WSU hires Leach to replace Wulff

November 30, 2011 by  

SEATTLE — Mike Leach has been named football coach at Washington State. Leach agreed in principle to a five-year contract and will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday in Pullman, according to a release from the school.

“I asked athletic director Bill Moos to select the best head football coach in the country and I am convinced that he has done exactly that,” WSU president Elson Floyd said in the news release.

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2009, file photo, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach waits as a play is reviewed during the first quarter of their NCAA college football game against Texas in Austin, Texas. Leach has reached a verbal agreement to be the new football coach at Washington State, an official within the athletic department told the Associated Press on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Moos said, “This is an exciting day for Washington State University and Cougar football. I have spoken about the need to re-energize our fan base and take Cougar football to the next level. I believe the hiring of Mike Leach accomplishes both of those goals. His credentials speak for themselves.”

Leach replaces Paul Wulff, fired Tuesday by Washington State after a 9-40 record in four seasons. The quick push for Leach was not unexpected. The Seattle Times reported last week that Wulff was likely to be fired, and that Leach would be the top target of the Cougars. An informed source told The Times the deal might be done quickly.

Leach, 50, had been expected to be a top choice at Kansas, where he had an old friendship with athletic director Sheahon Zenger.

Leach has been out of coaching for the past two years after a controversial exit from Texas Tech. He was fired just short of collecting on an $800,000 salary bonus. At issue was whether he mistreated a Red Raiders player, Adam James, by directing him to stay in a darkened equipment shed to help treat a concussion.

Leach coached 10 Texas Tech to 10 straight bowl games and favors a spread passing offense.

“First off I would like to express my appreciation to Paul Wulff for all his efforts and dedication to Washington State and wish him the best in the future,” Leach said in the news release. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work with Bill Moos, who is a legend in this business. To have the opportunity as a coach to work with someone like that is an experience few head coaches get. Along with Bill and Dr. Floyd, I’m excited about being a part of the future of Washington State.

“I have always admired the tradition of Washington State. It’s a university on the move that is experiencing growth. I’m excited about what they are doing with the facilities and it’s a team that has battled through some hard times and shows great promise in the future. I’m proud to be a part of this team.”

— Bud Withers

UW standout shoots first 59 in Valley

November 30, 2011 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — In the history of the PGA Tour only five players have carded an 18-hole round of 59.

It’s obviously an exceptionally rare number in golf, but now the Yakima Valley has one.

Chris Williams, a junior at the University of Washington and a native of Moscow, Idaho, shot an 11-under-par 59 from the back tees at SunTides Golf Course on Friday.

Closing with a 28 on the back nine, Williams broke the course record by three strokes. The previous record of 62 was shared by Lloyd Harris, Will Curley and Fred Couples.

Currently ranked ninth in the nation among amateurs, Williams recorded three birdies and an eagle on the eighth hole for a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

Williams followed with a run of six birdies over seven holes for the back-nine 28. He missed a 5-foot putt for an eagle on the 14th hole.

Visiting relatives in the area for Thanksgiving, Williams’ round was witnessed by his father, Varnell, and his brother, Jeff.

Local report — Granger, Ike top Takedown

November 29, 2011 by  

Both have three individual champions in Cadets’ event ||

YAKIMA, Wash. — Granger and Eisenhower had three champions apiece in Tuesday’s annual season-opening Eisenhower Takedown Jamboree at Ike Gym.

Grandview and Toppenish had two winners each in the non-scoring eight-team tournament. Repeat champs were Davis’ Juan Lopez and Selah’s Kody Ergeson.

The CBBN 4A and 3A open their dual-meet seasons on Thursday followed by two big invitationals on Saturday at West Valley and Davis.

Teams competing: Eisenhower, Wapato, Grandview, Granger, Selah, Toppenish, Zillah, Davis.

Top three placers

106: 1, Cameron Manjarrez (Ike); 2, Omar Gomez (Wapato); 3, Jose Cienfuegos (Granger).

113: 1, Juan Lopez (Davis); 2, Victor Almaguer (Granger); 3, Daniel Sandoval (Davis).

120: 1, Josh Salcedo (Granger); 2, Juan Diaz (Zillah); 3, Leith Saldana (Davis).

126: 1, David Castaneda (Grandview); 2, Ricky Almaguer (Granger); 3, Angel Rodriguez (Zillah).

132: 1, Adrian Guerrero (Granger); 2, Angel Abarca (Grandview); 3, Edwin Rodriguez (Selah).

138: 1, Diego Hernandez (Zillah); 2, Joesiah Saunders (Grandview); 3, Aaron Arrondondo (Toppenish).

145: 1, Kody Ergeson (Selah); 2, Roger Andrade (Ike); 3, Sergio Sanchez (Zillah).

152: 1, Ernesto Martinez (Toppenish); 2, Juan Badillo (Davis); 3, Henry Lucatero (Ike).

160: 1, Edwin Gudino (Ike); 2, Austin Wagner (Davis); 3, Chris Worford (Zillah).

170: 1, Humberto Acevedo (Ike); 2, Jorge Alcala (Davis); 3, Jon Fowler (Ike).

182: 1, Ricardo Rodriguez (Wap); 2, Chris Crosslin (Ike); 3, Jason Ornelas (Granger).

195: 1, Abidan Duarte (Granger); 2, Joey Rocha (Selah); 3, Tony Lopez (Davis).

220: 1, Raul Pech (Toppenish); 2, Eli Galeno (Granger); 3, Joel Ortega (Ike).

285: 1, Josh Aho (Zillah); 2, Pedro Recondo (Selah); 3, Miguel Ponce (Davis).


Goldendale records — 120: Kahner Adams 1-1. 132: Dean Enstad 2-1. 138: Thurman Johnson 2-1. 160: Nolin Bare 3-0; Kyle Wilkins 3-0; Wade Gaston 2-1. 170: Braydan Ross 2-1; Zack Shattuck 1-1. 195: Kurt Wilkins 3-0.



Boys at Sunnyside: Wapato 43, Sunnyside Christian 29 (W: Gibby Patterson. SC: Trevor Wagenaar 12); Grandview 31, Sunnyside Christian 28 (SC: Wagenaar 10); Sunnyside 33, Wapato 29 (S: Israel Manzo 7); Sunnyside 38, Grandview 22 (S: Trey Serl 8).

Boys at Mabton: Mabton 15, Liberty Christian 7; Kiona-Benton 16, Libertyy Christian 4; Kiona-Benton 18, Mabton 16.

Girls at Mabton: Mabton 17, Liberty Christian 13; Granger 20, Liberty Christian 10; Mabton 20, Granger 17. Highlights: Jazzee Sustiata (M) 18 overall, Nene Barjas (M) 11, Brook John (G) 15, Lyndsay Oswalt (G) 10.

Girls at Grandview: Wapato 32, Sunnyside Christian 29; Sunnyside 30, Sunnyside Christian 30; Wapato 35, Prosser 16; Grandview 43, Sunnyside 16; Grandview 30, Prosser 26.



At Rodeo Bowl

Team scores: Eisenhower 803, Ellensburg 532, Eisenhower 709, Ellensburg 566. Baker games: Ellensburg 125, Eisenhower 120; Eisenhower 170, Ellensburg 110.

Highlights: Abby Higdon (Ike) 357 (227), Sarah Cawthron (Ike) 325 (168), Shilo Epenesa (Ell) 245. Records: Ike 2-0 league, 4-0 overall.


(Selah wins on total pins)

At Minda Lanes

Team scores: Kennewick 799, Selah 760; Selah 813, Kennewick 736. Baker games: Kennewick 200, Selah 167, Selah 174, Kennewick 135.

Highlights: Mikayla Ball (S) 376 (207); Emily Imbery (S) 325 (184), Taylor Jones 302 (172). Karissa Shiiflet (K) 357 (204). Records: Selah 3-0 league, 4-0 overall.


Souder hits fourth hole-in-one

When Phil Souder pulled out his 5-iron on the 142-yard third hole at Yakima Country Club on Monday, he was just about to accomplish what for most golfers is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. The Yakima golfer and country club member put his tee shot into the hole for an ace.

For Souder, whose hole-in-one on Monday was witnessed by Dennis Sierts, the experience wasn’t quite that unusual. It’s his fourth career ace.

Where were the elk? Ask the rumor mill

November 29, 2011 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — The rumors were flying during and after this fall’s elk hunting season in the game management units (GMUs) west of Yakima. With the Muckleshoot tribe having announced its hunters would be hunting deer and elk in nine Yakima-area GMUs, a lot of non-tribal hunters had a justification ready in the event they came up empty.

It must be the Indians’ fault, right? Those tribal guys must have just come in and cleaned out all the elk, right?

Certainly that was the popular rumor.

I talked to one hunter who said the men in his hunting party on Cleman Mountain were told by a game warden that Muckleshoot tribal hunters had taken some ridiculously high number of elk from that GMU — something like 400.

Well, for one thing, it wasn’t a state game warden who said that; I’ve talked to the only two WDFW guys who work that area and it was neither of them, and besides that, the state guys don’t have any harvest numbers yet from the Muckleshoots because those figures haven’t been posted. But four hundred from one GMU? Maybe four. If that many.

I talked to a hunter from Prosser, John Jeskey, who said he hunted in the Wildcat area north of Rimrock Lake and said, “I didn’t see an elk for three and a half days. And I didn’t hear a shot. I didn’t run into anyone that was camping up there that saw an elk.” He told me he also ran into a group of six hunters he’d seen up there last year, when that same group had taken four spikes; this year, they told Jeskey, they got nothing.

Jeskey also told me he’d heard the same kind of rumor that had been circulating in other areas: that a band of Muckleshoot hunters had come in and taken hundreds of elk, just basically taken everything with an antler or without.

Ridiculous. And simply not true.

“The rumor mill is terrible,” said Rich Mann, who heads up the WDFW’s enforcement division in the region that includes Yakima. “I’m not sure what it’s based on one of the time. One animal (killed) turns into five and two tribal harvests turn into 15 and 20. The stories get blown up a lot bigger than at least what the data shows.”

And, of course, there are the stories about how the WDFW are in cahoots with the tribes basically to cheat non-tribal hunters out of a fair shake. WDFW enforcement officer Alan Baird was working those Yakima GMUs during elk season and heard some good ones — in addition to the ones about how the Muckleshoots were killing off elk by the hundreds.

“Guys were saying, ‘Yeah, we were sitting around the campfire and we saw this black helicopter come over and we know it was you guys herding elk out of the area so the hunters can’t get them,’ and that kind of deal. I’m going, really guys? Black helicopters? You obviously haven’t been reading the paper about our budget problems.”

As for why so many hunters weren’t seeing elk and where the elk were, well, that depends on who you talk to. I talked to a guy who guides hunters drawn for special branch-antler bull permits and he said they saw more elk where they were hunting than they usually do. (I won’t say where that is; if a guy’s got a good hunting spot, I’m not about to give it away.) I talked to other hunters who said they saw lots of elk for a day or two and then didn’t see anything after that.

And there were so many drainages that were either closed off and inaccessible because of last year’s high-water runoffs — Milk Creek, some of the Little Rattlesnake, bottom part of Rock Creek — that I’m guessing after the first couple of days of gunfire, the elk figured out pretty quickly where the people weren’t.

As for the idea that Muckleshoot hunters took 400 elk out of Cleman Mountain, or 300 out of the Wildcat, or 200 out of the Little Naches, well, I’ll consider that nonsense until somebody proves otherwise. (And I’m confident it would be easier to prove the existence of the Tooth Fairy. Ya can’t prove what just ain’t true.)

Not convinced? I was hearing the same “where’s the elk?” laments in the fall of 2010, and the Muckleshoots had already begun hunting these GMUs then; it just wasn’t common knowledge last year like it was this fall. If more non-tribal hunters had known about the Muckleshoots’ activity, you can bet those rumors would have been flying then, too.

The Muckleshoots are very strict in their reporting requirements of their hunters, and they report their tribal harvest to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. Those numbers won’t be available to the public for a few months or I’d include them here. But just take a glance at the actual figures from last year:

Non-tribal hunters — we’ll call that “the state” — took 115 bull elk (most of them spikes) out of the Little Naches GMU last year; the Muckleshoots took 15. With cows, the state took 108 and the tribe took two. In the Taneum, the state took 56 bulls and 63 cows; the tribe took seven and zero. The Muckleshoots took six elk in the Bethel GMU; the state took 100.

Throughout the Region 3 GMUs, non-tribal hunters took 870 bulls and 722 cows — nearly 1,600 total. The Muckleshoots took 34.

Still believe the rumors?

Scott Sandsberry

Cougars fire football coach Paul Wulff

November 29, 2011 by  

SEATTLE — Paul Wulff wanted just a little more time. Bill Moos, the Washington State athletic director, thought WSU had run out of it.

Tuesday morning, Moos dismissed Wulff after four struggling years of Cougars football in which WSU went 9-40.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Moos said informing Wulff on Tuesday morning that he had been fired “was not an easy thing to do.”

Moos thanked Wulff for his contributions to WSU but said the Cougars were at a critical juncture and needed to make a change.

“I feel we have apathy in our fan base,” said Moos, who claimed a coaching change was necessary to raise the energy among WSU fans.

Moos said the search for Wulff’s successor will begin immediately and said he has had conversations with coaches on a “shortlist.”

Wulff said he hoped to have a new coach in the next two to three weeks.

“You’re looking at the search committee,” Moos said.

Moos said he talked with Wulff for an hour and a half Sunday and “pretty much” made the choice then to fire Wulff but elected to take another day to mull the decision.

Moos had been a consultant on a search committee when Wulff was hired in December 2007, urging the committee to consider a couple of WSU alums, including Wulff. In spring 2010, Moos became the school’s athletic director, and more than once voiced the thought that “nobody wants Paul to succeed more than I do.”

After a 3-22 start — results on the field which Moos said he largely disregarded because of the downtrodden state of the program in 2007 — the Cougars began to show improvement in 2010 and 2011. But hopes for gaining six victories and bowl eligibility this year were dashed, partly by some key quarterback injuries, and the Cougars went 4-8.

Almost since the start of the Wulff regime, there was divisiveness in the fan base. In 2008, the Cougars were shut out three times — they hadn’t been blanked since 1984 — and six times, they allowed 58 or more points.

There was improvement each year. There were fewer problems off the field, after 25 players were arrested in an 18-month span bridging the Bill Doba and Wulff regimes. The Cougars had a heavy representation on conference all-academic teams, after some Academic Progress Rate shortfalls caused them to be docked eight scholarships against a maximum of 85 as part of the problems Wulff inherited.

Two problems developed in 2011 as key to Wulff’s demise. One happened shortly into the opener against Idaho State.

Jeff Tuel, one of the underrated quarterbacks in the Pac-12, broke his clavicle on his fifth snap of the game after being inserted on the third series despite suffering from a virus. Tuel’s season was essentially ruined; after he tried to come back against Stanford and Oregon State in midseason, he took hits to that side and was unable to play in the final five games of the season.

The schedule, meanwhile, was initially kind but ultimately demanding. Some fans presumed a 5-0 start for the Cougars, who opened with Idaho State, UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado and UCLA. But without Tuel, WSU lost to San Diego State and a tight, 28-25 loss at UCLA, putting them at 3-2.

Over the long haul, with WSU playing the Oregon State game at CenturyLink Field and it being a year when it had only four conference games in its stadium, WSU went from Sept. 10 to Nov. 12 with just one game in Pullman — against Stanford. Home for consecutive games in November, the Cougars ambushed Arizona State and lost a thriller in overtime to Utah.

They ended with a 38-21 loss to Washington in the Apple Cup, but it’s believed the decision was already made on Wulff. On Nov. 18, the WSU regents approved Moos’ renovation plans for Martin Stadium — suites and club seats on the south side, and eventually, a football-only facility beyond the west end zone — and Moos was open in saying that the football coach, whoever he was, would be pivotal in rallying support from donors.

The Cougars have to pay the final year of Wulff’s contract. He was earning about $600,000 annually, the lowest-paid coach in the Pac-12.

Mike Leach, the former Texas Tech coach, is believed at the top of WSU’s list of possible successors. But Leach has been reported also to be coveted by Kansas, which fired Turner Gill over the weekend after two years.

 — Bud Withers/The Seattle Times

Seattle Times preseason poll has Davis No. 1

November 29, 2011 by  

Monday’s Seattle Times preseason 4A and 3A boys state polls:

Class 4A

1. Davis (Yakima)
2. Bothell
3. Skyline (Sammamish)
4. Mount Rainier (Des Moines)
5. Union (Vancouver)
6. Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma)
7. Curtis (University Place)
8. Gonzaga Prep (Spokane)
9. Evergreen (Vancouver)
10. Federal Way

Keep an eye on: Ballard, Battle Ground, Ferris, Garfield, Jackson, Kamiak, Kent-Meridian, Kentridge, Kentwood, Redmond, Roosevelt.

Class 3A

1. Seattle Prep
2. Lakes (Lakewood)
3. Rainier Beach
4. O’Dea
5. University (Spokane)
6. Kamiakin (Kennewick)
7. Lake Washington (Kirkland)
8. Lincoln (Tacoma)
9. Franklin
10. Foss (Tacoma)

Keep an eye on: Bellevue, Chief Sealth, Decatur, Kennedy Catholic, Mercer Island, Mountain View, Mountlake Terrace, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Sammamish, Shadle Park, West Valley.

Skiing preview: A winter paradise

November 28, 2011 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — The folks who run White Pass ski area didn’t need to see the final numbers to know their Paradise Basin expansion was a success. They could see it every day that the parking lots were filled … and the slopes were not.

Nearly 800 new acres of skiable terrain and 11 new trails, after all, do tend to spread out all those skiers and snowboarders.

“While the parking lot was filled on many days, it just never felt that crowded on the hill with all that new skiing area,” White Pass spokeswoman Kathleen Goyette said about last winter’s debut of the new Basin expansion.

Skiers head down the edge of the Out of the Lupin run in the White Pass ski area’s Paradise Basin. To the left of the groomed run is an ungroomed area, with some steeper, tree-filled terrain, that drew enough expert skiers in the Basin’s inaugural year that White Pass now calls it the West Ridge Run. It will, however, remain ungroomed. (GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic)

“That’s what we heard a lot from people, especially people who were skiing here maybe for the first time — that you just don’t find the crowds and long lift lines that you find at other areas. It really helps spread people out.”

The lure of skiing the new expansion trails clearly had a big impact, bumping business up by roughly 25 percent from about 121,000 skier visits in 2009-2010 to just over 153,000 last winter. That’s by far White Pass’s biggest year, surpassing its previous 2001-02 record of 142,570.

The increase wasn’t entirely due to the expansion. Part of that was the long season, with the main area opening in late November (the Paradise Basin expansion opened Dec. 4). And, of course, it was a La Niña year with plenty of snow — the same thing forecast for this winter.

“Good snow brings more people, and we had an excellent snow year, so we do have to take that into consideration (when talking about the visitation numbers),” Goyette said. “But what a way to kick it off.”

The vast majority of Paradise Basin skiable terrain is made up of fairly easy slopes. There are no black-diamond expert runs; instead, the runs are all rated “blue,” for intermediate. Basically, if a skier can navigate the main area’s beginner runs like Near Side and Far Side without a problem, it’s not that much of a step up in difficulty to head over to Paradise Basin. Expert skiers might not find a lot of challenging terrain in the new area, but they weren’t the target market.

“That was our goal, to have lots of intermediate terrain that’s easily accessed,” Goyette said. “That serves the heart of the ski and snowboard market — the 75 to 80 percent that fall in the middle. They’re not beginners and they’re not experts. And that’s what Paradise Basin does. It provides phenomenal intermediate terrain.”

This year’s early season start at White Pass — a limited opening on Nov. 20 and a reopening on Thanksgiving Day — marks the third straight year White Pass skiers and snowboarders have been able to hit the slopes on or before Thanksgiving.

The early snow and optimistic openings were everywhere throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Seven Washington resorts — White Pass, the Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass, Crystal Mountain, Mission Ridge and 49 Degrees North — as well as Mount Hood Meadows and Timberline in Oregon were all open in at least limited operation by the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Timberline, in fact, had its two upper chairs, Magic Mile and Palmer, open by Sept. 30, the earliest opening in the country.)

That created a wave of “best start ever” optimism around the industry, something Scott Kaden of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association said doesn’t take into consideration how strong last year’s early season was throughout the region.

“Everybody’s been saying that, but I compared these openings we’ve been having to what we saw last year and most of them are really just a day or two apart,” Kaden said. “I think what’s different (this year) is that we’ve had such incredible snow, and that ski area operators are able to open with a larger percentage of their terrain.”

One of the other big stories around the region is the completion of Mount Baker’s new $3.5 million, mid-mountain “warming hut” — a term that doesn’t begin to do justice to the Raven’s Hut, which can seat up to 300, offers full food service, has two fireplaces and was built in early-1900s “Cascadia” architectural style.

“What’s really remarkable, and a lot of people don’t know this, is that in the 1930s (Mount Baker) had the equivalent of a Timberline Lodge burn to the ground up there,” Kaden said. “They had this grand lodge, so the Raven’s Hut mimics a lot of those same architectural signatures — the smaller-pane windows, cedar shake siding, the steep roof.”

Non-skiers may be most familiar with Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood’s Timberline ski resort without even knowing it. The majestic lodge served as the location — for the exterior shots, not the interior — used in the filming of “The Shining,” based on a Stephen King novel and starring Jack Nicholson.

Ski areas preview

November 28, 2011 by  


White Pass

Where: 50 miles west of Yakima on Highway 12.

Elevation: 4,500-6,550 feet.

Lifts: Eight — two express quads, one fixed quad, triple chair, two double chairs, two surface lifts (percentages — beginner 15, intermediate 65, advanced 20).

Lift prices: Full day — $58 adult, $37 junior/senior. Half-day (12:30-4 p.m.) — $44 adult, $30 junior/senior. Night skiing (holidays and Saturday only, Dec. 26-March 3) — $25. Nordic — $14. (Note: Passport Reload lift tickets saves you $5 in all categories but Nordic. To get this savings, purchase the Passport smartcard with the chip-scannable Axess card, and for ensuing visits simply reload your Passport on the White Pass website’s “Reload Passport” page.)

Operating hours: Daily 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m.; night skiing until 9 p.m. over Christmas break and then Saturdays and holidays only.

What’s new: What, the 767 acres in last year’s Paradise Basin expansion, with the two new quad lifts, the 11 new trails and the new High Camp Lodge weren’t enough for you?

Rental shop: 509-672-3106. Child care: 509-672-3104. Mountain information: 509-672-3101. Snow phone: 509-672-3100.


Status: Has already opened twice in limited operation.


The Summit-at-Snoqualmie

Where: Snoqualmie Pass.

Elevation: Alpental at the Summit, 3,140-5,420 feet; Summit Central, 2,840-3,865 feet; Summit West, 3,000-3,765; Summit East, 2,620-3,745 feet.

Lifts: 25 — three high-speed quads, two fixed quads, four triples, 10 doubles, six surface tows.

Lift prices: $59 all-day adult, $40 youth (ages 7-12) and senior (62-plus). All day is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 1-to-5 p.m. prices are $51 and $38, 4-10 p.m. $39 and $33, and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. is $63 and $44.

What’s new: Summit West has installed a fully enclosed, 210-foot moving carpet lift for beginners. At Summit Central, the Hog Wild trail has been regraded and there’s an enhanced connector trail linking the Silver Fir and Golden Nugget trails. A new winch-equipped snow cat will aid with regular grooming on the upper pitches of the Silver Fir Express lift.

Operating hours: Alpental: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Summit Central and Summit West: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summit East: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. Nordic Center 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Tubing Center 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday).

Child care: Not available, but the Summit Learning Center offers lessons for kids as young as 3.

Mountain information: 877-881-2447.

Snow phone: 206-236-1600.


Status: Has already opened intermittently in limited operation.


Crystal Mountain

Where: East of Enumclaw off Highway 410 near Mount Rainier.

Elevation: 4,400-7,012 feet.

Lifts: 11 — one eight-person gondola, two high-speed six-passenger lifts, two high-speed quads, two triples, three doubles, one surface tow (percentages — beginner 11, intermediate 54, advanced 35).

Lift prices: The same as they were last year, actually. Daily, all-day adult, $65, $60 youth (11-17), $40 senior (70 and up), $30 junior (7-10). Once you get your “Go Card” on your first visit, you reload it online at $5 less than the original lift price for your next visit and head directly to the lift.

Operating hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

What’s new: The eight-person gondola going to the top of the Rainier Express lift isn’t quite new, having been unveiled last January, though the resort keeps adding new gondola cabins to keep the line moving. Crystal Mountain’s RDL Test Center debuts this winter with the lastest equipment from Rossignol, Dynastar and Lange.

Child care: Not available, though Kids Club offers lessons for ages 4-10.

Mountain information: 800-277-6475.

Snow phone: 888-754-6199.


Status: Opened last Friday in limited operation.


Stevens Pass

Where: On Highway 2 between Leavenworth and Skykomish.

Elevation: 3,821-5,845 feet.

Lifts: 13 — two high-speed quads, one fixed quad, five triple-chairs, two double-chairs, three surface lifts (percentages — beginner 11, intermediate 54, advanced 35).

Lift prices: $62 all-day adult, $42 youth (7-12) and senior (62-69), and they’re reloadable online so you can avoid lift lines and go straight to the lifts.

Operating hours: At full operation, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Monday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday. (Six lifts are lighted for night skiing.) In early-season limited operation, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. only.

What’s new: The price of the “Advantage Pass” — for someone who’s not quite ready to get a season ticket but expects to ski a few times — went down from $69 to $59. The pass covers your first lift ticket and then discounts of $7 (weekend) or $12 (weekday) off subsequent visits, and as a direct-to-lift pass must be backed by a credit card for direct billing. For summer users, the Stevens Pass Bike Park will have five new downhill mountain bike trails when it opens in June or July.

Child care: Not available, but ski and snowboard lesson plans for ages 3 and up can keep your child busy all day.

Mountain information: 206-812-4510.

Snow Phone: 509-782-5516.


Status: Open in limited operation.


Mission Ridge

Where: Overlooking Wenatchee

Elevation: 4,570-6,820 feet.

Lifts: Six — one high-speed quad, three double-chairs, two rope tows (percentages — beginner 10, intermediate 60, advanced 30).

Lift prices: $51 all-day adult (ages 18-61), $45 young adult (13-17) $33 youth (7-12) and seniors (62 and up).

Operating hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Monday, except daily Dec. 19-Jan. 5. Night skiing 4-9 p.m. on Saturdays beginning Dec. 26. Peak-season prices (Dec. 26-Jan. 2 and holiday weekends) go up $3.

What’s new: Mission has a new Women’s Escape program — “It’s a Girl Thing,” says its promo — of special on-snow clinics, preferred parking and the ability to learn and improve without a bunch of guys getting in the way. Dates are Jan. 19, Feb. 9, March 8 and March 29.

Child care: 3 months to 6 years, daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; 509-663-6543 ext. 444, or email to [email protected].

Mountain information: 509-663-6543.

Snow phone: 509-663-3200.


Status: Opened Nov. 20 in limited operation.


Mount Spokane

Where: On Washington State Parks lands 30 miles northeast of Spokane.

Elevation: 4,200-5,889 feet.

Lifts: Five double chairs (percentages — beginner 23, intermediate 45, advanced 32).

Lift prices: Full-day weekends and holidays — $47 adult, $40 college/military, $37 youth (7-17). Full-day midweek/non-holiday $34 adults, $30 college/military $27 youth. Night sessions (4-9:30) $19 ($17 or ages 70-plus).

Operating hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday (closed Monday-Tuesday except on holidays and last two weeks of December); open to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday Jan. 4-March 10, plus the last three Fridays in December.

What’s new: Mount Spokane installed a point-of-sale software system supporting direct-to-chairlift ticketing, and also completed the remodel of its Snoplay Daycare Center.

Child care: 2 and older; reservations recommended; 509-238-2220, Ext. 204.

Mountain information: 509-238-2220.

Snow phone: 509-443-1397.


Status: Opened Friday.


Ski Bluewood

Where: 21 miles from Dayton in Columbia County.

Elevation: 4,545-5,670 feet.

Lifts: Three — two triple-chairs, one pommel lift (percentages — beginner 27, intermediate 43, advanced 30).

Lift prices: $42 all-day adult, $38 student, $33 child/senior; half-day are $34/$31/$28.

Operating hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; open all holiday Mondays.

What’s new: Bluewood’s facelift — spruced-up here, new paint there — continues as the ski area heads into its second winter under new owners Mike and Kelly Stephenson.

Mountain information: 509-382-4725.

Snow phone: 509-530-4111.


Status: Close to opening, but needs another good snowstorm.


49 Degrees North

Where: 10 miles from Chewelah.

Elevation: 3,956-5,774 feet.

Lifts: Six — one quad, four double-chairs, one surface lift (percentages — beginner 30, intermediate 40, advanced/expert 30).

Lift prices: Adults, weekends and holidays $54 all-day, $44 half-day (noon-closing), $48 all-day midweek.

Operating hours: 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Friday through Tuesday through Jan. 20, to 4 p.m. daily after that until the end of the season; open daily Dec. 16-Jan. 4. Night skiing to 8 p.m. on selected dates TBA.

Child care: Ages 2-10, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; 509-935-6649, Ext. 618.

Mountain information: (866) 376-4949.

Snow phone: (866) 376-4949.


Status: Open in limited operation.


Mount Baker

Where: East of Bellingham in the North Cascades.

Elevation: 3,500-5,000 feet.

Lifts: Ten — eight quads, two surface lifts (percentages — 24 beginner, intermediate 45, expert 31).

Lift prices: Weekends and holidays, $51 all-day adult, $44.50 seniors ($30.50 for ages 70-plus), $37 ages 7-15. Weekday prices, $46, $41 ($30.50) and $35.

Operating hours: Daily 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. through April 8, then weekends until season end.

What’s new: The Raven’s Hut, a new, $3.5 million warming hut at mid-mountain, provides indoor seating for up to 300 along with full food service, restrooms and, yes, two fireplaces in an all-natural wood setting.

Child care: Not available.

Mountain information: 360-734-6771.

Snow phone: 360-671-0211.


Status: Open.



Cooper Spur

Where: 23 miles south of Hood River and 21?2 miles west of Highway 35.

Elevation: 4,000-4,350 feet.

Lifts: One double-chair, one surface tow, two tubing tows (percentages — beginner 40, intermediate 40, advanced 20).

Lift prices: $25 adult, $20 juniors/seniors.

Operating hours: Noon-6 p.m. Fridays, 9-6 Saturdays, 9-4 Sundays and Monday holidays. Open daily Dec. 16-Jan. 2 and March 24-31.

Mountain information: 541-352-6692.

Snow phone: 541-352-7803.


Status: No opening date set.


Mount Bachelor

Where: 24 miles southwest of Bend.

Elevation: 6,300-9,065 feet.

Lifts: 12 — Seven express quads, three triple-chairs and two surface lifts, plus two tubing lifts (percentages — beginner 15, intermediate 25, advanced 35, expert 25).

Lift prices: All-day adult $53 to $73 (teens and seniors $43 to $63), based on Bachelor’s sliding scale based on visibility, wind and weather, or $73 during peak season (Dec. 24-Jan. 1, Jan. 14-15, Feb. 18-19).

Operating hours: Daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

What’s new: Bachelor added a 60-seat, heated Umbrella Bar at the Sunrise base area, renovated the Pine Marten Lodge at mid-mountain, and bolstered its terrain-park grooming operation with three new snow cats.

Child care: 800-829-2442.

Mountain information: 800-829-2442.

Snow phone: 541-382-7888.


Status: Opened last Thursday.


Mount Hood Meadows

Where: Mount Hood, 35 miles south of Hood River.

Elevation: 4,523-7,300 feet.

Lifts: 11 — six express quads, five double-chairs, two surface tows (plus two tubing tows).

Lift prices: Shift (9 a.m.-4 p.m.; also 11 a.m.-7 p.m., 1-10 p.m. when night skiing is available), $74 adult, $39 ages 7-14 or 65-plus; $59 for noon-4 p.m.

Operating hours: Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m. -10 p.m.

What’s new: The Stadium Express quad lift boosts lift capacity to Meadows’ northern area, and four new snow cats will upgrade the grooming schedule.

Child care: 503-337-2222, x1374.

Mountain information: 800-754-4663.

Snow phone: 541-386-7547.


Status: Open in limited operation.


Mount Hood Skibowl

Where: Mount Hood, 35 miles south of Hood River.

Elevation: 3,500-5,027 feet.

Lifts: Eight — four double chairs, four surface tows, plus one tube tow (percentages — beginner 20, intermediate 40, advanced 40).

Lift prices: Adults, weekend shift $49; shifts are open-4 p.m., 11 a.m.-7 p.m., 1 p.m.-closing at 10 or 11 p.m. An adult night ticket (3 p.m.-close) is $30; 7 p.m. to close is $26.

Operating hours: Monday-Tuesday, 3 p.m.-10 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Mountain information: 503-272-3206.

Snow phone: 800-754-2695.


Status: Opened Friday in limited operation.



Where: Mount Hood, 35 miles south of Hood River.

Elevation: 4,950-8,540 feet.

Lifts: Nine — five high-speed quads, one triple-chair, one double-chair, two surface lifts (percentages — beginner 25, intermediate 50, advanced 25).

Lift prices: Adults $58 regular or $64 peak (Dec. 24-Jan. 2, holidays, weekends Jan. 1-March 5); $50/$54 for 1-4 p.m. shift or $25 for 4-10 p.m. shift.

Operating hours: Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Friday-Saturday and holidays, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

What’s new: The resort spent more than $1.5 million to upgrade its Wy’East Day Lodge, including a new mezzanine that can seat up to 140 people.

Child care: No, but the Kids Club program (503-272-3341) has lessons and adult supervision for ages 4 and up.

Mountain information: 503-622-7979.

Snow phone: 503-222-2211.


Status: Open.



Lookout Pass

Where: Wallace, Idaho, 73 miles east of the Washington-Idaho border along Interstate 90.

Elevation: 4,500-5,650 feet.

Lifts: Three double chairs, one surface tow (percentages — beginner 20, intermediate 50, advanced/expert 30).

Lift prices: Full-day adult $37 weekend/holiday, $34 midweek, $32/$29 for half-day, 12:30-4 p.m.

Operating hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 8:30-4 weekends. Open Thursdays through Mondays (plus Wednesdays in January and February) and all holidays, daily Dec. 17-Jan. 2. Also opening daily during spring break (dates TBA).

What’s new: Lookout completed a lodge addition that added seating for 80 guests and added a large sun deck to the lodge, further augmenting seating capacity.

Mountain information: 208-744-1301.


Status: Open.


Sun Valley

Where: Outside of Ketchum.

Elevation: Bald Mountain: 5,750-9,150 feet; Dollar Mountain: 6,010-6,638 feet.

Lifts: 19 — Seven high-speed quads, four triples, five doubles, three surface tows (percentages — beginner 36, intermediate 42, advanced 22).

Lift prices: “Value Season” through Dec. 16, Bald Mountain all-day adult $62, Dollar Mountain $34, then $89 and $49.

Operating hours: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Child care: PlaySchool for ages 5-and-under (208-622-2288) and KinderCare for ages 3 months to 5 years (208-622-2009).

Mountain information: 800-786-8259.

Snow phone: 800-635-4150.


Status: Opened on Thursday.


Schweitzer Mountain

Where: North of Sandpoint.

Elevation: 4,000-6,400 feet.

Lifts: Nine — one high-speed six-pack, two high-speed quads, one triple chair, three doubles, two surface tows (percentages — beginner 10, intermediate 40, advanced/expert 50).

Lift prices: All-day, adult $67, age 7-17 $50, 65-plus and college students $57; half-day, $57/$40/$47.

Operating hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; night skiing to 7 p.m. on dates TBA.

What’s new: The resort constructed a 700-foot zip line to operate during both summer and winter seasons, weather permitting.

Child care: 208-255-3038.

Mountain information: 800-831-8810.

Snow phone: 208-263-9562.


Status: Open in limited operation.


Silver Mountain

Where: Outside of Kellogg, 75 miles southeast of Spokane.

Elevation: 4,100-6,300 feet.

Lifts: Seven — one eight-person gondola, one quad, two triples, two doubles and one surface tow (percentages — beginner 20, intermediate 40, advanced/expert 40).

Lift prices: All-day adult daily $51, peak season $54.

Operating hours: Gondola 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m., lifts 9 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Dec. 17, daily through Jan. 2, then Thursday through Monday to season’s end.

What’s new: Kids now have an adventure trail (Gold Pan Alley), and the resort also expanded the gladed terrain in the basin served by Chair 3.

Child care: Ages 2-6 by reservation at 208-783-1111.

Mountain information: 866-344-2675.

Snow phone: 800-204-6428.


Status: Open in limited operation.

Compiled by Scott Sandsberry

Phillips: Hunting options shouldn’t be limited to Northwest

November 28, 2011 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — One of the main reasons so many outdoor lovers live here in Central Washington is the diversity it offers. Within minutes we can be fishing for trout in one of the nearby streams or lakes. And in the fall we can be hunting for birds in no time at all.

Elk and deer hunting is available within a fairly short drive and the Columbia River offers outstanding fishing for salmon, steelhead, walleye and bass.

Not to mention the great skiing, hiking and camping we have available to us in the region. Whatever you like to do in the outdoors, you can pretty much find it fairly close to where you live.

After spending five days in Montana last week, however, I am reminded there are other places in the great Northwest that can be regarded as, at least, a hunter’s paradise.

I have been hunting in Montana off and on for nearly 20 years, and it never ceases to amaze me how much that state has to offer to both big and small game hunters. During our hunt last week we saw elk, antelope, mule deer, white-tailed deer, coyotes, hares, ducks, geese, pheasants, Hungarian partridge, sharptail grouse and prairie chickens.

And that was just in one county in the center of the state. Moose, wolves, and all kinds of other wildlife make the huge state home.

Our purpose for heading east last week was to fill a deer tag or two. My son Kyle and friends Doug and Brandon Jewett got drawn for a non-resident deer tag and we headed to the Lewistown area to see if we could find some venison for the freezer.

When we arrived, it was cold, snowing and blowing. On the first morning of our hunt the temperature was minus-seven when we threw on our cold weather gear and our back packs and headed into the sagebrush.

Our research showed both the Montana mule deer and white-tailed deer populations were down considerably because of the extremely bad winter last year. Plus, the white-tail had been hit hard by “blue-tongue,” a form of the deadly Epizootic hemorrhagic disease carried by a biting fly. But we arrived in Big Sky Country with high hopes nonetheless.

The arctic cold and the fewer deer numbers definitely had an effect on our hunt. The first two days we saw very few deer and only a couple small bucks. While some who hunt Montana and other deer rich states are so-called trophy hunters — looking for the biggest racks on the biggest deer — we hold no such illusions. Being from Washington, where any legal buck is a good buck, we have always been quite happy to take most any buck in Montana.

But that is the nice thing about hunting the big state. If you hunt hard, and don’t shoot the first legal buck you see, chances are you will get a buck that carries three or four points per side. And, by spending some time covering some ground with your legs and your eyes, the odds are good you will see lots of deer and have several different bucks from which to choose.

As the weather warmed later in the week, the deer were up and moving around more, and all of us filled our tags with decent bucks. The buck I shot ended up being a big healthy four-point that was living on a hillside some four miles from the rig. This fat hunter, with the help of Kyle, packed over a hundred pounds of meat and gear over hills and through ravines — no hiking trails to share here — back to the truck. And loved every minute of it.

Yes, it is getting more expensive every year to hunt out-of-state. A hunting license and deer tag in Montana now costs over $550. An elk-deer combo license is nearly $1,000. So it is certainly not for everyone. Then, when you throw in the cost of fuel, food and other expenses, it is something that takes some time to prepare and save up for.

On the other hand, when you see so many animals, and get a shot at what can be the buck of a lifetime, it can be worth the effort and every penny of your hard-earned money.

Rob Phillips is a freelance outdoor writer and partner in the advertising firm of Smith, Phillips & DiPietro. He can be reached at [email protected].

11/28/11 Outdoors What’s Happening

November 28, 2011 by  

Bevis, that ‘live wire,’ hits town for a day

A state wildlife biologist once described in this newspaper as “a live wire of infectious enthusiasm” — and that may be an understatement — will return to Yakima for a special event this Thursday.

Ken Bevis became well-known to outdoor enthusiasts during his time in Yakima, when he not only worked for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife but also served with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, the Yakima Valley Audubon Society and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. When he left Yakima to take a WDFW position in the Methow Valley four years ago, a capacity crowd turned out at Yakima’s VFW Hall to wish him farewell.

And, of course, he’s a famous singer. (Perhaps infamous would be a better description, but he’s fun to listen to, anyway. He’s even got a CD out there — called, appropriately, “Out There.”)

Bevis’ humor, his singing and his expertise as a naturalist will all be in evidence Thursday in his presentation, “The Saga of Washington’s Fish and Wildlife: In Picture, Words and Song,” at the Yakima Valley Audubon Society’s annual Christmas dinner at the Yakima Area Arboretum.

The 6 p.m. dinner is open only to members and invited guests, but Bevis’ presentation, which should begin at around 7, is open to the public.

Bevis is the WDFW’s watershed steward for the Upper Columbia region. He recently married Teri Pieper, another Auduboner known to many in the Yakima Valley.


Climbing club joins forces with PNWU

The Yakima Climbing Club, under a new arrangement of co-sponsorship with Pacific Northwest University, will present a special program next Monday in its first meeting after a several-month hiatus.

The event will be a 6 p.m. potluck followed by a 7 p.m. showing of “On the Verge: Climbing for Health Care in Nepal,” a film/photographic presentation in support of the Climbing For Health Care program. Suggested donation for the event, which will feature the “joys and trials” of climbing Island Peak (elev. 20,305 feet) in the same Himalayan region as Everest, is $5 to $10.

The presentation will be at Cadwell Hall on the campus of Pacific Northwest University, 200 University Way in Terrace Heights.


Mountain rescuers drumming up support

Central Washington Mountain Rescue has begun its annual outreach campaign to drum up financial support for the all-volunteer, non-profit organization.

The organization, whose membership ranges from the Tri-Cities up through the Yakima Valley to Ellensburg, provides training to rescue members who respond to aid calls to everything from injured skiers and climbers to lost hikers, mountain bikers, snowmobilers and hunters.

The training can be costly; the group’s “rigging for rescue” training costs $6,000 by itself, and then there’s the overhead, right down to something as basic as maintenance of the team’s rescue vehicle. And though the group is deployed through the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office when a search-and-rescue effort is launched, CWMR is not funded by the sheriff’s department.

Donations can be sent to Central Washington Mountain Rescue, P.O. Box 2663, Yakima, WA 98907. For more information, go to or send email to [email protected].



There appears to be a snowy owl irruption — that is, a large movement far south of their regular range — in progress in the Northwest.

This phenomenon can indicate a crash in northern rodent populations, driving these beautiful arctic visitors further south in pursuit of better hunting prospects. With that in mind, several local birders hunted all over the county hoping to come up with one of these fabulous birds. While a search of the Yakima County portion of the Horse Heaven hills failed to turn up a snowy owl, it did provide an impressive list of winter visitors, including gray partridge and rough-legged hawk. Another arctic visitor, a Lapland longspur, was noted among a flock of horned larks.

In other failed searches for snowy owls, birders above Terrace Heights did see rough-legged hawk and prairie falcon, while the fields north of Toppenish Ridge and around the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge produced a great-horned and a barn owl.

Other birds of note in the county this week included a great egret flying across the freeway at the Rudkin Road exit, a red-naped sapsucker tapping away in an old pine tree in west Yakima, 20 trumpeter swans and a cackling goose at the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, and a loggerhead shrike hunting from a barbed wire fence at milepost 27 along Highway 24.

Please call your bird sightings into the Yakima Valley Audubon phone line at 509-248-1963.

— Kerry L. Turley



TODAY: The Cascadian “Tuesdays” will head out to whatever hike (or cross-country ski/snowshoe trek) the trip leader has scoped out, based on trail and weather conditions. The group meets at the 40th Avenue Bi-Mart at 8 a.m. and carpools to the trailhead. Bring lunch and dress for changes in the weather.

SATURDAY: The Cascadians will lead a hike/ski/snowshoe (whichever best fits the trail and weather conditions) of the Umtanum Creek area. For meeting time and place, call Mike or Sue at 509-972-2615.

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