About the Project Home


- To research and document the story of ski mountaineering in Washington.
- To celebrate the people, places and events that have shaped the sport in this region.

What is Ski Mountaineering?

Ski mountaineering is defined as backcountry skiing in country that demands mountaineering skills and judgment. I began this project with a focus on ski mountaineering, but have since broadened my scope to include any pioneering backcountry skiing. In the earliest days, all skiing in our Northwest mountains was backcountry skiing. Backcountry skiers scouted and popularized areas that have been developed into ski resorts, but once the lifts were installed, the pioneering continued elsewhere. Backcountry skiers have ventured to the highest and most remote mountains in the Northwest, areas now protected as parks and wilderness areas.

About the Book

The story of skiing in Washington deserves to be told in a narrative, fully illustrated book. I hope to tell a story that will be enjoyed by many readers, not just ski mountaineers. The book will be less detailed than this website, more devoted to people and themes. Following publication of the book, the project website will remain an important resource for maintaining reference notes, recording new developments, and correcting errors. For a synopsis of the book, click here. For errors discovered since the book's publication, click here.

What is a Ski?

The practice of attaching boards to the feet in order to slide over snow goes back thousands of years. The word that has come down to us from the earliest times is ski. Recently snowboards, split-boards, firn skis, and many other variants have appeared, but they are all descended from the same ancestor. In this project, no effort will be made to separate exploits using one sort of gear from those using another. The word glisse has been proposed by some as an inclusive term for sliding on snow, but it won't be used here. In this project, the word ski applies to all forms of sliding on snow, an acknowledgment that this important word connects us through many generations to the beginnings of the sport. (More definitions.)

What is the Project Scope?

The project covers backcountry skiing in the Cascade and Olympic mountains of Washington, from the Columbia River in the south to the Fraser River (Canada) in the north. I have also done research on Mt Hood in Oregon, but not to the depth that I've covered Washington.

Open Research

The findings of this project will be documented openly on the world-wide web. Using the web makes it easy to document connections between the findings using links, disseminate findings, and incorporate feedback from reviewers. Future researchers can save time and effort, since the sources reviewed for this project will be documented on-line. This approach is desirable because written records of early Northwest skiing are scattered and many of the key participants are still living.

How Do You Know That?

The project will rely whenever possible on the first-hand accounts of the participants or the second-hand accounts of people who have communicated directly with the participants. It will document the sources of all such accounts. When a third-hand account with reference notes is found, the reference will be followed if possible to the original first-hand or second-hand account. Third-hand accounts without reference notes will be relied upon only as a last resort.


This project has been inspired by the efforts of Fred Beckey and Dee Molenaar in their classic books, Cascade Alpine Guide and The Challenge of Rainier. When you follow in Fred's and Dee's footsteps for a few months you begin to appreciate the magnitude of their accomplishments.

Here are some thoughts to keep me going. Here is what others have said about the project.

For More Information

To offer comments or tips, contact Lowell Skoog.

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Copyright © 2002 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Fri Oct 16 13:15:05 PDT 2009