Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol – June 6, 2022

Exceeding all of our expectations, the cool, wet Spring of 2022 was continuing, and Dan and I were looking to take advantage of it, and were able to head out to the Pass for some after work dusk patrol turns in the month of June. Skiing the Pass in June is a rarity, and we were both looking forward to seeing what the conditions would be like as we headed up highway 58. The drive up went quickly, and soon we had pulled into Gold Lake Snowpark to gear up. It was pretty awesome to see the lingering snow patches around the parking area in early June…

The Tesla at Gold Lake
The Backcountry Patrol’s Shelter

It didn’t take long to get our boots and skins on, and soon we were parked at the Pass and ready to head out. Buddy, Dan’s dog, was also eager for the afternoon outing…

Dan gearing up
Ready to head out

The base area was bare, but we elected to head out in ski boots anyway, figuring we’d find some snow partway up the hill. We worked our way up towards Swoosh, and before long, found a few continuous patches of snow and we were in business.

Continuous snow on Swoosh
Approaching the top of Twilight

We were able to skin most of the way up Swoosh, and the coverage was looking pretty decent at Twilight at mid-mountain. A quick skin up Amber’s Way brought us to our destination at the bottom of RTS, just as a bit of weather was starting to roll in.

Dan at the base of RTS

We left some of our gear at the bottom of RTS and proceeded to put in a nice bootpack up to the top of the snow as the clouds moved in. By the time we got to the top, the visibility was much reduced, but it didn’t keep us from having fun. We clicked into our bindings, and headed down. I dropped in first, and setup to shoot a few pictures of Dan as he came down. The turns were perfect corn, and quite enjoyable.

First turns down RTS
Negotiating turns down RTS

At the bottom, we were stoked to head back up for another lap, even though it didn’t look like the cloud was going to lift. Reusing the boot pack was a bonus as well, and it didn’t take long to get back to the top. I was happy to be back up top as well, since I’d left a Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA from Ninkasi Brewing Company in the snow, and it was now cold and ready to drink.

A tasty Tricerahops Double Ale from Ninkasi

I took a few sips, then handed Dan the camera and we readied to drop in for a second lap. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t willing to cooperate, but Dan got a few good pics anyway. Riding down RTS after work with a beer in hand, in less than optimal snowpack is one of my favorite things about late season skiing at the Pass.

June turns on RTS
Matt heading down for a 2nd lap

We made turns down the slope all the way to the bottom and back to our gear below. We were ready to head out, but as we were sitting at our gear the weather finally cleared and the whole run came out for a view. It didn’t take too much arm twisting for Dan to want to head back up for a third lap, even if it meant we’d be getting back to the car at a late hour.

Dan and Buddy at the bottom of RTS
Dan enjoying a 3rd lap

We made quick time on our 3rd trip up the boot pack, and this time the weather remained clear for the run down. I snapped several pictures of Dan as he descended, and we were both pretty happy with our choice to head up for one final lap.

Dan harvesting some corn snow on RTS
Turns through the rocks, trees and stumps

Down at the bottom, we gathered our gear and enjoyed the views for a few minutes before heading down and enjoying some nice turns on Lois Lane out to Twilight.

Final turns down to the packs
Matt at the bottom of RTS

We arrived at the top of Twilight and Duck Soup just about the time that the sun was trying to win the battle with the clouds and make an appearance on the horizon. Looking down at Duck, we knew we needed to make a few turns even though it was getting late. The temptation was just too much to resist. We worked our way down the run about halfway or maybe a bit further towards Peekaboo, and then made the short boot pack back to our packs up top just in time to catch the sun bursting out over the trees before sunset.

Dan and our tracks on Duck
At the top of Twilight at twilight

On the hike back up, I happened to spot a full Coors Light can, so we picked it up and enjoyed it cold at the top of Duck before heading down Swoosh for the final turns of the day.

Dan skiing on upper Swoosh

Although both of us were skeptical about how Swoosh was going to ski given what it looked like on the up, we were both pretty happy with how well it actually skied as we headed down. It was soft, but fast, and we thoroughly enjoyed sliding, rather than walking, down.

Dan skiing on the lower Swoosh snow

We milked it for all it was worth, and then made a short carry down to the last couple of snow patches below the Haul Road for a few final turns. It was getting a bit too dark for any action shots (and there wasn’t much action since the patches were quite short), so I snapped the below shot of Dan at the bottom of the last patch…

The last patch just below the haul road

From the last patch of snow, it was a short walk back to the base and out to the car. We got our gear loaded up in the dark, and decided we still were game for brats and a beer at Gold Lake after working up an appetite for dinner. The drive to Gold Lake was short, and soon I was enjoying a very tasty Pineapple Stash House IPA from Hop Valley Brewing Co (pic from earlier in the day) while the brats cooked on the grill.

A tasty brew from Hop Valley

A few minutes later the brats were cooked to perfection, and we enjoyed them with a piece of sourdough bread, some spicy mustard, and chopped onions. There’s nothing quite like beers and brats in the dark after a fun evening of skiing after work!

Brats on the grill

Like all good things however, the fun must eventually come to an end, and it was time to hit the road, so we loaded the car and pulled out onto highway 58 for the journey home, content with earning some great June turns at the Pass. Here’s a parting shot from the day…

Parting shot