Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes Washington By Martin Volken Review
The Northwest is a backcountry skiing paradise. It’s one of the last wild regions of the lower 48 and it offers endless ski adventures. The mountains of Washington are known for there abundant and relatively stable snowpack making it the perfect year-round playground for thrill seeking mountain enthusiasts. At the same time the sheer number of skis options can be overwhelming.
Now, thanks to Martin Volken and the Guides of Pro Guiding Services, backcountry skiers can get pointed in the right direction with Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes – Washington. This detailed and comprehensive backcountry ski guide book is in a league of its own. It’s a must buy for anyone heading to the Cascades for a ski adventure.
Volken is a Swiss Mountain Guide, instructor/examiner for AMGA, and founder of Pro Guiding Services. He has also written Backcountry Skiing – another Mountaineers Book. Volken has a wealth of knowledge about the Northwest and ski mountaineering. It’s exciting to get a glimpse of it in this guidebook.
Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes – Washington features 349 pages of detailed route info. It includes 80 routes in Washington, plus one bonus traverse in British Columbia. That’s enough skiing to keep anyone busy for a long time.
After a concise and to the point introduction, the book covers six regions: Olympics, North Cascades, North Central Cascades, Central Cascades, Mount Rainer, South Cascades, plus Spearhead Traverse in BC. The routes include simple day tours, technical glacier descents, and multi-day traverses. This makes the book a good buy for any level backcountry skier.
Each route includes: elevations, elevation gains/losses, route description, estimated time, difficulty, fitness requirement, technical skills, commitment, gear, best season, USGS maps, and permits. Then the talented team of authors provide specific details about access, tour, and descent (if necessary).
The details are outstanding and incredibly helpful for ski tourers and mountaineers. But the routes also include a topographic map with the route marked and a black and white aerial photo of the line and/or mountain. This is incredibly helpful.
I wouldn’t recommend only using this book for tour planning though. It’s important to stop by the Ranger station to get current and local beta, get avalanche info from the Northwest Avalanche Center, and pick up the real USGS topo maps. (Be sure to download the Topo Maps App too).
One complaint featured on WildSnow is that the book does not include GPS waypoints. It would certainly be nice to include these waypoints to assist in tour planning and in Northwest whiteouts. A GPS is valuable navigation tool in a massive mountain range like the Cascades.
I use this book whenever I head out to the Northwest to ski – Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, Stoneman Couloir. I plan to use it a lot more too. It’s my go to book to find Couloirs, Traverses, Summits, and Adventures. Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes – Washington is the first place I turn to to research routes in Washington.
I wish that every guide book could be as well written and detailed as Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes – Washington. It sets a bar for other guide book authors. It may be the best resource for any out-of-stater heading to the PNW to ski.
If you’re heading to the Northwest or know someone who is, grab a copy, dog-ear it, and start adding routes to your bucket list. The photos alone will make you drool over your next ski adventure. Enjoy.