Company opening private backcountry skiing near Stevens

  • Sharon Wootton / Special to the Herald
  • Friday, December 16, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

See the words Private Reserve, and thoughts might turn to wine or high-quality cuts of meat. Doug Spady thinks backcountry skiing.

The co-owner of Cascade Powder Cats 2 has developed the West Coast’s only private-access snowcat club.

Join Private Reserve and ski 2,000 acres of private backcountry slopes northwest of Stevens Pass with a guide and a limited number of skiers.

The season runs Jan. 1 to March 31 (Thursdays through Mondays), and nine memberships (of 36) at $2,500 have been sold, with no more than 18 skiers and snowboarders going out each day.

“Our goal this year was to sell 10 memberships,” Spady said. ” (Nonmembers) can ski if space is available.”

Running Doug’s Boats in Woodinville is Spady’s main focus, but he likes to ski and snowboard, too. He’s been thinking about this concept since 1997.

Spady said that Silverton ski area in Colorado has a one-chair run to the backcountry and limits it to 85 people a day.

“I just took that concept and applied it to our deal. It’s not like going to Whistler, but there you don’t get untracked skiing all day.

“Untracked skiing is almost like a drug. They’ll be hooked on it once they feel the powder. I was blown away by the quality of the snow.”

Unlike most operations where it’s come if space is available or a minimum number of people sign up, a Private Reserve membership means if there’s only one skier who wants to ski all day Saturday, “I’m going to take you skiing,” Spady said.

Part of the beauty of the operation is its closeness. West of the Stevens Pass ski area and north of U.S. 2 is Captain’s Point and Windy Mountain.

The new ski area is on the backside of the ridge there. Enter the property at about 4,000 feet elevation; ski from 6,000 feet toward bowls, trees and chutes in the Martin Creek drainage.

“We sell untracked skiing. There are some super steep areas, some cliffs, some chutes, but safety is paramount … I tell (potential) customers that they need to be an advanced intermediate skier or snowboarder and be able to ski all snow conditions. If you can do that, you can ski here without worries.

“We supply all the backcountry transceivers, and it’s all guided. The backcountry is wild, and we have to respect that.”

Skiing is an all-day event: ski down and get a ride back up.

“We guarantee 10,000 vertical feet a day. It’s awesome … a premium backcountry skiing experience, and it’s affordable.”

But back to that $2,500. Each member is guaranteed a Saturday or Sunday outing. If space is available, members can go any day of operation, and they have access to a yurt at mid-mountain for warming up.

There are also day ($395), two-day ($650) and four-day ($999) passes.

“You don’t have to take long trips to catch big backcountry. The concept is new, and it’s going to snowball once people know they can join a club.”

For more information, go to

Book shelf: There’s a fair amount of winter-related advice from Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant in “Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image” ($22, Key Porter).

The book is an imagination workshop for photographers, where snow and ice become opportunities for photographs.

The author-photographers stress the craft and the art, and discuss multiple exposures, slide montages and color. They focus on the taking of images; on choices that reveal something about the photographer; and the importance of intimate photographs as well as broad landscape shots.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or

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