January 11, 2020 – Powder at the Pass

Saturday looked to be pretty epic, and for the first time in awhile, it appeared P2 was going to score the goods. I met up with the the crew in the patrol room after driving up 58, and the stoke factor was high for the day. The wind was blowing hard, and a significant amount of snow had fallen overnight. After the morning meeting, we headed out, ready for a morning of avalanche work and powder turns.

John and Greg

Given the storm conditions, EPA didn’t open until 9:45am, so we made the most of it hanging out in the lift line waiting for the icing issue to be resolved and the chairs to spin. Once we got word of opening, it was time to head up and run the avalanche route on RTS.

P2 ready to open the mountain
OEC candidates at the base

Dan and I loaded the first chair with Deverton and Greg, and headed up. The wind was howling up top, with sustained winds around 30-40 mph, and gusts up over 50m mph. We cautiously dropped over the rollover into RTS one by one, and the wind was ripping about as hard as I could remember. Lower down, we performed several ski cuts, without result, and finished with a few enjoyable powder turns on the lower run…

Pausing on RTS during avy work
Deverton ripping a turn down RTS

Given the snow and wind, it appeared Peak 2 wouldn’t open for another hour or so, so we spun a few laps on the front side while we waited. A bit later, we got the call, so Dan, John and I headed over, along with Hutch and Jon for avalanche work on the backside…

John and Hutch heading up for Peak 2 Avy work

Jon and Hutch were ahead of us, and when we got to the top of Peak 2, we heard the call on the radio that conditions were looking extremely sketch. As we readied to head out, Rick pulled up with the cat, so we checked in with him prior to heading over to June’s.

Dan and Rick up top

Rick groomed a nice path out to Waldo, and we followed, ski cutting the trees below the run. Shooting cracks were running everywhere, and the snow was extremely wind effected. Hutch and Jon got pretty good movement out of the snow on the nose, we worked our way out the ridge line, cutting cornices and getting some nice slabs to cut loose as well.

Dan on June’s

After we controlled the ridge, I worked my way down and across the meadow, and met up with Hutch and Jon. It was snowing hard, the wind was blowing, and conditions were sketch, so I didn’t get any good pictures of the actual action from the morning, but the slog fest up the ridge in waist deep snow, along with the sweat I worked up told me it was a classic day for doing control work.

First chair on Peak 2 after control work; Photo by Jon Marshall

With control work done, the rope at the closure dropped and it was game on. I spun a few laps on Northern, which was riding great, and met up with Jon and Shannon who also were ripping it. The snow was pretty blower up top, but definitely wind effected, especially down low, where it required effort to keep speed up and not sink to your waist.

Jon shredding down Northern
Shannon getting the goods

We spun a few more laps on Peak 2, enjoying it until our legs became tired, finally heading down to the front a few minutes before 2:00 pm to get a quick bite to eat and return the avalanche gear. The remainder of the day was spent enjoying a few turns down RTS, followed by Peak 2 sweep and then upper mountain sweep. Dan and I hung out up top during upper mountain sweep, and vacated via RTS as the evening light started to wane.

Afternoon turns down RTS
Dan up top with the lift crew at the day’s end

On our last run down RTS, the snow was still skiing nicely, and it was an awesome way to end the day. Down in the patrol room after sweep, everyone was pumped on a good day, and the beers after the evening meeting hit the spot as usual. Day like this one are definitely what makes patrolling at the Pass special, and don’t happen often enough!