Historic ski race resurrected after 73 years

In 1930, adventurous cross-country skiers set out for the first Patrol Race, a challenging 18-mile course between Snoqualmie Pass and Meany Lodge.

The race was run a total of 11 times, with the final race in 1941.

Now, 73 years later, the race is back on Feb. 8. And it’s clearly drawn a lot of interest. All of the race slots are full, with 12 teams of three people. Even the wait list is full.

For many years, Nigel Steere, whose grandparents were early Meany Lodge skiers and who skied the race route, has wanted to resurrect the race. Lowell Skoog, who is a Mountaineers historian and veteran backcountry skier, has been writing online about the race since 2004. His writing gathered further interest in restarting the race.

Racers are all required to carry basic back-country equipment. They can also compete for a historical prize by carrying vintage mountaineering items. The original list included 3 new candles, raisins, a can of canned beef, snow glasses and a light ax, among other gear.

If you’re interested in getting involved, the race can be watched from the start or the finish. The finish is at the Meany Lodge, in itself a fascinating bit of history.

“Both Meany and the Patrol Race are amazing pieces of Northwest ski history and that is why we are re-igniting the Patrol Race,” said Nigel Steere*, the race organizer and Mountaineers volunteer. “The back-country skiing community is particularly strong here in the Northwest — and while interest in the race was waning in the early 1940s, it is apparent that is not the case today.”

Anyone can stay at Meany Lodge — although Mountaineers members do get a discount. It’s the oldest continually operating ski resort in Washington.

“Meany is a fantastically rustic place that manages to support a plethora of ski and snowboard lesson programs, snowshoe events, cross country skiing and more – all on an entirely volunteer crew,” Steere said.

So, if you’re interested in seeing a bit of history revived, you can go hang out at Meany and watch the racers finish. The race has a staggered start between 6 and 8 a.m. on Feb. 8. The fastest racers are expected to finish in 6 or 7 hours.

For a bit of history, the best time ever was set by a team in 1936: 4 hours, 37 minutes. One of the members of that team was Wolf Bauer. Skoog, who led a group along the route in 2006, shared Bauer’s life philosophy.

“The trick is to die young,” he said, “as late as possible.”

Learn more

  • Read the specifics on the race
  • Read about the history, from the Mountaineers annual from 1956.
  • Lowell Skoog skied the route earlier this month and wrote about it.
  • Read Skoog’s story about the history of the race and his trips checking out the route.
  • Meany Lodge hosts a 450-foot vertical drop ski area, accessed by the longest certified rope tow west of the Rockies. There is downhilll skiing and snowboarding, as well as cross country skiing trails. You can stay the night there. The lodging fee includes food and access to the ski areas.

* Correction, Jan. 29, 2014: This article originally had an incorrect attribution for this quote.

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

Most Read