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U.S. Forest Service - North Cascades Winter Sports Study


p. 1: This study was undertaken to address complaints that the North Cascades Study Team report ignored winter recreation needs. Sixteen potential winter recreation sites were identified in the North Cascades. Three came under National Park administration when the North Cascades National Park was established. The remaining thirteen sites were to be administered and studied by the Forest Service. This study evaluates those thirteen sites.


p. 4: "The true vacation skier will travel to the resort that provides total facilities, and a dependable climate (quality snow, sunshine, and blue skies). The total resort cannot be financed by skiing alone and must provide year-around facilities and activities. The North Cascades and its respective sites on either side of the Mountain range, at the present time, do not have the makings for a total resort. The reasons:

  1. The climate is not conducive to dependable quality snow and sunshine.
  2. Today the sites are remote from the population centers and large air terminals; i.e., Seatac, Portland, Spokane, etc.
  3. Nine of the 13 sites do not have the necessary physical qualities for a feasible ski area, no less the total resort.
  4. Base acreage is limited."


p. 7: The report recommends: First, emphasis must be placed on full development of existing ski area sites: Mt Baker, Stevens Pass, Mission Ridge, Snoqualmie Pass areas, Crystal Mtn and White Pass. Second, an intensive study of the possibilities for ski touring, snowshoeing, and ski mountaineering should be undertaken. Two sites, Schriebers Meadows and Washington Pass-Cutthroat Pass, should be studied and designated as Alpine Tour Sites. Such sites may provide facilities such as huts or hostels, marked trails, rescue service, guides, helicopter transportation, and equipment rentals and sales. Third, new downhill skiing sites may be developed, but only if "an undamaged mountain environment" can be assured. Of the thirteen sites investigated, three were rated as good, seven marginal, and three unacceptable. "Of the three sites rated good, only Sandy Butte was considered to have the necessary physical features for a site of major importance." Of the others, Glacier Basin and Tiffany Mountain are considered locally important.

Recreation Supply

p. 16: During the 1950s, skiing in Washington state grew by an annual average rate of 6.9 percent. During the 1960s, the annual average growth rate was 20.8 percent. In Oregon, the growth rates were 5.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. "A very cursory estimate of the percent of developed capacity at a few existing sites is as follows: Crystal Mountain, 35 percent; Stevens Pass, 50 percent; White Pass, 20 percent; Mission Ridge, 40 percent; Alpental, 40 percent."


p. 37: The Appendices have details about each potential site, including an aerial photograph (by Roland Emetaz), a topographic map, and a table that rates each site for snow quality, skiable terrain, slope aspect, weather, avalanche potential, base area, access, optimal development size, and other factors.

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Last Updated: Fri Nov 12 11:02:40 PST 2004