December 26, 2015 – First P2 Patrol day

Snowpocalypse is the term that comes to mind when trying to describe this December at Willamette Pass. With over 102 inches at the snow stake at Peak 2, most of which fell in a two week period, this has been one of the snowiest December’s ever at the Pass. Needless to say, there was plenty of stoke in the air amongst the patrol as we gathered in the aid room for first Patrol 2 day of the year (this was P2’s first day even though the mountain had been open for over a week).

We had our morning meeting, and soon afterwards several of us headed out for avalanche control work since the Pass was closed the day before for Christmas and had about 6 inches of fresh snow with some wind transport. Near the top of the EPA lift, the morning light was bright and I could tell it was going to be an awesome day….

First Chair
First P2 Chair of the Season

After unloading, we made the short hike to the top of Peak 2, and the scenery was stunning as usual. Looking to the south, Odell Butte and Lake were glistening in the early morning sun…

Looking out over central Oregon
Looking out across Boundary
Brian and Maiden
Brian atop Peak 2

Wasting little time at the top of Peak 2, we double checked gear and skied down to Dragon’s Back to do our control work. After breaking cornices along the ridge line and getting a few sloughs to go, we tied into a large tree and belayed Dan along the nose. Halfway through, I let Brian take over the belay and was able to snap a few photos of Dan as he went about his work…

Dan on avy duty
Dan on belay
Early morning avy duty
Early morning avy duty

Dan was able to get one decent sized slide to go, and then we broke down the rope setup, and worked our way down the rest of the ridge. Once we were all in a safe spot, we enjoyed some great turns through the meadow and back to the Peak 2 lift, with the backside in position to open for the public. I snapped a couple pictures of Brian airing it out coming out of the meadow as well as Dan making some nice pow turns…

Brian dropping in...
Brian airing it out…
Dan enjoying the pow…

After our morning work, it was time to enjoy the quality snow and we made several runs on the backside, finding powder on Northern, June’s and in the trees. Around 10:30, I made my way back to the front side for a few runs, and found some good snow in White Russian with Raleigh…

White Russian
White Russian

My bump spot was at 1:00, so I grabbed a quick bite to eat around 12:45 and headed back up EPA. Walking out of the patrol room, I snapped a picture of the hill, looking in mid-winter form in December….

The view from the bottom
The view from the bottom

Bump was uneventful, and once my hour was up, I headed out to make a few more runs until sweep. Looking off to the south, I pulled out my telephoto lens and snapped a few pictures of Diamond, dreaming of making runs on the mountains north side this coming spring…


Peak 2 sweep started at 3:40 pm, and then upper mountain sweep followed. I waited up top with Dan, and after a brief issue with a missing person that was subsequently found, we vacated via RTS.

Looking south at closing

A bit later, back in the patrol room, we had our evening meeting and then cracked a few beers to celebrate an excellent start to the season. Hopefully there will be many more pow days to come! Here’s a parting shot of Brian from the day….

Brian airing it out
Brian dropping in