College Tour — Results

Post by blogger | October 18, 2007      

A short time ago our “college choice” post got a ton of helpful comments and interesting takes. Our son has absorbed all that, so thanks everyone! He and my wife got back recently from visiting more schools. I thought you guys might like to know where they went and something about how the schools felt to Louie, so here goes:

Montana State University, Bozeman MT
(Great skiing and mountain culture, but doesn’t offer the industrial design degree he’s after, though good engineering. Beautiful campus “fleece crowd.” Bragged they have big screen TVs in dorms.)

University of Montana, Missoula MT
(You can ski down the school letter hill, and the slack line looked good. No industrial design degree, might be a little more of a party school.)

Whitman College, Walla Walla WA
(Felt special, but might be too far from skiing and mountains. The do have a ski team and a good outdoor club, so not all is lost. Best cafeteria! Bragged they don’t have TVs in dorms.)

Walla Walla University, College Place WA
(Also looked good, but he wants more of a mountain vibe. Has industrial design though it’s a new program. Still in the top 10.)

Seattle University, Seattle WA
(Too city-ish.)

Seattle Pacific University, Seattle WA
(Still in the city, but in nice part of town with river running through campus. More of a neighborhood feel. Beautiful campus. Huge and nice dorm rooms. No industrial design degree.)

Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
(Awesome industrial design program, and Mt. Baker just out the door. Very interested in this one.)

Albertson College of Idaho, Caldwell ID
(Small private college, very nice but not exciting.)

Idaho State University, Boise ID
(Off the list, no industrial design degree.)

More, the Utah colleges are still under consideration, especially Logan.



30 Responses to “College Tour — Results”

  1. Grant Gunderson October 18th, 2007 1:38 pm


    I graduated from the Plastics Engineering department at Western Washington University, and can say the engineering program and espeically the ID program there is top notch. Between the ID, VRI, and the Platics programs there is a ton of resources avaliable and plenty of opertunities to get involved with different projects in all of the departments.

    The only downside to WWU is that its close proximity to so many cool activites in the outdoors, makes it easy to be distracted….. in fact I dont know of anyone that has graduated in less than 6 years do to spending too much time, skiing, mtn biking and climbing.

  2. Lou October 18th, 2007 1:49 pm


  3. Rick October 18th, 2007 2:43 pm

    Seattle all the way- Some of the best climbing and skiing in the contiguous US. And its college so dont forget:

    Big City= Hot Girls

    Idaho, not so much

  4. Becky October 18th, 2007 3:18 pm

    First of all, I was raised in Idaho, and I knew a lot of attractive girls. So don’t rule it out!

    Secondly, I work for Walla Walla University, and also received my BA degree here. True, it’s not really a “mountain town,” but there are a few ski areas within a couple of hours, and they’re not half bad. Plus you can do kayaking, canoing, hiking, geocaching, camping, water skiing, and more, all right here in the valley!

    I do admit I am a tad biased, but here are some great facts to add to your college hunt: WWU has a 13:1 student-teacher ratio, and most classes have less than 30 people. The spiritual, family atmosphere is very positive and there are many opportunities for growth in this area, if that’s what you’d like. Extra-curricular activities are a challenge, only because there are so many to choose from (though maybe not as many as a larger university): Clubs, such as Biology, Asian-Pacific Islander, Pegasus (English club), Chess, hockey, and tons more. Music, such as Choir, String Orchestra, steel drums, and more. Athletics, such as soccer, basketball, intermurals, and more. Drama, with plays each quarter. And there is much more to WWU.

    I do admit it’s not a perfect school, and there are other schools that offer other things you may prefer. But there’s my plug for WWU, and wherever your son chooses to attain his higher education, I hope he gets everything out of it that he desires, and that his college experience makes up some of the best years of his life.

  5. Ryan October 18th, 2007 5:46 pm

    I went to WWU as well. Actually it is impossible to graduate there in four years. I know of only a handful of people that actually accomplished it. Don’t really know why, maybe how the stack the schedules.

    Also have a friend that graduated from the engineering dept and it is top notch. Also SPU is a very good school with a very nice campus near Queen Anne Hill and Ballard. Seattle U is a very small school but highly-regarded academically.

    Hope that helps,

  6. john dough October 18th, 2007 7:32 pm

    told you so! B-ham is the place to be. look no further.

  7. ian October 18th, 2007 8:30 pm


    logan? go to the University of Utah in SLC and be a ute! hands down. Im a freshman this year and love it.

    I mean the high mountains are less than 30min drive, amazing downtown, really hot girls, insane climbing all over, Alta recieved 20+ in last night, huge slide on Baldy already….etc. Moab, desert, girls, and a top notch engineering dept, brand spankin new engineering building as well. and really really nice dorms( olympic village 2002).

    and 6hrs from home. take a look!

  8. Randonnee October 18th, 2007 9:52 pm

    In my 8 years of college and university education 2 were in Pugetopolis (western WA) and the rest “East of the Divide.” I live east of the divide and am more comfortable in that sunny climate and rural culture. Pugetopolis has all the great things mentioned, but also has a dominant culture that is much different from an intermountain west perspective. If one is accustomed to sunshine and blue skies, Pugetopolis is rough. Some stats or claims that I have read say 267 days average of gray skies in Seattle, contrasted with 300 days of sunshine where east slope of the Cascades meets the desert. No question that many in Pugetopolis think that it is the best, and that their thoughts and philiosophy are perfected and unquestionable. I prefer the four seasons and rural culture elsewhere.

  9. thomas October 18th, 2007 10:07 pm

    Come visit your son at spring break in Alaska, U of Anchorage AK or Alaska Pacific University.There’s no skiing here, no cute girls,and we alllive in Igloos:)

  10. Luke October 19th, 2007 12:59 am

    Have you had a look at the schools in BC? I have a friend who’s at UBC, and another who looked at the University of Victoria (he ended up going to New Mexico State and wishes everyday he’d made a different decision) for grad school; they both sound like wonderful places. I went to the University of Washington, and ended up skiing more days than I went to class (at least during winter), but if you don’t want to be in a city, it’s probably not a good option. I’m not sure about the academics of the University of Nevada Reno, but it’s very close to the Tahoe snow pack. Of course if you don’t mind driving a ways, you can live at the ocean; my friends and I go up to Tahoe every weekend from the Bay Area.

  11. bryan October 19th, 2007 3:58 am

    May want to check out the University of British Columbia. This is where I go to school and I have never had a problem finding a ride to Whistler on the weekend.

  12. Doug-E-Fresh October 19th, 2007 8:27 am

    What Lou, no Evergreen State College?

    I second the thoughts about Western Washington in general. Bellingham is awesome, but the long weeks of overcast in winter may be tough on a kid coming from sunny Colorado.

  13. Whitman Alum October 19th, 2007 9:36 am

    It seems that you might be better off by sorting your schools by genre. You have small liberal arts schools (SPU, Whitman); big state schools, and religious schools.

    All three of these will offer a very different education. Access to skiing is important. Offering the right majors is important, but the campus community will determine a student’s happiness.

    Of course, I will tout Whitman. It’s outdoor program is top notch, especially for a small school. Compare the Whitman Outdoor Program to UM. It’s basically the same thing in a much smaller school. True, skiing is one hour away, but it’s closer than good skiing is to Seattle. Finally, Whitman is always ranked with the happiest students in the country. It feels special because it is.

  14. Boulder Ben October 19th, 2007 11:04 am

    Why not consider CU Boulder? Great engineering school, Indian Peaks and RMNP are less than an hour away without getting on i70, an extremely active Student Backcountry Ski Club (, and Boulder is the center of an outdoor gear industry that abounds with internship opportunities.

    (I think Bozeman is also a great choice but a lot darker and cold, mmmmm….Cold Smoke!)

  15. Neal B October 19th, 2007 12:44 pm

    Lou, come on… There is only ONE choice… Have you forgotten already?? Aspen State Teachers College!! Can’t believe you didn’t include such an esteemed instition so close to home! With this choice, Louis can join the ranks of semi-employed, barely-sane, completely committed ski bums that litter the valley…

  16. Jon F October 19th, 2007 8:03 pm

    Hey Louie,

    Forget Boulder. That place might have been cool 20 years ago, but you’re way better than that. Your a Bonedalian, man….don’t let us down!

    Here’s the unbiased scoop on Logan (UT): The town is super conservative, which means that on Sundays you and your buddies can set up your lawn chairs directly on Main street and soak up the rays. I’m not kidding. You will NEVER sit in traffic on the way to any outing whatsoever. Within 1 mile of campus are mountain bike trails, rock climbing, and ice climbing. Within 5 miles of campus are all of the above + backpacking, fly fishing, and backcountry skiing (Logan Peak). Road biking abounds, and is some of the best anywhere with little to no traffic.

    The resort skiing is tame, but the backcountry is outrageous!! In northern Utah, the snow is truly measured in feet. And how about a school that runs it’s own system of 4 backcountry yurts, specifically located for racking up laps! In november you should hit Tony Grove for some great early season turns on bottomless; 30 min. from campus. (check out Snotel for TG stats) Also within 45 minutes of campus are the following primo BC destinations: Magicland (oh boy), Green Canyon, Burnout Bowl, Bear Lake Pass, Whitepine Knob, Steam Mill Peak, Garden City Canyon, and an hour away is Emigration Pass, ID, which sees maybe 5 skiers a year and is outrageous. (sorry locals!!) In springtime the place to ski is the Wellsville mountains – the “steepest free standing mountain range in the lower 48 states”. . 10 miles from campus. Check out for info on this amazing range.

    I’m not sure about the Engineering program there, but this may help: We used to schedule classes after 11am, so we could do the dawn run to the backcountry stash of the day, photog the moment, and then share images of face shots in our late morning classes. It was truly a great balance between outdoor activity and scholarly performance.

    May you choose wisely.

  17. Craig D October 19th, 2007 8:18 pm

    And what about Westrn State–right down the road, and freguently the cold spot in the nation, why, when I was a sophmore and hitching to Crested Butte everyday, the temp did not get ABOVE -16 (that’s negative 16) for three weeks.

  18. James October 19th, 2007 11:41 pm

    Bellingham Rocks!! Great school, people, town and the climbing, skiing, and all the other outdoor stuff is off the hook. My choice for sure!

  19. Eric Steig October 19th, 2007 11:47 pm

    Another vote for WWU. My wife teaches there in the earth sciences dept. I know the faculty in several departments and they are all great, and care a lot about the students. As for the outdoors, not only skiing, but sea kayaking and great mountaineering. Don’t worry about the rain. It rarely rains hard enough that I wear a waterproof jacket. It can get tiresome in November, but when the sun is out it is all the more beautiful. And sometimes the sun is out for a month straight in the middle of February. And summers are gloriously sunny, though no one (not even the locals) seem to remember this from one year until the next.

  20. drew h October 20th, 2007 10:22 pm

    Another vote for WWU, as a student here with friends from CO who are my bc ski partners, they all would rather ski bottomless cascade snow with a stable maritime snowpack than finicky CO blower over a much thinner base. That being said, the school is awesome as well.

  21. Mark October 20th, 2007 10:29 pm

    Bellingham is in such a great town. Spent many summers there as a kid. Proximity to many great outdoor activities is a reality (though Mt. Baker Ski Area is about 60 miles). The rain in winter might be tough to adjust to, but it’s easy to recognize that this translates into loads of snow in the high country. Bozeman is great too, and even though they don’t have your specific degree in mind, people have built design careers with an engineering degree from MSU. Tom Jungst, and MSU Engineering alumn and local ski mountaineering legend, makes molded parts for companies like Patagonia and Life-Link. Bozeman’s winters are pretty similar to what you know in Carbondale: snowy, usually sunny, cold enough for some great skiing and amazing ice climbing.

  22. Greg October 23rd, 2007 12:23 am

    Don’t think anyone’s caught this yet, but you’ve got Idaho State in Boise. It’s actually in Pocatello. Boise State is in Boise and they have some engineering programs, and decent mid-major football team. Within an hour’s drive (sometimes more, sometimes less) you can ski a couple resorts, raft or kayak some of the best whitewater in the world, mountain bike the Boise foothills (probably 40+ miles of trails, mostly singletrack) and rock climb. Just a thought. I grew up here but chose to go to Boulder for school! Good luck either way.

  23. Mike October 23rd, 2007 5:08 pm

    Bozeman! I was there for six years and had the best time of my life. Bridger Bowl 20 minutes down the road, cheap season passes, and the sickest steepest terrain of any ski area… Hands down… Ski the Cold Smoke!

  24. Lou October 25th, 2007 6:25 am

    Jon, Logan’s admissions should pay you a stipend (grin)!

  25. Jon October 25th, 2007 8:56 pm

    Lou – you’re right! Hmmmmm….that gives me an idea…

  26. Jason October 28th, 2007 2:15 pm

    U of U in SLC – great engineering school, great BC w/great access, public transportation up into the Cottonwood Canyons… Second thought, send him somewhere else.

  27. Kyle October 30th, 2007 8:43 pm

    Don’t forget the University of Wyoming…good engineering, good town, great outdoors – and you only have to deal with people from Boulder on the weekends! Go Pokes!!!

  28. Ian November 13th, 2007 12:25 pm

    You’ve got the Idaho schools all wrong. Boise State is in Boise and Idaho State is in Pocatello. Both are definitely near mountains and ski areas, in addition to loads of single track and nearby climbing and whitewater. From an outdoor perspective, I think only the Montana schools can compete in terms of access to outdoor fun.

  29. Lou November 13th, 2007 3:26 pm

    Ian, woops. I’ll edit just so we don’t confuse any other searchers.

  30. Alaska Pacific University November 24th, 2009 3:48 am

    We have a few college students online from college of Alaska Pacific University and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen , Blog Manager, Alaska Pacific University.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version