BEND, Ore. — Dexter Burke has a simple answer when asked what draws him to backcountry skiing. “Expensive lift tickets,” he said. For that reason, and certainly many others, backcountry skiing has become increasingly popular over the last few years in Oregon and throughout the West. Burke, born and raised in Bend and a backcountry skier for more than 20 years, hopes his new book, “Oregon Ski Atlas,” will encourage more skiers and snowboarders to venture out on some of the more remote Cascade peaks in Oregon.
Basically a photographic guide, and marketed as a “coffee table paperback book,” Burke’s first book includes route names on several prominent peaks and some limited uphill route information.
“This book was never meant to blow up secret stashes or bring more crowds to already crowded places,” Burke said. “With the exception of Broken Top and Mount Hood, all the volcanoes in the book rarely get skied by more than one or two different groups of people at the same time. My hope is that showing these more remote peaks will lessen the crowds at the more popular areas.”
The book includes 48 pages with aerial photos of Mount Mcloughlin, Mount Thielsen, Diamond Peak, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood.
These major Oregon volcanoes offer an extremely vast amount of terrain for backcountry skiers throughout the year. But Burke said there is little recorded history in first descents and attempts on these rugged slopes compared with areas such as the Tetons in Wyoming, the North Cascades in Washington, the Wasatch in Utah and the Sierra Nevada in California.
“My hope is that this book will draw out some of the old ski pioneers and they will share their stories so we can start to create a better understanding of who were the first brave skiers in the Oregon Cascades,” Burke said.
He added that while the “Oregon Ski Atlas” highlights certain routes on these mountains, the backcountry skier must still figure out the specifics and the logistics of his or her adventure.