Highlights from the history of the Outdoor Recreation Center


1969—Christopher Tapfer (’73 Rec.) enters WSU and works as a ski instructor for a physical education class at Tamarack Mountain. The same year, WSU buys the North South Ski Bowl, now known as Palouse Divide. It will be managed by the Outdoor Activities Program until 1980. It’s sold in 1984.

1971—The Outdoor Activities Program (OAP) is established as part of ASWSU. Tapfer and a graduate assistant teach winter survival, mountaineering, and canoeing.

1972—Tapfer takes over management of the OAP, which moves into Compton Union Building for the next 29 years. During this era, the program launches the WSU Ski and Gear Swap, a fundraiser bringing high-quality ski equipment at affordable prices every winter through 2016.

Early 1980s—The OAP becomes the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC).

1994—The ORC hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour for the first time.

2001—The ORC becomes part of the new University Recreation and moves from the CUB to Hollingbery Fieldhouse Annex, more than doubling its space for outdoor equipment from 1,500 square feet to nearly 3,800 square feet.

2002—The ORC hosts its first climbing competition.

2003—Tapfer fully transitions to new role as the University’s emergency management coordinator.

2004—The ORC’s Challenge Course—with three high elements and ten low elements—is built in the Student Recreation Center (SRC) Backyard.

2011—The ORC begins including Leave No Trace Awareness certification in nearly all overnight programs as well as day trips or clinics with an ecological focus. Since then, the center has issued more than 900 Leave No Trace certifications.

2013—With renovation work on Martin Stadium and the demolition of the Hollingbery Fieldhouse Annex, the ORC relocates to a new building near the SRC. The climbing wall moves into the SRC.

2014—The ORC holds its first Palouse Outdoor Festival along the banks of the Snake River.

2016— The ORC’s Bouldering Competition joins with the NC3 Northwest Regional Climbing Tournament.

2021—The ORC celebrates its fiftieth anniversary.


Read more about ORC at 50 years old.

Memories of Outdoor Recreation Center from WSU alumni


On the web

ORC website

ORC on Facebook

ORC turns 30 (WSU News)

Visit ORC for outdoor adventure (Daily Evergreen, April 21, 2018)

Nature belongs to everyone (Op-ed in the Daily Evergreen, January 24, 2018)