Conditions were shaping up to be prime for the annual hut trip to Three Creeks Lake at Tam McArthur Rim. The winter of 2016/17 had been delivering the goods, and we had a great crew lined up to stay at the huts operated by Three Sisters Backcountry at the end of February through the first of March.
The stoke was high as part of our crew left Eugene and headed west over the Pass. After a quick stop in Sisters for some coffee, we arrived at the trailhead around 8:45 and found the rest of the players getting gear organized. Before long, we were signing waivers in the trailer and gearing up to head out on the snowmo’s for the 6 mile jaunt into the huts.
The sled ride in went quickly, and the snow was excellent. As we arrived at the huts, I could tell there was more snow than I’d seen in the past 8 seasons. We wasted little time in getting our gear stashed in the huts before heading out to harvest some of the pow. Rob was stoked as it was his first time in the area. On our first couple of runs I snapped a few pics of him and Brian enjoying the 15 degree blower….
Our first run was up to East Peak, and it was good to be back in the familiar terrain of the Rim. After we made quick work of East Peak, we were off to the Playground and Jelly Roll for several more runs. To our delight, when we reached the Playground there were no tracks, and we had the whole area to ourselves. I snapped a pic of John contemplating the Playground or going up further to the Jelly Roll on the skin track…..
We ended up going up to the Jelly Roll, and were greeted by the usual winds up top. The conditions were a bit challenging with limited visibility, but a short weather window allowed us to cut a cornice and drop in. The turns down were sweet and we worked our way to the Playground to continue the fun. Below are a couple of pics of Brian enjoying the offerings in the area….
After Brian dropped, I headed down with the camera and snapped several shots of others in our group loving the conditions on the way down. Kate was ripping, and each turn produced a face shot. Mason came down next, followed by the others, including Andy (in the pic below).
We headed back up for another lap, which was equally as good, and then headed over to the Dan bowl to finish off the day. The snow was so good, and everyone was stoking on the conditions. We skied all the way down to the lake, and settled in for a sweet dinner Brian made for the group of fresh salmon and pasta. The usual of beers, mixed drinks, and bs followed dinner, and before long everyone retired to bed with dreams of more pow the following morning. Here’s a shot Dan took of me to end our first day in the Dan bowl….
Day 2 dawned early and everyone was stoked for another day of pow — except for John, who had broken a Dynafit binding the day before and was looking at a long trip out and into Bend to get a replacement — more on that later. After a healthy breakfast, we hit the skin track and headed back up towards the Playground and East Peak. East Peak was our first objective of the morning, and the wind was blasting up top. After looking over the best place to drop in, we decided the middle of the bowl was best. I rode down halfway and found a spot to snap a few photos of folks coming down…
After East Peak we traversed over and hit the bowl adjacent to Dan’s bowl. The snow lower down on the hill was choice. Dan took my camera and captured a few shots of me riding the pow…
Back down at the bottom, we decided to work our way back up to the Playground and put a few lines in the bowl above the Lake. The snow was pretty sweet as we enjoyed faceshots all the way to the bottom….
Next up we skinned up the ridge to the Proboscis. The sun was trying to shine through the clouds, and it was super windy. At the top, Dan and I setup a belay to cut the cornice and check out the avy conditions. Dan was on the sharp end of the rope while I belayed. The cornice broke halfway back and tumbled down onto the slope, with no results. Not wanting to drop in right off the top, we rode down to a lower point on the bowl with a lesser consequence and dropped in. Joe dropped in first and cut off a small soft slab, and the rest of us followed and enjoyed good snow.
We linked turns through the steep tree shots down to the elevation of the lake for one of the longest runs of the trip and it was great. At this point it was mid-afternoon, so we headed back up over to the Playground and made a couple more runs before calling it a day and heading back to the huts. Back at the huts, we ran into Jonas who’d come in to do some chores around the huts. He was able to provide John with a Dynafit heel piece (and then subsequently a different pair of skis after John’s other heel piece broke which required Jonas making a trip out to the car on the sled) in exchange for John doing some serious shoveling. It obviously worked out in John’s favor though, as he got some runs in on Tuesday and had skis for the rest of the trip.
Tuesday night’s dinner was prepared by Lisa and Simon, and was an African Peanut Stew that was awesome. Just before dinner, we bid farewell to Kate and Mason, who needed to head back out for work related reasons. Brian drove them out on Simon’s snowmobile, and they towed behind my rope 6 miles out to the cars. After dinner, the rest of us settled in for a fun evening of Cards Against Humanity which always results in laughing so hard it hurts.
Day 3 dawned clear and sunny, and everyone knew it was gonna’ be an excellent day for a tour. After another great breakfast, we hit the skintrack and headed up the usual route. Before too long, we were above the Playground and heading out towards the ridge. The wind from the day before made some interesting formations in the snow…
In no time at all we made it to the Proboscis, although unlike the day previous, we could soak in the views all the way to Washington. Here’s a shot of Rob enjoying the scenery…
A bit more skinning brought our crew to the familiar view point on top of the Prow. This is always a treat when the weather is clear, as the view from the top of the Prow is one of the best in the Cascades. Below are a couple of pics….one of the scenery and one of our crew (minus Andy who snapped the photo)….
After lounging around on the Prow for a bit, we skinned over across the top of the Rim to check out conditions in Snow Creek with the idea of possibly dropping in and wrapping around to exit via the Pyramid on the other side of the Rim. As we worked our way along the top of Snow Creek, we kept touring out towards Broken Hand. The snow looked better the further we went and it was a good day for a tour….
Somewhere shy of a mile from Broken Hand, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the magnificent views and sunny skies. It was a good opportunity to take a photo of my Oakshire I’d been packing around the mountains all day before we headed out….
Around 1:00 we reached the Hand, ripped skins, and prepared to shred. The snow was perfectly smooth, and didn’t disappoint. Brian dropped in first, followed by several of the skiers. I stayed up top to snap a few pics….
The views from the Hand are pretty sweet. Looking to the south, I could see Bachelor, Maiden, Diamond, Mt Scott and some of the other southern Oregon peaks that I’m fortunate enough to live close enough to ski.
After snapping pics, it was my turn to rip the slope. It was so smooth and good I made about 4 turns down the entire thing. At the bottom, everyone agreed we needed to head back up for one more lap. Looking back at our tracks on the face as we skinned up I had to admire our work….
Lap number two was equally as good as number one. This time we ventured a bit further out, and I caught pictures of Simon and Brian ripping on the way down.
The traverse out was more difficult than I remember, probably due to the fact that there was about a foot and a half of somewhat wind effected/manky snow we had to deal with. It truly felt like a bit of a slog, and most everyone ended up putting the skins back on in order to reach the Jelly Roll.
The turns down the Jelly Roll were fun, and soon it was back to the huts for a well deserved beer and a sweet dinner of fish tacos and chicken curry. I mixed some of the fish taco ingredients into the curry and it was about as good as it gets. More drinks and bs followed, and eventually everyone retired to bed to get ready for our last day of the trip.
Day 4 dawned clear again, and after breakfast, we set about packing gear to make sure everything was out of the huts by 9:30. We accomplished that goal by around 9:00, and set out to explore some of the terrain behind the huts.
To our surprise, we found some quality snow we weren’t expecting, along with some fun rollers, steeps and pillows. After making one fun lap, Brian and I split off from the group with the intention of heading back down to the lake to build a shit kicker over the outhouse. On the way, Brian found a pretty sweet feature to air off of…
We linked turns down to the lake, and set to work shoveling. A half hour later we were working on the run in, and after a few test runs, Brian was sessioning while I snapped photos. I had one photo in particular I wanted to get, but it proved difficult. I crawled down the stairs to the door of the shitter, and shot up trying to catch Brian as he aired over the entire toilet. It took about 5 or 6 tries, but eventually it worked….
After that, Brian hit the jump a few more times and I was able to snap the picture below of him throwing a method over the shit house….
With the shit kicker session over, it was time to load the sleds and call it a trip. We met Shane at the huts, along with the rest of the gang, loaded the sleds, cracked a beer and headed out. I caught a pic of Brian, Joe and John on the sled behind ours with the Rim in the background. I love how the wind was whipping across the flats above the rim in the pic below…..
Back at the car, we thanked Shane for another great trip, loaded our gear and headed out. Everyone agreed this was one of the better trips we’d had to the huts in recent years, and plans are already in progress for next year’s trip. Below is a parting shot from the trip!