"a recent morning, a line of cars stretched from the Crystal Mountain Resort parking lots, down the Mount Rainier foothills, and all the way to the town of Auburn, 57 miles away."
They make it sound awful, and maybe a little worse than it is. When I was there a couple of weeks ago I got in the conga line in Enumclaw at 6:50 am. 41 miles away, it took less than an hour and a half to get there. When the weather is good the steady line of traffic seems to move at a steady 30 to 40 mph.
Problems come in when the whether gets bad. Snow covered roads slow traffic more, and the access road from 410 can be littered with stuck vehicles who get stopped, and then spin their wheels.
Predicting attendance more than a few days out is really difficult in a business that is weather dependent and allows walk up ticket sales. Its a total headache for our area. Take last Sunday's crowd at Greek. It was the result of getting lots of snow the day and night before and nice Sunday weather. A few days before that snow was predicted to be light and mixed with rain. We were figuring we had yet another busted weekend (like today). Even though I had blocked out the day to take the kid back to college,I still got a call asking if there was any way I could come in and teach.
And then there is today. As of Wednesday, the NWS was forecasting snow for elevations above 1000 feet. That would have put Greek firmly in snow. The boss opened up more instructor shifts and invited more folks to take a shift for today. So, if you want a private black diamond lesson to brush up your skills, for a group price, this afternoon would be a good time.
It is said that business hates unpredictability. No wonder so many ski areas have closed or gotten bought up despite the good news in the number of skiers.