"We all love the snow, but having a high carbon footprint is part of the sport," Greg Whittaker, owner of Seattle Ski Shuttle, told us. Trying to reduce carbon emissions prompted Whittaker to convert the vans for his summer kayak business into winter transportation to the slopes.

Seattle Ski Shuttle dabbled in the ski shuttle business on a trial basis four years ago. "We'd been into sustainable tourism in the summer business," said Whittaker. "As we were coming into winter, we were slowing down and looking for something to do that was similar." Hence, the Seattle Ski Shuttle was born.

The shuttle runs 15-passenger vans to [R124R, Crystal Mountain], [R466R, The Summit at Snoqualmie], and [R804R, Alpental]. Catching the shuttle means that local riders can cut down on fuel emissions instead of driving individual cars, plus Seattle tourists without transportation can get to the slopes. Whittaker estimates that riders are split 50-50 between locals and tourists. Pick up spots include SoDo and downtown hotels.

Trips to Crystal run weekdays, allowing skiers a way to let someone else do the driving on the curvy Chinook Pass Highway. The van leaves from West Seattle at 7 a.m. and arrives at the ski resort around 9:30 a.m. to slide into VIP parking in the front row at the lodge. It departs the slopes around 4:15 p.m., arriving back in Seattle around 6:30 p.m. The shuttle costs $40 per person round trip.

The van runs to The Summit at Snoqualmie on weekends, departing West Seattle at 8 a.m. to arrive at 9:30 a.m. at the summit. The return trip departs around 4:30 p.m., returning to Seattle around 6 p.m. Trips cost $35 per person.

One van zips night skiers and riders up to Alpental on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The van departs West Seattle around 4:45 p.m. and stays at the resort until last chair. It returns to Seattle around 11:30 p.m. The Alpental trip costs $35 per person.

At least four people are required to run the shuttle. "If you're driving a big van with just two people, that defeats the purpose," said Whittaker. Custom trips for groups are available, too.

Seattle Ski Shuttle operates out of Mountain To Sound Outfitters in West Seattle. Whittaker opened the shop last winter, purchasing inventory from Mt. Pilchuck Sports when the owner retired. It now carries a large rental fleet, sells gear, and is adding demos for all of its lines this year. Shuttle riders needing to rent gear can do so at the shop to be able to hit the slopes faster at the resorts.

Discount lift tickets are available for shuttle riders. Reservations by phone are required for the Seattle Ski Shuttle.

More information. Or call 206-935-7669.