At first glance, the recently released Oregon Ski Atlas: A Photographic Guide to Skiing The High Cascades seems to miss the mark. And specifically, miss the mark for me. I had seen the blitz of pre-release Instagram posts about the book. There appeared to be hype. I suppose what I was expecting was a full-blown fleshed-out version of ski atlas I have seen from Beacon Books: Those spiral-bound beauties include detailed maps, photos, and data like max slope angles, ATES ratings (avalanche terrain rating), and ski runs listed out.
These guide books have set a high bar. And I can imagine, for some, they have opened the gates to coveted ski terrain, and surf-spot territorialism and resentment may have followed. But that’s a different story.
Oregon is not overburdened with ski guides. Of course, there’s the Internet and that goldmine-to-minefield source of information. Have at it.
OREGON HIGH: A Climbing Guide to Nine Cascade Volcanoes, published in 1991, remains a reliable source of climbing information if you can find the book. The guide is geared towards climbers, mountaineers, alpinists. Yet, as skills have evolved, many of these ascent routes are now prized ski descents. There is also the 2011 guide, Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes Oregon, by Chris Van Tilburg. This guide is comprehensive in scope and includes beta on the region’s volcanoes and below treeline skiing and lines on the plentiful mountains peppering the state.
So, where does the Oregon Ski Atlas fit on the bookshelf, or as the author claims, the coffee table?
Here’s what the Oregon Ski Atlas is not: a full-blown here’s how to access, ascend, and ski lines in the Oregon High Cascades. Initially, I wanted more. Or, expected more. I think the reason for those expectations is that guidebooks often become encyclopedic. Having access to that information – the who, what, why, and where – all at my fingertips can be reassuring.
On the flip side, a shortage of information has its place too. The Oregon Ski Atlas is not a guidebook in a traditional sense. It leaves plenty of mystery and adventure available to those willing to look at an image with a few lines and labels inserted and have a go at it. You’ll have to find access information, the best time to go, slope angles, etc., elsewhere or in the field.