December 12-13, 2015 – Willamette Pass

The forecast looked like it would be deep for the weekend, and Dan and I were game to get out for some turns.  Our plan was to hit the Pass on Saturday evening, stay at the cabin on Saturday night, and head to Bachelor on Sunday to use up a “free” day on our 4-packs.  I pulled in to Dan’s in around 12:30 and we hit the road shortly thereafter, making our way to the Pass sometime around 2:00.  The snow was deep in the parking lot, and it was hard to believe there was nearly 25 inches on the ground, especially since the snotel showed 6 inches a few days prior.

The Pass

The Pass

We pulled out our gear, shouldered our packs, and headed over to the patrol shack, where we found Joe waiting.  After a brief chat with Brian, who had just come down from riding the backside and said it was deep, we headed up.  A half hour later we were working our way up Eagle’s Flight…

Big trees, big snow

Big trees on Eagles

The mountain was starting to look like a ski area, and breaking trail up Eagles wasn’t easy, so we took turns leading.  Soon, we reached the top of Eagles….

Joe and Dan

Joe and Dan atop Eagles

A few moments later we reached the EPA top shack and the wind was whipping and it was cold.  We enjoyed a quick beer during the transition, then started down in the waning light, electing to ride Timburr.  There was still a few “features” on the run, but it was pretty nice.

ski

Dan and Joe heading down Timburr

The snow was heavy as we got back to the lodge, and we were wet and cold.  Good thing Dan and John’s cabin was only a few minutes down the road.  Within a few minutes of leaving the pass, we had a fire going and were drying out wet gear.  The evening was pretty relaxed, and we enjoyed an excellent dinner of elk sausage mixed with onions and peppers, as well as spinach salad.  After dinner, we enjoyed some good conversation, free from distraction of cell phones, computers, technology, etc. — one of things I’ve found I need more and more as life becomes more hectic.

Over the course of a few beers, we watched the watched the rain turn back to snow and start accumulating.  By the time we hit the sack, it was coming down good, and we were hopeful for the day to come.

The Cabin

The Cabin

We were up at 5:30 to a breakfast of sausage and eggs, and found nearly a foot of new snow outside.  By 6:30, Dan and I bid Joe farewell as head headed for the Pass and we took off towards Bachelor.  Travel wasn’t easy, as the roads were in pretty poor shape, with trees down everywhere and minimal plowing.  Nevertheless, we made it to the mountain by 8:30, only to find that thousands of other folks had the same idea.  To make things worse, Bachelor had lost power and was running three lifts at half speed, with three to a chair.  After three hours, we’d made three laps and said fuck it and headed back to the Pass.  The snow was good, but not worth the heinous lines.  The highlight of my day was getting to meet Russman with Karakoram, whom I’d had several email and phone conversations with, but had never met in person.

By 2:00, we were back at the Pass and it was effing deep.  The snow depth had doubled since the day before, with 50 inches at the base.  Luckily, KP had a single groomer track on it, and we took advantage and headed up.

snow

snow

At the top of Good Time Charlie, we decided to drop in.  When I took off my skis to switch over to ride mode, I sunk in up to my chest.  At that moment, I knew it was going to be almost too deep, and it was.  Dan snagged my camera, and headed down, barely able to make turns.  I followed in his tracks, then headed out for a few deep, deep tunneling turns…..

Tunnel vision

Tunnel vision

We rode down through the steep section of the run, and then down what we thought was a skin track out.  Turns out it was someone else’s downtrack that looked like a skin track since it was so deep.  At the bottom, we figured we had time for one more lap before it got dark, so we headed back up.  After a half hour struggle in the deep snow, we made one more glorious run….

Dan

Dan getting some fresh pow

We worked our way down the run, and after a brief struggle in the flats, managed to make our way back to the groomed run — the same run we drove up three weeks prior — for a fun run back to the lodge.  I snapped a couple shots of Dan from the hip while riding, including the one below…

Heading home

Heading home

Back at the truck around 5:00, it was getting dark as we high-fived, thinking we finally salvaged our day after the morning debacle at Bachelor.  Then we saw flashing lights on 58, and noticed the sign — Road Closed, Wreck Ahead.  Pretty much was the perfect ending to the day.  No worries, we headed back down to Crescent and enjoyed burgers and beers at Manley’s for a couple hours until the highway opened.  When it was all said and done, I was back home around 9:30 pm, having made three runs at Bachelor and two at the Pass, but it was still a great day in the Oregon Cascades

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