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Cougar Mountain Ski Tour

Climb and ski a local favorite just outside of Winthrop, Washington.
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  Cougar Mountain lies just 2 miles northwest of Winthrop, Washington and is a local favorite when the snow is deep enough to ski the... more »

Tips:  Essential backcountry gear is still important- slides are uncommon here but the slopes are steep enough to slide in the right... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Start of Tour

Park at the trailhead of the groomed Gunn Ranch Road crosscountry trail. You will be on the road for a very short time before beginning your climb up Cougar Mountain so you do not need an MVSTA pass for this "front-country" tour. Follow the road north then turn west past the frozen pond on your right. Just as you leave the gully, leave the road... More

2. South Shoulder

Once on the shoulder, begin switchbacking up this steady slope to the summit ridge. You will have expanding views of the Methow Valley behind you as you climb and will see the two common descent choices on either side of the shoulder (the south face and the east face). Higher up on the ridge you enter a forested area just before you reach the... More

3. Summit of Cougar Mountain

Climb to the true summit of Cougar Mountain and take in the 360 degree views of the Mazama corridor to the west, the Chewuch River valley to the northeast, and the Methow to the south. From here you have two open skiing options to the east and south and a tree skiing option to the northeast.

4. The North Descent

This tree skiing run has a moderate pitch and a long descent. The best run starts north about 100 feet below the true summit of Cougar Mountain (the west end of the ridge). The trees are quite dense outside of this shot through the woods so good route finding skills are needed to make your way back to the east, then wrap around the southeast... More

5. East Face

The east face is the steepest run with a few bushes that you may need to navigate around in lower snow conditions. This 1400 ft descent is a fast descent and makes for a good slope to get your adrenaline going for the day. Stay to skier's left or far right on descent as there is a substantial rock collection in the middle of the run. The upper ... More

6. South face

The south face has more drainage features and is less sun protected that the other descents. It is less steep and with fresh snow, offers the intermediate skier an perfect run down to the Gunn Ranch road trail. Not advised if a new sun crust that has developed on the surface layer.

7. Northeast Descent

The face receives no direct sun all winter and can harbor powder for weeks after it has fallen. The tree density make make this descent challenging depending on the snow depth. It may be the best run to finish a day of yo-yo-ing the slopes of Cougar Mountain.