March 16, 2019 – Spring Patrolling at the Pass

Mid-March means longer days at the Pass, with weather that’s usually snowy or sunny. For Patrol 2 on Saturday the 16th, it was the later rather than the former. We pulled into the parking lot around 7:30 am like normal, stepped into the patrol room and began gearing up for the day. After the morning meeting, several of us headed out to open EPA in the morning sun.

Craig up top

After opening RTS, which was pretty nice, I headed over to Peak 2 for a few runs. Since we were closing in on the end of the season, I decided after a few runs that it was worth hiking the Avy route one more time for the season. I hiked out to the Nose and snapped a few pics with my fisheye lens. The Nose offers one of the best views of the backside of the Pass…

The view from the Nose

After I left the nose, I met up with Jodie and Jon, and we headed over to the Meadow for some beacon practice. The Fish had hid a couple beacons; we found the first one quickly, and the second one a bit later, reinforcing the fact that in the event of an avalanche you’d better hope there isn’t more than one victim if you only have one or two rescuers.

Jodi at the top of Waldo

After the avy practice, we stashed the gear back at the top of Peak 2 and headed in for some lunch. I snapped a few pics of Hannah and Meghan before I headed down, including the shot below…

Hannah and Meghan on Peak 2

I headed down to the base via the Rosary runs, which were nicely groomed and made for some fun turns. In the aid room, the Social Committee (Rich and Hal) were busy making lunch for the patrol. On the menu for today was corned beef and chili, and it hit the spot. Rich and Hal make patrolling on Saturday worth it no matter what the conditions are like!

Rich and Hal – The Social Committee

Saturday’s Corned Beef

After lunch, I headed out to catch the EPA lift for a 1:00 pm bump slot. Bump was pretty slow, so I killed the time by talking to folks up top as well as shooting a few pics of the surrounding scenery with my telephotos lens…

Lakeview Peak and Beyond

After bump, it was time for a few runs down RTS, which was skiing great in the afternoon sun. I headed in to the patrol room around 2:20, with the goal of snapping a few photos before heading back to Peak 2 for sweep. While I was focusing on a couple subjects, a call came over the radio from Fischer that Kris Kross was closed. For a brief second I thought I was late, then realized John hadn’t turned his clock back. Sure enough, he took a rift of shit over the radio before sheepishly announcing that Kris Kross was back open.

The Pass the Snowbank Along the Highway

The beer out and ready for the post patrol meeting

With my urge to snap a few photos satisfied, it was time to head over to Peak 2 for another lap and then sweep. The snow on the backside runs was still skiing nicely, and I headed down Destiny, one of my favorites, especially in the afternoon.

Ian heading up for sweep

Greg relaxing at the top of Peak 2

As patrol started to gather around the top of Peak 2 for sweep, I volunteered to run the show and assigned runs. As usual for the weekend, we had several folks show up and were able to have one person per run. Before everyone set off, Schweitzer grabbed the camera and snapped a photo of all of us at the top…

Peak 2 Sweep Crew

Patrol coming up after closing

After Peak 2 sweep, everyone unloaded the chair and started off for upper mountain sweep. We decide one more photos was in order, and this time included the Peak 2 lift crew in the shot…

The gang after Peak 2 sweep

We made the short ski/hike over to EPA, and after last chair, swept the mountain clean. Twilight sweep followed, and then it was time for the evening meeting followed by those beers we’d all been waiting for. Hanging in the patrol room after the day was over, drinking a cold one and bullshitting with everyone, there definitely was the bittersweet feeling that the season was waning down. Regardless, it’s been a great season, and there’s still a month or so left to enjoy it until the end.

Sweeping KP to End the Day

 

January 12, 2019 – Sun and Sleds at the Pass

The sun was out and the mountain was bathed in early morning light, and I knew it would be a good day as Dan and I pulled into the parking lot and unloaded our gear at the patrol room. After donning 0ur gear, we had a quick morning meeting and set out to open the mountain. The ride up EPA went quickly, and when we arrived at the top the sun was shining brightly and the east wind was brisk. Before opening any runs, I snapped a couple of photos, including the shots below….

Morning view over Odell Lake

Rescue sleds in the morning sun

I dropped in on RTS, and though it was a bit icy up top, most of the run was in pretty good shape. A few runs later, it was time for some sled work with the sled candidates, and I agreed to work with Jon, a fellow snowboarder, on Peak 2. After a couple of runs down Where’s Waldo, Jon was pretty comfortable in the handles, so we worked over to Escalator for a few runs before heading in for lunch.

Jon bringing the sled up the Peak 2 lift

Lunch was a welcome break, and served up courtesy of the social committee, but we were back out on the hill by 1:00pm  to do a little more sled work. In between runs, a couple of photo opportunities presented themselves, and I was stoked to test out my new fisheye lens…

Patrol working hard

Kyron at the top of Peak 2

An hour or so before sweep, I was stoked to ride alongside Hannah while she took a sled out for the first time in a couple of years after a nasty leg injury. Hannah was solid in the handles – and picked up right where she left off.

Hannah on Waldo

Running sleds on Waldo with Mt Ray in the background

Given the amount of effort we’d put in training for the day, Hannah and I bailed on Peak 2 sweep and skied a couple of runs on High Lead and Eagle’s to get some late afternoon corn before it was gone. We were able to make two runs and still catch the last chair at the bottom of EPA before 4:00.

Hannah skiing Eagles

We unloaded at the top of EPA and found a gaggle of patrollers preparing for sweep, so I orchestrated a quick photo with the fisheye lens. The sun was just getting ready to set over Diamond Peak as the shutter released…

P2 before sweep

At the base after closing lower mountain

I swept RTS and then down George, and then it was time for the evening meeting, followed by beers courtesy of Oakshire. Sitting back and enjoying the bs with fellow patrollers, I was stoked on another great day at the Pass.

12/22/18 – All mountain opening weekend at the Pass

The whole mountain was open for the first time in two seasons, with the exception of one meager weekend last February, and I was looking forward to a great day of turns and my first day as hill chief on Patrol 2. I met up with Craig and Ed in Pleasant Hill, and we made the drive up Highway 58 to the Pass, arriving a bit before 7:30 am. I got my gear on quickly, grabbed a radio, and headed out to test fire a few shots with my new Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye lens. I was pretty stoked on the lens, and snapped a few photos around the base area, including the shot below in the early morning light…

Early morning at the Pass

After shooting a few pics and leading the morning meeting, we headed out to open the mountain. The snow conditions were fast with a few inches of fresh snow over the previous day’s groomers. I opened RTS, and was stoked to make turns down the run after all the work we’d put in earlier in the year cutting. It skied great, and the little tree island we left was clearly visible.

Kory, Joe, Laurie & Andy atop Peak 2

Around 10:00 am, several of us met up on Peak 2 for sled checkoffs. I ended up in the handles on the first run of the day with Joe loaded in the sled, and headed down June’s Run with Todd on the tail rope. Halfway down the run we switched positions and then ran the sled down to the bottom of Peak 2. We kept running laps on the backside with the sleds, and I pulled out my camera and snapped a few photos along the way…

Jody and Todd hauling Kerstin down Waldo

Telephoto shot of Jodie in action

Around noon, I headed in for a quick lunch, supplied by the social committee. EPA was having some technical difficulties, but I chanced it after lunch and made another trip down RTS, and it was just as good as in the morning. I worked my way back over to Peak 2, and we continued sled training into the early afternoon.

Kory and Ed atop EPA with the Fisheye

Given that none of the patrol had run sleds in a couple of year’s, it was nice to knock the rust off and get folks back in the handles again. I snapped a few photos of the afternoon action, including the shots below….

More sled training at the top of June’s

Craig working down June’s Run

Before long 3:30 pm rolled around, and it was time to sweep the backside, something I’d been looking forward to for the past two years. The quiet of sweep after everyone else has left for the day is quite surreal.

Riding the chair after sweep

Patrol heading up after sweep

Once Peak 2 sweep was complete, it was time for upper mountain sweep. I stayed up top with Jodie while the rest of the patrol swept runs, and once everything was clear, we vacated via RTS. Twilight sweep was next, and then it was time for a quick evening meeting followed by beers from Oakshire and chips and salsa. Hanging out with the rest of the patrol, after signing duty cards and clearing the area with management, I was pretty stoked the season was now in full swing, and looking forward to more patrol days to come!

December 8, 2018 – Opening day at the Pass

The previous week’s storm and subsequent cold weather was enough to get the Pass open for the 2018-2019 season, and the stoke was high among the patrol after a non-existent season the winter before. Even though it was only the lower mountain that would be opening, I was pretty stoked to be able to get in some lift-served turns. I made plans to head up with Dan on Saturday and patrol with P1, given a conflict with my regularly scheduled P2 day on Sunday. We arrived in the parking lot to a base of about 12 inches, and set about getting ready for the day.

Dan, Quin & Jody outside the patrol room

After the morning meeting, we headed out to spin a few laps on the lift. My first few runs on Timbur Glades were pretty nice — the snow was dry powder and the run only had a few tracks on it. A little later, Dan and I decided it was worth it to hike over to High Lead glades and ski that run, too. I snapped a few photos on the way with my new Canon 5D Mark V, including the shots below…

Dan at the top of By George

Hiking out to High Lead Glades

After our runs, we headed in for some lunch, courtesy of the social committee.The brats and vege chili hit the spot, and I devoured it quickly. When lunch was over, Dan headed out with skins to check out the conditions on Peak 2, while I was tasked with some training for the make-up refresher. A few patrollers who weren’t able to make the regular refresher, along with the mountain hosts, needed to do chairlift evac, so we spent some time on EPA practicing skills.

Evac practice on EPA

Around 3:00 pm or so, our work was complete, and I made a couple of final runs before it was time for sweep. Brian and I hiked over to the upper portion of Lower Timbur Glades and found some decent conditions. Sweep commenced at 4:00 pm, and we were treated to a spectacular view of the sun setting into the fog…

Brian on Timbur Glades

Twilight Closing

After sweep, we gathered in the patrol room for a quick evening debrief, and then it was time for some beers courtesy of Oakshire. Hanging out in the patrol room catching up on the bs at the start of the season is one of the things I look forward to most about patrolling. Hopefully there’s many more days ahead, with a long and powder filled season!

Cutting at the Pass – 10/21, 27 & 11/18

October 2018 was quite different from October 2017, so with no new snow to ski and warm temperatures dominating, Dan, Joe and I were looking for some exercise. We decided to take advantage of the weather window to do some cutting at the Pass in the hopes that it would pay dividends later in the winter. Prior to heading up on the 21st, I checked in with management to make sure they were ok with us doing some work in the area, and they gave us the green light. The following morning, we headed up, with the goal of doing some work on RTS.

Stopping for a quick break on the drive up

Dan’s truck made short work of the rough road, and we soon had ‘er parked most of the way up Amber’s Way. Heading out to cut with saw and pack almost felt like we were going out for a ski, but not quite…

Ready for a day of work

As we rounded the corner we got a good look at the run and what we’d be in for. The trees were thick, especially in the middle part of the run.

RTS before our work

The morning was spent working on the lower part of the run cutting shorter trees that had been lopped off the previous year about two feet from the ground.  After running through a few tanks of gas and oil, we started gaining ground on skiers left and began working up the run.

Joe working on some smaller trees

My Stihl on RTS

Wallowing around the steep slope with a chainsaw in one hand and pack in the other was somewhat challenging. The three of us cut until about 3:00 pm, and then worked our way back down to the truck…

Joe cutting near our high point for day 1

Matt laying waste on RTS

I snapped a few photos from the bottom of RTS, including the one below that shows our progress for the day. We made it about halfway up the run, as well as about halfway out.

RTS after day 1

With the work over for the day, it was time to relax and enjoy a cold beer and some fresh garden salsa. Sitting in the 65 degree sunshine was a start contrast to the cold deep powder we were enjoying a year earlier (almost to the day) a few miles from our present location.

The three essentials — saw, salsa and beer

Dan and Joe after a hard day’s work

With the day’s work done, we decided to take a drive around the area to see how it was looking — we’d heard that management had done quite a bit of work to the runs. As we headed up the haul road and got a look at the frontside runs, we were stoked. Timburr, High Lead, Charlie’s and Eagles were all baby butt smooth, with not a tree in sight. From the looks of it, they would be skiable much earlier than in year’s past. We eventually worked our way up to Peak 2 for a view, and were surprised and happy at the sight of new chairs at the top. The pic below was taken at Peak 2, with some of the new chairs on the lift and the rest on the ground. 

Peak 2

Satisfied with our work for the day, we left the area, but made plans to come up the next weekend to try and finish cutting a swath all the way to the top of RTS. After posting a picture on Instagram, Liam was interested in helping us out, and John was also game, so we made plans to head up on Saturday the 26th with a crew of five for a second day of cutting. Like the previous weekend, we drove up towards the top of Amber’s Way and set out to work. The weather was a bit cooler, and it had rained the day before, so the cutting conditions were definitely a bit on the wet side.

Dan way up on RTS

With five people, we made more progress than we were hoping for. It didn’t take long and we cut our way to the top of the run, and even made some good progress on skier’s right.

Liam cutting over some steep boulders

After running through about 5 tanks of gas, it was time to call it quits, and we trudged down the run which was now littered with cut trees. Going down was harder than going up, but we were all pretty stoked on how the run looked when we got to the bottom…

RTS after day 2

Like the previous week, we enjoyed some more fresh salsa and a couple of beers, before heading home for the day. Our third and final day of cutting occurred on November 18th, and was a partial day after working the patrol room cleanup. Once our patrol obligations were done, Dan, John, Jeff Kerr and I headed out for a couple hours of cutting.

John cutting on a nice November afternoon

The weather was sunny and beautiful, and by the time we were done, we estimated that only 15-20% of the run remained to be cut. Satisfied with our work on RTS and with how well the Pass was looking overall, we all agreed that all we needed now was a couple feet of fresh!

Dan examining a tree before cutting on 11/18