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Uphill Rush



January 16, 2014. The Mission Ridge Ski Area just lifted their early-season closure of uphill skiing on the mountain. Now skiers willing to ski uphill under their own steam (using low-speed quads rather than high-speed ones) can use the designated ascent route. 

The Uphill Mountain Policy states that trail users can use the approved route at approved times. The policy strongly recommends that backcountry skiers check in with Mission Ridge Mountain Patrol when leaving the Ski Area Boundary.

New this year is more guidance about where uphill skiers can and cannot descend.

The downhill protocol for uphill skiers?  1) Follow the designated uphill route back down to the base area or  2) ski off-piste down the mountain. The rational for more downhill clarification is that considerable time and money is spent grooming runs for paying customers. In some cases skiing newly groomed runs simply reduces the corduroy paying customers enjoy. More importantly, skiing newly groomed runs before the snow has had several hours to set up can leave ruts that damage the grooming and create a safety hazard for guests once those ruts freeze.

Please follow both the uphill and downhill policies, partly for safety reasons, partly to maintain good relations with the ski area which has the  ability to revoke these privileges. Also, be aware that Mission Ridge has the authority to close the Uphill Route at any time for either safety or operational reasons that include grooming, snowmaking, snow removal, avalanche danger, avalanche control, or construction. 

Trail users should note that Uphill Traffic Closure will no longer be listed on the website's Snow Report Page. Instead, users will be responsible for noting the signage at the base of the ski area. A flashing light at the signage indicates the Uphill Route is closed. 

All of us who ski uphill at Mission Ridge should read and be fully understand the Uphill Mountain Policy. Ignorance is not bliss -- it just complicates the issue for everyone and actually leaves you vulnerable to being fined should the ski area need to protect its interests (state statutes favor the ski area when it comes to enforcement issues).

The new managers who have been operating the mountain for the past two seasons are trying to accommodate uphill skiers. They understand many of these skiers are also seasons pass holders and that these skiers spread the love of skiing in all its forms. Nonetheless the ski area is a business, has a relatively short season to make hay, and has diverse daily issues to manage around the mountain (snowmaking, grooming, avalanche control, etc.). Uphill skiers need to be good guests who don't complicate the jobs of those working/managing the mountain.

To read the full Uphill Mountain Policy, pick up the printed policy at the Mission Ridge ticket booth or at Arlberg Sports in downtown Wenatchee, or visit the Mission Ridge Uphill Mountain Policy online.

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Here's an interesting article on the uphill-skiing issue at other ski areas around the West.