November 13, 2020 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

Friday was shaping up to have the potential for being a good day of storm skiing, so I flexed my schedule to be able to take off in the mid-morning after my morning work commitments. My day started early, and I was in the office by 6:30 am, but by 10:30 am I was out the door and on the road heading to the pass. I hoped my timing would work out nicely, because it looked like the storm was going to start out warm, but be cooling down in the early afternoon. It was raining as I neared the Pass, but turned to a rain/snow mix when I pulled into the parking area, where Dan and Joe were already parked.

Ready to head out

A quick phone call to them confirmed it was snowing up higher on the hill, so I shouldered my gear quickly and headed out. It sounded like they were on Peak 2, but the weather was so inclement they were going to head back over to the frontside. I followed their skin track up KP, and it was faint in places. Travel was quick, and soon I made it to Eagle’s Flight and started up. There wasn’t a skin track on Eagle’s, and it was deep — probably 18 inches of new snow or more. I was about halfway up the run when Joe and Dan came into view, and it was refreshing to see them make nice turns on the way down. I pulled out my camera and took a few pics as they skied by me.

Dan skiing Eagle’s
Joe enjoying fresh November pow

I continued breaking trail, and worked my way up to the top of the run, and took shelter in the trees while it continued to snow heavily. About 15 minutes later, Joe and Dan crested the top of the run, with big smiles on their faces. We agreed to head up and check out Good Time to see if it was skiable. That turned out to be an excellent choice, as the turns were prime…

Joe on Good Time
November pow at the Pass

We started down, and the snow and coverage both exceeded expectations. I took a few photos of the skiers on the first half of the run, then Dan grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots of me enjoying the fresh snow.

Cruising down Charlie

We skied our way down the run, and headed back to the skin track on KP, fully intent on another lap. It was snowing so heavily that by the time we got to Eagle’s our skin track from just a half hour ago was pretty faint and somewhat difficult to follow. Joe did his best to follow it, and we headed up.

Skinning back up Eagles
Arriving at the top of KP

We worked our way up Eagle’s and decided it was worth heading to the top of EPA to get a run in from the top, as well as check out the new addition for patrol this season, which was the old summit lift motor shack. Given the concerns with COVID-19, the motor shack will serve as a place for patrol to bump this season out of the inclement weather and away from the lift ops. On this day, it certainly proved to be a well-positioned spot out of the weather, and we were thankful to spend a few minutes inside while drinking a cold beverage as the storm raged on outside. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a super tasty Pass Stout, appropriately named for both the beer and the location, from my favorite brewer Goodlife Brewing Company.

Pass Stout from Goodlife
Hangin’ in the summit motor shack

After a nice break out of the weather, we made the short hike to the proper top of EPA, and prepared to ski another lap. A few pictures ensued before we stepped into our bindings, including the two shots below.

Dan hiking to EPA
Matt atop EPA

We slid down the hill, and decided to check out High Lead, but quickly aborted that plan as the coverage looked a bit thin there, and headed back over to Good Time, which proved to be just as good, if not better, than our previous lap. It had snowed so much since our last run that our tracks were almost entirely filled in. Like before, we traded the camera and snapped lots of pics….

Dan and Joe on lap 2
Dan heading down

As before, we skied down to where it was time to cut back to KP, except this time I bid Joe and Dan farewell. They were heading down after a long day of climbing and skiing, and I was jonesing for one more run. It was still snowing hard, but there was enough daylight for one more lap, so I headed back up. This time the skin track on Eagle’s was entirely gone, so I got the opportunity to break trail again, but soon found myself at the top of EPA once more. After a quick call to my wife at home, I dropped in for some more powder turns.

Cruising down Charlie
Mid-November pow at the Pass

The run was superb, and I tried my best to follow Joe and Dan’s tracks out on the runout. I was able to make it out to KP before I lost their tracks entirely. It was a slow ride down KP, but eventually I made it the bottom and made the short hike back out to the car. Fortunately, I didn’t have to dig out, and was able to get back onto the highway without much fanfare. I made the short drive down to the cabin to join Dan and Joe for a dinner of ‘brats.

The Cabin

After some good food and conversation, it was time to hit the road and head home, fully satisfied with an excellent day of a little work and much play. Until next time, here’s a parting shot from the day of Dan skiing mid-November pow on Eagles!

Skiing Eagle’s Flight