Wall Street Journal writer Tess Weaver recently wrote about ski mountaineering for the Wall Street Journal (published February 27, 2013), noting that skiing uphill is gaining in popularity around the United States and might even make the 2022 Winter Olympics.
You can find plenty of that kind of activity out here near Joseph Oregon. And you won’t have to worry about purchasing a lift ticket or competing with downhill resort skiers. The Wallowa Mountains are a tucked away corner of Oregon with no organized ski resort (although the local hill, Ferguson Ridge, does attract a mainly local crowd) and plenty of backcountry skiing conditions.
We recently hosted a group of Portland Oregon skiers who used our Joseph Oregon lodging as their jumping off point for a multi-day ski trip. They arrived late, but got a very good night’s rest, a hearty breakfast, and time to shop for some local essentials before heading out to McCully Basin to build their snow cave for the next few nights of lodging. There’s nothing like a smoked “flat” chicken from our local grocer, Mt. Joseph Family Foods, at the end of a long day of uphill skiing!
If you do want to take on the rugged Wallowa Mountains, we suggest you spend some time with the Wallowa Avalanche Center’s website and study the snow conditions. As one person who commented on Tess Weaver’s article said, “In Italy “sci alpinismo” as the sport is called here is widely practiced, but not on crowded downhill slopes! The biggest attraction is the opportunity to enjoy pristine alpine scenery alone or with a few friends and be able to experience a more challenging deep powder snow descent off groomed trails. Understanding and managing avalanche risk is a key requirement to enjoy the sport safely. Mountaineering training is required and it is not advisable to just buy the equipment and take off no matter how good your athletic ability.” Definitely true here in the Wallowas as well.