Video: A Snowstorm ’08 story that almost went untold

(video unavailable due to demise of

Just before the extra round of snow hit on Sunday, Bill Reiswig — best known as president of Sustainable West Seattle — sent us that video from December, along with the reminder that what we experienced for those two weeks wasn’t all a “Snowmare”:

For two straight nights my pals Dan Pitt, Randy White and I skiied from the literal top of Seattle (the watertowers at 35th and Myrtle) all the way down to Puget Sound by skiing Othello and Myrtle/Frontenac. While the latter is a steeper route, you can ride Othello down, across California, across Fauntleroy, and down Lincoln Park Way from 520 elev. to sea level in about 3-4 minutes. Our descents are, I believe the first documented descent of Seattle top to bottom on skis, thanks very much. The Beveridge Place Pub was open till 2 am, and we stopped in for beers for a break. Truly good skiing right here in West Seattle, without the fossil fuels spent to get to the mountain.

38 Replies to "Video: A Snowstorm '08 story that almost went untold"

  • jsrekd January 6, 2009 (7:49 am)

    Very cool!! We could have joined you on the Frontenac portion, that’s where we were skiing! We did it in ’96 as well, and in the late ’80’s IIRC.

  • kurto January 6, 2009 (8:13 am)

    That’s what I call a ‘Winter Wonderland’!

  • austin January 6, 2009 (8:58 am)

    Awesome! After snowboarding 35th to delridge (with a short walk over the fauntleroy ped bridge) when it first hit I always travelled with a blank deck strapped to my backpack during the snow. I ate it a little more than I would have if I had just stuck to boots but made short work of the hills and wicked fun.

  • JoB January 6, 2009 (9:02 am)

    there were lots of people cross country skiing in our neighborhood.. i don’t know why it never occurred to me that downhill would have been equally possible… southern to rose to Lincoln hill Park would have been quite the run:)

  • JH January 6, 2009 (9:04 am)

    Were the sirens chasing you? ha I went cross country skiing a few times around my neighborhood. Nothing like being able to do that from your front porch!

  • mellaw6565 January 6, 2009 (9:11 am)

    I think it is irresponsible for WSB to post video or pictures showing a dangerous activity that has cost lives and that the gov’t/news begged people not to do – board, ski, sled in the middle of residential streets.

  • Lou January 6, 2009 (9:33 am)

    Cool! I really wanted to do this but decided I didn’t want to lug my ski boots back up the hill (although I could have parked a car at Lincoln Park). Congrats on a good run.

  • quiz January 6, 2009 (9:42 am)

    Awesome. What fun!

    mellaw6565: Lighten up…just a little.

  • Gina January 6, 2009 (9:44 am)

    I am guessing that the way this was filmed is why I couldn’t see any reflectors or lights on the skier so that night drivers could see the person more easily.

  • OP January 6, 2009 (9:52 am)

    Question: So is Mr. President of Sustainable West Seattle happy or PO’ed that ‘global warming’ (or not) possibly allowed he and his buds to patake in the night skiing adventure? (BTW: It’s ‘skied’. not ‘skiied’.)

  • SomeGuy January 6, 2009 (11:24 am)

    Wow, only one Debbie Downer in 10 posts! That’s got to be some type of WSB record!

  • mellaw6565 January 6, 2009 (11:42 am)

    I’m not a Debbie Downer – rather an educated realist who is aware of the numerous injuries and deaths that occur from stupid behavior such as this.

    Quiz – get a brain…just a little.

  • Peter January 6, 2009 (11:49 am)

    SomeGuy – I count two-point-five dd’s.

    With me, make it an even three!

    No record here.

  • swimcat January 6, 2009 (12:20 pm)

    If a hill is steep enough to ski, the real dumb people would be the people trying to drive up or down it at 2 in the morning, not the people skiing it.

  • Art January 6, 2009 (12:31 pm)

    What criteria do “educated realists” use to determine stupid behavior? Do educated realists drive or ride in motor vehicles or even venture onto or along the roadways at all as cyclists or pedestrians given the high number of deaths and injuries? Is freedom of skiing equivalent to freedom of expression? And just what is an educated realist?

  • d January 6, 2009 (12:37 pm)

    Geesh –

    The film shows one lousy parked car at the bottom being passed – by many, many feet by a skilled adult skier.

    Plus, no moving cars in sight. Plus, it was very late at night, with no impressionable YOUNG kids around. Plus, that was a skier in full control with no aerials or jumps being taken.

    I’m guessing that some folks who don’t regularly participate in snow recreational activities don’t get the whole “fun” thing about snow.

    A cross-country and snowshoe girl here –

  • epoxybrain January 6, 2009 (12:42 pm)

    Excellent! In my snowboard sessions in the Fauntleroy area, the most dangerous thing going had to be the dudes on ATVs pulling full-speed drifting turns. And I have to admit, it looked pretty fun. It’s nice to know that there were other nocturnal creatures enjoying the slopes. Sleep is for rainy nights.

  • JH January 6, 2009 (1:22 pm)

    Did I miss the danger and stupid behavior in this video? I wish I had been there with these fun guys!

  • OP January 6, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    Oh, I can’t resist. I’m an expert downhill skier with 35 years of experience. I raced in high school and college, and my in-season training consisted of cross-country skiing, so I have a pretty darn good idea what I’m talking about when it comes to snowsports. I also lived in Lake Tahoe for a number of years, and spent many days toodling around the snow-covered streets of my Truckee, CA neighborhood. So I’m going to make some points I’m going to make about President Sustainable’s little skiing excursion:

    1. Yeah, actually it is fun to ski in the city, I can totally dig it! I’ve done it many times myself along the residential streets of Truckee, CA! So,there’s nothing wrong with it—except for that little thing of it being ILLEGAL here in Seattle. (Love the videotape of it, BTW. Way to implicte yourself in an illegal actiivity! LOL) This is a minor point, but here’s where I have issues….
    2. Where’s the president’s head? Well, not in a helmet where it should be I can tell you that. While I rarely ski with one myself, that’s on the mountain. (In the trees or off-piste or in powder, I wear one.) In the city, you can bet your butt I would wear one if I were him—this is off-piste. Why? Because cars, lamp posts, real estate signs, rock gardens mailboxes, all have a way of not moving when you want them to.
    3. On top of that, little garden fences, property stakes, pot holes, curb edges, manhole covers and all kinds of stuff you can’t see that’s barely hidden under a scant 8-10″ of snow, is exactly the kind of stuff that can cause a out of control fall on a steep hill in a heartbeat, even for an expert.
    4. Judging by his technique, the prez here is a isn’t an expert skier. He’s good, but he not good enough to get away without wearing a helmet. Furthermore….
    5. Just becaue HE can stop at an intersection in time, doesn’t mean someone trying to get home can. I’ve seen it happen and the results are not pretty
    6. ‘Yeah,’ you’ll say, “but he didn’t run into a car or a real estate sign and nobody hit him.’ To which I will reply, “Your results oriented analysis sucks. If you’re going to do something mildly dangerous and untried—and this certainly qualifies—prepare for every ‘impossibility’. Because the unthinkable happens.’
    7. Drinking and skiing don’t mix. $5 says the Beveridge Pub wasn’t his first beverage of the night. And even if it was, walking home even mildly buzzed in that kind of cold isn’t a smart idea.
    8. Ski resorts have liability insurance for people who get into skiing accidents; cities like Seattle don’t.

    In the end, the prez here did something mildly dangerous without thinking much about the obstacles and, worst of all, did it without a helmet; that’s the dumb part. Otherwise, I’m glad he enjoyed his ride.

  • AlkiRagdoll January 6, 2009 (2:44 pm)

    This is just plain stupid and shows the stupidity of youth (said as an old foggie). JH – the stupidity is skiing on city streets and wearing dark clothing — even a runner wouldnt try that. WSB – I support the free speech of putting this up (as it it on YouTube), but I sure wish you had placed a caveat about the safety of this. We have all been complaining about safety and preparedness, and this an excellent example (from a different direction) of what we are complaining about – the reckless actions of a few. I no longer support Sustainable West Seattle (I am an environmental planner by trade) as this looks like someone trying to justify stupid behavior.

  • OP January 6, 2009 (2:46 pm)

    Meant to include this: As proof of his lack of experience and potential for disaster, please note how he almost bites it at :16–:18 seconds in.

  • swimcat January 6, 2009 (3:10 pm)

    OP- why waste so much time complaining about this? How did it affect you? Oh wait, it didn’t at all. Get a life. These people had fun, didn’t get hurt, and who cares if they are ‘expert’ skiers or not? The judgement you show in your post is very unncessary.

  • JH January 6, 2009 (5:58 pm)

    I know nothing about this guy, I’ve seen runners wear dark clothing all the time, what the skier did seemed pretty harmless and hey, if he got injured, he’s to blame. But really, this thread is so comical! Who cares? It’s their business! I had a blast cross country skiing around the neighborhood.

    Law enforcement has better things to do than to chase down skiers.

    Stupidity of youth? These guys don’t seem like teenagers. Maybe I need to watch the video again.

    Let’s hope any upcoming blog party is more fun than this thread!

  • OP January 6, 2009 (7:43 pm)


    Where do you see that I’m complaining genius? Your reading comprehension needs work. In fact, I bet you have the attention span of a gnat, and didn’t read a single word. I’m 99% certain of that.

  • JH January 6, 2009 (7:53 pm)

    I think we all need a drink.

  • WSB January 6, 2009 (8:20 pm)

    STOP, this is NOT a P-I or Slog comment thread. Those are GREAT places to get into boxing matches, because they have no rules. We do.

    Three points: #1, I can’t find any proof that skiing on city streets is illegal. If anyone can, please let me know, and we will certainly make note of it next time. I’ll check with an official source as well but wouldn’t be able to reach said official source before tomorrow

    #2, please note that I only wrote that Bill R *sent* that video. As he wrote in the quote, he and friends went skiing. I don’t know whether that’s him or someone else in the video.

    #3, For a much more thorough exploration of skiing in Seattle during the recent “snow event,” here are a couple links – first one from one of the Weekly’s blog-format web components:

    second, from the legendary Warren Miller himself

  • Bill Reiswig January 6, 2009 (10:38 pm)

    Hi it’s me the pres of SWS. It’s my buddy Dan skiing in the film.

    Er… what I did is much safer than biking to work everyday. There was 1 car on that road in the 5 hours I was there at that hour. I grew up not wearing a helmet and suppose I could for this, but this hill is not half as steep as many ski hills and we were staying far from the edges.

    When you stop to consider the tens of thousands killed in cars every year, the millions of acres of land (wilderness and farming) paved over to provide roads, parking lots, and suburbia, the 700 billion in dollars shipped overseas for oil, and the giant experiment we are performing on our children’s planet, it’s pretty odd the type of comments people will come up with about a guy late at night sliding down the hill while everyone is asleep. Really odd.

    Anyhow, I had a good time.


  • Bill Reiswig January 6, 2009 (10:41 pm)

    BTW, I DO recognize that I share solidarity with the 85% of commenters here for whom snow brings out their inner child and their ability to appreciate the simple things that make our planet such a miracle.

  • OP January 6, 2009 (11:05 pm)

    STOP, this is NOT a P-I or Slog comment thread.
    Whoa, someone who clearly didn’t read my post at all, gets snarky and misrepresents what I stated, and I don’t get a chance to defend myself against such ignorance? I appreciate your rules, WSB, but let’s be real clear: I didn’t choose the degenerate the thread by telling me to ‘get a life’. (FWIW: My little comment at the beginning thread was also a small joke. Those who didn’t get it, took it far too seriously.)

    And just to restate it again, illegal or not, I supported Bill’s little run of infamy.

  • chas redmond January 6, 2009 (11:53 pm)

    It’s kinda weird, from my many days on foot what I saw were lots of people in cars not having a very fun time and lots of other people on foot, on skis, on boards or on paper bags or plastic bags or trash can lids having a great time. There is no reason a society cannot re-designate a public right of way for something other than automobiles when use by automobiles is clearly not warranted. To imply that a street made impassable by snow is still reserved for cars is – well – fill in your own word for incredulous.

  • WSB January 7, 2009 (12:00 am)

    OP – That was a general “stop” – not just to you. Guess I should have added a “hey everyone” or something. Sorry.

  • JH January 7, 2009 (6:48 am)

    Hey Bill, it looked like fun!

    This isn’t my area of expertise, but I bet WSB is going to report back that skiing isn’t illegal in Seattle.

  • Fuji January 7, 2009 (10:03 am)

    Although no expert on such matters, I am an attorney and I’ve very quickly scanned the Seattle Municipal Code, King County Code and Washington statutes. Am happy to report that in doing so I found no specific reference whatsoever to the illegality of snow skiing on a street –

  • alkistu January 7, 2009 (2:02 pm)

    Are you serious? I know one thing about the author of this video post. Bill Reiswig is a serious, tireless and valuable resource to our community. He puts in countless hours to work toward sustainable goals and help those that care toward that end. Hopefully the uber serious folks who see this as a negative rather than a celebration of a rare snow event will get serious about what is really important and join Bill as one community headed toward far better lifestyles and priorities.

  • brizone January 7, 2009 (6:48 pm)

    Wow, I wonder how much the trolls would have actually jumped in to attack if Bill had been identified as merely: “Bill”.

    The criticisms seem to lack substance…like cynical, empty marketing.

  • Daniel Pitt January 7, 2009 (6:52 pm)

    Hi there,

    I’m Dan … the guy skiing in the video. I had a lot of fun that night with my friend and ski partner Bill Reiswig. My only regret is slipping about 3/4 of the way down for the sake of the video and my fragile ego. Bill on the other hand had a perfect run. Bill has been skiing for over 40 years since he was three years old. He rocks!

  • xcskiier January 7, 2009 (11:14 pm)

    To ski from home, without getting into a car, what joy! We went everywhere that week on our cross-country skiis, and yes, down steep hills in the middle of the night. Beats complaining about the city’s shortcomings, to just enjoy the rare gift and change the way we went about life for a few days. Thanks for sharing!

  • JH January 8, 2009 (6:59 am)

    Don’t worry Dan, it’s all over youtube! ha

    XCskiier-I’m with you! There was nothing like cross country skiing at night. So quiet, no cars, fun…life is good! (make sure you introduce yourself to me at any blog party!)

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