“Just a reminder Mission Ridge does have a designated uphill route and designated times that this type of activity is allowed. At this particular time, a ‘few bad apples are. . .’, you know the rest. Please pass the word to preserve this privilege.”
Jerri Barkley, Marketing Director at Mission Ridge, recently posted this notice on WenatcheeOutdoors noting that there have been uphill skiers and snowboarders not heeding the resort’s uphill policy. The policy was created several years ago as backcountry enthusiasts, the Forest Service, and ski-area representatives crafted a compromise that maintained uphill access to the hill yet did not endanger people (employees or visitors) as the ski area conducted business.
It’s unlikely anyone really wants uphill access to slopes on and around the ski area blocked but Brad Whiting, Patrol Director for Mission, verified backcountry skiers and snowboarders ignoring the policy are endangering access for everyone. It’s difficult for the ski area to groom the hill and conduct its avalanche control safely if the policy is ignored and Whiting stated, “If this continues, policies may need to be modified so as not to allow uphill hiking for extended periods of time.”
Following is a summary of what backcountry skiers, backcountry snowboarders, snowshoers, and other winter recreationalists heading uphill from Mission Ridge need to know. Please forward this link (or these details) to friends to whom the information applies.
There are three designated routes heading uphill from Mission Ridge. Stay on one of these and be aware of the rules applying to each.
Follow the summer road behind (uphill) of the Hampton Lodge, to Bomber Bowl, to North Bomber, to Boundary Road, to the summit. This route is within the Ski Area Boundary and, in winter, has various restrictions.
- As you climb, stay on the right edge (skier’s left) of the route. This keeps you out of the way of people and machines working on the hill.
- When the ski hill is operating, this route closes 2 hours before the lifts start until the ski patrol completes its Trail Closing Procedures (about 5 p.m.)
- Throughout the winter, dogs are not allowed on this route.
- If avalanche danger is high, or the ski area is doing avalanche control, this route is closed. Assume that when the ski area has received four or more inches of new snow, this route will be closed due to avalanche control. Also if you hear bombs going off, the route is closed. This may seem obvious but Whiting says, “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to deal with people skinning up Bomber while we’re detonating explosives on the slopes above them.”
Head up the Clara Lake Trail to Clara Lake. This takes you up the drainage north of Central Park. Heading WSW from Clara Lake, you can climb up Mission Peak (6,876’), a summit that is about one mile NW of the top of the Liberator Express. This summit is not in the ski area. Other details about this route:
- You can head uphill on this trail at any time. What’s happening at the ski area in regards to operating hours or avalanche control doesn’t apply here. The ski patrol does not control the route and is not responsible for your safety. You’re entirely on your own.
- Sometimes skiers and snowboarders who head uphill this way, traverse into the ski area for their descent. This is absolutely prohibited if there has been more than four inches of fresh snow or if you hear bombs being detonated.
Get above fence line in the lower parking lot and head southeast and then east through the Outback into Section 19 (see a topo map). Eventually head south into the Stemilt Basin. Other details:
- This is an advanced route relying on good navigation (there are no trails).
- You can ascend this route regardless of avalanche hazard or the time of day. However, the ski area does not patrol or control the area–all safety and avalanche issues are your responsibility.
- Sometimes skiers and snowboarders who ascend this way traverse into the ski area for the descent. This is strictly forbidden if there has been more than four inches of fresh snow or if you hear bombs being detonated.
Parking and Camping
Backcountry travelers are asked to park outside the Mission Ridge parking lot. Overnight camping is not permitted within the Mission Ridge Permit Area. Overnight RV camping is permitted in designated zones in the base area.
After the Resort Closes for the Season
Skiing the resort after it has closed for the season is allowed and has the least impact on all parties. During this time, safety issues are entirely the visitor’s responsibility and Patrol Direct, Brad Whiting, says common sense and common courtesy apply. Visitors are asked to stay away from Mission Ridge structures. It is quite possible uphill skiers will encounter machinery working on the mountain. Make yourself visible (headlamps, colorful coat) and give all equipment (snowmobiles, snowcats, lifts) wide berth. Whiting says, “Keep in mind that you are skiing through someone else’s place of business.”
Early Season Preparations (in autumn)
Every autumn as temperatures fall in late October and November, Mission Ridge strives to get the hill open early by coating some of the main top-to-bottom runs with man-made snow. During this time when the hill lacks the natural snow to open up all of the runs, there’s an early-season period when non-paying lowlifes (ski tourers!), wanting to walk uphill and ski downhill, don’t have any sanctioned options within the ski area boundaries. For a period of six to eight weeks (typically until the end of the Christmas Holidays) the uphill crowd is not allowed on any ski run within the boundaries of the ski area. This is due to safety concerns over the high-pressure water hoses, high-voltage wires, and machinery beside and on the runs covered with artificial snow.
More Info and What To Do
If in doubt about uphill or backcountry issues pertaining to the Mission Ridge Ski Area, contact the ski patrol (firstname.lastname@example.org).