December 11, 2021 – Willamette Pass

The weekend was shaping up to be a snowy one, so I made plans to head up to the Pass on Saturday to get some afternoon turns in, with the idea of staying at Dan & John’s cabin and making turns again on Sunday. The forecast was calling for up to a couple of feet of snow by the end of the day Sunday, so I was optimistic when I left home around 9:30 after enjoying a hearty breakfast with the family. After a quick stop in Oakridge to get a snow brush for the truck after leaving mine at home, I pulled into the lot a few minutes before 11:30.

My Chevy at the Pass
The Patrol base and the hill

Some of the candidates were training on-the-hill OEC skills with Laurie, and Dan was helping as well. After checking in with him, he indicated that he and Joe would be heading up around 12:00 pm or so, after running back down to the cabin and picking up Joe. Since I was already booted up and ready to go, I decided to head up to check things out. I was a bit let down with the conditions — there was only about 7 inches on the ground, but at least it was snowing. I worked my way up KP and followed a skin track up to the base of Eagle’s.

Looking up Eagle’s

I started up Eagle’s and it looked like it would go, but the snow wasn’t deep. About half way up, I saw the skier who made the skin track ahead of me as they started down. I gave them a nod as they skied by, and I found out later that it was Quin (after talking with Dan & Joe). I worked my way up to the top of Eagle’s, and checked out the tree farm on my way towards the top. From there, I decided to skin over and check out the Peak 2 conditions. There was about a foot of snow at the snow stake, give or take an inch or two, and I skinned out to see if anything looked doable. After checking out Waldo, I decided it and Northern weren’t worth it, and headed back to the lift shack to change over to board mode.

Northern the Peak 2 Chair

I decided to drop into Boundary, since the coverage looked so-so, with the plan of heading back towards EPA afterwards and linking up with Dan and Joe. I stepped into my bindings and dropped in, and made less than fun turns down to the top of Escalator before calling it. Reflecting back on it, it was probably one of the worst runs I’ve ever had at the Pass — basically every turn was either hitting rocks, stumps or small bushes. Somewhat dis-satisfied with my turns, I skinned up and headed up kris-kross back towards Peak 2. Once at the bump shack, a quick call to Dan confirmed that they would be up in about a half hour, so I settled in and had a sandwich, and drowned my sorrows with a tasty 10.5% Minutes After Midnight Imperial Stout from Coldfire Brewing.

Minutes After Midnight Imperial Stout

A few minutes later, I was feeling a bit better about the day by drowning my sorrows, and then Dan and Joe showed up. I was happy to see them, and we drank our beers while they ripped skins.

Dan at the bump shack

A few minutes later, we made the short walk up to the top of EPA. After talking it over, we agreed the plan would be to ski KP down, since it looked like it would be the only safe way down. Apparently Eagle’s had lost most of it’s snow up to due to the high winds, and it was down to dirt, so KP would have to do.

Joe at at the top of EPA
Matt before heading down

We shoved off and started down, and the snow was pretty good, even if it only was 8-10 inches over absolutely no base. We worked our way down the run, and I snapped a few pics of Dan and Joe as they came down.

Joe doing the Willamette Pass Wiggle
Dan wiggling down KP

Partway down the run, and below Eagle’s, we stopped to regroup after Dan went down from hitting something lurking under the meager snowpack. A few moments later, we were back on track and making wiggles down the run. Given the low snow depth and shallow slope angle, wiggles was about all we could muster…

A quick stop on KP
Skiing down to the base

We skied down to the base, and right to the parking lot, which is always a treat. We chatted with Laurie, Rob and Ian, who were just heading out after working with the candidates on OEC skills, and then headed out.

Locking up and heading to the cabin

A few miles down the road, I pulled into the cabin behind Dan and Joe, and we settled in for the evening. The first order of business after getting the gear on the drying rack and making a fire was to cut a round off a big log behind the cabin. After that, we enjoyed some brats, as well as another beer. This time, my offering was a tasty Lights Out Stout from Worthy Brewing.

Parked at the cabin
The evening’s offering from Worthy Brewing

The remainder of the evening was spent enjoying the warmth of the fire, good company, and conversation about how much it might snow and where to ski tomorrow. As I settled into my sleeping bag, I reflected back on the day, and although it definitely wasn’t one that exceeded expectations, any day out touring and skiing isn’t bad. Soon thereafter, I feel asleep, dreaming about deep pow and what the following day might bring.