Winter is making its way to the Northwest and it is time to start thinking about strapping on the skis and skins. Sliding over the snow on skis remains one of the most enjoyable and effecient ways to travel in the mountains. We have been gearing up at the Mountain Shop with all the best gear to get you out this winter. Our selection has been fine tuned and we can outfit anyone for the multitude of backcountry ski adventures here in the Northwest. Whether you are a seasoned backcountry skier on telemark or AT gear, an adventurous cross-country skier looking for more control, a mountaineer wanting a better tool for traveling on snow, or just a good skier looking for new, challenging terrain and a longer season, we probably have what you need.

Are you new to the Backcountry? New to the Northwest? Looking to further your Backcountry skills? Here is a quick synopsis of the Mountain Shop’s favorite resources. Christopher Van Tilburg has just released Backcountry Ski Oregon published by the Mountaineers. We have been missing an Oregon BC ski guidebook the last few years, so this is a welcome resource. Check out Off Piste (you can pick up a free copy at the Mountain Shop). This locally published magazine is the quintessential guide to backcountry ski culture and not bad reading either. The local organization Snowriders (an offspring of Surfriders) sponsors many backcountry ski events and helps with enviromental and access issues on Mount Hood.

Coming up on Sunday November 13th in Seattle is the 2011 Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit. This event is geared towards the avalanche professional or guide, but is open to the recreational backcountry skier as well. The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center is the best resource for avalanche forecasts and up to date weather info for the NW Oregon and Washington Cascades. We put on our Tele Tuesday events at Ski Bowl as a fundraiser for the friends of the NW Weather and Avalanche Center. A big part of the funding for most avalanche forecasting centers in the US comes from private donations. The Wallowa Avalanche Center has been recently established in NE Oregon and is providing an outstanding resource for backcountry safety. In Central Oregon the non-profit Central Oregon Avalanche Association is building avalanche awareness in their community. Although they are not providing avalanche forecasting right now, supporting them should help with the possibility of a future forecasting resource in the Central Oregon Cascades.

To get you out in the snow and keep you safe check in with Timberline Mountain Guides with their expanded ski touring and ski mountaineering offerings. For local knowledge and avalanche awareness check out Mountain Savvy’s 2 day avalanche courses. The Mazamas Ski Mountaineering course is a great way to learn more about getting out in the backcountry and can help you establish a posse of willing outdoor enthusiasts. North Cascades Mountain Guides up in the beautiful Methow Valley offer up a backcountry season pass (level 1 avalanche course 5 days of guided ski touring, and 1 day of Heli Touring). Also new this year, C.B.’s Wallowa Alpine Huts seems to have a monopoly on good powder in NE Oregon with the aquisition of Wing Ridge Tours. Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Backcountry operation is booking fast and with their quick access to the terrain around the Tam McArthur Rim you will see why.

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