March 19, 2022 – A brief return to winter

It was a welcome sight to see a coating of fresh snow on the mountain as we pulled in for a lazy Saturday patrol day towards the end of March. Around 3-4 inches of snow had fallen the night before, and the forecast was calling for snow showers throughout the day. After getting parked in the patrol lot and making sure Shaun was set for an hour or so before opening, I headed over to the patrol room to get ready for the day.

Early morning view at the Pass
A little last minute grooming

The mountain was looking like it was in much better shape than the previous few weeks, even if the new snow was only a thin coat. Morale was high with patrol based on the conditions, and after a quick morning meeting we headed out to open the hill. I opened RTS and it was in pretty good shape, so we pulled the closure so the public could get back on it as well. Once back at the base, I grabbed Shaun, and we headed out.

Patrol 2 before opening
Shaun ready to head out

Since there wasn’t any training on the schedule, nor were there many people at the Pass so incidents were minimal, I was able to spend some time skiing with Shaun, which was a real treat. He also didn’t have any friends up for the day, so he didn’t mind getting a few runs in with dad.

Skiing down the Peak 2 lift line
Shaun riding the EPA lift

We skied a few laps on the back, and then he wanted to go to the front and do RTS. He hadn’t been on RTS all season since it was pretty icy and closed most, if not all, of the days he had been up this year. Nevertheless, he was excited to ski it. I was a bit nervous when he dropped in, but he did great and wanted to do it again.

Shaun skiing down RTS
At the intersection with Lois Lane

I suggested we head over to High Lead and sneak in through Timburr to see if we could find some fresh snow, and then maybe head back to RTS. It was tough getting in (we had to cross over some rocks and dirt), but once in the snow was nice and it was cool to see Shaun get to ski some untracked snow.

Sneaking a run in on High Lead
Ready for another RTS lap

Back at the bottom, we met up with Dan, and headed back over to RTS for some more runs. Shaun skied it over and over again, and ended up doing it 9 times throughout the day (including closing). Dan gave him a few pointers about form, and by the end of the day he was skiing it a little more smoothly.

Negotiating a steep pitch on RTS
Shaun skiing while Dan looks on

With light radio traffic and no training, the day went quickly as we pounded out run after run, and soon it was time to head over to Peak 2 for closing. We skied Destiny down to the Peak 2 chair, and when we got to the top, patrollers were gathering to assign closing runs.

Shaun and Dan at base
Julie, Anna and Aimee ready to close Peak 2

Peak 2 sweep went smoothly, and soon everyone was gathered at the base and ready for one last chair ride back to the top. Tim was at the bottom bumping chairs, and Shaun and I got the last chair of the day for the ride back up. It had been snowing a little during sweep, but as we rode the lift up, the snow really started to come down and it felt like winter.

Patrol heading back up after sweep
The P2 crew up top on Peak 2

At the top of Peak 2, it was dumping snow. Everyone made the ride/hike back over to the top of EPA, and gathered for upper mountain sweep. I pulled out my camera to take a few pictures while the storm continued to puke snow.

Patrick and Julie enjoying the storm before upper mountain sweep
John and crew waiting for sweep to begin

Once last chair had unloaded, Patrick called upper mountain sweep on, and it we headed down for the day. Shaun and I cleared RTS, and then headed down ByGeorge while the rest of patrol covered lower mountain sweep.

Patrol right before upper mountain sweep

At the bottom, Shaun headed for the car and I took care of some paperwork in the patrol room before we gathered for our evening meeting debrief. The meeting went quickly, and everyone was pretty stoked on the day, the conditions, and the fresh snow. Given it was Saturday, everyone enjoyed a cold beer after the meeting, and it was somewhat bittersweet because we knew the end of the season was approaching. My beer of choice for the day as a tasty Pop Demand Haxy IPA from Sunriver Brewing Company, and it hit the spot.

Pop Demand from Sunriver Brewing

Before too long, it was time to hit the road and head home, after another enjoyable day on the mountain. After loading the gear in the car, we said goodbye to the parking lot crowd, and headed down Highway 58, and another good patrol day was in the books.