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Weekend Cover Story

Spring is coming, so enjoy the snow now

Slow or fast, NAC has an adventure for you

Published: 02:25PM February 27th, 2014
Spring is coming, so enjoy the snow now

Michael Brumm

Snowshoeing to Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park.

Winter’s last hurrah is just three weeks away, but the Northwest Adventure Center has your snow needs covered.

The NAC is offering discount arrangements to Mission Ridge, Hurricane Ridge, Mount Rainier and other cold locales across the west side of the state.

The most popular, however, is Military Appreciation Day March 7 up at Crystal Mountain Resort, east of Mount Rainier, said NAC programmer Robert Conrad.

“The (lift) tickets are the cheapest they ever get,” Conrad said. “We always take a bus up because it’s always so popular.”

For $40, the NAC will outfit a person with all the gear they need to enjoy all the fresh snow the mountain has to offer, including skis.

If you have all the gear you need, pay just $25 for the bus ride up.

To buy the discounted lift tickets, go to and follow the instructions for people with valid Department of Defense ID.

First-time purchasers pay $56 for a lift ticket, or $64 for access to the gondola too.

If skiing and snowboarding aren’t your speed, a little survival training can go a long way, and the NAC has that programmed too.

The first two sessions were canceled — one for lack of snow in Mount Rainier National Park, the other for too much, which led to officials closing the mountain.

As of Feb. 20, “they’ve got seven feet of snow in the last five days, so we’re finally going to get the snow we’ve been looking for,” Conrad said for the upcoming March 8 outing. The NAC has a mandatory pre-trip class scheduled Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. at its building on Lewis North. You’ll learn about trip preparation, shelter construction and other vital skills.

For $75, the NAC provides gear for the group (excluding a sleeping bag), entrance to the park, three meals and NAC’s expert guides, including Conrad.

Everyone sleeps overnight in a snow cave.

“It’s a sweet trip,” he said. “We have a lot of people who are nervous about (winter camping), so to have somebody with them ... People go out after they’ve gone with us just because they can now.”

Conrad said the deals offered by the NAC are steep: REI offers the same winter survival trip for about $290. Snowshoeing trips also are less expensive, from $40 at the NAC to $90 for the basic REI trip.

Perhaps you prefer to just move without a lot of stopping. The NAC’s next big snowshoeing trip is Hurricane Ridge, out in the Olympic Mountains on the peninsula, March 8. Gear and instruction are included. The trip costs $65.

The trip involves a three-hour van trip, but Conrad said people always find the long ride worth it.

“It’s got a different feel than Mount Rainier,” he said. “Every time we go up, it’s just stunning.”