March 19-22, 2018 – Tam McArthur Rim, Three Creeks Huts

Once again it was time for the annual hut trip to Tam McArthur Rim. It was a good crew for 2018, although a few of the usual suspects didn’t make the journey for one reason or another. For those of us who did, the conditions didn’t disappoint. After driving over highway 126 in the morning, we met in the snowpark as usual around 8:30 after stopping in Sisters for a cup of coffee. Jonas arrived shortly thereafter, and we soon set to work loading the sleds with our gear.

The crew prior to departure

The weather was beautifully sunny as we departed, and it didn’t take long for the miles to pass on the way in and we soon found ourselves at the huts. The snowpack looked to be holding up well, and the firm conditions we’d encountered on the way in appeared to give way to powder snow on the north facing aspects of the bowls. Once our gear was unloaded and in the huts, we wasted little time in getting out on the skin track. Sam and Mark led the way, and we quickly found ourselves on top of the rim. The lines directly into the Orchard bowl looked good, so we dropped in. I captured a few pics, including the ones below of Brian ripping and Andy at the bottom of the bowl…

Brian shredding
Andy at the bottom of Orchard Bowl

We ate a quick snack at the bottom of the bowl, then toured over to the Animal bowl to check out conditions there. The bowl was untouched and the snow soft, so we traversed over and then started booting up…

Climbing in the Animal bowl
Sam scouting the options

There are a few nice couloir like features in the Animal bowl, so our group split into two to tackle a couple of different options. Sam, Dan, Brian and I headed over towards climbers left, and booted up a steep pitch to a fun line we’d ridden a few years back.

Dan and Sam climbing up

Once at the top of our line, we could see the rest of our group a few topping out on their line as well. The views from our vantage point were pretty nice, so we sat back for a few minutes and just enjoyed being in the mountains.

Perched atop the Animal bowl

When it was time to drop in, we weren’t disappointed. The snow was excellent, and we ripped turns all the way to the bottom of the bowl. I snapped a few pics of the skiers heading down, including the shots of Dan and Sam below. The second shot also captured a couple of the others from our group heading down as well….

Dan dropping in
Sam heading down

Satisfied with what we’d found in the Animal bowl, we continued traversing across the terrain to the eastern most bowl, hoping to climb and ski a line we’d skied back in 2015. The climb up is steep, so we put in a boot pack, which went quickly. As before, the skiing was superb. Here’s a shot of Rob heading down with the pyramid in the background….

Rob skiing the face

At the bottom, Sam, Dan and I wanted to climb and ski one more lap on a line that none of us had ever ridden before — Yahtzee. Brian had just put a track down in a few moments ago, and now it was our turn. Instead of climbing up from the saddle, we booted straight up the face, which was pretty steep and a bit firm at the top. After several minutes of my calves screaming at me, we topped out and it was time for a well earned Hazlenut Nectar brown ale from Rogue Brewing — one of my favorites. The views didn’t suck either….

Looking across to the Animal bowl

For some reason, Sam wanted to snap some photos of Dan and I dropping in, so he grabbed the camera and proceeded to shoot. The turns were steep and exhilarating, and I enjoyed each one all the way down to the others waiting below. Then it was Dan’s turn, and finally Sam dropped in…

Dropping into Yahtzee

At the bottom, we skied out to Little Three Creeks Lake below, called it a day, and switched to skins for the short skin back to the huts, where everyone was looking forward to Brian making a choice dinner of basil covered sockeye salmon and pasta. Following dinner, it was time to crack open a beer and enjoy a little bs session — one of the best things about staying in the huts!

Brian on the grill

Tuesday morning dawned cold and sunny, and by all accounts looked to be an excellent day for a tour. After an excellent breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs and hash browns, we hit the skin track with our sights set on Broken Hand, with the option of either Snow Creek or Broken Top depending on snow conditions.

Andy and Sam ready to head out

It didn’t take long to work our way up through the Playground and associated bowls, and within an hour or so we were at the Prow, admiring the views into the Rim and beyond.

Touring out to the Prow
The crew atop the Prow

Standing up top and looking down into the Rim, we could see our lines from the day before on Yahtzee and in the Animal bowl. They looked pretty sweet, but all of us were excited for what the day would bring, so after taking a group photo it was time to keep moving…

Brian looking down at our lines from the day before

Skinning out beyond the Rim on a sunny calm day is always a treat, and as usual the views didn’t disappoint. It didn’t take long to work our way out to Broken Hand, and the westerly slopes were looking prime.

Our friends from the Owl Hut
Simon coming up to the Hand

The snow on the west slops of Broken Hand was excellent, and even though I was temped to continue on to the steep snow slopes of Broken Top, we made the decision to drop into Snow Creek and make a long ride down through the open snowfields. That decision didn’t disappoint…the snow was cold pow, and we enjoyed excellent turns down off the Hand…

Dan skiing in front of Broken Top
Brian below Broken Hand

After waiting a few minutes for Simon, who had topped out on Broken Hand, we continued on down Snow Creek, enjoying smooth low angle turns down to the next steep snowfield. I snapped some pics of the crew as we descended, and later Dan snapped a few of me as well…

Brian airing it out over the Sisters
Matt enjoying some cold pow

We continued further down, and the snow quality stayed excellent, so we milked turns down to the bottom of the drainage and regrouped for a quick rest and to rehydrate. After our break, most of us headed back up for another lap, while Sam and Brian scoped out a line that included a cliff drop and then a natural booter….

Sam skiing lower Snow Creek

The skin out of and up Snow Creek is a pleasure with some of the best scenery in the state, and soon we were back up on top of a line we’d been drooling over since we saw it earlier in the day. Dan and I dropped in first, and enjoyed the silky smooth powder turns. Andy followed, and I snapped a few pics of him coming down…

Andy ripping on Snow Creek
Dan on the skin out

We ended up doing one more lap in Snow Creek (at least Sam, Dan and I did) because the snow was just too good. Then it was a long slog back out and across the flats up top to get back to the Jelly Roll for a final run back to the huts. Before we dropped in, we scoped out a few cornices that looked fun, and Dan dropped in while I snapped pics. He’s still got some pretty nice form….

Dan 63 years old and launching

Back at the huts we settled in for our second evening, ate an excellent dinner, and bid farewell to Brian and Simon, who needed to get back to town for various reasons. Sleep came easy at night after a long day out and many miles logged. The next morning dawned a bit warmer and cloudy, but we still found good touring in the bowls close to the huts. The five of us who were left (Sam, Dan, Rob, Andy and I) spent most of the morning hitting the Playground and Jelly Roll areas, as well as a tour up to East Peak for our first run. Even though the temp was around 35-36, the snow stayed soft and nice. Here’s a photo of Sam launching off one of the numerous drops in the area….

Sam hucking

Around 1:00 we called it a day and headed down to the huts. Sam and Rob went back out for another lap, but Dan, Andy and I enjoyed a few hours of downtime. I played a game of Settlers of Catan with the crew from the other hut, and enjoyed a couple of cold ones. Eventually, the weather cleared and the sun came out around dinner time…

Hut life
The huts in early evening

Our last night was laid back and mellow, and the folks from the other hut joined us for dinner. On our final morning, we awoke to light drizzle and weren’t exactly stoked. However, it turned to snow as we were making breakfast, and was a couple of inches deep by the time we donned skins and headed out from the huts. By the time we reached the top of the Jelly Roll, the snow was nearing a half a foot deep, aided by wind transport from atop the plateau above the Rim.

Rob and Sam touring up

We dropped in from the top for our first lap, and were surprised by how good the conditions were. Sam and Rob made parallel turns beside one another and then Dan and I followed.  At the bottom, we skinned back up for one more lap, starting atop the Jelly Roll. In short, it was awesome….

Matt on the last day

We milked turns down through the Playground, and finally through the trees and back to the huts, where Jonas was waiting to give us a lift out.

The owl hut

We celebrated our trip by enjoying a cold one while packing up the sleds, and remarked about how each year seems to surpass the last in terms of quality. Once the sleds were loaded, we moved out, and Sam was stoked when Jonas let him drive the second sled…

Sam on the snowmo

We made a quick detour to the nordic huts for a resupply mission, and it was cool to see the craftsmanship of those huts and view the Rim from a different perspective. Plus the free beer from Jonas didn’t hurt our feelings either.  Then it was a few more miles down the road to our waiting cars and reality set in that the 2018 trip was over. Not to worry, 2019 is on the schedule and I’m already looking forward to another fun stay at the Three Creeks huts.