May 17, 2017 – Willamette Pass Redux

A few days after some of the best May powder of our lives, Dan and I were hoping for a repeat. The forecast looked decent, so we decided to take a day off mid-week with the intention of heading to Bachelor and riding lifts. We threw the skins in just in case, and by the time we got to the Pass around 7:15 we decided it wasn’t worth fighting the crowds and it could be just as good at the Pass.

Gold Lake Shelter

We started skinning around 7:30 am, and it was clear it had been windy in the past couple of days since we were last there. And, for the first time since November, the snow base was finally starting to diminish on the southside, with a few trees and bushes starting to poke through on George as we skinned up.

Looking up ByGeorge
The haul road

Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much fresh snow as we’d hoped for, with most of it blowing away in the heavy winds. But by the time we reached the top of Peak 2, the backside looked inviting…

Peak 2 Chair

Dan dropped into Northern, and although it wasn’t deep, it still provided for some fun turns, with about three to four inches over a firm crust…

Dan skiing Northern

Since the conditions were marginal, we elected to tour out of the area a bit and see if we could find better snow. That proved to be more difficult then it should have been however, as the wind had really done a number on slopes facing all directions with the only unaffected areas on the flats…

Tait’s Loop Trail

We toured out towards Rosary Lakes, making a few turns along the way and found a nice spot with a view to break for lunch. Looking out across the lake, it still felt like mid-winter, even though the calendar said it was mid-May…

Rosary Lake
Lunch break above Rosary

With our urge to tour satisfied, we skinned back to the area and back up to Peak 2 for a few more laps on the backside. This time Dan grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots of me cruising down Northern before we hung a left and cruised over to Down Under….

May turns on Northern
Skiing Down Under

We skied down below Down Under and onto Junes nearly to the bottom of the Peak 2 lift. The snow was pretty nice, and appeared to be getting better as the temps warmed in the afternoon. Rather than skin back over and out to Escalator, we put a new skin track in up Junes.

The skintrack out…

Of course, we couldn’t put a track in and then not use it, so we made one more run down through the trees between Northern and Junes, and then out onto the run. It was pretty nice….

Turns down June’s

Back at the top, both of us were getting tired after several thousand feet of vertical, so we skinned over to the top of EPA for a finishing run down RTS. RTS skied very nicely, and was the cap to a great day. We skied Swoosh out all the way to the lodge — not bad for mid-May at the pass!

Dan skiing Swoosh
Willamette Pass Lodge

Back at the car, we enjoyed a cold beer while drying out our gear. And then it was time for something I’d been looking forward to all day — heading into Oakridge for a burger and beer at the Brewer’s Union. As it turns out, this was my last trip to the Pass for the 16/17 season, and I can say without hesitation that it has been one of the best in recent memory! Here’s to an equally good season for 17/18!

At the car