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Going uphill when everyone else is coming down: Nighttime snowshoeing at ski resorts
posted by John : January 25, 2018

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Dry, deep snow at night

Once again, we ventured out after dark for a nightshoe adventure. Deep snow, steep slopes, and darkness were the keywords. The best pics were goofy shots of the dogs up close and a headlamp selfie. Pretty much standard for a Thursday night snowshoeing adventure.

And we weren't alone out there. At least three other groups of uphill travelers were climbing Mt. Hyak. What a bunch of scofflaws we were!

Actually, not really. We were on terrain owned by the Forest Service and part of Summit At Snoqualmie. The Summit has one of the most comprehensible uphill travel policies. Check it out.

Uphill Travel Policy

Rules for traveling uphill at The Summit at Snoqualmie and Alpental via any method; including touring or skinning (skis or splitboard), hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, etc. The Summit allows uphill travel within its ski area boundaries ONLY when users obey the following rules.

Rules of Uphill Travel: For All Summit Areas

  • Uphill users must travel on the sides of trails, avoid the primary downhill path, and maintain visibility so downhill users can avoid them.

  • If uphill users are a contributory cause to a collision or incident, they may be held liable.

  • Be open and courteous to ski patrol and staff. Their job is to keep everyone safe, including you.

So we were totally legit! Can you believe it?

It turns out most resorts have policies regarding uphill travel. You can search web sites like a crazy person or use this handy cheat sheet from the United States Ski Mountaineering Association.

Pick your destination and review the policy. Some are as clear as Snoqualmie Pass (like Eaglecrest in Alaska and Brundage in Idaho) while others are a little more confusing (I'm looking at you, Stevens Pass in Washington). If the USSMA site has a broken link (Mission Ridge in Washington when this was written) you can usually still find the policy on the resort's site or by calling. (And don't forget to report the broken link to USSMA. The Mission Ridge link is here.)

No matter what, always remember to respect the other users of the mountain whether they're traveling uphill (like bosses) or downhill (slackers). Be prepared for winter travel and survival, understand avalanche safety and how to use your tools, don't use skin tracks, be aware of who's around you, yield to downhill skiers (weird because it's the opposite of hiking), yield to uphill snowshoers (just like hiking), follow the LNT principles, and stay in control.

Now that you know you can, what are you waiting for? Nightshoeing can be a ton of fun. Sure, sometimes it's Type II fun, but don't let that stop you. If nothing else, you'll get to enjoy the mountains with few people around.

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