April 11, 2022 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

For the second Monday in a row in April, I headed out from work around noon and headed to the Pass, looking to score some fresh snow. The wild April weather was continuing, and this time my plan was to meet up with Joe to see what we could come up with. My drive up highway 58 was uneventful, and and I stopped off at the Waldo road to gear up before heading up to the area. Several inches of fresh snow greeted me, and unlike the previous week, the temperatures were quite a bit cooler as well.

Gearing up at the Waldo turnoff

 A few minutes later, I made my way to the Pass and had to spend about 30 minutes shoveling out a spot to park. Joe’s rig was already there, so I pulled in beside him once I had a space cleared out. With all the shoveling, I was plenty warm by the time I hit the skin track. Looking up at ByGeorge, the mountain was looking really nice, especially given how it looked a few weeks prior during closing.

Parked after a lot of digging
The Pass during a break in the storm

I worked my way up KP, and then up to Eagle’s. Joe’s track was hard to follow, and whenever I fell off of it I could tell. On the frontside there was probably 18 inches of fresh snow, and I knew it was going to be deep on Peak 2. After topping out on Eagle’s, I worked my way up to the top and then over to Peak 2 where Joe was waiting. The snow stake was at 72 inches — considerably more than the 45 inches on closing weekend. After chatting with Joe for a few minutes, I ripped skins and we dropped in.

Joe skiing the backside blower
Skiing Peak 2

Northern to Down Under was our first choice, since Joe had skied Northern proper once before I arrived, and it did not disappoint. The snow was pretty blower, about 24 inches deep, and we ripped it to the intersection of June’s. A few more fun turns were had before we switched back over to skins, and headed up Joe’s previously established track, which was mostly filled in.

Putting in a track back up

At the top of June’s, we decided to peel the skins and ski the run instead of heading all the way back to the top shack. It proved to be a good choice, and was easily my best run on June’s this season. Below are a couple of shots of the action…

Matt ripping on June’s
Joe getting some action

Back at the bottom of the run, we transitioned back to skins and headed back to the top, following our established track which was pretty much mostly filled in from the new snow and wind. At the top, we headed over to the shack and it was time to enjoy a well earned beer. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a tasty Pale Ale from Buoy Beer Company.

Buoy Pale Ale
Joe getting pitted at the Pass

For our next lap, we decided to ski the trees between Down Under and June’s, and it proved to be an excellent choice. The snow was blower and the fact shots plentiful, and at the bottom, both of us were stoked on some of the best conditions of the year. I snapped several shots of Joe, including the two below…

Ripping through the trees
Joe stoked on Down Under

After exiting the trees, we worked our way down the rest of Down Under, and then partway down June’s, before heading back up to do it again. The skiing in the trees was so fine that we decided it was definitely worth another run, so once up top, we ripped skins and dropped in for one more lap on the backside.

Hanging out at the top of Peak 2
Matt exiting the white room

We milked turns down through trees to our skin track below, and a quick check of the watch indicated we should probably head back to the front before it got dark. Joe led the way, and we headed up our filled in track one last time…

Heading up June’s
At the top of Peak 2

Once back at the top of Peak 2, we skinned over to EPA for one last run on the day. The amount of snow up top along the ridge and on Southbound was amazing, and the cornice buildup was impressive. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen quite so much snow up top after the lifts closed down for the season.

At the top of EPA ready to drop in

Once at the top of EPA, we wasted little time getting ready to drop in, and within a few minutes were making turns down towards RTS to check it out. The wind was really hammering — Joe and I estimated gusts of 45-50mph, and RTS was pretty scoured. Success however was looking pretty filled in, which was awesome since just a few days earlier it was nearly bare. We decided to drop in cautiously, and the turns were really nice. A bit lower down, we were able to open it up, and it turn after turn in the white room.

Heading down ByGeorge

After skiing Success, we continued on down ByGeorge, and were able to ski right to the parking lot. Both of us were stoked on how good the coverage was, as well as the snow quality. This was easily one of the best dusk patrol ski days post-closing both of us could remember.

Skiing to the lodge

Once down to the parking lot, we made the short walk back to the trucks through a bunch of fresh snow, and it was time to enjoy another cold one. This time I had a super tasty and aptly named Big Swell from Maui Brewing. The swell in the Oregon Cascades was definitely rising, and it was awesome to be able to get to surf it.

Heading back to the trucks
Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing

After changing out of snowboard boots and into snow boots, it was time to enjoy my beer and spend another 20 minutes digging the truck out. Even though it’s a bunch of work, there’s nothing better than digging the truck out at the end of a good day! My only regret is that I couldn’t get out of work the next day and wouldn’t get to join Joe and Dan for some more epic turns the following morning.

At the trucks and ready to head out

After digging and clearing the truck of snow, I bid Joe farewell, and hit the road, fully satisfied with one of my best powder days of the year. “Apruary” as Joe called it, was continuing to deliver, and it was a pleasure to be able to experience it. Here’s a parting shot from the day of Joe ripping at the Pass.

Parting shot of Joe getting pitted