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Saturday, February 15th On Boulder Deer Creek Pass near Curlew, NE WA.

We have recently had to cancel the Sitzmark Ski Festival do to lack of snow. We had been talking to the Forest Service about doing a Backcountry Ski Day/Festival on Boulder Pass prior to this and we now have the date set. 

The 15th is the Saturday of Presidents Day weekend so anyone coming from out of the area should check out the area for other skiing opportunities.

Where is Boulder Pass you say? If you come to Curlew you will be about 15 minutes drive from the pass. The pass is the 2nd highest all season pass in the state (Sherman just to the south is the highest)at 4600 ft. Temperatures stay cool as does the snow. This years warm weather and higher snow levels have not had too much effect on the pass do to its elevation, Currently there is 24-36″ of snow with a good settled base. Close to average for this time of year. There is a SNOTEL at the pass as well – Sentinel Butte

Boulder Pass had a very intense fire come through in 2015, burning especially hot around the pass area. Most all of the trees were killed in the ski trail areas. As sad as this was it has made for incredible skiing, with most of the small wood and slash consumed in the fire. This has created a landscape where one can ski pretty much anywhere, particularly after a snow base has formed. 

– The terrain at the pass offers everything from flat roads and groomed trails to fairly steep and adventurous backcountry lines. The verticals around the pass are not too big – 300-500 vertical feet mostly – ideal for the no transition up and down ability of the Hoks. There is no avalanche hazard in the Boulder Pass area as well. It would be hard to design a more ideal area for all levels of Hok skiing.

  • Altai Skis will offer free demos of Hoks and Koms.
  • Tips on using the various skis and our universal bindings.
  • We will have some boots as well that are compatible with the 3 pin bindings.
  • Tips and clinics on uphill and downhill skiing as well as general backcountry touring.
  • The many uses of the Tiak (single pole).

Boulder Pass is a rustic site with no indoor amenities. There are two outhouses and we will have some pop up tents for boots and equipment. There will be a large campfire as well.

Boulder Pass is a Washington State Snowpark so requires a snowpark permit. For those who do not have one we will have some available to purchase at the pass. 

We encourage folks to bring food as we will have potluck style eating. Some hot drinks will also be available.

Camping on site is permitted, expect winter camping conditions.

We will develop more information on amenities in the area in the next few days and add it to this post.

Places to stay in the region

Travel routes to get here

Other places to check out for skiing (Sherman Pass ). 😉

And More!

Map of the Highlands and Skier points of interest.
Skiing through the burn
Boulder Pass area
Making a fresh trail on Boulder
Down through the burn
Liam picking his way
Sunset form Boulder pass
January 2020 touring on Boulder 
Heading south on the crest trail

2018 Altai Ski Festival

January 20th 2018 is the 3rd annual Altai Skis Hoks and ski festival at Sitzmark Ski Area in NE Washington, Okanogan Highlands.

 

Nils’ Map of the Highlands Area with some skier points of interest

 

The Okanogan Highlands are a high mountainous area in the far north central  part of Washington State. The Highlands are remote and very rural, and in the winter, cold and snowy. Sitzmark, one of the smallest ski areas in the state, has one chair and one rope tow. Views are expansive, north into Canada (less then 20 miles north), west to the North Cascades, and east to the Kettle Range. Sitzmark rarely gets a big snowpack but with consistent cold temperatures it does not lose much snow either.

Altai Skis has had a festival there for the last two years, featuring free demos, lessons, and tours. Discount lift tickets are available  for those who wish to ride the lifts. Altai Skis will have Hoks and Koms there for people to try, Bring your own Hoks if you have them

 

2017 images

 

 

Lisa and I (Nils) went up yesterday ( January 15th) to check out the conditions and skiing was great – cold snow and a beautiful day up there.

 

Looking west to the Cascades

North to Canada

Looking north to Canada

Looking East to the Kettle Range

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Skishoeing.com is the companion site to our Altai Skis.com site. We thought it would be good to have a informational site dedicated to using skishoes in the many ways people do.

You will find some posts on field work being done on Hoks, kids using them (the Hokstars!), schools, and some user posts as well.

We also will add instructional information over time, using skishoes in different terrain and conditions, as well as the pros and cons on different bindings, and, of course, using the Tiaks (single poles).

There will be lots of images (see the Gallery page) as well as some great new videos for this year.

We welcome comments, user feedback, requests, and contributions.

Happy Skishoeing!

Nils Larsen

 

Hok Festival

Rich Landers, longtime outdoor writer for the Spokesman Review in Spokane, WA joined us at the first Altai Skis Hok Festival at Sitzmark Ski Hill in the Okanogan Highlands of NE WA. Rich is a longtime nordic and backcountry skier and was curious about skishoeing. He picked it up quickly and wrote this great article on the sport in general. Just recently another appeared in the Seattle Times, you can see it here

Rich Lander’s Spokesman review article on Skishoeing

 

It looks like We will have a Sitzmark Festival again this year. Our date right now is January 28th (Saturday). Mark it on your calendars!

 

Hok Festival

Hoksters at Sitzmark February 2016

 

Sitzmark Ski Area

Sitzmark Ski Area

Hok skiing on the North Country National Scenic Trail

 

I first heard of Hok skis several years ago from North Country Trail Association (NCTA) volunteers Jim & Jeri Rakness. They kept insisting that I really needed to try them out. At first, I couldn’t imagine what it was they were describing and, to be honest, I was a little skeptical. This is because I was quite happy snowshoeing, a favorite winter activity of mine. I’m lucky enough to snowshoe both for family fun and for my work for the NCTA. We usually scout and flag new sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail during the winter because we can actually see in the leafless woods and go more places when the ground is frozen.

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NCTA volunteer Bruce Johnson using Hok skis on the North Country Trail in Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest (Photo by Matthew Davis)

The last several winters here in northern Minnesota; however, have not delivered adequate snowfall for snowshoeing. So, last winter when I was invited to go out with some local NCTA volunteers on a backcountry ski outing I decided to finally try it. We went across a frozen lake and some connected wetlands/beaver ponds because there was only about 2” of snowcover on the ground. It was fantastic and love at first try with the Hok skis. This past fall, I purchased a pair of Hoks and anxiously waited for the first snowfall. I first tried them out at a January 2nd backcountry exploration hike in Itasca State Park (source of the Mississippi River’s headwaters). The conditions were perfect for the Hoks.

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Skiers and hikers explore the Itasca State Park backcountry (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cederstrom / Park Rapids Enterprise)

Several other hikers asked to try out the Hok skis during the event. All enjoyed them and one person bought a pair that night.

Spreading the word at NCTA’s Winter Trails Day events

I also thought that backcountry XC skiing with the Hok skis would be a great addition to our Winter Trails Day events where we typically introduce people to snowshoeing. Last winter, I had only one attendee at a free Learn to Snowshoe Clinic because there just wasn’t enough snow for people to get excited about trying it. While this winter has delivered more snow than last year, it’s still not deep enough for me to need snowshoes – which are pure work to walk with when they’re not needed for flotation. I was hoping that the inclusion of the backcountry XC skiing component and having pairs of Hoks on hand for people to try out would attract more interest. That turned out to be the case.

On January 30th, we hosted a Winter Trails Day event at the MSUM Regional Science Center just east of Fargo, ND. While the crowd was small (there was a big winter festival going on in town), everyone there was excited to try out the Hok skis. We found a little patch of wind drifted snow in the prairie and people skied around and enjoyed themselves. Several participants commented that they were going to look at buying a pair. We hosted a Winter Trails Day event on February 6th at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area in Detroit Lakes, MN that drew a good crowd. While most admitted they were there to try snowshoeing, several did venture out on the Hok skis and had an enjoyable experience.   A few inquired about where they could buy a pair. Later that afternoon, we had a new participant show up for our guided hike/ski on the North Country Trail and she really enjoyed it. After these experiences I’m convinced that if people interested in winter sports will try a pair of Hok skis they’ll love it. Many will want to purchase a pair. I can envision a time – maybe five or ten years from now –when local outdoors stores in northern Minnesota will carry Hok skis. At this same time, our guided winter events on the NCT will feature equal numbers of snowshoers and Hok skiers.

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A new skier trying out the Hok skis at the Winter Trails Day clinic at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area (Photo by Matthew Davis)

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Jim & Jeri Rakness and I enjoy the NCT on a Wildlife Tracking Trek (Photo by Matthew Davis)

Top 5 reasons why Altai Hok skis are perfect for the North Country Trail:

  • Because lately we haven’t received good enough snow for snowshoeing or XC skiing. While these are the more traditional winter silent sports activities here in MN & ND, they do require more snow than Hoks.
  • Because they are more efficient in covering ground than snowshoes and winter hiking. You have the ability to glide on each step and also to ski down the hills.
  • Because you can go just about anywhere with them on – across a frozen lake, up a frozen river, down a trail, etc.
  • Because they are so well made and durable.
  • Because they’re tons of fun!

Skishoes are playful by nature – letting you go where you want and explore where you will. Perfect for kids, they are easy to use, easy to adjust as kids grow, simple to put on and take off, and let kids take on any little hill they come across – repeatedly if they want. They are the, “go outside and play” ski…. Continue reading

Eliminating Nature Deficit Disorder! 🙂

Last year we started getting requests from schools for Hoks so the kids could go skishoeing around their school grounds (yes, some people are lucky enough to live where they can do that from school). Continue reading

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