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.

January 6, 2019 – Willamette Pass

Sunday’s forecast looked to be promising earlier in the week, but that changed on Saturday, and neither Dan or I had real high expectations of a great day. Since we’d already made plans to head to the Pass, we figured it was worth the short drive up highway 58 to see how the day would develop. The snow phone was reporting 5 inches overnight, which was better than the snotels, so the morning was filled with cautious optimism. It was snowing hard when we arrived at the area, and continued to snow all morning long.

Dan heading out to a local stash

We ended up catching the first chair with Jensen and a couple other locals, as well as Joe who we met up with in the patrol room. The turns were pretty sweet, with about 8-10 inches of fresh on both the upper and lower mountain. We continued to pound out runs on both the front and backsides of the hill until about 11:30, then headed down for a quick lunch and to grab the skins for a little sidecountry action.

Turns outside the ski area boundary

Joe had to leave a little earlier that we did, so he stayed at the Pass, and Dan and I headed out on skins to check out one of our favorite local spots. Switching over to skins is always a good feeling after riding the lifts for a few hours, and the snow was light and deep underfoot — around 16-18 inches deep. A short time later, we were in position to drop in. After making a couple of ski cuts, it was time to open in up for some untracked powder turns…

Dan ripping the pow

Matt about to enter the whiteroom

The powder was some of the best in recent memory, and we both were stoked at the bottom of the run. It didn’t take long to change over to skins and head back up to do it all again…

Dan on the uptrack

Skinning outside the area during a snowstorm is always so quiet and serene. Less than a mile away hundreds of skiers are ripping it up and the lifts are noisily spinning, while outside the area the pace is calm, steady and quiet. We reached the top in short order, and enjoyed a quick break to drink a beer and transition before dropping in for more turns.

Matt back up top

Beverage of choice for the day

Our second line was as good as the first, and faceshots were had all the way down. We ended up making a third lap before it was time to head back to the car, and it continued puking on us all afternoon. By the time we worked our way back to the area, there was 20 inches of fresh snow on the ground.

More early January pow turns

Parting shot

We had enough time left to make a couple more runs in the area before the lifts shut down for good, and both of our legs were pretty burned by the end of the day. Sitting in the car in the parking lot, munching on chips and salsa, it continued to snow heavily. Neither of us could believe how good the day turned out to be, and it just goes to show, you never know what it’ll be like unless you go!

January 1, 2019 – First turns of 2019

After closing out 2018 with a few friends, Julie and I figured the best way to ring in the new year was making turns at the Pass with the family. The forecast was looking sunny, and the kids were excited as we headed out in the morning. The drive up highway 58 went quickly, and soon we were sitting in the patrol room helping the kids with their gear. Somehow during the night before when I was loading gear, I forgot Julie’s ski boots, so she ended up spending the day in slippers in the patrol room reading a book. We all walked over to Twilight to begin the day, and I snapped a pic of the family before we loaded the chair…

The fam at the base

We started our day with a great groomer down Duck Soup and Sally’s Way, and both kids were skiing well. Carson wanted to ski Sally’s again, so we hit it up for a second lap before skiing down Picaboo for our third run in the Twilight zone…

Second run down Sally’s Way

At the top of Twilight

After three runs, we headed in to check on Julie, eat an early lunch, and drink some hot coco. Carson wanted to stay in with Julie and hang out for a little bit, so Shaun and I headed up EPA for a couple of runs. The views from the top were excellent as usual, and the groomers off the top were in excellent condition, so we tried out KP and the Rosary’s.

Matt & Shaun at the top of EPA

Shaun coming down Upper Rosary

After two runs off the top, we checked back in at the patrol room and Carson was ready to ski again. He was pretty stoked to ride “the big lift” so we loaded up EPA and headed to the top for his first ever trip to the top of the mountain. At the top, Joe was hosting and was pretty stoked to see the boys, and graciously offered to snap our picture in front of Diamond Peak and Odell Lake. For Carson’s first run, we headed down KP, and he ripped it…

Matt, Shaun & Carson on top of EPA

Hanging out on KP

We spent the next hour and a half spinning laps on EPA, alternating between the Rosary’s and KP. Shaun wanted to do Eagles and Charlie, but we agreed we’d try those next time after Carson had a bit more experience under his belt. Watching the kids ski down the runs, up and down the banks on the sides of the runs, and through the trees, I couldn’t help but feel proud at how they were doing…

Skiing Upper Rosary

Heading for home

We called it a day in the mid afternoon, and headed down to the patrol room to where Julie was waiting. The kids were happy with the day, but ready to leave, in part due to the promised Dairy Queen treats later in Oakridge. I loaded the gear in the car, and as we pulled out onto the highway, I thought to myself — there really isn’t any better way to ring in 2019!  

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!