MTTA Snow Bowl Hut Burns to Ground

DATE: 4/12/08


Plans to Rebuild Popular Ski Hut Move Forward

Mount Tahoma Trails Association
P.O. Box 206
Ashford, WA 98304
www.skimtta.org

At its April 12th Board Meeting, the Directors of the Mount Tahoma Trails Association (MTTA) unanimously agreed to support plans to rebuild Snow Bow Hut which was destroyed by fire last month. The Board appointed MTTA Vice President Michael Smith to lead eam Phoenix to develop plans to build a larger, more convenient structure to replace the destroyed hut. Commented Smith, I welcome any and all to join Team Phoenix in helping the MTTA rebuild after the tragic loss of Snow Bowl Hut.

The MTTA is currently seeking funding to replace the hut. Please go to www.skimtta.org for more details and to see how you can help.

The MTTA Ski Hut Trail System has over 1,300 overnight guests during the winter season and offers quality outdoor winter recreation to thousands of day users every year. The System, with four backcountry facilities and roughly 50 miles of groomed trails, was built and is maintained by volunteers who donate 7,000 hours per year. Though saddened by the loss of the hut, many volunteers welcome the challenge of designing and building a new hut. Several volunteers have stepped forward with innovative ideas on how to replace the hut and have offered their services to move ahead. Long-time volunteer Gene Glasunow considers this a golden opportunity to design a cabin that complements the world-class views of Mt. Rainier, and the high-quality of the trail system… large windows, room to spread out… It will be great!

Snow Bowl Hut was located on State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land in MTTA’s popular South District near Ashford, Washington, about 7 miles west of Mount Rainer National Park. Hundreds of cross country skiers and snowshoers used the hut for both day trips and overnight visits every year. The South District has been closed the past two winters due to the wash out of an access bridge over the Nisqually River during the November 2006 floods. However, the South District is scheduled to reopen next ski season with the completion of a temporary bridge over Catt Creek.

Snow Bowl Hut likely burnt down on March 21st. Witnesses at Copper Creek Hut, located on MTTA’s North District, reported seeing a large fire several miles away around 10 pm in the vicinity of Snow Bowl Hut. Due to the inaccessibility of the area, MTTA was not able to confirm the destruction of Snow Bowl Hut until April 3rd when Board Member Mike Dunn arranged for a plane to fly over the site. Mike Dunn said, The sight was devastating: the hut was completely gone. To think of all the work that went into that Hut, the camaraderie of the volunteers, the enjoyment of the visitors… It’s just so sad. The cause of the fire is undetermined and has been referred by DNR to the proper authorities for investigation.

During the past two winters, Snow Bowl has been reached only by a long cross country trek requiring backcountry ski mountaineering skills. In early March 2008, volunteers reported that Snow Bowl was in good condition, though carrying an extreme snow load on its roof and upper deck. Snow Bowl rested atop a scenic ridge at 4,200 feet elevation with grand views of Mount Rainier. The hut was a favorite gathering place for many MTTA volunteers and visitors. The two story hut accommodated 10 overnight guests and came equipped with a kitchen, sleeping pads and large sundeck. The loss of the facility is keenly felt throughout the MTTA organization.