Digging their poles into fluffy snow and gliding through a trail at Diamond Lake, members of Douglas County’s Edelweiss Ski Club enjoy skiing together each winter.
“It’s a great form of exercise and a great way to get outdoors,” Scott Spiker, of Roseburg, said. A club member of three years, Spiker said he enjoys the aerobic exercise of cross-country skiing. “We don’t really get a lot of snow in Roseburg so it’s nice to get out of the rain. And just by driving an hour-and-a-half to Diamond Lake you’ll find real winter conditions for skiing.”
Mark Rochester, president of the ski club, said people can feel locked away in the winter’s dark days, and having a chance to get outside is always good.
Rochester and Spiker said they both enjoy the social aspect of being part of the club.
“I like skiing as a group of people, the camaraderie of that,” Spiker said. He said the club members often stay in nice places for weekend trips, and renting an Airbnb can be much more affordable as a group.
Rochester added that newer skiers can learn from more experienced skiers.
The club often takes day trips to ski at Diamond Lake, Lemolo Lake and the upper Umpqua National Forest area. The club members frequently stay at Hemlock Butte Ski Cabin, which the club built in the 1980s near Diamond Lake and Mount Bailey in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service. During the winter, it can only be accessed by skiing or snowshoeing in about 3-and-a-half miles of mostly U.S. Forest Service roads. The primitive cabin has no running water or electricity but includes a pit toilet and a wood stove.
“It has proven to be extremely popular, and reservations, through the Forest Service, fill quickly each year,” Rochester said. “People and groups come from all over the state and beyond to stay there.”
“It’s nice because we have a place we can stay so we can be together and have a nice getaway,” Spiker added.
The skiers also visit the snow-covered rim of the deep, blue Crater Lake, which provides a range of skiing opportunities from beginner to expert. It’s known as the deepest lake in the United States and one of the snowiest places in North America with an average annual snowfall of 44 feet.
Rochester said people often have the misconception that most of the club members are great skiers, and while there are some excellent skiers, many are intermediates.
“We have had a number of beginners join because they want to get outside in winter or want to take up a new activity,” Rochester said. “The club is a great place to meet new people who can help you learn.”
Most members cross-country or back-country ski, but others downhill ski, snowboard and snowshoe.
“Most of our trips try to accommodate a range of skills and interests, and as a club we have some flexibility to tailor trips and activities to accommodate current membership,” Rochester said.
As Douglas County hasn’t received as much snow yet as Rochester had wished for, he said he hopes it will pick up soon. The club’s annual Community Ski Day event is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 3 at Diamond Lake, depending on how much snow the area gets before then.
Other trips include a journey to the Shelter Cove and Willamette Pass area in mid-February, Paulina Lake and Newberry Crater in early March, and Union Creek and Crater Lake in early April. The group also plans to stay at the Hemlock Butte Cabin for several days in February and March. Edelweiss posts information about day trips on its Facebook page and through its email list serve.
Spiker said he’s helping coordinate with the Umpqua National Forest to start a ski patrol station, where the club members could stay and help the U.S. Forest Service with signage and ski out on trails to patrol the area. Spiker has been skiing for about 30 years and is a board member of the club.
Last year, the club had about 35 members, and Rochester said the club is hoping to add new members this season. For those without ski gear, he suggested visiting Waldron’s Outdoor Sports at 330 NE Garden Valley Blvd., Roseburg, which has recently expanded its cross-country and downhill ski rentals and sales.
Edelweiss meets throughout the ski season from late November through March. Its next meeting is Tuesday at Round Table Clubhouse Pizza, 2040 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg. Social time starts at 6 p.m., followed by the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in cross-country, back-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding are encouraged to attend.