April 24, 2017 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

Every few years, late April can dish up some sweet late season pow turns.  This year was one of those years.  Timing is everything, and it doesn’t always work out, but when it does it doesn’t get any better.  Dan and I were monitoring the weather forecast, and initially made plans to head up to the Pass for some Wednesday evening turns.  On Sunday night, it looked like Monday could be better, and that Wednesday might be raining.  Luckily, both our schedules were workable for Monday and we left Springfield around 2:15.  Soon we were making the familiar drive up Highway 58 in a steady drizzle….

Salt Creek Tunnel

We pulled into the Gold Lake snowpark to gear up, and it was snowing and about 35 degrees.  The snowpark after the ski season and on a Monday to boot was quiet and peaceful.  I snapped a couple pics of Dan gearing up as well as the Gold Lake Shelter…

Gearing up at Gold Lake Snow Park
Gold Lake Shelter

A few minutes later we parked along Highway 58 and grabbed our gear and headed out.  I always love the view of the lodge after the ski season but when it’s still snowing….

Willamette Pass Lodge
Heading up

To our surprise, there was about 8 inches of fresh snow underfoot as we headed up.  The skin up went easily via George, Timburr and then High Lead, and we worked our way to Peak 2 as it continued to snow.  The snow depth at the Peak 2 snow stake was right at 100 inches, and it looked like there was about 12-14 inches of new on the backside.  We wasted little time, and dropped in right off the ramp from the top and into Northern.  The turns didn’t disappoint…..

Dropping into Northern
Late April pow turns

At the bottom of Northern, we put on the skins and worked our way up Escalator.  Skinning up in the wind and fresh snow, the view back down Escalator was beautiful, and I reflected on how different the run felt with over a foot of new snow and no public around….

Skinning out via Escalator

Once back at the top of Peak 2, it was time for a cold one before dropping in for run number two.  The beer of choice for both Dan and I was Descender by Good Life.  Late April pow is definitely the Good Life…..

Living the Good Life

On our second run, the snow was even better than the first.  The temps had dropped 4 or 5 degrees, and felt to be about 28 out.  Dan grabbed the camera, and snapped a few shots of me riding one of my favorite in-bounds lines at the Pass — the trees between Down Under and June’s.  Did I mention the snow was great?

April tree lines
More turns back on Northern

At the bottom, we skinned back out again and had time to make one more run (for a total of three on the backside) before heading over to EPA to ski the frontside before dark.  We made a quick stop at the top of EPA for another cold one, and snapped a few selfies (I never take selfies) we were planning to send to John because he hates them so much:)

Shenanigans atop EPA

Our plan for the frontside descent was to ski RTS.  We dropped in, but it was pretty wind hammered and icy, so we elected to ski better snow and headed over to Success which was a good move.  The turns were deep, light and damn nice!

Late evening turns on Success

We whooped and hollered all the way down Success, and then onto By George.  The snow stayed really nice all the way down, and we skied out across the flats by the lodge and into the parking lot.  Back at the truck, it was cold, and even though it was late April, it still felt like winter hadn’t yet loosened it’s grip on the Cascades.  After stowing gear in the back of Dan’s pickup, we pulled out onto Highway 58 for the drive home, and we both agreed this day would be one we wouldn’t soon forget!