The Cascade Backcountry Alliance works to ensure winter access for backcountry recreational users across Washington state. CBA seeks to foster a community voice and mountain culture for skiers, splitboarders, and other snow travelers in order to preserve access to trailheads, distribute the impact of different user groups, and preserve the backcountry experience of freedom and exploration.
Anecdotally and empirically, winter backcountry travel in Washington is growing. Strong snow years, expanded gear availability, and a desire to take advantage of the spectacular terrain has begun to overwhelm the readily available access points. At resorts, increasing unsafe behavior has led to greater restrictions on uphill travel. This has further concentrated the impact of a growing user base on a limited number of trailheads. Concerns about parking availability, road closures, and user conflicts make it clear: the backcountry community needs a unified voice. Advocating for our interests with land use managers, resorts, and government agencies will be far more effective if we clarify our needs and speak as one.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
We plan to work with ski areas to start a dialogue about uphill travel issues and access. We will also begin by identifying areas where we can rapidly make a difference with existing resources. We hope to advocate for the interests of uphill travelers in the resort environment. At the same time, increased plowing and trailhead access can help take some pressure off over-used areas, distributing our impact and preserving the backcountry experience. This will help reduce user conflicts and recurring safety issues that we face together. Another important step is self-regulation. By showing respect to our fellow travelers and following some basic etiquette, we can make everyone's time in the mountains more enjoyable. Some of these goals can be accomplished by simply speaking up. Others will require funding. Plowing requires equipment and expertise. Data that proves the growing presence of backcountry users requires studies. Generally, a shortage of resources and funding are the stated reasons for access limitations. Working to close that gap can help inspire new priorities and more support, but we as a community will need to take the initial steps.If you'd like to know about a specific project in your area, check out our projects page.