May 4, 2018 – Burgers, Brats & Corn

It seemed like May arrived early this year, and with Hoodoo closing a couple of weeks earlier, it was time for a favorite tradition of dusk patrol turns at the ski area followed by grilling in the sun. Andy and I left work around 1:00 and headed over to Dan’s to carpool up to the mountain. A couple of hours later, we were ready to head out and join Joe, who was already on the hill.

Ready to head out

Groomer at the base

The weather was almost perfect, with nice sunshine and a bit of wind that would calm down later in the evening. We followed Joe’s skintrack, and it didn’t take long to get to the top, where Joe was hanging out enjoying the view. We decided to ski the east face for our first run, and the snow was super smooth dropping in on the rollover.

Dan skiing the east face

Joe, TFJ and Jeff

Towards the bottom, the snow gave way to the manzanita brush, but we found a path to the bottom and enjoyed turns down to the flats below before traversing back around to the front to head up for another lap.

Skiing through the manzanita

After a short bit of skinning, we regained the top in time to see Todd, who was going to meet us on the hill, heading back through the parking lot to the car. He was one and done after breaking a boot buckle I would find out later. Regardless, it was time for a cold one prior to dropping in for run 2. The drink of choice for the day was fitting — a Hoodoo Voodoo IPA from Three Creeks Brewing.

Hoodoo Voodoo on top of Hoodoo

Matt & Andy on top

The second lap down the northwest face of the mountain was fun, but the snow wasn’t worthy of bringing out the camera, so we just enjoyed turns down the face before switching back to skins for one more trip up to the top.

Dan & Joe looking south

Up top, we finished the remainder of our beers, and took out the telephoto lens to shoot a couple photos of the distant volcanoes. The first photo below is of North and Middle Sisters. It was fun to look out over the area we skied the last couple of years at the end of July and first part of August. The second photo is of Mt Jefferson.

North and Middle

Mt Jefferson

With my photo session over, we strapped in for a final lap back down the east face. The turns were good as we headed out and Dan grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos of me halfway down the run….

Andy at the rollover

Turns in front of Mt Washington

On the lower half of the run I snapped a few pictures of Andy ripping up the over-softened snow with Mt Washington and Hayrick Butte in the background. Once we milked turns all the way to the bottom, it was time to ski the flats back to the parking lot and get ready for some apres grilllin’.

May turns at Hoodoo

Andy and Hayrick

Back at the car, after organizing gear and cracking a beer, it was time to get the grill on. We pulled out the burgers, brats and all the fixings and got to work. Honestly this is probably the best part of the trip. The weather was warm and calm — pretty much perfect, and after a few minutes dinner was ready…

Andy grillin’

Matt, Joe and Dan enjoying the offerings

We devoured the burgers and brats in short order, and after a bit more relaxing and bs, it was time to head out. Unfortunately, what little snow had fallen this year was melting fast, so it was unlikely we’d get another dusk patrol this year. Not to worry however, more turns will be had somewhere, and before too long it’ll be time to head back to the ‘Doo for burgers, brats and corn in 2019!

April 12, 2018 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

A mid-April cold front appeared poised to push through the central Oregon cascades on Thursday, so Dan, Andy, Joe and I made plans to head to the Pass to try and score some late season powder turns. Andy and I left work around 1:00 pm, and were a few minutes behind Dan who was headed up separately. Joe was ahead of us by a couple of hours, and our plan was to hook up with him on the backside for some dusk patrol pow turns.

As we approached the Salt Creek tunnel, I knew it was going to be a good afternoon as the snow was already starting to come down. By the time we reached the Pass, there was roughly 8-10 inches of fresh at the base. We parked quickly, grabbed our gear, and headed out. Andy and I were trying to catch Dan, who’d taken off a few minutes earlier, but by the time we rounded the corner on KP we were cursing because his tracks ended and he’d hitched a ride to the top with Donnie who was going to do some work on the lifts. Nevertheless, we reached the top of Peak 2 about an hour later and found Dan and Joe waiting. Conditions looked to be pretty sweet, with about 14 new up top. We decided to drop into the Northern trees, which was an awesome call.

Dan ripping the April pow

Andy getting some freshies

The temperature was around 25 degrees, it was snowing hard, and the new snow was some of the lightest snow we’d scored all season. I grabbed my camera and captured a few shots of Joe cruising by halfway down the run….

Joe exiting the white room

At the bottom, we quickly donned skins and headed back up for another lap. This time we chose skiers right of Northern, and it was equally as good as the first run. I was stoked on how my Amplid Millisurf was performing in stellar conditions….

Surfing on the Millisurf

April pow surfing

Everyone was stoked at the bottom, and agreed another couple of laps were in order. We skinned back to the top of Peak 2, and took a quick break for a snack and a cold beverage. My beer of choice for the day was a IPA from Caldera Brewing.

Caldera IPA and Karakoram Binders

A couple more pow runs commenced, both equally as good as the first. There’s not a lot more you can ask for in mid-April than 14 inches of blower powder and cold temps….

More surfing on the Millisurf

With our work on Peak 2 complete, and the daylight waning, we skinned out of the backside and hiked over to EPA for the final turns of the evening.  At the top prior to dropping in, I grabbed a photo of our crew with my camera mounted on my pack while using the remote shutter control…..

Good times atop EPA

The wind was blowing pretty hard as we dropped into RTS. RTS proved to be pretty wind blow, so Andy and I headed over to Success to find better snow while Dan and Joe headed down. Success skied awesome, and we regrouped on George for soft, consistent pow turns all the way down to the base as the daylight faded.

Andy skiing Success

At the base, we reveled in our stoke from skiing some of the best quality snow of the season, and enjoyed another cold one while putting the gear away before hitting the road. Little did we know that this would be the last substantial powder the Pass would see for the season. Within a couple of weeks, the entire southside would be entirely bare, as would the north side a few more weeks after that. It just proves that you have to get after it when the snow does fall, and never take for granted a great powder day with friends!

April 3, 2018 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

I couldn’t believe it was already April, but the calendar doesn’t lie. Dan and I wanted to get an April dusk patrol in at the Pass, so we made plans to head up on Tuesday evening after work with the hopes of finding some soft snow somewhere on the mountain. We drove separately since we were each coming from work and because Dan had a cold, and I arrived a few minutes before he did, so I had a chance to snap a few pics with the camera.

Willamette Pass

One of many trucks on Hwy 58

Dan arrived a few minutes after 6:00 pm, and we headed out shortly thereafter. There wasn’t a lot of snow on the lower mountain, but it was soft as we started out. It did firm up however as we headed up the mountain…

Looking up By George

We worked our way up Eagle’s, skinning side by side straight up the run, and the snow firmed up considerably as the clouds rolled in. A few moments later we reached the top of EPA, and enjoyed a beer while we transitioned into ski/ride mode. Sitting atop EPA, it was really quiet, and as light snowflakes started to fall from the sky, it reminded of sweep during ski patrol. 

Matt atop EPA

We finished our beers as the light began to get flat, and dropped in a few minutes prior to 7:30 pm. The first few turns were scratchy, but a little lower down the conditions improved substantially. I headed down below Dan and snapped a few pictures as he descended and skied by me…

Dan skiing RTS

Evening turns on RTS

Halfway down the run, Dan grabbed the camera and returned the favor of shooting photos of me. The results are below. One of the things I love about dusk patrol photos is the grainy nature of the pictures given the low light conditions in which they’re taken….

Riding down RTS

Dusk Patrol at the Pass

At the bottom, we headed out via Amber’s, and then skied Swoosh out. Swoosh was really nice, with good coverage from side to side and top to bottom. We whooped and hollered all the way down, and ended up at the cars right as it was getting dark.  All in all, it was an evening that exceeded expectations, and another April dusk patrol is in the books.  Here’s a parting shot of RTS from the evening…

Looking up RTS


March 19-22, 2018 – Tam McArthur Rim, Three Creeks Huts

Once again it was time for the annual hut trip to Tam McArthur Rim. It was a good crew for 2018, although a few of the usual suspects didn’t make the journey for one reason or another. For those of us who did, the conditions didn’t disappoint. After driving over highway 126 in the morning, we met in the snowpark as usual around 8:30 after stopping in Sisters for a cup of coffee. Jonas arrived shortly thereafter, and we soon set to work loading the sleds with our gear.

The crew prior to departure

The weather was beautifully sunny as we departed, and it didn’t take long for the miles to pass on the way in and we soon found ourselves at the huts. The snowpack looked to be holding up well, and the firm conditions we’d encountered on the way in appeared to give way to powder snow on the north facing aspects of the bowls. Once our gear was unloaded and in the huts, we wasted little time in getting out on the skin track. Sam and Mark led the way, and we quickly found ourselves on top of the rim. The lines directly into the Orchard bowl looked good, so we dropped in. I captured a few pics, including the ones below of Brian ripping and Andy at the bottom of the bowl…

Brian shredding

Andy at the bottom of Orchard Bowl

We ate a quick snack at the bottom of the bowl, then toured over to the Animal bowl to check out conditions there. The bowl was untouched and the snow soft, so we traversed over and then started booting up…

Climbing in the Animal bowl

Sam scouting the options

There are a few nice couloir like features in the Animal bowl, so our group split into two to tackle a couple of different options. Sam, Dan, Brian and I headed over towards climbers left, and booted up a steep pitch to a fun line we’d ridden a few years back.

Dan and Sam climbing up

Once at the top of our line, we could see the rest of our group a few topping out on their line as well. The views from our vantage point were pretty nice, so we sat back for a few minutes and just enjoyed being in the mountains.

Perched atop the Animal bowl

When it was time to drop in, we weren’t disappointed. The snow was excellent, and we ripped turns all the way to the bottom of the bowl. I snapped a few pics of the skiers heading down, including the shots of Dan and Sam below. The second shot also captured a couple of the others from our group heading down as well….

Dan dropping in

Sam heading down

Satisfied with what we’d found in the Animal bowl, we continued traversing across the terrain to the eastern most bowl, hoping to climb and ski a line we’d skied back in 2015. The climb up is steep, so we put in a boot pack, which went quickly. As before, the skiing was superb. Here’s a shot of Rob heading down with the pyramid in the background….

Rob skiing the face

At the bottom, Sam, Dan and I wanted to climb and ski one more lap on a line that none of us had ever ridden before — Yahtzee. Brian had just put a track down in a few moments ago, and now it was our turn. Instead of climbing up from the saddle, we booted straight up the face, which was pretty steep and a bit firm at the top. After several minutes of my calves screaming at me, we topped out and it was time for a well earned Hazlenut Nectar brown ale from Rogue Brewing — one of my favorites. The views didn’t suck either….

Looking across to the Animal bowl

For some reason, Sam wanted to snap some photos of Dan and I dropping in, so he grabbed the camera and proceeded to shoot. The turns were steep and exhilarating, and I enjoyed each one all the way down to the others waiting below. Then it was Dan’s turn, and finally Sam dropped in…

Dropping into Yahtzee

At the bottom, we skied out to Little Three Creeks Lake below, called it a day, and switched to skins for the short skin back to the huts, where everyone was looking forward to Brian making a choice dinner of basil covered sockeye salmon and pasta. Following dinner, it was time to crack open a beer and enjoy a little bs session — one of the best things about staying in the huts!

Brian on the grill

Tuesday morning dawned cold and sunny, and by all accounts looked to be an excellent day for a tour. After an excellent breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs and hash browns, we hit the skin track with our sights set on Broken Hand, with the option of either Snow Creek or Broken Top depending on snow conditions.

Andy and Sam ready to head out

It didn’t take long to work our way up through the Playground and associated bowls, and within an hour or so we were at the Prow, admiring the views into the Rim and beyond.

Touring out to the Prow

The crew atop the Prow

Standing up top and looking down into the Rim, we could see our lines from the day before on Yahtzee and in the Animal bowl. They looked pretty sweet, but all of us were excited for what the day would bring, so after taking a group photo it was time to keep moving…

Brian looking down at our lines from the day before

Skinning out beyond the Rim on a sunny calm day is always a treat, and as usual the views didn’t disappoint. It didn’t take long to work our way out to Broken Hand, and the westerly slopes were looking prime.

Our friends from the Owl Hut

Simon coming up to the Hand

The snow on the west slops of Broken Hand was excellent, and even though I was temped to continue on to the steep snow slopes of Broken Top, we made the decision to drop into Snow Creek and make a long ride down through the open snowfields. That decision didn’t disappoint…the snow was cold pow, and we enjoyed excellent turns down off the Hand…

Dan skiing in front of Broken Top

Brian below Broken Hand

After waiting a few minutes for Simon, who had topped out on Broken Hand, we continued on down Snow Creek, enjoying smooth low angle turns down to the next steep snowfield. I snapped some pics of the crew as we descended, and later Dan snapped a few of me as well…

Brian airing it out over the Sisters

Matt enjoying some cold pow

We continued further down, and the snow quality stayed excellent, so we milked turns down to the bottom of the drainage and regrouped for a quick rest and to rehydrate. After our break, most of us headed back up for another lap, while Sam and Brian scoped out a line that included a cliff drop and then a natural booter….

Sam skiing lower Snow Creek

The skin out of and up Snow Creek is a pleasure with some of the best scenery in the state, and soon we were back up on top of a line we’d been drooling over since we saw it earlier in the day. Dan and I dropped in first, and enjoyed the silky smooth powder turns. Andy followed, and I snapped a few pics of him coming down…

Andy ripping on Snow Creek

Dan on the skin out

We ended up doing one more lap in Snow Creek (at least Sam, Dan and I did) because the snow was just too good. Then it was a long slog back out and across the flats up top to get back to the Jelly Roll for a final run back to the huts. Before we dropped in, we scoped out a few cornices that looked fun, and Dan dropped in while I snapped pics. He’s still got some pretty nice form….

Dan 63 years old and launching

Back at the huts we settled in for our second evening, ate an excellent dinner, and bid farewell to Brian and Simon, who needed to get back to town for various reasons. Sleep came easy at night after a long day out and many miles logged. The next morning dawned a bit warmer and cloudy, but we still found good touring in the bowls close to the huts. The five of us who were left (Sam, Dan, Rob, Andy and I) spent most of the morning hitting the Playground and Jelly Roll areas, as well as a tour up to East Peak for our first run. Even though the temp was around 35-36, the snow stayed soft and nice. Here’s a photo of Sam launching off one of the numerous drops in the area….

Sam hucking

Around 1:00 we called it a day and headed down to the huts. Sam and Rob went back out for another lap, but Dan, Andy and I enjoyed a few hours of downtime. I played a game of Settlers of Catan with the crew from the other hut, and enjoyed a couple of cold ones. Eventually, the weather cleared and the sun came out around dinner time…

Hut life

The huts in early evening

Our last night was laid back and mellow, and the folks from the other hut joined us for dinner. On our final morning, we awoke to light drizzle and weren’t exactly stoked. However, it turned to snow as we were making breakfast, and was a couple of inches deep by the time we donned skins and headed out from the huts. By the time we reached the top of the Jelly Roll, the snow was nearing a half a foot deep, aided by wind transport from atop the plateau above the Rim.

Rob and Sam touring up

We dropped in from the top for our first lap, and were surprised by how good the conditions were. Sam and Rob made parallel turns beside one another and then Dan and I followed.  At the bottom, we skinned back up for one more lap, starting atop the Jelly Roll. In short, it was awesome….

Matt on the last day

We milked turns down through the Playground, and finally through the trees and back to the huts, where Jonas was waiting to give us a lift out.

The owl hut

We celebrated our trip by enjoying a cold one while packing up the sleds, and remarked about how each year seems to surpass the last in terms of quality. Once the sleds were loaded, we moved out, and Sam was stoked when Jonas let him drive the second sled…

Sam on the snowmo

We made a quick detour to the nordic huts for a resupply mission, and it was cool to see the craftsmanship of those huts and view the Rim from a different perspective. Plus the free beer from Jonas didn’t hurt our feelings either.  Then it was a few more miles down the road to our waiting cars and reality set in that the 2018 trip was over. Not to worry, 2019 is on the schedule and I’m already looking forward to another fun stay at the Three Creeks huts.

March 11, 2018 – Patrol Room Cleanup

Sadly, March 11th was the last day of the 2017-2018 season at Willamette Pass. Even sadder was the fact that the area only opened for a three day period for the entire season. Nevertheless, Dan and I headed up for a “duty” day to clean up the patrol room on Sunday for what would be the official last day of the year, even though the area had been closed since mid-February. It didn’t take long for the few folks who showed up to put the sleds away, take care of the avy gear and radios, organize the aid room, and otherwise clean up the patrol room. By 11:00 am we were done, and gearing up to find some corn on mountain. 

Getting ready to head out

In addition to Dan, Greg and Mark joined us for the skin up on a beautiful sunny day. The snow was frozen as we started out, and the skin went quickly — soon we were heading up Eagle’s, which was just starting to corn…

Heading up Eagle’s

Looking out over Odell

Dan and I topped out before Greg and Mark, and elected to skin over to Peak 2 to check out the conditions. It had been warm the day before, and didn’t appear like anything on the northern aspects would corn, so we decided to head back and try the southern aspects of the front side. Before leaving, I snapped a few pictures of a big roller ball that had dropped down off the cornice with Mt Bachelor in the background….

Roller ball on Peak 2

The turns back down from Peak 2 to the saddle were quite fun, and we made the short hike up to EPA to meet up with Greg and Mark. The sun was beating down pretty nicely, and I captured the below shot of Dan on the hike up…

Hiking up to EPA

At the top, we cracked open a beer and enjoyed a snack along with the views. A few minutes later, Dan and I bid farewell to Greg and Mark, who were going to ski Charlie’s, and dropped in to Timburr. The snow was smooth and near perfect corn, and we enjoyed prime turns down to the glades below…

Dan skiing Timburr

Looking back up Timburr

We put a skin track back in directly up Timburr, and it didn’t take long to reach the top, where our half full cold beers were waiting. Looking out to the south, Diamond was gleaming in the sunlight. We soaked in the views for a few minutes, then decided to do another run on Timburr to give RTS some time to get a little more sun.


2nd lap corn on Timburr

Run 2 was just as good as run 1, and again we skinned back up to the top. By now, the sun had worked it’s way around to RTS, and our hope was for soft snow on the steepest and best run on the mountain. Dropping in, the snow was smooth, and we enjoyed excellent turns on the upper half of the run…

Dan skiing RTS

Looking out over RTS

Unfortunately, the lower half of the run had slid a day or two earlier due to the warmer weather, but it still skied ok. Dan snapped a few photos of me riding down through the manky debris, including the shot below…

Matt riding the debris

The bottom third of the run was prime, and after exiting through the avy debris, we ripped turns down to Amber’s Way, ultimately ending up on Swoosh for a fun run back down to the car, officially ending the “patrol” season for 2017-18. Although it wasn’t a great year by any stretch of the imagination, I am still thankful for being able to get out in the mountains with friends to enjoy earned turns, and hopeful that next year brings a deep winter snowpack and a long lift-serviced season.