Better late than never, winter, or some semblance of it, arrived to the Oregon Cascades (outside of Mt Bachelor) at the very end of December. With it’s arrival came the long awaited opening of the Willamette Pass Ski area and the first day of Patrol. Although operations were limited to only the lower mountain due to the sparse snowpack, the stoke factor was high as fellow patrollers gathered in the aide room for the morning meeting. After some quick chat, we headed out towards the Twighlight lift to get ready for the first lift serviced turns of the season at the Pass.
The weather was sunny and beautiful, and the lower mountain was in pretty good shape due to the efforts of the Pass to make snow during the colder weather a few days earlier. The first order of business was to head down George and get tower pads on the Midway and EPA lifts. Dragging a fatty tower pad behind me while boarding felt like dragging a deployed parachute.
By about 9:45 the work was done, and it was time to make a few turns. Dan and I checked out the snow conditions on Timburr Glades, and the snow was sugary soft in the shade, so we decided to venture out a little further on the next run, which required about a 10 minute hike…
To our surprise, when we reached High Lead Glades, the run was fresh and pristine with no tracks, so we dropped in for some soft, smooth pow turns….
The snow was good enough that we came back for another run. I’d found a few fun little bumps and jumps on the previous run that Dan thought would make a good picture, so he grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos as I rode by…..
Dan and Joe decided to head out to Pulpit after helping out with opening, so I bid them farewell and continued patrolling since it was a duty day for me (not for them). I made a few more runs on the soft fresh snow blanketing George before heading in for lunch. The Social Committee had excellent sandwiches and chili for lunch, so fortunately nobody went hungry.
After lunch it was back to more patrolling, with the occasional stop for a photo, etc. I brought the camera out at one point during the afternoon and snapped a couple of photos with my telephoto zoom lens. The below pictures of Shannon and Diamond Peak were a couple I thought turned out ok…..
We had a couple of events during the day, with one backboard incident, but other than that it was a great opening day and I had more fun on the lower mountain than I have in a long time. The evening meeting after sweep was quick, and everyone enjoyed a cold beer and catching up after being away from the patrol family since last year. The first day back always makes me realize how much I like patrolling at the Pass. Sadly, the weather forecast for the coming weeks looks uncooperative, and what little snow there is at the Pass is melting. Hopefully we’ll get a return to winter soon, and be back out on the slopes of the entire mountain enjoying the fresh pow.
Below is a parting shot of Craig and Raleigh, father and son on my patrol, Patrol 2. Craig was skiing awesome for just having double hip replacements only three months prior!