Warren Miller: A steep, deep fantasy
Vail, CO, Colorado
Since midnight, big flakes of snow have been falling like dandruff on a dark blue suit and are now piled up two feet deep on front lawns all over Seattle.
A late-breaking news story interrupts the mellow music on KING FM:
“Thirty-eight inches of snow have fallen on Snoqualmie Pass in the last 24 hours. The pass is closed and so is Stevens and you can forget trying to get to Crystal Mountain because the Enumclaw snowplow driver couldn’t even get home from his Thursday night bowling tournament. If you have to drive east, you will have to go south to Portland and turn left.”
A lot of skiers and boarders are stuck in Seattle, 50 long miles from the nearest ski lift. Don’t worry about missing that all-time deep powder snow day. You can carve your turns right here in town. Perhaps some cross country skiing late in the day, a little apres-ski shopping and then some fine wine from a Washington State vintner to top off the day.
Any and all of this is available to anyone with a sense of adventure, and it will help if you have a low IQ.
Powder hounds can find the steep and deep stuff all over Seattle. For that first run, you can point ’em down Columbia between Fourth and Fifth and get an awesome black diamond, 21 percent ride. Even if you don’t get first tracks in the middle of the street, you can still find a lot of untracked powder on the sidewalk among the parking meters.
Better be careful here and not run into anyone, because at least half of the guys standing around in vicinity of the courthouse are contingency-fee attorneys looking for their next client.
The steepest and maybe the deepest double diamond run in the city is a wonderful 23.3 percent out on Queen Anne Hill between Prospect and Highland. It’s my favorite ski run in Seattle. It was named 80 years ago after a run down it on a toboggan with the riders all warmed up with Prohibition rum sloshing around right behind their belly button.
My favorite run in Seattle is called Warren Avenue.
After a dozen or so runs in deep powder snow all over town, it’s time for a sidewalk cappuccino and some other local specialties for lunch: a hot bowl of Ivars clam chowder, some pink tofu, kim chee, or sprouts and yogurt at one of the many special spots in town.
After lunch, fire up your Beemer and head southwest toward west Seattle and Alki Point. Here you will find cross-country skiing on the beach with Puget Sound, the Olympics or the Seattle skyline for a backdrop.
You can dazzle the locals with such statements as, “Sure looks a lot like The Lake of Geneva from the Swiss side, but the boats are bigger and it’s salt water, not fresh.”
Now as the sun begins to set, it’s time to purchase a few mementos of your day spent skiing Seattle. Stop by the Pike Place Market for a big selection of abalone shells that light up to put on your mantel. You can even find the occasional rare mink-covered holder for your fake Oakley’s. There’s a large but quaint selection of T-shirts sold by a large but quaint T-shirt bootlegger who is not easy to find because he is fat, bearded, pony-tailed, smokes a pipe, is semi-bald and wears a 12-year-old faded sportscaster vest.
Now it’s time for dinner. What about that darling little waterfront spot over on Lake Union? How about Scenery by the Sea, where the menu is very Northwestern and just right to top off a day of making turns on some of the best streets in Seattle? They feature salmon 12 different ways, all fresh-frozen, with some wine stomped by local feet in eastern Washington. Here, you might discover that you are not the only people who have skied locally today.
A sunburned group is hoisting some local beer to Hugo Slow. Hugo climbed partway up the Space Needle elevator shaft and set some kind of a record for a tip drop off the Space Needle when he landed in one of the transitions in the nearby roller coaster track.
He dropped sixty-three vertical feet. The group is sending their video of his tip drop to KIRO TV, who promised to interview Hugo as soon as he gets out of the intensive care unit at Virginia Mason Clinic.
Yes, there is steep and deep skiing all over Seattle so get out and do it before it melts.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. We’ve brought him back to where he started, beginning this week. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff log onto Warren Miller.net.