April 2000 – Mary’s Peak

Mary’s Peak is a special place to me. Growing up in Philomath, I could see it from near my house and visited it several times during my childhood. It seems fitting that this is the area where I became interested in backcountry snowboarding and started exploring once the lifts closed in the spring.

While in college at Oregon State University during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I made several trips up to Mary’s Peak during the spring months of April and May with my pal Andrew to ride the last remaining patches of snow on the 4,097 foot peak. Usually, we’d build a kicker and session it over and over again before hiking or riding back down to the parking area. Most of the pictures we shot at the Peak were taken on point and shoot film cameras, as digital cameras had yet to become mainstream. Typically, we’d find a good patch of snow on the northwest facing slope a few hundred feet above the parking lot, near the gravel access road that led to the top of the peak.

From Corvallis, Mary’s Peak made a nice outing because the drive was less than 40 minutes, while driving to snow in the Cascades required over an hour at a minimum. The view from the top of the Peak is excellent, stretching across the Willamette Valley nearly 3800 feet below to the Cascades. On a clear day, it’s possible to see from Mt. Rainier in Washington to the north to Diamond Peak to the south. The Pacific Ocean can also be seen to the west.

I’ve been up to Mary’s Peak several times since, most recently with my family for a summer hike. I plan to return this winter to continue exploring, as the winter snowpack can sometimes exceed 8 feet and riding through steep noble firs on the north side sounds really appealing.

Mary’s Peak, May 2000