Resort Guide 2013-2014: Northwest

Mark Landvik. Mt Baker, Washington. Photo:

Words: Ben Gavelda

What exactly defines the mighty Northwest? Pendletons, verdant forests, strong coffee, union aesthetic, fresh fish, cold coasts, and rainy gray days are a start. What about borders? Oregon and Washington for sure, but where do you draw the line on Idaho, Montana, BC, and AK? For the purpose of this guide, our focus is on the riding areas of Oregon and Washington. Although the territory of the Northwest is large there’s only a handful of lift-served places to ride. All benefit from a heavy hammering of snowfall, and similar to BC, the sun is elusive. It’s no California.

One of the most powerful traits the Northwest has aside from snowfall is the sense of community. For whatever reasons the tribal pull and camaraderie from one snowboarder to the next is just solid and over the years it’s built supportive communities around it. Maybe it’s because there is little in the way of faux villages and overnight accommodations, meaning you bond on the hill, or all the drives to and from. Few options for overnight stays means cramming in what ever cabin you may have or dialing in that gypsy whip.

The Northwest is blessed with heavy snowfalls and dramatic mountain-scapes, making it one of the most enticing and cushioned places on the planet for freeriding, but a challenge for park crews to sculpt. There’s hairball chutes, ice, girthy trees, scant grooming, rain, snain, snow, foggy vertigo—the terrain and environment here demand a lot from the rider, which is why so many are so strong, powerful, and dedicated. There’s a lot of snow, but it takes a lot more muscle to move around in the thick stuff and you’ve never experienced the loose edge control until you’ve turned in the dense, variable snowpack. The weather is harsh, but when Mother Nature lifts up her skirt and gives you a little look, that’s when the true beauty of the Northwest prevails.

Check out the next page for our top 3 freeriding resorts in the Northwest…