April 28, 2019 – Hayrick Butte

As hard to believe as it was, April was winding down, and Dan, Joe and I wanted to get another day of turns in the books before the month came to a close. After getting shut down at our original destination due to an unexpected snow drift blocking the road, we headed over to Hoodoo where we knew there would be access. Driving into the snowpark, it looked like the eastside of Hayrick was holding good snow, so we decided to check things out….

Dan on the approch

It was a short skin out before switching to booting, and the slope was in pretty good shape, with only one snowmobile track on it. As we neared the top, the winds picked up considerably, but the views didn’t disappoint…

View from the summit plateau

After a 30 minute excursion hiking over to the opposite side of the summit plateau (it’s a lot bigger up there than I was thinking), we worked our way back to the skis and were ready to drop in. Dropping down through the top section we had to negotiate a spicy little chute, which was pretty fun, and then the bowl opened up and we were able to rip…

Dan dropping off the top

Skiing down below the crux

The turns were soft corn in the bowl, and we worked our way to the right where the snow was even more smooth, milking it all the way to the bottom.

Joe skiing Hayrick’s east side

Of course we decided it was worth heading back up for another lap. We set an easy bootpack, and within 20 minutes had climbed back up to below the crux and out onto a rock ledge that afforded a nice view of Mt Washington to the south. It was also a good time to pull the beer out of the pack and put it on ice….

Outta’ Line by Rogue Ales

Lap number two was even better than lap one, and we made turns down to the bottom before making a hard traverse back out towards the car.

Skiing in front of Mt Washington

Having done a couple of laps on the east side, we figured it was time to head over to Hoodoo and check out the snow there. Surprisingly, there was only one or two other tracks on the hill. We soon found out why as we skinned up — the winds were stiff and the snow firm. Skinning up the gut of the main bowl proved challenging. Once we made the top, we found some shelter from the wind in the sled tubes by the patrol shack.

Matt and Dan on top of Hoodoo

After hanging out on top and eating lunch, we skied down the east face in snow that was on the firm side of corn, and elected to put a couple of laps in on the west face of Hayrick.

Climbing Hayrick’s West side

Looking out to TFJ from Hayrick

The snow here was smooth and nice, and we made multiple “mini-golf” laps on the 200-300 foot slope. It was also sheltered from the biting winds we’d experienced at the top of Hoodoo.

Joe at the base of the cliff

Late April turns down Hayrick

To end the day, we climbed up into a small amphitheater bowl on the southside of the west face. Although it was a short climb, it was steep, and the scenery and the turns were pretty sweet!

Climbing Hayrick’s West Face

Skiing a steep pitch to end the day

We enjoyed the turns all the way back to the car, and were pretty stoked on the day. Sitting in the parking lot in the sun, enjoying a beer and some chips and salsa, all of us were looking forward to more days of spring corn to come.

 

April 11th, 2019 – Dusk Patrol at the Pass

The forecast looked promising, and given the time of year, Dan and I both agreed it would be best to take advantage of the possibility of fresh snow, because if we found some it was quite possible it might be the last of the season. We made plans to leave after work from Dan’s house, and didn’t leave Springfield until 5:00 pm due to traffic. We ended up being stuck in construction traffic two different times near Oakridge due to the recent landslides, and I had to drive like a maniac up the remainder of highway 58 to ensure we may have a chance to even get to ski. When we finally arrived at the ski area we had to burn another 15 minutes digging out a spot for the car at the gate.

Our parking spot at the Pass

Dan putting the skis on

All told, we didn’t leave the car until 6:53 pm. We skinned across the parking lot, by the patrol room, and started up By George. There was about 5-6 inches of heavy pow at the base, but breaking trail wasn’t too bad. Nobody was around, and it looked like we’d have a pretty good run if we could get to the top before it got dark…

Dan skinning by the patrol room

Looking back to the base

We ended up skinning directly up Timburr Glades and Timburr, at a pace that really wasn’t sustainable for more than an hour, which happened to be about how long it took us to make the top.

Skinning up  Timburr Glades

Looking back down Timburr

Relieved that we still had some daylight (at least for a few minutes), we quickly transitioned over to ride mode, chugged a beer, snapped a couple of quick photos, and dropped in…

Matt at the top of Eagle Peak

Beverage of choice for the evening

Our plan was to ski RTS, however, given the direction of the wind and how the snow was piling up nicely on our skin up Timburr we figured the southside runs might be better. We traversed over to RTS and found it was very scoured as expected, so we dropped into Success and it was cold smoke blower – some of the best turns of the season. I tried to snap a few pictures of Dan as he skied, but it was so dark everything turned out really grainy….

Dan skiing Success

After work April pow turns

We enjoyed face shots all the way down Success, then skied By George basically by braille as the light got darker and darker. The turns were superb all the way down, and by the time we reached the parking lot both of us were stoked! Back at the car, huddling in the cold, we both agreed that even though we only managed one run, it was well worth the effort for another great day at the Pass!

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

 

March 3-6, 2019 – Tam McArthur Rim, Three Creeks Huts

It’s hard to believe, but this year marked my 10th consecutive trip to the Three Creeks Huts with Three Sisters Backcountry. Over the years, there have been some pretty special trips with memories that will last for a lifetime. This year was no exception, and may have been one of the best to date.

As in years past, our trip started out with a carpool/caravan over to Sisters, with a quick stop for a cup of coffee before heading up to the Upper Three Creeks Snowpark, where we met the rest of our crew. This year’s crew consisted of Adam, Andy, Brian, Dan, Ethan, John, Mark, Mike and myself. We met Anna and Jonas a few minutes after we arrived, and loaded three nights worth of gear on the sleds for the haul into the huts. The weather was clear and cold, with sunny skies a welcome sight after nearly 4 feet of snow had fallen in the recent days.

Jonas heading up towards the Jellyroll

The ride into the huts went by quickly, and we soon were unloading gear from the sleds and organizing our living space for the trip. Six of us ended up in the Raven hut, while three other joined our new friends John and Glenda in the Owl hut. We wasted little time getting our huts in order, and set out on the skin track in search of some fresh snow. We skinned our way up towards the Jellyroll, which had slid big a few days earlier during the storm cycle.

Adam ripping some cold smoke

Jonas led the way, and it was nice to get some time on the skin track with him, chatting about the years past. As we worked our way up past the Jellyroll, it looked like the crown face was from two to five feet thick. Given that it has already slid, and the bed surface had about a foot of new light snow on it, we ripped skins and made some pretty stellar turns down the slope and then over into the Playground…

Dan skiing above the crown

Adam dropping into the Playground

As the afternoon progressed, we continued to enjoy several laps in the area, finding the snow very stable, as well as being light and fluffy.

Brian slashing a turn in the Playground

Eventually we worked our way back down to the huts to settle in for the evening. The first order of business was to grab a cold beer, followed by dinner prep. Mark and Mike brought the ingredients for the first night, and we feasted on some pretty tasty pasta. When dinner was over, I made some gourmet (at least for the backcountry) margaritas, complete with agave, triple sec, lime juice and fresh snow.

The Huts before sunset

After it had been dark for awhile, I headed out on the lake to give my wife a call, then came back to the huts and setup the tripod and fisheye lens. It took a few minutes to find a suitable subject, but the sauna and Raven yurt proved to be worthy. With the photo shoot complete, I headed in for another drink with the boys before we hit the sack in anticipation of a larger tour on day 2.

The sauna and Raven Yyurt

We woke on day 2 to crisp, sunny skies, and cold temps. Breakfast consisted of a variety of good food including bacon, eggs and sausage, which would provide the needed fuel for a big tour day. Once the dishes were done, we shouldered packs, stepped out of the yurts, and into our bindings.

Morning light outside the huts

After a quick beacon check, we hit the skintrack up through the forest. It wasn’t too long before the views started opening up of the surrounding peaks…

Brian with Mt Jefferson

Adam and Broken Top

The plan for the day was to hit Snow Creek and check out the conditions, so we worked our way out towards Broken Hand to look for a suitable drop in spot. The coverage was pretty nice, so we didn’t need to go all that far.

The “Powder King” surveying his domain

Mark and Mike skiing upper Snow Creek

Brian, John and Andy continued out further towards the Hand, and I stayed back to snap a few photos before dropping in. The pow was primo, and we ripped turns down through the basin, working our way down the drainage for about a mile before stopping for a bite for lunch in the sun.

Brian dropping in

Dan making turns

Our lunch spot was cozy, and it felt good to nice to warm up a little in the rays of the sun. After downing a sandwich, Mark and I headed out first to put in a skintrack for another lap. As usual, run number two was as good if not better than run one…

Skinning out of Snow Cr

Mark getting some second lap pow

Further into our second run, I wanted to hit a little feature I’d had my eye on, so Andy grabbed the camera and snapped photos of John and I coming down. Unfortunately the lens on the camera didn’t have the reach from his vantage point, so we settled for a couple of shots on the mellow slopes below the bowl…

Matt getting some of the action

The “Fish” in his element

To cap off our second run, I grabbed some shots of Brian and Ethan ripping. They’re both aggressive riders, and the shots turned out nicely…

Brian slashing on the Hovercraft

Ethan charging down Snow Cr

The group skinned back up one more time, with various goals in mind. Mark, Mike, Ethan and Adam headed back to the huts (Mark and Ethan were skinning out to road to head home, and had a long trip still in front of them), while Dan, John and Brian headed over to ski a different line they’d been eyeing. Andy and I decided to do another lap where we’d been skiing since the snow was so good.

Mt Jefferson from Snow Creek

Andy on lap 3

After three laps, Andy and I decided it was time to skin out and head back to the huts. I wanted to drop the western most bowl on Tam, so we skinned over to check out the conditions.

Andy skinning out of Snow Cr

Matt at the top of the west bowl

Standing at the top of the west bowl, we were a little concerned about how much snow had fallen in the previous week, but conditions had been proving stable everywhere we’d been skiing. There were four sets of fresh tracks down our line (we found out later they were from Jonas and Gabe, followed by Mark and Mike), with tons of room to still ski. I dropped in first, made a quick ski cut, and then enjoyed some of the best powder turns of the trip. Andy headed down after me, and I snapped a photo of him at the bottom of the steep section with a big grin…

Partway down the west bowl

We skied the rest of the bowl in good pow, then hit the dogleg towards the east for the exit and the snow got a little dicey from sun damage. The turns down to the bottom were still fun however, and soon we were at Little Three Creeks lake skinning back towards the huts.

Looking back up towards the Prow

Twenty or thirty minutes later, we hit the main lake and skinned back to the huts, about the same time as Brian, John and Dan were arriving from their ski back via the Playground. All of us were stoked on the day, and settled in to the hut life for the evening. More margarita’s were had, and dinner was courtesy of Rob who made a dinner but couldn’t make the trip. The usual bullshit session ensued after dinner, and we hit the sack around 10 pm in anticipation of the coming day.

Fisheye view of the hut

Day 3 dawned clear, but quickly clouded up as the morning progressed. We had another hearty breakfast of potatoes, eggs, and toast, and were soon out on the skins again to check out some more local terrain around the Rim. We made short work of the well worn skin track to the top of the Rim, and then toured out along the top looking for a suitable place to drop. Adam, John, Mike and I skinned out towards the Prow to ski a favorite line, while Dan and Brian wanted to drop off the Proboscis directly. Rolling over the top, we made a ski cut and then opened it up.

Adam skiing the Orchard Bowl

The turns were blower, and everyone was stoked. Adam and John headed skier’s left, and I headed over skier’s right to set up and snap some photos of Dan and Brian dropping from the Proboscis. A couple of pics are below, but don’t do a good job showing the scale and exposure of the line…

Brian dropping off the Proboscis

Dan skiing further down

We regrouped at the bottom, and Brian, Dan, John and I headed back up for another lap off the top while Mike and Adam stayed put in the bowl. The second line was equally as glorious as the first. For lap 3, we decided to skin directly back up the Orchard Bowl, which gave me a chance to test out my Karakoram Sender Plates at the upper steep section. They worked beautifully…

Climbing at the top of the Orchard Bowl

Matt riding in the Orchard Bowl

With three lines in the books in the Orchard Bowl, it was time to head to a different spot and find something else to play on. We decided that east was a good direction, which would allow us to play on a few cliff features, and finish up with turns down to the huts.

Hanging at the bottom of the Orchard

Brian airing over the rocks

We spent an hour or so shooting pics on a few small cliffs, and it was a good opportunity for me to shoot some interesting angles with the fisheye. When we tired of that, we finished up with a lap in the Playground through the eastside steep section and rode the skintrack back down to the huts.

Dan and Andy at the huts

Dinner for the third night was fish tacos, made by Andy and I. I brought along some halibut I’d scored earlier in the summer with my dad on an August ocean fishing trip, and we had all the fixings. Everyone was stoked, and I think this is going to become an annual tradition. More margaritas and mixed drinks followed, and as we crawled into our bunks, the stoke was high for some fresh pow in the morning.

We woke on day 4 to about 4 inches of fresh snow, and it was snowing as we fixed breakfast. The plan for the day was to stay local and check out the conditions in back of the huts. We skinned up towards the Playground and worked our way up to the Jelly Roll, where we were able to produce some shooting cracks off the top in the main section of the bowl. We cautiously backed away and rode a mellower line down to the Playground where we found good snow. A couple of more laps east of the Playground also produced good snow, and Brian sessioned a cliff for the camera….

Brian sending a Tam Rim cliff

By 1:00 pm or so, we headed back down to the huts, to get ready for the snowmobile haul out. Jonas and Anna showed up shortly thereafter, and we got the sleds loaded with gear and ready to go for our 2:00 pm departure.

The gang ready for the sled ride out

The sled ride out went without incident, and before long we were loading gear into the cars, our 1oth season at the huts coming to an end. We decided to finish our trip the way it started, with a cup of coffee and some eats at Angeline’s Bakery. Overall, this was one of the best trips yet to the huts, with some of the best snow we’ve had, which is saying something because we’ve had a lot of good snow over the years.  All of us are already looking forward to year number eleven!

Brian at the bakery

February 25-27, 2019 – House Ski

An unusual winter storm rolled through the southern Willamette Valley at the end of February, and stalled over the Eugene area for a couple of days. I’d spent the weekend enjoying a couple days of pretty epic conditions at the Pass, and was ready for work on Monday when my family and I woke to 13 inches of snow in the driveway. A few hours later it was 16 inches deep! Needless to say, I didn’t make it into work, but enjoyed getting out and playing in the white stuff with my wife and kids.

Skinning down the road to the neighbors

We suited up and decided to sled and skin down the road to the neighbors to let the kids play in the snow, while the adults enjoyed some warm coffee in the house (well, the rest of the adults – I was outside helping the kids build the biggest snowman ever). The remainder of the day was spent shoveling in the driveway and various other spots around the house. The following evening, another 6 inches of snow fell, for a combined total of 22 inches in two and a half days – pretty unheard of for these parts. Somehow we managed to not lose power, and with this much snow on the property we all agreed it was time to go skiing.

The kids with sleds

The kids brought the sleds out to the driveway and made several runs down our hill, packing in a run quite nicely. I busted out the shovel and spent 30 minutes or so building a small kicker, which brought back memories from my earliest days riding with my buddy Andrew at Mary’s Peak and Willamette Pass. Once the jump was ready, I hit it a couple of times and then the kids decided they wanted to try it too…

Snowboarding at the house

Shaun wanted to go first, and was super excited to get his skis on. The track was kind of narrow, but he did great. Carson followed, and they both skied off it several times…

Shaun skiing off the “house” kicker

Carson getting in on the action

I couldn’t resist hitting it a few more times either, and Julie was good enough to keep snapping some photos of me. By the time we were done, everyone was tired, but stoked to be able to ski on our own piece of dirt. Snowstorms  this deep are pretty rare in the Willamette Valley, and only come around every 10-20 years or so. My hope is that the kids remember this one for years to come…..I know I will. There’s just something special about being able to take your board or skis off the rack in the garage, step into your bindings, and drop in. Until next time…

Parting shot from the “house” kicker