As the home to Eddie Bauer, REI and dozens of other outdoor gear companies, Seattle is closely intertwined with the history of American Alpinism. In fact, the first American expedition to Mt. Everest was overloaded with Washingtonians. Seattle seems surrounded by peaks -- with the Cascade Mountains here and the Olympic Mountains there, not to mention the Coast Range up above. If you had Mt. Rainier hovering majestically over your city every day, you'd be inspired to get outside and accomplish alpine feats, too.
A cluster of four skiable peaks at Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, the Summit at Snoqualmie has beckoned Seattle sliders for more than 40 years. Just a few dozen miles east of Puget Sound, Snoqualmie understandably receives a "maritime" snowpack, which means lots of grins in 20-inch-plus blankets of wet snow. Treating your ski gear with ScotchGuard beforehand is never a bad idea.
No mountain is more entrenched in snowboarding than Mt. Baker. Its Banked Slalom is renowned as snowboarding's most core competition. Legendary snowboarders have sprung from its gloppy Cascade concrete, and the best snowboarding magazine, Frequency, is published just down the road in Bellingham. Most important, the ski area is home to the world's greatest recorded snowfall in one season: 1,140 inches. That's 95 feet of snow! Baker's the only mountain in the country where a local will tell you the season's below average while standing on a 10-foot base.