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December 31, 2017 – Willamette Pass

It seems like 2017 was the year of Willamette Pass I thought to myself as I made plans to head up that way Dan for the final day of 2017.  There had definitely been some good days up there over the past year, most filled with bottomless powder even into the month of May.  On this day however, Dan and I both were trying to think of other options for turns, but given the extremely thin snowpack we just couldn’t come up withe any good options.  So, after driving around looking for options, then stopping at the Gold Lake backcountry shelter for a bit, we ended up at the Pass.

The Pass from the Highway

We loaded our gear and skated across the parking lot, and worked our way up the hill.  Conditions were looking pretty meager, and the snow was firm.  It was still cold, but our hopes were that the snow would soften in the afternoon sunshine…

Looking up George

Diamond peeking thru the trees

Within an hour or so we were at the top and skinned over to Peak 2 to check out conditions.  Unfortunately the snow stake was only reading 18 inches — the lowest total for the season since early October.

Dan at Peak 2

Atop Peak 2

After milling about for a bit, we decided to ski Upper Rosary, which had been getting morning sun and looked soft.  It was, and we made fun turns all the way down to the big corner.  Skiing Rosary in such low snow conditions reminded me of a previous trip Dan and I made a few years ago in early November.  At the bottom, we decided to boot back up to Eagles to have a break for lunch and to enjoy a beverage before taking another run.  I snapped the picture below of one of my new favorite beers on my most recently completed splitter….

Copperline Amber Ale and my Jamie Lynn split

After our snack, we peered down Eagles. It looked good, but we decided to give it a bit more time and booted up for one more run on Rosary.  There’s nothing quite like being able to boot up a firm ski run with 6 inches of total snow on it on the last day of the year….

Looking out over Odell and Lakeview Peak

On our second run down Rosary, I decided to snap a few photos of Dan to document the conditions.  I’m pretty sure the pic below makes the snowpack look deeper than it really was….

Dan skiing Rosary

With two runs down Rosary in the bag, we headed backup to our half drank beers at the top of Eagles, finished them off, and strapped in for a run down the super deep snowpack on Eagle’s.  Dan snapped a few photos of me shredding the deep stuff….

Riding down Eagle’s

All kidding aside, at least the snow was soft.  It was somewhat difficult skiing, but still fun.  We definitely had to be on our toes though, because the rocks and trees were thick…

Dan skiing upper Eagles

Skiing lower Eagle’s

Once at the bottom, we traversed our way over to George, and made scratchy turns all the way down to the base.  For whatever reason, probably the inversion, the lower mountain never corned.  Not to worry though, the turns were still fun and all in all it was a good day.  It just need to snow more…..soon!  Here’s a parting shot from the day….

Dan skiing the deep stuff

 

Lib Tech Jamie Lynn 160cm Split

Several years has passed since I made my last split, and since I primarily use the splits I make to ride in marginal early season conditions, I found myself looking to make another one.  The board of choice for this project would be one I’ve come to love over the past several seasons — my Lib Tech Jamie Lynn 160.  As with the other splits I’ve made, I was able to secure an old board from Ryan at Bergs Ski & Snowboard Shop to practice cutting on prior to sinking the saw blade into my own.  My board, along with the old Burton Charger, are shown below, marked with ink and ready to cut…

Board pre-cut

Cutting the board is always one of the most nerve-racking parts of the process.  You can get pretty elaborate, but I generally just use a circular saw equipped with a blade that has 60 carbide tipped teeth, along with a straight edge guide.  It’s important to make sure you cut is spot on, and this is where the practice board comes in handy.  Before cutting, place masking tape along the length of the board where your cut will be to keep the topsheet from splintering.  Easy does it…

Cutting the Board

A little over halfway done

I generally use a hacksaw to cut the first inch of the tip and tail of the board, which helps when making the full cut.  It is essential to do this if your board has full wrap metal edges (mine did not) to keep the metal edges from blowing out.  Here’s a pic of the board post cut…

Post cut

After cutting the board, the next step is to lightly sand each of the halves along the cut.  Once that is complete, I used spar urathane to seal the wooden edges to keep moisture out of the core.  I’ve used epoxy in the past, but the spar urathane was easier to apply.  I’m curious to see how it holds up.  Apply masking tape along the top sheet to help collect any residual urathane…

Applying Spar Urathane Finish

The next step in the process was to drill holes for the Karakoram clips I planned to use to keep the board halves together.  I used sticker templates from Voile (I purchased the Voile Mounting sticker template pack) to hold the board together, and then drilled the holes.  The first step is to check placement of the hooks over the stickers, then center punch the holes, and then drill through the board with a 3/16″ drill bit.  The final step is to drill the base of the board using a 3/8″ countersink drill bit to a depth just deep enough that the screws for the split hooks sit flush with the base.  The board post drilling is shown below…

Holes for split hooks

With the split hooks installed and the board looking like a snowboard again, it was time for the next step in the process, which involved drilling for the touring brackets and heel lifters.  For this part of the project, I had a bit of help from my son as shown in the photo below…

Touring templates for touring brackets and heel lifters

Drilling for the heel lifters, bindings, and touring brackets is pretty easy, but does take patience.  I used t-nuts for mounting.  The first step is to drill a pilot hole (after applying the voile sticker template) at each location using a 1/8″ drill bit.  Next, each hole is drilled with a 19/64″ drill bit completely through the board.  The final step is to drill the base with a 3/4″ paddle bit, but not all the way through, only enough for the t-nuts to sit just under the p-tex.  I usually drill to the wood, then take just the slightest amount of wood out with the paddle bit.  Here’s a shot of the board with all the holes drilled….

Base post drilling

With the holes complete, it’s time to install the t-nuts.  I used a hammer and large flat head screw driver.  Pounding the t-nuts in with the hammer gets them flush with the board, then pounding on the flat head with the tip placed over the t-nuts allows them to sink below the base so you can fill the hole with p-tex or epoxy.  I chose to use epoxy.  The first step was to rough up the t-nut by sanding it a bit so the epoxy will adhere to it better, then apply carefully with a syringe tube….

Filling the holes w/Epoxy

Close up view

I used a black pigment from Tognar Toolworks to color the epoxy, and the epoxy I used on this split and a few others is the G/Flex 655 from West System, which works great on splits. After the epoxy dried overnight, I used a razor blade to scrape/cut the surface flush with the base, and the base was ready to go.  All that was left to do was install the tip clips, and mount the hardware, and she was ready to go.  Here’s a shot of the board in ride mode….

Finished Product

And in tour mode….note I upgraded the straps and highbacks on my Spark R&D binders to include the Surge Rip ‘N’ Flip highback and pillow line straps…

Touring mode

With the board complete and ready to go, I was itching to take it out for a maiden voyage.  The trouble was, this winter has been pretty non-existent.  Nevertheless, I got it out on snow at Willamette Pass, and it performed flawlessly.  Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked on how it turned out….

Maiden Voyage at the Pass

 

December 21, 2017 – Solstice turns at the Pass

Winter solstice looked like the last chance for powder turns in a year that started out with much promise but was quickly turning into a winter to forget, so Joe and I made plans to head to the Pass to take full advantage of the fresh snow.  We met at Pleasant Hill and made the short drive up 58 to the Pass, where we were greeted with blue skies and about a foot of fresh cold smoke.

Snow Zone

We quickly donned skins and headed up.  An added bonus was that the pass had made a couple of passes with the snow cat, so we didn’t have to break trail.  The views along the skin track are always nice, and the view back towards Mt Yoran to the south was no exception…

Mt Yoran in the distance

We soon worked our way to Eagles, and were a bit surprised at the coverage.  While it was covered in new snow, it was quite a bit thinner than when I was there last in mid-November.  Nevertheless, we pushed onward and upward…

Skinning up Eagle’s

When we got to the top of Peak 2, the snow stake read 32 inches.  Northern looked pretty good, so we decided to give ‘er a go.  I dropped in first, and set up to shoot a few shots of Joe ripping the pow in the sunshine…

Joe dropping in

The turns were excellent, and we ripped the run to the bottom and skinned back up for another lap.  This time, we decided to check out June’s Run, where I found three nice big rocks,  The turns were decent, but the skiing a bit more tentative than our first lap, so we decided to get another run in on Northern.  At the top, we took a break for some food and beverage, and greeted Laurie as she skinned up.  After a brief chat, we dropped in for our third run of the day.  This time Joe grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos of me getting some of the goods…

Solstice pow turns

Matt getting some whiteroom action

That second run on Northern was probably the best run of the day, and the smile on my face in the photo below says all that needs to be said about how it felt….

More cold smoke

At the bottom, we made the decision to head back up for one more lap before heading back to the front.  Skinning up, I snapped a few pictures of Laurie skinning below…

Laurie heading up

Our final lap on the backside was on Escalator, and the turns didn’t disappoint.  I had the camera, and snapped several pics of Joe ripping the pow, including a couple of shots shown below….

Joe enjoying solstice turns

Turns on Escalator

With our fourth run in the books, we headed over to the front to hang out at the top of EPA for awhile, enjoying the views and a frosty cold beverage.  The sun was intensely warm for winter solstice, and the snow in the direct sunlight on the south exposures was actually melting.

Oakshire IPA in the sunlight

Looking out over Lakeview Peak and Odell Lake

We made the decision to head down and ski RTS for our exit back to the truck, which was probably a mistake in retrospect, but whatever.  There were a few trees showing, but we wanted to check out the work of Dan and Kevin at the bottom of the run since they’d done some saw work the week previous.  As the photo below shows, the run was clearly ready to open to the public:)

“Skiing” RTS

The bottom of the run skied decent, and for how bad RTS was overall, our line choice was redeemed when we skied Rough Cut to the base.  The turns down Rough Cut were pretty choice, and when we got back to the truck we both agreed it was a pretty good day of solstice turns at the Pass.  Until next time…let it snow!