I know you are from the PNW, but you live on the dry side of the Cascade Crest right?
I am from CO, with dry snow like you get on the other side of the cascades, and yeah, over there, in CO, UT, etc, 10k is fine. I skied 10k stuff all the time in Colorado with no issue.
But come up and ski at Baker, Skibowl, Alpental, Meadows, Crystal, etc on a storm day when the snow level is high and you will quickly understand why 10k does not work here.
Hell - I have gotten soaked through wearing gore-tex before, and than is 28k/28k. It can seriously be that wet.
You wanna know what we call skiing pow on a nasty storm day at meadows? Hurricane pow. It can be so wet and nasty that it was the only term we could think to accurately describe it.
So yes, I sort of agree and disagree with the statement. For most of the country, you will get by ok with 10k. In certain places, though, having something in the 20-30k range makes all the difference.
In regards to outerware, I think most ski companies sort of suck. I usually wear high end snowboard stuff because it looks better than ski stuff, fits better, and functions better.
High end Burton (Gore-tex stuff, not their crap stormlite or whatever crap, which says 20k/20k but blows), Sessions, Quicksilver, and Bonfire all kill it.
Helly Hansen and Orage are the only ski companies whose stuff right now I would probably even consider.
If I can afford it, I will be rocking Trew Gear next year, but that is largely because I would love to support a local Oregon company, and the gear hopefully is very bomber.
I am NOT Asian contrary to what my icon suggests.....