R.I.P High Cascade Snowboard Camp? | Reason: Trump, global warming, expenses, snowboardings decline… ?
It’s been a gossip filled year for summer snowboarding. First we lost Camp Of Champions under still suspect circumstances and now, just this morning thanks to an anonymous insider email sent to the Board Rap office, we get notification that High Cascade Snowboard Camp is celebrating its last days (as HCSC) as we speak. If everything the source, who visited Oregon for these photos and words, is verified it is another sad loss for snowboarding. The HCSC history shows beginnings that stretch back to 1989. The 80’s! With all this 90’s revival we forgot those even existed. The camp was also owned by Vans for a period of time, but they went back to making way too much money in 2004. According to the HCSC Instagram they are not shutting down, according to everyone else it’s a wrap. Look for the whole truth to come out as the glacier recedes into the summer sun over the next week or two.
Anyway, here is the email in its entirety along with a few pictures that show the current state of HCSC operations. Nothing to worry about in terms of the health of Mt. Hood snowboarding in general however, just a shake up. 2018 will be as good as ever, just different.
“Maybe you’ve seen some people posting #riphighcascade on the social medias. Huh? What!? For those of you not paying attention, Hood probably seems the same as it ever was, so what’s this nonsense about the last session ever of High Cascade?
Well yes the rumors are true. This session, Session 5, 2017 will go down as the last ever session of High Cascade as we know it. (Those of you who signed up for session 6, don’t worry, there’s plenty of snow and it’s still going down, just keep reading.) But as of Aug 2. the Gov’y compound will no longer exist.
But let’s back up.
As you’re probably aware, Camp of Champions announced its closure this spring, citing a lack of snow on the Blackcomb glacier as the main factor. Skeptics were quick to balk, pointing at recent firings of top level staff and other less-climate related business factors. And as the summer has progressed, the media coming out of Whistler seems to conflict with COC owner Ken Achenbach’s dire report of snow conditions. Maybe it was just bad business?
COC’s demise though, may very well be a precursor to what is going down in Oregon. You see kids, your precious High Cascade is a’ changin’. Between the ever-rising costs of renting out half of Gov’y and the dwindling enthusiasm of the general public towards snowboarding, it’s gotta be nearly impossible to run a snowboard camp and break even these days!
I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of HCSC’s finances, and I don’t talk to Kevin English, but I have seen lots of obvious cut backs this summer. The bowls, previously behind Charlie’s, are now set up in the street course. There’s no lap park. The same guy is doing marketing for Windells and HCSC. Then if I start adding up the remaining costs – thousands to install the skatepark every year, staff, food, insurance, cat time, renting the lodge and several other buildings for staff, renting the lanes at Timberline, tickets (they allegedly pay full price for each camper plus buy the staff and media season passes)…. Well, it comes out to a whole lot of sponsor dollars and $2,000 sessions. Sessions which haven’t been filling up fast, if at all.
What’s changed, you say?
Well clearly a couple bad snow years didn’t help things out, so we can blame Donald Trump for that part, but more so, expenses have definitely increased. Oregon is getting more crowded and accordingly more expensive. The landlords of Gov’y are not immune to rent hikes and renting out half the town of Gov’y isn’t getting any cheaper.
There’s also more a lot more competition. Woodward is basically a household name and puts on snowboard camps at Copper and Boreal now, with a Park City camp in the works. While the quality of boarding is sub-par compared with Mt. Hood, it’s a way shorter flight from Chicago to Denver or SoCal to Tahoe (not to mention the snowboarders already based in those locations) – and if you just wanna touch snow and work on your moves it makes sense for many of HCSC’s former clientele to go there.
There are other factors at play as well, but it’s not all bad news! Windells can and will still have a kick ass snowboard camp. Since both High Cascade and Windells are owned by WAC it is almost a no brainer to combine the two camps on the glorious Windells campus*, which they own (or maybe rent from Tim Windell, I never did get the details.) Ditching the HCSC name would enable them to accept skiing with out being hypocrites, and marketing both together would save tons of money on overhead. Camp will no doubt still be a lot of fun and perhaps with only one major player on Hood,** they’ll be able to streamline operations and pay people a living wage.
Then, without High Cascade crowding up the town with small children and teens, Gov’y becomes way more fun. You know in the winter it’s just a chill ski town where you can stumble around drunk and no one gets mad? Imagine those vibes but with more top pros roaming around. Sweet, right?
It would also make more real estate for grown ups of the general public to play on. On hill, public lap park is all time this year. Previously, all the public terrain parks were below the Magic Mile, meaning by the beginning of July you’re hiking to ride it, and there wasn’t a lift accessed public park again until camp ended in August. But now the lane formerly devoted to HCSC’s lap park (by far the best part of camp) is open to anyone, baby! And the Timberline parks staff has been doing a great job of putting it together with a little bit of everything. Lazy laps all day!
So don’t fret High Cascade faithful, it will all be ok in the end and the Hood dream will never die.”
*Word is during session 6 of HCSC campers will all stay at Windells, and the lease on the main Cascade Lodge has already been given up for next year.
**Woodward is very unlikely to open a camp on Mt. Hood. Timberline is privately owned and Woodward is part of Powdr corp and thusly only operates at Powdr resorts. So unless Powdr buys timberline, we should be safe…
Click to HIGH CASCADE and sign up quick maybe you can still get in on session 6 and wave a final goodbye.