Seattle's Best-Kept Skiing Secret?
For Seattle folks looking for uncrowded, untracked powder, Cascade Powder Guides is close enough to be convenient—but offers 1,920 acres of private backcountry access. And this year, they're making improvements, adding a new snowcat and building a new passenger cab.
"This will allow more private trips, more remote trips," says co-owner and guide Austin Shannon.
From catski day trips to three-day yurt-based trips, CPG offers several ways to access their terrain. And their two-story yurt boasts a wood-fired sauna, woodstove—and on most trips, catering service. The yurt is surrounded by touring terrain, quickly accessing everything from north-facing bowls and pillow runs to long gladed runs.
For the past five years they've been booking to capacity, Austin says, but with their new snowcat they'll be able to offer more access to more of their private backcountry terrain to more people. "We’ve gotten a big demand for private overnight trips," he says. "We’re close to seattle, close to Stevens, but when you’re up in our zone, you can’t see anything else."
People really want to leave the craziness of the weekend warrior, Austin says. But they enjoy the amenities like a cook and sauna and staying in a nice, warm bed. "We’re able to offer that an affordable rate." And as Stevens Pass parking lots quickly fill to capacity, those nearby amenities sound even nicer, he says.
One misnomer to clear up, though: You don't have to be an expert skier to enjoy a day—or three—with Cascade Powder Guides. "We do have terrain for everyone—people think you have to be an expert ripping skier," Austin says. "But if you can ski powder, you're good."
CPG also offers yurt-based avalanche courses. "In most avy courses, you spend two days or a multitude of evenings with Powerpoints, and then just a half day ski course," Austin says. "We’re skiing all day, every day in the field, learning firsthand what’s happening in avalanche terrain."
Even as CPG has booked up each year, Austin says he's always surprised how many people have never even heard of them. At ski movie events, he'll meet people who have no idea they exist. So—cat's out of the bag, now. Don't say we never told you.