February 29 – March 3, 2016 – Tam McArthur Rim

The annual trip to the Three Creeks Huts is something I look forward to all winter, and this year was no exception.  This year’s trip would mark my 7th consecutive trip to the huts operated at Three Creeks Lake by Shane and Jonas with Three Sisters Backcountry Inc.  Each year has been a great experience, and the beauty of the area and comfort of the huts has brought me back each year.  This year’s crew totaled 11 folks.  As usual, we met at the parking area, loaded our gear onto the sleds, and headed up the road to start our adventure. Partway up the road however, one of the sleds had an issue.  Not to worry, we loaded all 11 folks onto Shane’s sled and kept on trucking up the road.

The Crew

The Crew

Before long we reached the huts, and after a briefing on the snowpack history from Shane, situated our gear and headed out for a tour in the sun.  Our crew worked our way up past the Playground and to the top of the Rim to assess conditions.  Once at the top, we snapped a few pictures and mulled over the options.  Everyone dropped in for one run together, and then we separated into three groups to explore different areas.

Brian

Brian looking over the terrain in the Rim

Adam

Adam enjoying some Tam pow

Adam, Brian and I, the three splitboarders in the crew, headed out to the main bowl below the Prow.  Skinning up the bowl below the prow, watching the snow blowing over the huge cornices atop the ridge in the sunshine, reminded me of my first trip to Tam 7 years earlier with my two close friends Todd and Andrew.  Conditions were similar, although the fresh snow was deeper that year.  It was hard for me to believe that trip was 7 years in the past, and I made a mental note to get out with those two again for some turns soon.  After a short skin, followed by a steep bootpack, we reached the Prow and dropped in for a run.  I dropped first, and setup to shoot a few photos of Brian and Adam, including the photo of Brian below with Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood in the background…

Brian

Brian riding the Prow bowl

We climbed back up our skin track for another run, and after a brief rest at the base of the prow, we dropped in for one more lap.  Brian found a little rock to drop off of, and I was able to catch of picture of him in mid-flight…

Brian

Brian enjoying lap number two

The powder turns to the bottom of the bowl were great, and with the hour growing later, we headed back over to the Playground to finish our day with a final lap there before riding back to the huts and settling in for the evening.  The remainder of the day was spend enjoying good company, good food, and good beer.

The next morning, our crew awoke to warmish temperatures and an inch of new snow.  After breakfast, Brian and I decided to dig a study pit a few hundred yards from the huts as part of a homework assignment for an Avy 2 class we were taking with ski patrol.  It took awhile to find the ground, but with some strategic shoveling we finally managed.  Total depth was approximately 245 cm!

Pit

Brian in the pit!

As suspected, we didn’t find any sketchy layers, and only a few layers that weren’t completely rounded.  After analysis of the study pit, we headed inside for a quick sandwich before heading out for an afternoon tour.  Once we rode a couple of lines above the Playground, we headed back for a little cliff sessioning…

Brian

Brian airing it out

Day 3 dawned clear, and looked like a great day for a tour.  Andy, Adam, Mike and Mark were down to check out something beyond the Rim, so we left the huts early while the others hung around to enjoy a longer breakfast.  We made it to the top of the Rim in good time, but the weather looked threatening and caused us to forgo our original objective of Ball Butte and/or the Ramp on Broken Top.  We toured out towards Broken Hand, and decided to check out Snow Creek.

The view northwest

Looking into Snow Creek

Matt

Matt touring along the ridge

Eventually the winds died down a bit and the skies improved somewhat, so we decided to drop into Snow Creek and enjoy the chalky powder in the open bowls.  Looking opsut over the Sisters, I found myself looking forward to the spring touring season that’s just around the corner.  As we dropped in, I grabbed my camera and snapped a few pics…

Andy and South Sister

Andy and South Sister

Andy

Andy enjoying some Snow Creek chalk

The upper turns in the basin were quite nice, and we worked our way down the drainage, stopping above a steep headwall to evaluate options.  It looked like the best snow was skiers left, so we worked our way over that way and I let Andy snap a few photos of me making turns.

Matt

A fun turn in Snow Creek

Snow Creek

Mike and Mark looking back at our tracks

Continuing down the drainage, we made fun turns for nearly a mile, then found a nice spot for a quick lunch.  Sitting in the sunshine, out of the wind, was a nice contrast to the ridge above.  The scenery wasn’t too bad either.  It was a steep skin out of the drainage, but steep skinning and climbing makes for quick time.

Mark

Mark climbing out of Snow Creek

Mike

Mike enjoying some Snow Creek snow

A few more pictures of the scenery in the Snow Creek basin, including a shot I took from the top of the ridge of the four of us with my camera situated on the top of my pack as a makeshift tripod….

Broken Top

Matt & Broken Top

Snow Creek Crew

Snow Creek Crew

Day 4 was our final day of the trip, but it would be one of the best.  It had rained like a bastard the night before, and none of us had high expectations for the day.  It did snow about an inch in the early morning hours however, so our crew headed out to see what the conditions would be like.  Our initial plan was to make a run or two and head back down to the huts.  Joe, Adam and I headed up to East Peak, and arrived in time to watch Mark dropping into the Jelly Roll across the way…

Mark

Mark and Broken Top

The snow on East Peak was better than expected, so we headed out to the Rim to join Dan and John to see what conditions would be like there.  Oddly enough, even with the rain the night before, we found some of the best snow of our trip.  We enjoyed two laps on the east face of the Rim, and then dropped into the Playground from the top through a couple of steep slots…

Matt

Matt riding below the Rim

Matt

Heading down towards the Playground

The snow in the Playground rode just as well as the snow higher up on the Rim, and we ended up making three laps before calling it quits.

Tam Pow

Adam scoring some Tam pow

Brian

Brian booting back up

Even John and Dan got in on the action….

The Fish

The Fish

 

Dan

Dan playing in the playground

We worked our way back to the huts around 2:00, and enjoyed a well earned beer while waiting for Shane and Jonas to arrive from stocking the nordic huts down the road.  A few folks (Laurie, Jen, Mike and Mark) decided to head out and skate ski down the road, while the rest of us basked in the sunshine and drank cold beer.  By 3:00, we heard the hum of the sleds, and shortly thereafter we were saying goodbye to the Rim after another great year.  Eyeing the Three Sisters on the ride out, I was looking forward to coming back to the area in the spring and already plotting a return trip to the huts for 2017!  Here’s a parting shot of our trip of Mike dropping into the Jelly Roll….

Mike

Mike and Broken Top

 

 

Comments are closed.