Are you moving here or just visiting? Give me a shout if you're looking to ride.
Where in Washington do you did you typically ride? Rode Crystal a while back. Was pretty fun and spots reminded me of the upper mountain at Alyeska.
Backcountry is pretty easy to get to. Turnagain Pass is probably to the most popular and typically the safest. You'll hear people talk about "Tincan". It's a super popular spot. You hike from sea level to about 2500 if you summit. The trees are a lot of fun if you want a shorter hike.
AVOID HATCHERS like the plague after January. So now. With lots of snow, steep slopes, and a rocky base, slides happen often. Also the terrain is like a giant bowl so you'll get buried before you can get away.
Hilltop is all park. They're building as we speak.
This year is atypical for snow. Most seasons Alyeska averages 600+ inches and is open from November-June. Spring riding is the best. Also February can be a lot of fun with more snow and sunshine.
This weekend should have been decent riding.
As for layering. I ride the Airblaster ninja suit or some Burton or Dakine long sleeve and long pants. Polypropylene obviously. I never wear cotton. So a good base layer, mid layer or on cold days a puffy layer with a shell is good.
GoreTex is your friend. We get lots of wet and heavy snow. It can rain at the base area so fully taped seams and Goretex or at least 20k outerwear is mandatory.
Invest in low light lenses and I always wear a facemask. Dakine has a couple good ones. I love my Oakley outerwear and I wear the Oakley Splice with Pink Iridium lenses for almost everything.
For local shops go to Zak's on 4th avenue and Gst.
Hope that helps.