December 31, 2011 – Powder turns at the Pass

December of 2011 was one of the driest December’s on record, but a cold front finally moved through the Oregon Cascades on the last days of the month.  I met John at Dan’s house on Saturday morning, and we headed up to the pass with the hopes of enjoying a few powder turns on the last day of 2011.  Telemetry from near the pass indicated that 8 inches of snow had fallen in the previous 12 hours, and when we reached the pass the parking lot was unplowed.  After a bit of shoveling near the gate, several friends from patrol showed for some OEC practice with this year’s candidates, and within a few minutes, we were parked at the bottom of the hill near the patrol shack.

The view from the bottom of the Pass

The view from the bottom of the Pass

I was stoked to finally be getting some time in on my recently completed Option Joni Makinen DIY splitboard and looking forward to seeing how it would ride in the powder.  John and I started up the hill while Dan came along behind after making a run on the lower mountain with his wife.  The weather was perfect as we skinned up Good Time Charlie and then through the trees onto Eagles Flight.  Eagles had decent coverage and 10 inches of fresh, and would make for a good ride on the way down.

John skinning towards Eagle Peak

John skinning towards Eagle Peak

Things were beginning to look a bit more like winter at the top of the ridge between Eagle Peak and Peak 2, where the wind was blowing from the east and sculpting the snow.  In a few minutes we were standing at the top of Peak 2, looking down Northern and I knew we going to get some good turns.  About the time we were ready to drop in, Dan caught up with John and I dropped into June’s Run while Dan skied Northern, and we met up near the bottom.  The snow was blower, and after a few face shots I was totally stoked on my DIY split job.  We skinned back up our track on June’s and enjoyed a cold beer at the top of Peak 2 along with a stellar view.  For run number two, we all dropped into Northern, which was holding the best snow.  I snapped a few photos of John and Dan enjoying the turns…

Dan and John enjoying fresh tracks on the backside

Dan and John enjoying fresh tracks on the backside

Skinning out the second time went much faster on an established track.  Since it skied so well, we all agreed to drop Northern again for the third run.  Dan grabbed my camera from me and snapped a few photos of me on the split, including this shot below….

Turns on the last day of 2011

Turns on the last day of 2011

The skies started to darken in the afternoon, with a small front approaching, and the light and clouds presented an opportunity for some decent photos as we skinned back up June’s Run for the final time.

John skinning up June's Run

John skinning up June’s Run

Back at the top, Dan headed down, while John and I made a run down Escalator to see how the east side of Peak 2 was looking.  The coverage was good, though a bit windblown, and the bottom half of the run was nice powder.  For the final turns of the day, we skinned back to the top of Eagle Peak and rode down to Eagles Flight, before traversing over to By George.  Riding down George in the waning daylight with nobody around reminded me of doing a mid-winter sweep while patrolling – something I’ve really missed this winter.  I couldn’t complain on this day however, having ridden over 4300 feet of cold winter powder!

 

2 comments to December 31, 2011 – Powder turns at the Pass

  • Tyler Bushnell

    Matt,
    Your trip reports continue to impress. I love the details. Santa brought me some new skins for Christmas, so I gotta get out in some of this Oregon backcountry.

    Tyler

  • Awesome Tyler! It would great to get out for a few runs together soon, especially if it snows!