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Schroder
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PostTue Nov 19, 2013 5:44 pm 
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I never understood the State Park role here. The lease was with the Forest Service, just like the other ski areas.  The base area and the road was in the National Forest.  I also don't know when the State Park boundaries were established - I wasn't aware of it when the ski area was there.  It may have also added complexity to the lease.

One thing I question in the article I linked to is night skiing on the upper slope.  I used to do it regularly.  It wasn't well lit, but there were some lights there.
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trestle
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PostWed Nov 20, 2013 8:25 pm 
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Schroder, would you be willing to apply labels to your pictures using the names/references in the linked articles?

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"Life favors the prepared." - Edna Mode
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Ringangleclaw
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PostSat Nov 23, 2013 9:20 am 
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Schroder wrote:
I never understood the State Park role here. The lease was with the Forest Service, just like the other ski areas.  The base area and the road was in the National Forest.  I also don't know when the State Park boundaries were established - I wasn't aware of it when the ski area was there.  It may have also added complexity to the lease.

TOPO seems to indicate that the ski area was largely in state land.  SnoCo is kind of vague, and our assessors office seems to lump all government land as the same, whether owned by the USFS, SnoCo of WaDNR.

Even if the lodge and lifts were on WaDNR land, much of the use, including ski schools, avy control and grooming may have been on USFS land which may have played a part in this confusion.
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gb
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PostSat Nov 23, 2013 9:40 pm 
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I still think the reason they closed was lack of snow plain and simple. 1977, 78, and 80 were bad snow years. Only 1982 (I guess the year they closed) was a good year in that period.
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Ringangleclaw
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PostSun Nov 24, 2013 7:41 am 
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Schroder disagrees, and he knows the owners.

But I agree with bee gee, being on the edge of the Cascades, it was too likely to have bad weather of conditions.  It was also under capitalized, small and not located close to $eattle.
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Ringangleclaw
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PostSun Nov 24, 2013 8:01 am 
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Quote:
John Goldthorpe was Mt Pilchuck Ski Patrol Director from 1976-78. Timothy Berndt was Patrol Director from 1978-80. The Mt Pilchuck ski area was born in 1951, when the state parks commission gave a permit to the Mt Pilchuck Ski Club to develop a ski area. It's not clear what, if any, facilities the club installed at the time, but the authors write that "in 1953 a lack of snow caused the closing of the ski area." Following this attempt, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (WSPRC) obtained a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to develop and maintain a ski area at Cedar Flats. The Mt Pilchuck Ski Area, under this new agreement, was launched by John Colter and his mother in 1956. The area began with one rope tow. The Mt Pilchuck Ski Patrol was started that year.
In 1958 the day lodge was constructed. Also in 1958 the entire area legally became the Mt Pilchuck State Park. Creation of the park involved a land exchange agreement between USFS and WSPRC, but the exchange never took place. This led to problems later. By 1963, Pilchuck had three rope tows. The main chairlift was built for the 1963-64 ski season and the lower chairlift was added in 1967, giving Mt Pilchuck Ski Area one of the largest vertical rises in the Northwest. The authors describe a pattern of snowfall extremes, with lean snow years and years with too much snow to operate. Ownership of the mountain concession rights changed hands several times, the final owners being Steve Richter and Heather Recreation, Inc.

The winters of 1977 and 1978 were poor snow years. In 1976-77, the area was open 2-1/2 months and in 1977-78 just three weeks. 1977-78 was the last winter of operation of Mt Pilchuck Ski Area. The following year, in 1978-79, the ski area was passed back and forth between USPRC and USFS, with each agency blaming the other for lack of movement on a concession-lease agreement. Finally, due to uncertainty over their ability to renew the lease, Heather Recreation, Inc. decided not to continue operation. The authors write that it was the inability of government entities to get together and make a decision that really killed the area, not poor snow conditions or financial problems of the ski area operators. The authors also blame Governor Dixy Lee Ray for working to kill the state's only winter recreation park.

Kind of weird.  I climbed Pilchuck twice in the winter of  '76-77, and neither time was the area open.  I really wonder when they opened in order to get this claimed 2 1/2 months.

The winter of '77-78 was a normal winter, so to be open for only three weeks would imply a lack of funds or customers, and not a unusual lack of snow.

Dixy was the worst Governor we ever had, but I don't think it's fair to blame her for the demise of the Pilchuck ski area.

Source:  http://www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/ms/goldthorpe-1980.html
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Schroder
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PostSun Nov 24, 2013 10:26 am 
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In the 70's it was the ski schools that supported the operation. They were probably over 80% of the revenue for them.  When they moved to other areas after the low snow year of 76-77, they couldn't attract them back in view of their lease expiring and being unable to expand to the upper mountain.

In Nov-Dec 1976 there was some early snow so they may have had some openings in December but it was all gone again by January.  It didn't snow again until Feb 22 weekend where there was about a 3 foot dump.  I remember the date well - I was on 3 Fingers trying to rescue a group that got stuck in the lookout during the storm and it was a holiday weekend.  It was very much like the 2004-5 winter.

Here's a map of the ski area and the State Park boundary. As I said earlier, the road is in MBS National Forest. The land to the west and south was part of Weyerhaeuser's  Pilchuck Tree Farm.  The State Parks map is also here.


The upper lift had a mid-station on the flat area where the remnants of the maintenance road can still be followed.

Early season skiing wasn't that great, but the snow hung in late, as the BC skiers here can testify to today.
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Brian Curtis
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PostSun Nov 24, 2013 12:08 pm 
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Schroder wrote:
One thing I question in the article I linked to is night skiing on the upper slope.  I used to do it regularly.  It wasn't well lit, but there were some lights there.

I can confirm this. I only skied there once, and it was at night. They had a deal for a free lift ticket with 6 Coke bottle caps. As a kid I'd collected bottle caps and that night my collection came in handy for the first and only time. We were definitely skiing the upper lift, the one with the mid-station.

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that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
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Ringangleclaw
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PostSun Nov 24, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Schroder wrote:
In the 70's it was the ski schools that supported the operation. They were probably over 80% of the revenue for them.  When they moved to other areas after the low snow year of 76-77, they couldn't attract them back in view of their lease expiring and being unable to expand to the upper mountain.

In Nov-Dec 1976 there was some early snow so they may have had some openings in December but it was all gone again by January.  It didn't snow again until Feb 22 weekend where there was about a 3 foot dump.  I remember the date well - I was on 3 Fingers trying to rescue a group that got stuck in the lookout during the storm and it was a holiday weekend.  It was very much like the 2004-5 winter.

That makes sense.  The ski schools left for Stevens in 77-78 and never came back.
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JPH
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PostMon Nov 25, 2013 8:23 am 
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When it was open, would people boot up to ski the gunsight and loop back down to the base?  I can imagine that would be a pretty well stomped in boot path if the area was still open today.
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gb
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PostMon Nov 25, 2013 9:20 am 
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I mostly night skied when I was at Pilchuck. We would go after what I guess would have been school at the time. I remember one night in particular in March with really good deep powder skiing. Since it was spring the sunset wasn't until later and we kept hiking up and out to the west into the trees beyond the area. We continued this well after dark as there was a full moon with just a hint of light from the ski area.

I had no idea they closed from permitting issues.
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Schroder
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PostMon Jan 27, 2014 9:28 am 
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Here's a couple of more photos I found - at the end of the '69 ski season.  Looking from the parking lot toward the upper lift.

Pilchuck Ski Area ~1969
Pilchuck Ski Area ~1969
Pilchuck Ski Area ~1969
Pilchuck Ski Area ~1969

and here's a couple of shots of the lookout
Pilchuck Lookout ~1969
Pilchuck Lookout ~1969
Pilchuck Lookout ~1969
Pilchuck Lookout ~1969
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n16ht5
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PostFri Jan 31, 2014 3:12 pm 
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I was born in the wrong era. thanks for posting the pictures up Schroder.

I'd be skiing there this weekend if the nanny state FS hadn't blockaded the road.
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PostFri Jan 31, 2014 3:22 pm 
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RandyHiker
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PostWed Feb 05, 2014 9:51 am 
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Ringangleclaw wrote:
The winter of '77-78 was a normal winter, s

Uh No -- 1977-1978 was an El-Nino year -- I recall Ski Acres (now Summit Central) only operating a few weeks that year.   I recall hiking (no skiis or snowshoes) to the summit of Kendall Peak that January.

Ringangleclaw wrote:
Dixy was the worst Governor we ever had,

Agreed -- but her name should be pronounced Dixy Lee Radiation!
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