Eastern Oregon University > Outdoor Adventure Program > Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival 2024

Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival 2024

February 2-4, 2024


The 12th annual Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival is going to be the best one yet! We will host our annual film showing and fundraiser Friday night at HQ in La Grande while still offering an online auction through the month of January to raise funds for the Wallowa Avalanche Center. For Saturday events more up to Anthony Lakes where we’ll have the Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race, host several free snow safety clinics throughout the day, and have live music by Wanderlost in the Main Lodge at 3:30pm. On Sunday, join WAC forecasters for a tour into the A-Lakes backcountry to assess snow conditions and learn about the local terrain. The event is a collaboration between the Outdoor Adventure Program, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, and Wallowa Avalanche Center.

All the events on Saturday and Sunday are free to attend and participate in. All the fundraising is for the Wallowa Avalanche Center (WAC) and we want people to know that even small donations can make a big difference in helping us promote safe and informed decision-making in the backcountry of Northeast Oregon.

A special thanks goes out to this year’s local festival sponsors: Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, Wallowa Lake Lodge, Side A Brewing, Eastern Wheelworks, Eagle Cap Mountain Guides, Blue Mountain Outfitters, and Union County Chamber of Commerce for their support.

Here is a list of some of our fabulous festival sponsors. A big thanks to all of them for donating gear, services, products, and $$$.

Fabulous Auction & Raffle Items

We have received tremendous support from the backcountry community and local businesses! Here are a few of the FANTASTIC auction items we’ll have for 2024:

    • Spark R&D – Splitboard bindings
    • Eastern Wheelworks – Mountain Bike Demos
    • One-day Guided Ski Trip for two w/ Eagle Cap Mountain Guides
    • Oxbow Renegade Two-way Radios – from Oregon Trail Sports
    • WAC Swag Pack
    • One 2024-2025 ALMR season pass
    • On3P – 50% discount on custom skis
    • 30 min Scenic Helicopter Flight w/ Baker Aviation
    • Scott goggles
    • Osprey Backpack from Blue Mountain Outfitters
    • Mountain Works – Ski or board tune
    • Glade Optics Goggles
    • Wallowa Lake Lodge- 1 Night Lodging for 2
    • Eastern Wheelworks – Mountain Bike Demos
    • Annual EOU Climbing Center Family Pass
    • Quickhatch Provisions – Swag Pack

Check out all the fabulous auction items here – 32 Auctions

Friday, Feb. 2, 2024 – Pie Auction Fundraiser & Film Night

This event kicks off the festival and is a fabulous opportunity for the backcountry community to come together, enjoy a night of film, friends, fundraising, food, and beer. This event is supported by our local brewery and food vendors. A live pie auction will take place prior to the film, so grab grandma’s recipe and bake away! Doors open at 6pm; pie auction at 6:30pm; & show starts at 7pm. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 10.

After mingling with friends, getting a local beer and slice of pizza, prepare yourself for the pie auction to raise funds for the WAC. Dust off the old family recipes and excite us with your phenomenal baking skills. We need pie donations galore!

The story of man vs. mountain is one that has captured our imaginations for centuries. But what if MSP flipped the script? What if, instead of focusing on the human element, we took a closer look at the mountains themselves? That’s the premise of The Land of Giants, a new ski film that explores the most iconic mountains on Earth. From the Fjords of Norway to the spines of Alaska, we will get to know and understand the canvas that creates the most mind-melting moments in skiing. But most importantly, we’ll come to appreciate their sheer beauty and power. Captured with revolutionary cinematography combined with genre bending music, The Land of Giants is not to be missed. 

Matchstick Productions

Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 – Backcountry Race, Clinics, Music, & Fundraiser

On Saturday, all events will take place at or near Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort. The race is in loving memory of past WAC Director, Kip Rand. Kip perished in a cornice fall accident in 2016 while touring in the Wallowas. We honor Kip’s charisma, thoughtfulness, limitless energy, and enduring passion for the outdoors.

Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race, 8am: This several mile backcountry race is in memory of our dear friend and past WAC director, Kip Rand. This race is open to all skill levels and abilities, along with all snow slide types including AT and Telemark skiers and split boarders. There is a men’s and women’s division. Whatever race equipment you start out with is the race equipment you must cross the finish line with. Winners of the men’s and women’s division receive a $100 cash prize. Participants MUST check-in at the EOBF tent down by the lift 15 minutes before the clinic.

To register sign up here – Kip Rand Backcountry Race Registration

Avalanche Companion Rescue Clinic, 10am: This clinic will focus on proper use of avalanche gear – beacon, shovel, and probe – and how to organize and carry out an effective and efficient companion rescue. Space is limited.

To register sign up here – ACR Clinic

Snow Pit Observation Clinic, 1pm: WAC staff will spend time in the Anthony Lakes backcountry demonstrating skills and tests useful in identifying unstable layers and their subsequent sensitivity to human triggering. Space is limited.

To register sign up here – SPO Clinic

Sign up for these clinics for these clinics at the links above. Participants MUST check-in at the EOBF tent down by the lift 15 minutes before the clinic.

For these clinics you will need a way to move around on the snow – either with a backcountry set-up or with a pair of snowshoes. The OAP and WAC will have snow safety gear (beacons, shovels, and probes) available for your use during the clinics if you don’t have your own gear.

Wanderlost, 3:30pm, Main Lodge: Come dressed in your most outlandish outfit and let your inner diva shine. We’ll have the amazing and fun Wanderlost playing in the Main Lodge. You’ll dance, we’ll give away awesome prizes, you’ll be stoked, we’ll award the best dressed, and you’ll be so happy you supported your local avalanche center.

Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024 – Backcountry Tour w/ Forecasters

BC Tour, 9am: On Sunday, WAC forecasters will be leading several small tour groups into the Anthony Lakes backcountry to evaluate conditions and show folks the great local terrain options.

To register for the ski tour go to – WAC Forecaster Tour.

We will meet on the south side of the rental shop at 9am sharp.


We are pleased to offer a 15% discount on accommodations at Sunridge Inn in Baker City if you need a place to stay during the festival. You can reach Sunridge Inn at 541-423-6444 or visit register directly at https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-rooms.38183.html?groupId=9B3GG7W5

Additional Info

For more information contact Michael Hatch at 541-962-3621 or mhatch@eou.edu.  To learn about the Wallowa Avalanche Center visit www.wallowaavalanchecenter.org or contact WAC Director, Victor McNeil at victor@wallowaavalanchecenter.org

Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival Schedule Summary:

Jan. 22 – Feb. 4 – Online Auction

Online auction to benefit and raise funds for the Wallowa Avalanche Center. Amazing prizes, equipment, and services from local businesses and sponsors will be available. To join in the fundraising fun visit 32 Auctions

Friday, Feb. 2 – Matchstick Productions “Land of the Giants” Showing and Fundraiser @ HQ in La Grande.

6 p.m. – Doors open: pizza and beer available for purchase

6:30 p.m. – Pie Auction: Dust off the old family recipes and excite us with your phenomenal baking skills.

7:00 p.m. – Matchstick Productions film “Land of the Giants“. Get ready for epic descents and radical lines!

Saturday, Feb. 3 – Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort

8:00 a.m. – Festivities start out with the Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race. (Meet at the EOBF tent down by the lift)

10:00 a.m. – Avalanche Companion Rescue Clinic at Anthony Lakes. (Meet at EOBF tent down by the lift)

1:00 p.m. – Snow Pit Observation Clinic: snow profiles and stability tests in the AL backcountry. (Meet at EOBF tent down by the lift)

3:30 p.m. – Wanderlost plays in the Main Lodge. Come dressed in your most outlandish outfit and prepare to dance your pants off!

Sunday, Feb. 4 – Elkhorn Mountains

9 a.m. – Join WAC forecasters on a tour of Angell Basin near A-Lakes. They’ll show you some helpful techniques for evaluating the local snowpack and good touring options. (Meet at EOBF tent south of the rental shop 15 min before the tour)

About the instructors:

Michael Hatch is the Outdoor Adventure Program Director and an Instructor of Health and Human Performance at Eastern Oregon University. He is a forecaster for the Wallowa Avalanche Center.  Michael is an AIARE Level 1 and Level 2 Course Leader, and Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association.

Victor McNeil is the Director of the Wallowa Avalanche Center and lead forecaster. He is an AIARE Level 1 Course Leader. Victor has his IFMGA certification, which is the highest guide certification available. He guides internationally for Alpine Ascents and frequents high haunts in Alaska, South America, and beyond. Victor and his wife Kelly, own Eagle Cap Mountain Guides.

Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race Results for 2/6/22

  1. Kyle Rood – 44:13 2. Matt Sheeks – 48.14 3. Konrad Dickman – 49:42 13. Maddee Rubenson – 106.08

Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race Results for 2/8/20

1. Mark Hauter – 42:25  2. Aaron Maxwell – 44:53  3. John Orland – 52:38  

9. Raphaela Hsh-Flanders – 113:45  

Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race Results – 1/28/19

1. Devin Calvin – 35:53  2. Mark Hauter – 38:44  3. Allan Ottman – 39:50   9. Jessica Barker – 43:18