The Stevens Peak Backcountry comprises the subalpine area in the vicinity of Stevens Peak, located on the Lolo and Idaho Panhandle National Forests, in the vicinity of the Idaho-Montana state line. The Stevens Peak Backountry:
- Offers prime terrain and snow conditions for backcountry snowboarding and skiing.
- Has historically been used primarily for quiet human-powered winter recreation.
- Is accessible during the winter from trailheads that can be reached by passenger vehicle, something uncommon for the public lands in our region.
- Is experiencing increasing patterns of snowmobile use primarily for high-marking.
- Is being threatened by the proposed expansion of the Lookout Pass Ski Area.
Proposed Stevens Peak Backcountry Winter Non-Motorized Area
The Proposed Stevens Peak Backcountry Winter Non-Motorized area (shown below) is an area of approximately 6,500 acres in the vicinity of Stevens Peak. It includes portions of the Copper, Saint Regis, East Willow (Stevens Lakes), West Willow, Boulder and Gold Creek drainages. The concept was originally proposed to the Forest Service in 2000 by members of the Spokane Mountaineers.
The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance
The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance (formerly Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition) is a grassroots organization of backcountry skiers and snowboarders, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and climbers who value quiet human-powered winter recreation in the Inland Northwest. Our goals:
- Work toward the creation of a comprehensive and workable Winter Recreation Plan for the Stevens Peak Backcountry and other areas in our region.
- Educate others about the value of and opportunities for quiet human-powered winter recreation.
We seek to strengthen the traditional winter recreation community by identifying and connecting the growing number of non-motorized winter recreation enthusiast users in our region — eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana, an area that includes the cities of Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Missoula, Moscow and Pullman. #Speak4ThePeak
#Speak4ThePeak Contest Postponed to 2015-2016 Season
Wondering whatever happened with that #Speak4ThePeak contest? Well, right after our very successful Backcountry Film Festival on January 29th . Old Man Winter decided to take the rest of the year off and left Spring in charge. Despite our chants of “cold, snow, now!!!” he did not stick around. We received a few entries for the #Speak4ThePeak contest, but the lack of snow put a rather large damper on everyone’s creativity. We just did not get enough entries to adequately tell the story of the winter wildlands and the human powered snowsports experience we are trying to preserve. As a result, we have decided to postpone the contest until next season. That is the bad news, but the good news is that will give you all more time to think of an idea for next year. I am sure you will have a few day dreams about flowing through fresh powder when you are out hiking, biking, boating, climbing, etc. this summer. Maybe one of those dreams can be turned into a #Speak4ThePeak entry.
Stay tuned to our email list, facebook page, and web page for next year’s contest, and to keep up to date with our work preserving our winter wildlands and promoting the human powered snow sports experience.
Stevens Lake and Stevens Peak have been the location of the Spokane Mountaineers’ Mountain School’s Snow Climbing Practice for more than 30 years. The 2012 Mountain School Snow Practice was held the weekend of April 14-15 and is documented in a great video Here.
Roped team travel, self arrest and avalanche awareness are taught by volunteer instructors. The Spokane Mountaineers Climbing Schools is possibly one of the best and most comprehensive climbing courses in the US.
Yesterday, three inbound snowmobilers passed us as we were climbing up the north end of West Willow Ridge at about 5,000 ft. They passed us again on their way out at about 6,400 as we were nearing the shoulder of Stevens Peak near the head of West Willow basin. The photo above (click 2x to zoom in) shows what we saw when we reached the vantage point on the ridge above the basin and what three snowmobilers can do in a short time. The precedent is being set.
The Stevens Peak Backcountry is featured in this VIDEO creation made by Forrest McCarthy. The video also features footage taken during Forrest’s recent trip to several northwest backcountry and Nordic skiing locations where the Winter Wildlands Alliance is working with other grassroots groups to enhance opportunities for and preserve areas for human-powered winter recreation on public land.
During the Stevens Peak Backcountry tour, Forrest joined five members of the Spokane Mountaineers and Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition along with Adam Switalski, Greg Peters and Ted of the Montana Backcountry Alliance. All experienced great conditions, skiing in the backcountry with three feet of new powder.