March 23, 2013 – Late Season Powder!

Warmer weather was in the forecast, and the 2012-2013 ski patrol season was winding down at Willamette Pass, but I knew given the recent weather and snowfall that Saturday would provide one more chance for powder turns.  It had snowed about a foot or so on Thursday/Friday with substantial wind, and though the area was open during the week, Peak 2 hadn’t turned since the previous weekend.  The temperature in the parking lot was 12 degrees when we pulled in, and a few of us set out early before the morning meeting to head to Peak 2 for avy control work.  The morning was beautifully sunny, and I could tell we’d be in for a good day when we unloaded at the top of EPA.  As we hiked along the top of Peak 2, Peter kicked off a few of the overhanging cornices looming near the lift.

Cutting cornices before the real avy work

Cutting cornices before the real avy work

John, Dan and Steve skied out and to do the high avy route along Dragon’s Back, while Dusty, Peter and I held back and would do the lower route.  Getting nothing to slide along the top of the runs, we had a bit of time to wait until the upper group was clear for us to begin, which provided some time to snap a few photos, including the one below looking out over the area with Mt Bachelor and Broken Top in the background…..

Patrollers on the high route

Patrol on the morning avy route

Once John, Dan & Steve were clear of the nose, our group was set to begin on the lower route.  Peter and Dusty went out one by one, and set a track out towards Gravity Chute.  Skiing down the very top of June’s Run, we encountered about 8-10 inches of settled powder not effected by the wind.  It clearly had been windy however, and reports over the radio indicated that Destiny and Escalator were swept clean of fresh snow.  Doing morning avy work means missing out on a bit of skiing, but the views and weather more than made up for it on this day….

Skiing out to the meadow

Skiing out to the meadow

Once out to the top of Gravity, we knocked the loose snow down the chute without results.  Looking out across the meadow however, I could tell the group on the upper route had gotten a few things to go and was able to see some debris sliding down towards the trees.  A few minutes later, Dan radioed that we were clear on their end, and we started down….

Dusty enjoying a turn while on the avy route

Dusty enjoying a turn while on the avy route

We cleared the backside for opening before 9:00, and headed down, enjoying the great snow in the meadow.  We reached the bottom of the Peak 2 lift about the same time some of the public who were there, which is always a good feeling, since getting the backside open by 9:00 with avy work completed isn’t always possible.  The snow was so good on the backside that I made several more runs before heading back to the patrol room to drop off the avy gear.

Raleigh skiing the fresh pow in the meadow

Raleigh skiing the fresh pow in the meadow

After a great lunch of spicy sausage dogs prepared by Dewey, I headed out and there was still some good snow to be found, though the weather was warming considerably.  The snow in the lower half of White Russian and RTS was still soft, but it started to get sticky everywhere after my bump on the Twighlight lift around 2:00.  After a bit of other work, the day came to an end by sweeping Peak 2, followed by upper mountain and lower mountain sweep on the frontside.  The evening meeting went by quickly, with a recap of a few of the day’s injuries and incidents, then it was time for my favorite part of patrolling on Saturdays – beer from Oakshire Brewing Co.  Hopefully we’ll get another powder patrol day this season, but if not, this one would be a good one to end on!  Here’s a parting shot of Raleigh skiing through the meadow with style!

Style skiing in the late season pow!

Style skiing in the late season pow!

 

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