April 19, 2021 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

For a variety of reasons I’d missed the window to make some weekend turns, but Monday afternoon was beginning to hold some promise for a dusk patrol mission to the Pass to test out my latest DIY split. I text Jack, who was in town, and we made plans to meet at the area around 4:00 pm. I stopped off at Gold Lake on my way up to gear up, and when I pulled up to the gate at the Pass Jack was ready to go. We headed out almost as soon as I locked up my car, and started skinning up George.

At the snowpark
Heading up George

The sun had been working the snow over pretty good since I’d last been up, and the surface was quite a bit bumpier than we were expecting, at least on the front side. The skin up KP and then to Eagles went quickly, and soon we were up top enjoying the view…

Topping out on Eagles
Matt at the top

My first order of business was to get my beer on ice. The offering for today was a tasty, albeit stiff, Beaker Breaker IPA from Pelican Brewing Company. Seven minutes later when it was cold, I had my first drink and it definitely was refreshing. A few minutes after that, Jack and I stepped into bindings and slid off towards RTS to make a few turns.

Beaker Breaker from Pelican Brewing
Summit shot

The snow was in pretty good shape on RTS, and much more smooth than what we encountered on the south side runs skinning up. We skied it down to the bottom, took a few pictures along the way, and then started setting a boot pack for the trip back up.

First run down RTS
After work turns on RTS

A short time later, we were back at the top of the run, and decided to head to the top of EPA again for a second lap from the summit. I captured a few photos of Jack booting up the snow, as well as the dry ground, along the way…

Booting up for a second lap
Almost to the top

Back on top, I drank the rest of my beer, and we wasted little time dropping in for lap number two. The turns down the second time around were better than the first, and I had a feeling they would get better as the afternoon turned to evening.

Dropping in for run 2
Jack ripping down RTS

We made turns back down to the bottom of our bootpack, and proceeded to head up again for a third lap, this time stopping at the top of the run 50 or 75 feet below the top of EPA. On our way down for the third run, Jack decided to do his best Dan impression, and skied while drinking a beer. I gotta say, he’s basically got it nailed!

Jack doing his best “Dan” imitation
Turns above the fallen log

I continued shooting photos as we headed down, and captured several of Jack enjoying the steep slope. At the bottom, we checked our watches and decided we had enough time for one more, so we reused our boot pack for a third time.

April turns down RTS
Jack enjoying his 3rd lap

For our final lap, we headed back to the top of EPA to milk the turns from the summit. Dropping in, the snow just kept getting better and better. I have no doubt that if we would have done a fifth and sixth lap, they would have been the best of the day.

Skiing RTS a 4th Time
Corn turns on RTS

At the bottom, we decided to head out via Lois Lane, and then skirt over to Rough Cut to check out the conditions. Lois skied quite nicely, but as we started down Rough Cut the snow became really choppy and bumpy. A little bit of that and we decided to traverse over to Swoosh, which proved to be a better choice.

Heading out
At the top of Twilight

We skied the dirty, albeit relatively smooth snow down Swoosh right to the parking lot, and made the short hike over to the cars. Jack had a couple of beers on ice from Montana, and I was more than happy when he pulled them out and offered me one…

Skiing down Swoosh
Jack with a couple of cold ones

The ice cold Cold Smoke’s from Kettlehouse Brewing Co. hit the spot, and were super tasty. I can see now why Jack is always raving about them. If I can ever find these here in Oregon, I’ll be purchasing a 4-pack.

Cold Smoke by KettleHouse Brewing

As we were sitting there enjoying our beers and reflecting on the evening of skiing, an ODOT crew pulled up and cleaned off the Snow Zone sign that I always like to take a picture of. I’d always wondered, and now I know what the wooden 2 x 4’s in front of the sign are used for….

ODOT cleaning crew

A short time later, with our beers finished, it was time to head home. I bid Jack farewell, and headed down the road, satisfied with another great evening of turns at the Pass. Here’s a parting shot from the day…

Heading down to Lois