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Back to the backcountry

Backcountry ski enthusiasts gather at EOU, Anthony Lakes

backcountry ski race EOBF 2018Jan. 18, 2019 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Backcountry enthusiasts from across the region gather for a weekend of ski races, fundraisers, group excursions and film showings Jan. 25 to 27.

The 7th Annual Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival begins at the Gilbert Event Center with a showing of Matchstick Productions’ new film, “All In” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. Doors open at 6 p.m.

A raffle and live auction featuring outdoor winter gear will benefit the Wallowa Avalanche Center.

“We have an awesome selection of prizes donated by local and national businesses and individuals,” said Michael Hatch, director of Eastern Oregon University’s Outdoor Adventure Program and a coordinator of the event.

The evening event features refreshments catered by Sodexo, and La Grande’s own Side A beer will be available for purchase. Attendees could go home with avalanche equipment, a shovel and probe from Black Diamond, a puffy jacket from Black Diamond, North Face backpacks, Mammut Beacons from the Mountain Shop in Portland, outdoor gear from Blue Mountain Outfitters of La Grande, gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort lift tickets and season pass, or a Black Spyder Hoodie from NW Alpine.

The following day, the party moves to Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort for the 3rd Annual Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race. Winners receive an Anthony Lakes 2019/2020 season pass or $250 cash prize. The race starts at 8 a.m. in front of the main lodge. For details visit https://eobf.redpodium.com/kip-rand-memorial-backcountry-race.

At 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., WAC forecasters will lead companion rescue and avalanche basics clinics. Participants can sign up at the Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival tent near the lodge.

A second gear auction, accompanied by live music from Bag of Hammers, begins at 3 p.m. at the fabled Starbottle Saloon.

“Mark your calendars, people, it’s going to be an awesome weekend,” Hatch said.

He said Sunday is a social ski day. Groups can self-organize and explore the amazing backcountry surrounding Anthony Lakes. Hatch will lead a tour into Angel Basin starting at 9 a.m. from the lodge. Sign up on Saturday at the EOBF tent or email Michael Hatch at mhatch@eou.edu.