opening, to the last date of a WA ski resort being open. Last season ('19/20 season) I started tracking the snowpack. This meant that every day, I would note down on a giant spreadsheet what the NWAC forecast was, what the weather was, and I'd also note conditions that I experienced. I loved being in tune with the mountains like that, so I decided to do it again this year. However this year, I also decided to track all my ski days. Here is a recap of what my ski season looked like!

A couple week's worth of tracking for the Snoqualmie area. The orange dates are days that I skied in that area. I had a sheet for the Crystal Area as well.

My definition of a ski day is pretty much any day where I could make a right turn and a left turn on my skis. I'm not too picky. My shortest was likely my attempt of Guye Peak, where I probably did a total of 5 turns, and my longest was my 8k pow day at Crystal with my husband Dan and my friend Matthew. Both those days and all the days in between, I found myself thinking, "Dang, I freaking love skiing" and that's what this is all about. Tracking the snowpack was an awesome practice for me, and I found that as eventually Dan was able to ask me, "what do you think the forecast will be today?" and I could answer almost to a tee as long as we were skiing in the areas I was tracking (I tracked West slopes South, and Snoqualmie Pass).

I ended up skiing a total of 46 days, which I am pretty happy with, everything considered! This season, I had gone through a move, and a career change, which definitely took some ski days off my calendar. All in all, I had a great season. I skied 37 human-powered days, and 9 lift-powered days, with one of those ski day being a Beacon Hill tour when we got snow in Seattle! Yes, I was one of those dorks skiing in the streets, it was too much fun! My total elevation gain for those 37 skis totaled out to be about 135,400ft of gain. Pretty cool to tally up! Definitely a number I can beat next year.

Dan on the lower Nisqually glacier as we approach the Fuhrer Finger

One of my battle wounds of the season! This was from a 20 mile day, so I wasn't too surprised to find it.

My primary questions in analyzing my ski days were: what avalanche conditions did I primarily end up skiing in, what type of ski was it, and who was I skiing with? I consider myself to be a pretty conservative backcountry skiier, but what were my stats in real life? Now I feel compelled to say this, and to some it is obvious but - analyzing safety while backcountry skiing is way more complicated than these three factors I am looking at. It definitely isn't black and white, however I thought it would be interesting to analyze these points.

What I ended up finding was pretty much exactly what I expected - the high danger days were the days where I was either skiing inbounds, or was skiing with partners I really trusted with my life, and who trusted me. When the danger was low, I found clusters of my goal skis, or skis where I am skiing with newer pepole. The one interesting thing I found was that the category of ski partner didn't really have a whole ton of correlations. The only real correlation was that I skied a lot of my goal skis with Dan, which wasn't really a surprise to me - ha!

Open up my spreadsheet below and look at my data for yourself! Let me know if you find anything interesting that I missed - I'm curious to hear about it! Also, head over to my "About" page if you'd like to ski with me this spring. I am always looking for more partners!

Below is a spreadsheet of my ski days this season! If you click on the button in the upper right corner, you can open the sheet and look at the different tabs which have everything sorted by different factors. If you're a nerd like me, you'll probably find it interesting!

If there's info you'd like to compare on this sheet that you don't see, let me know! Either send me a note on my "About" page, or email me at amessinthecascades@gmail.com and I'll see if I can add it.

M's 20/21 Ski Season!