STEVENS PASS, Wash. -- Skiers making tracks to Stevens Pass in recent weeks have found themselves on a slippery slope when they've tried to park.
"It's the worst I've ever seen," said Sgt. Kirk Rundeen of the Washington State Patrol.
Photos taken by the State Patrol last weekend show up to 300 cars parked along both sides of Highway 2, blocking lanes and creating a nightmare for troopers trying to keep people safe.
"It was completely out of control," said Rundeen.
Troopers say people parking and walking along the highway to the ski area impede plows and increase the potential for accidents and injuries.
Snowboarders hoofing it back from the backcountry are also creating problems. One picture from the patrol shows 13 snowboarders walking in the right hand lane at one time. Even with the threat of a ticket and a tow, however, some don't seem to care.
"I've had people getting out of their cars and I tell them they can't park there or they'll be ticketed and the car will be towed, and they say, 'I don't care. I'm going skiing,'" said Sgt. Rundeen.
Parking lots packed beyond capacity at Stevens Pass are rare. What appears to be happening right now is a snowball effect from good conditions along Highway 2 and very little snow at Snoqualmie Pass. Most people from Seattle northward who want to ski have had little choice but to head to Stevens Pass.
"It's kind of a perfect storm," said Stevens Pass spokesman Chris Danforth.
Workers at Stevens say unless Snoqualmie opens full time, packed parking lots will persist. Some skiers may be forced to turn around and go home.
"We want people to come have fun, some come early. There are other options, as well," said Danforth. "There are shuttles running from Sultan. But we don't want people parking along Highway 2."
For now, the State Patrol is becoming a ski patrol of sorts. Troopers are promising a $124 parking ticket in addition to your lift ticket, and a tow that will only take you to an impound lot.