Uphill skiing and snowboarding is a fast-growing sport with plenty of buzz. Instead of loading a chairlift, participants opt for a cardio workout using specialized equipment that allows them to ski their way uphill. Once at the top of the run, the skiers and snowboarders are rewarded with freshly groomed turns back down.
While uphill ski touring was once a traditionally backcountry sport, it has emerged as a popular activity in-bounds at ski resorts thanks in part to the ease of access and the relative safety thanks to the avalanche mitigation work — although it’s still important to recognize that there are inherent risks. Vastly improved alpine touring (AT) gear and splitboards (a snowboard that splits in two for uphill travel) have also helped propel the sport. In addition to the fitness, participants also enjoy the relative quiet of early-morning ascents. Some skiers even start off their day of lift-access riding first with an uphill ski, others fit in a lap or two in the early-morning hours before the workday starts.
Touring inbounds at a ski area can present a different set of hazards, including active machinery use such as snowcats and snowmobiles, avalanche mitigation work and downhill skiers, to name a few. For these reasons, Oregon ski areas in partnership with the USFS have implemented policies for accessing the slopes for uphill skiing. Users must abide by the rules and regulations which include accessing during established hours, following marked uphill routes and wearing reflective clothing or a headlamp to make yourself visible. It’s also important to be aware that ski patrol is not available during non-operating hours. It’s recommended that uphill recreationalists conduct themselves as though they are traveling in the backcountry, which means traveling with a partner, carrying the proper safety equipment, being aware of avalanche conditions and snow immersion suffocation hazards and abiding by the Skier’s Responsibility Code.
Uphill Skiing Policies at Oregon Ski Areas
Mt. Hood Skibowl
Located on the lower flanks of Mt. Hood, Skibowl allows uphill travel from two designated routes. Skiers can either start in the West Side base area at the base of Lower Bowl Chairlift (blue chair) designated with yellow discs, or from the East side base area in the area of the Cascade (Green Chair) runs. Uphill travel is usually allowed all day, seven days a week from the West Side Base Area up the designated route to the top of Multorpor Chairlift, while access to Upper Bowl and Cascade runs is only available during non-operating hours. Uphill travel may be restricted at any time from either base area. Dogs are not allowed on hill at any point during the ski season. Read up on Mt. Hood Skibowl’s uphill policy for more information.
Mt. Hood Meadows
Mt. Hood Meadows generally prohibits uphill travel within the ski area. The exception is for uphill travel on designated routes to adjacent out-of-bounds terrain including the south boundary of the resort towards White River and the Heather Canyon runout for access to Newton Canyon. Downhill travel within the ski area is permitted only in open terrain during operating hours. Read more on Mt. Hood Meadows’ mountain safety page.
Timberline – Summit Ski Area
Timberline and Summit ski areas allow for uphill travel on designated routes as outlined on the resort’s detailed uphill travel map. The resorts ask users to stay to the right side of all trails/routes and to stay off of maintained runs and terrain parks. Read more about Timberline’s uphill ski policy.
Cooper Spur Mountain Resort on the north face of Mt. Hood allows uphill skiing on the north side (skiers left) tree line. Oregon Sno-Park permits are required at Cooper Spur Ski Area and at the Tilly Jane Trailhead. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.
The uphill skiing route at Mt. Bachelor includes three separate stages. It begins at the West Village parking lot at the base of Red Chair and continues to the popular Cinder Cone aka “The Cone” terrain. The second leg usually opens when the resort opens, and continues along the marked route up to Pine Marten Lodge. The third leg of the route is usually only open when the Summit chairlift is operating, this marked trail follows the West Ridge to the summit of Mt. Bachelor. Access to the uphill travel route on Mt. Bachelor is available between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., and all uphill travelers need a parking reservation prior to their arrival.
Check uphill travel information and status online on the lift and trail status page before leaving for the mountain, and then double check the uphill access at the base area informational kiosk and on-mountain signage along the ascent. Visit the winter uphill travel page to learn more about routes and ski area boundaries. Dogs are not permitted within the ski areas boundary, on ski runs or slopeside in the base area.
Southern Oregon’s Mt. Ashland Ski Area uphill use policy allows uphill travel until 8 a.m. on operating days and after 4:30 p.m. During operating hours, anyone using the marked runs for downhill travel must have either a season pass or day ticket. The designated uphill route follows the Juliet and Upper Juliet trails to the ski area boundary sign line to Summit. Users should stay to the eastern side of these trails and the boundary sign line. The ski area suggests users make themselves visible using headlamps and reflective clothing, also traveling toward the center of the trail for maximum visibility. Leashed dogs are permitted.