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pc22

Alpental winter upvalley travel restricted

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NOTE-the following discussion rambles, but the point is that it appears Alpental Ski Area is going to disallow climber/skier/snowshoer traffic on the ski trail that is on the left bank of the stream as you head up Alpental valley from the ski area parking lot, and they are asking us to travel on the other side of the stream. In addition, they are going to require us to park in the lower parking lot, the one by the footbridge that collapsed a few weeks ago, and to enter the woods just up-valley from this lower parking lot - at the summer trailhead. This will add a few hundred yards to your travel up the valley, and after new snowfall it will mean more trailbreaking.

 

--MattP, 12/31/03

 

Hey - i heard from an Alpental 'security' guy today that they proposed to ban all upvalley travel from Alpental in the Source Lake direction, most especially the normal winter route that gets packed down and used as the downhill return from the Edelweiss run.this would affect access to Chair Pk, The Tooth, etc. Supposedly, this will take effect next week.

 

This guy claimed they had some 'special agreement two days ago' with the USFS to do this.  presumably the North Bend District Ranger.  I'd need to see more evidence before i accept the legality of this, e.g. has the ski area paid additional monies for leasing more area than is has in the past? Such leases must be public i should think.

 

I know USFS exempts backcountry ski access to windy pass for instance from the ski area retrictions; i.e. they specifically allow  you and i access over the logging roads (not the groomed trails on mt catherine) to get to windy pass, because of historic prior use.  Even should such a lease for the Alpental valley be forthcoming, i would expect a century of backcountry use be sufficient precedent for us to get continued access.

 

Otherwise, this seems to be a private 'taking' from the public! Anyone else ticked off about all this privitization of public lands?!

Edited by mattp

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"Anyone else ticked off about all this privitization of public lands?!"

 

Maybe I missed your point. I don't se how this is a privatization of public land. Either the USFS wants to close it or it doesn't.

 

I say keep it open.

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Rodchester,

 

I read the post as having to do with Alpental's lease agreement with the USFS. My understanding, though limited, is that the ski area leases the land (or acquires a use permit) in order to operate. I figured that the ski area was going to modify their agreement with the USFS to close off this area in winter. Or, are they no longer willing to provide avalanche or rescue personnel to that area? It's their parking lot, right? Who fucking knows.

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HRoark:

 

Who fucking knows? I agree. This isn't clear at all and sounds way too much like rumor. I think the lot is actually dual use, as Alpental and as a trailhead. Not sure, but I believe this to be the case.

 

The whole "privatization" of public land cry just sounds too much like the sky is falling based something "heard from an Alpental 'security' guy ... "

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I just called Don Thompson at the USFS, North Bend Ranger District. I was told that he is in charge of the Snoqualmie Pass area. I asked him about access to Source Lake from Alpental. He told me that Alpental is going to only allow skiers/snowboarders to park in any of their parking lots. General public use of their parking lots will no longer be allowed. This does NOT affect public access to USFS land adjacent to the Alpental ski area. The "winter upvalley route" to Source Lake is not being closed; although I don't know where you would park if you wanted to get in there. I asked Mr. Thompson about whether the state could set up a Sno-Park for public parking in that area, and he said "we've been working on it for years, but haven't been able to get the state interested".

 

Bottom line-- public access to the land is not being restricted, but it sounds like parking could become a problem. This is what I understood from the USFS.

 

You can call the USFS at 425-888-1421 and ask for Don Thompson if you have further questions. Perhaps some polite phone calls emphasizing the importance of this area for public recreation, might help grease the wheels for better public parking access in the future.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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I just e-mailed Trevor Kostanich (Manager of Planning for Summit at Snoqualmie) asking him about whether they intend to allow fee-based public parking. It would be terrible if the only way to park there is to buy a $42 lift ticket. If others feel the same way and want to e-mail them, you can find Kostanich's e-mail address using google, or by sending me a PM.

 

-Steve Ramsey

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I wonder if this includes the parking lot by the trailhead for the summer trail. Wouldn't the access to that be granted by having a trail park pass?

 

So we can use the land, but we can't park on their property. Wouldn't we still need to 'tresspass' on thier property (road, lots, etc) though? Have you noticed that the condo owners, sahale ski area, etc have pretty much banned down valley parking? Maybe they should setup a guard shack at the entrance to the valley to keep po' folk (those without at least a '99 Escalade) out.

 

I can understand them not wanting people to park in their upper lot, but I though the lower one was "shared"... whatever that means.

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DBB,

 

I don't know for sure what will happen, but Don Thompson told me that access will be restricted to all of Alpental's parking lots.

 

I can forsee that it will be difficult for climbers to get away with using the parking lot. I mean, if the security guy sees a 4x4 parked in the upper parking lot at 4:00 in the morning, that will be a dead giveaway.

 

I'm bummed.

 

-Steve

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I wonder if this includes the parking lot by the trailhead for the summer trail. Wouldn't the access to that be granted by having a trail park pass?

 

So we can use the land, but we can't park on their property. Wouldn't we still need to 'tresspass' on thier property (road, lots, etc) though? Have you noticed that the condo owners, sahale ski area, etc have pretty much banned down valley parking? Maybe they should setup a guard shack at the entrance to the valley to keep po' folk (those without at least a '99 Escalade) out.

 

I can understand them not wanting people to park in their upper lot, but I though the lower one was "shared"... whatever that means.

 

what are you talking about? the condo owners etc haven't done anything new in a while re: parking. the parking lots haven't been affected at all. During the winter the parking on the road is restricted to allow for decent snow removal.

 

i'm worried about access to the valley but imagine there will still be parking available somewhere in the area.

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Minx,

 

i'm worried about access to the valley but imagine there will still be parking available somewhere in the area.

When I asked the USFS ranger station manager about where snowshoers and winter outdoor recreationalists should park after the restrictions are put in place, he said he "didn't know". IMHO that's a bad sign.

 

I'm not trying to fearmonger or anything, but by the same token I'm not too confident that things will "just work out" favorably, without a strong voicing of public opinion.

 

I plan to write a very politely worded letter to Rob Iwamoto (acting supervisor for the Snlqualmie-Mount Baker National Forest) advocating that a plan for public parking near Alpental be created, with input from the general public.

 

Cheers,

Steve

Edited by Stephen_Ramsey

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Wow! This is MAJOR news! This move seems pretty unprecedented! Every ski area in the region that I can think of allows the non-skiing public to park in their lots whether they're using the actual ski area or not.

The only thing I can think of is that this may have something to do with the bridge collapse and the ski area having to divert most of their traffic to the upper lots. But then why wouldn't they allow backcountry users to still park in the lower lot where the bridge was? This sounds like backcountry users are getting smileysex5.gif.

The USFS/Alpental needs to come up with an alternative before they go restricting access to their/OUR lots. The area may still be open to use, but if you can't park your car anywhere near there, what's use?

Normally I might just say, "Fuck it! Go somewhere else" but the Alpental area is too convenient to pass up sometimes when you have limited time and need to get your mountain fix.

Edited by savaiusini

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Maybe one of the lawyers on this site could look into the legality of this. It seems to me that this is public land, even the parking lots.

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I just had a conversation with Don Thompson with the USFS, and yes, parking is to be closed starting sometime this week. He has met with the ski area management, and they do in fact have the right to restrict both parking in "their" lots, and use of the winter trail which runs up the west side of the valley and is included in their FS lease. Your $30 trail park permit is no use either, as the trail park is officially closed during the winter season.

The ski area has several areas of concern, including user conflict between day users and skiers, liability in light of the recent avalanche fatality w/ involvement of their ski patrol in the search, and (most importantly,) the cost of maintaining plowed parking which they estimate at +/- $100 per car for the season, combined with the fact that they have to turn away paying customers d/t limited parking capacity.

Don indicates that the FS has no say in the matter, and is looking into alternatives, such as maintaining the Commonwealth Basin parking lot as a Sno-Park area. He did not expect that to happen any time soon. He wasn't sure if the ski area would be ticketing or towing unauthorized vehicles. He suggested that rather than hammering on him, you send emails to ldonovan@fs.fed.us , who is with the FS headquarters in Montlake Terrace and has more ability to get alternatives underway.

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thanks for the good info. that's very disturbing that they're closing the parking area to no ski area users. i had also heard that they are considering charging a $10 parking fee in the main parking lot starting next year. i sincerely hope an alternative is found. i know many people park year round at the lower summit west parking area in order to access commonwealth basin.

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I still think that they're going to have a hard time enforcing it. Let's say I head up there in the early morning and go ice climbing. I park in the usual place, go do my thing and then want to go skiing in the afternoon at Alpental only to find my car's been ticketed/towed. To make matters worse, I have a season's pass up there so now they've towed a paying customer regardless of whether I intended to go skiing there or not. wazzup.gif

Furthermore, if they're already spending $100 per car per season to keep the lots plowed, what's it going to cost them to enforce who is or isn't a ski area user. At this point, it seems like they should just leave well enough alone...let anyone park there and save their parking enforcement $$$ for building the new bridge. cantfocus.gif

Edited by savaiusini

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I know that it limits the times that you can come and go, but you can take the shuttle from any Summit parking lot to Alpental. The drivers don't care if you don't have skis. I have had them ask me what mountain I was going to climb when my partner and I boarded the bus with packs loaded with climbing gear. That being said this still sucks. If they aren't going to tow my car I am very likely to just park there anyway, but the alternative exists.

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I agree with savaiusini that they should leave well enough alone. rolleyes.gif

 

Lots of roads and the like have liability issues. I-90 costs lots of money to plow and there are deaths on it every year but you don't see it closed down. The avalanche fatality argument just doesn't hold water. More people are likely killed at the ski area every year than there are in the backcountry. The plowing argument doesn't either at least it won't after the Alpental pedestrian bridge gets rebuilt. The percentage of non-skiers (snowshoers, ice climbers, etc.) that use that lot is maybe 5% on a good weather weekend. Why should those 5% be admonished? The parking lot will be plowed anyway for the skiing patrons.

 

I thought that parking lot was a Sno Park anyway?

 

And having the non-DHskiers take the shuttle from the other areas to Alpental sounds so stupid. It's just shifting the parking place to someplace else and wasting space on the bus. There's plenty of parking at Alpental for everyone.

 

Bureaucracy! mad.gif

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Hey,

 

And just FYI, adding to the parking woes if the Alpental parking lot is indeed closed to all but paying skiiers and boarders (Long Live Industrial Tourism!), there is no public parking along the Alpental Rd. right-of-way. It's all private.

 

Jonathan Pryce

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Your comment brought this thought to mind:

If they close the parking lot to non-industrial skiers (snowshoers, etc.), then these people will have to walk the Alpental Road from wherever they'd have to park (probably Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area). That road is about 2 miles long and is walled in with snow (i.e., no sidewalk or suitable pedestrian path). With more pedestrians on the road there is an increased chance of one or more of them getting hit by a car--especially if it is icy. This would be even more dangerous than backcountry avalanches. The powers that be would then command that pedestrians are not allowed to walk the road (they can only take the shuttle?). If that happens, then there is no longer any access unless a driver drops off the rest of his party and he goes without or catches up after taking the shuttle bus.

 

The foregoing paragraph shows just how boneheaded an idea it is to close the parking lot to non-industrial skiers. smirk.gif

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Spread the word. What's next Crystal, Stevens........

The backcountry users will just be forced elswhere where it takes longer to get in and rescue them. I'll bet that more snowshoers will head up Comonwelth basin, lots of serious avey terain up there......

Edited by Dave_Schuldt

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I agree, just quoting Abbey. His chapter on industrial tourism is sadly prophetic.

 

At the pass, the FS, ski resort owners, private land owners and users--indusrial and non-industrial, sightseers and tubers alike--need to get together and figure out access issues, esp. for the winter time when parking becomes scarce.

 

Not a project I'm willing to drive, however.

 

Jonathan Pryce

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