Even though rain was in the forecast, I took Friday off of work and headed east to meet up with Todd in hopes of riding the South Sister. By the time I reached Elk Lake, my hopes for riding the South were fading given the rain, fog and generally poor weather to the north. I met Todd at Devils Lake, and neither of us were excited about hiking and camping in the rain, especially with limited visibility, so we elected to drive back to Hosmer Lake and set up camp. We took a few nice pictures of the lake and Mt. Bachelor to the northeast, but unfortunately only a few of my pictures survived a computer crash shortly after the trip. The next morning we awoke at 5:00 am, still with slight hopes for riding the South Sister. The weather at the trailhead had not improved, and visibility was still near zero. So, we drove to Mt. Bachelor hoping the weather to the east would be a little more cooperative. The snowpack at the base of Bachelor was still in good shape. Not wanting to hike under the lifts, and not having explored Tumalo Mountain before, we decided exploring the 7800 foot peak north of Bachelor was in order. With our packs shouldered , we set out in the rain. Visibility was limited, and rained on us most of the way up.
Even though the weather wasn’t cooperating, it was really nice to get out on the snow, and especially nice since not a soul was around. Halfway up the mountain, we stopped for a quick break to refuel with some food and water.
The dense tree canopy lower down eventually gave way to a sparser thinner alpine environment near the top. We reached the top in a pretty thick fog, and found some shelter out of the wind behind some large rocks, where we enjoyed some snacks and fresh brewed coffee made with the Jetboil. Shortly thereafter, it was time to drop into the bowl. We dropped in kind of blind, but weren’t concerned about wet slides even though it was raining. The first run we kept to a lower angle pitch riders left in the bowl. The snow was surprisingly fast and smooth, even with the steady rain.
We skinned back up the northwest ridge which provided the easiest access to the top. After more coffee at the top, we dropped in for another run – this time in the middle of the bowl. The pitch was steeper and the snow was excellent. We ended up making two more runs on the north side, before skinning out and riding the south side back to Dutchman Flats. Though both of us were thoroughly soaked by the end of the day, we had an excellent time and really wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sometimes when expectations are low, some of the best memories are made. Here’s a parting shot of Todd on the south side on the ski out….