Calling Mother Nature
Mission Ridge has a favor to askIt's like everyone living in North Central Washington during the winter has made a huge bargain with Mother Nature: Okay, “Mom” – we’ll put up with your bone-chilling temperatures, icy roadways and freezing rain, but you need to at least give us enough snow to ski Mission Ridge.
Not everyone, of course, skis or snowboards, but the Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort has become such an integral part of the Wenatchee community that even non-skiers can see the benefit of keeping a good snow base on Mission Ridge. The area attracts not only locals, but brings in hordes of sun-seeking Western Washington visitors who abandon the “Cascade Cement” they call snow on the other side of the Cascades to come to the dry powder snow here that skiers and boarders find so much more appealing.
That translates into hotel rooms, restaurant meals, shopping in local stores and of course good, steady revenue for the ski resort itself. So, please Mother Nature – bring it on.
Unfortunately, last season came up a little bit short in the snowfall department and the relatively mild 2013-14 winter resulted in about 10,000 fewer visitors over the course of the season, or about 93,500 skier visits in total. Mission Ridge has resolved to do better this year. They have not yet called someone in to do a Spirit Dance for Snow, but they did the next best thing last fall with their Pray for Snow Dance featuring the Posies rock band. There have been early signs Mother Nature will indeed honor that request.
The good news is that Mission Ridge does know how to make snow, and they were able to open in November with limited operations using man-made snow. Once they are in full operation for the season, the resort will feature more than 36 designated runs spread over 2,000 acres – a wonderland of trails, chutes and bowls that most skiers or boarders will be able to handle. In fact, only 10 percent of the resort’s terrain is considered difficult with 60 percent intermediate and 30 percent beginner trails. Another 800 acres was recently purchased for future development.
The area’s four chairlifts – including one high-speed quad – and two rope tows keep skiers moving up the mountain, reducing lift lines. In fact, visit Mission Ridge midweek and you’ll be sharing the mountain with only about 700 other people, way below the lift capacity for the area. On weekends, about double that number visit the mountain.
While there are no overnight accommodations at Mission Ridge, the area is relatively quick and easy to get to from Wenatchee, where the lodging and restaurants make a Mission Ridge weekend attractive for skiers and boarders from Western Washington. The area appeals to a lot of families, according to Marketing Director Sam Chapin, who adds that it’s an especially family-friendly ski area because all of the trails funnel down to the same spot allowing families to meet up in between runs and for meals.
The 400-person capacity Hampton day lodge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and, in recent years, has become the scene for the annual Mountain Music Festival. This season the festival will feature 10 bands over 10 Saturdays, Dec. 27 through Feb. 28, with music starting at 7 p.m. The concerts are popular with skiers and boarders, but they also attract local residents who drive up for the festival and have dinner in the lodge.
It’s all part of the resort’s outreach that helps bring together the mountain and its community. “We would not be here without the way Wenatchee supports Mission Ridge,” says Chapin. “We are extremely thankful for our proximity to Wenatchee. “
For more information on Mission Ridge, visit www.missionridge.com or call (509) 663-6543.
PHOTOS: Hampton Lodge and skiers at the top of the mountain
PHOTO CREDITS: Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort
RECOMMENDED LODGING: North Central Washington lodging
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