May 15, 2020 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

After having such a good time in March and April on after work dusk patrols at the Pass, Dan and I decided a May after work dusk patrol was in order. I left work around 4:00 pm, and headed out highway 58 to the Pleasant Hill school. Dan arrived a few minutes later and we piled gear into his Tesla and headed up to the Pass. The frontside was looking pretty bare as we shouldered packs and started out…

Willamette Pass & Lodge

Hiking up Swoosh

Our sights were set on RTS, so we headed over towards Twilight and worked our way up Swoosh. The lower portions of the runs were gone, but as we started climbing we hit snow a few hundred feet up the slope. It wasn’t much — only a sliver, but it would go, and we were stoked that we’d be able to ride quite a ways down the front on our exit. Continuing up, we soon made our way up to the top of Twilight, and coverage on Duck was looking pretty nice…

Looking down Duck

From Twilight, we booted up Amber’s and onto RTS, and then punched a boot pack up RTS to the top. The snow wasn’t quite as set up as we’d hoped for, but the lighting made for some nice pics as we headed up the slope….

Approaching the top of RTS

At the top of RTS, we decided to head on to the top of EPA, to soak in the views and see if we could link turns all the way from the summit. We lounged around for a few minutes at the top, soaking in the views and snapping a few pics, and then it was time to drop in. As luck would have it, we were able to link turns down from the lift shack, through the trees with a vegetation belay, onto the Success Patch….

Up top on EPA

Skiing the Success Patch

We had to take our skis off for a short 15 foot walk to get onto RTS proper, and then we skied the upper section. I dropped in first, and Dan snapped a few pics of me coming down to the crux section, which was only a few fee wide and littered with rocks and sticks….

Dropping into RTS

Above the Crux

We skirted through the crux without damage to ourselves or our gear, and resumed skiing down the run. I snapped a few pics of Dan as he enjoyed the evening turns….

Skiing the top of RTS

Dan ripping down RTS

Even though the skiing was slushy, the turns on RTS are always fun, and we enjoyed weaving around the rocks and stumps down to the bottom, where we found a nice log to take a well deserved break. After refueling with a quick snack, it didn’t take us long to decide that another run was in order.

RTS in the evening light

A quick break at the bottom

The snow seemed to be firming up a little bit on our hike back up the bootpack, and once we reached the top it was time to pop open those beers we’d been lugging around. The beer of choice for me was a heavy handed Fantastic Haze Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada. It was super smooth, but at 9% it packed quite a punch. I drank half of it up top, and decided to drop in and enjoy the rest of it at the bottom of the run…

Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada

2nd lap on RTS

Making turns with a beer in hand wasn’t a problem on the steep run — the snow had firmed up some and rode pretty nicely. One of my favorite things about late season riding is skiing on a few inches of snow, next to rocks, dirt, stumps, etc. As we headed down, Dan snapped some more shots of me enjoying the evening turns….

Matt enjoying turns on RTS

At the bottom of RTS

At the bottom, we skied out on Lois Lane, and over to Duck. The skiing down Swoosh was great, and we had a couple of short carries up top, but were able to ski back down to within a few hundred vertical feet of the lodge. From there, it was an easy walk down the run to the lodge and over to the car.

Dan at the end of the snow

There was still a bit of light by the time we made the car, and both of us were looking forward to heading down to Gold Lake snopark for an additional beverage and some brats. Sitting there by the grill, in the dark of night, reminded me of hanging out by the fire earlier in the year at the Pass after patrol with the parking lot crowd.

Brats at Gold Lake

A few minutes after we pulled out the grill, the brats were done, and they definitely hit the spot. With the beers drank and the food eaten, it was time to hit the road, and enjoy the conversation on the road home about the turns from the evening, as well as turns from past trips. We made it back to Pleasant Hill without incident, and I bid Dan farewell to both him and another season of excellent dusk patrol turns at the Pass.


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