January 28, 2023 – Sled training at the Pass

Where has the time went I thought to myself as I headed up Highway 58 for my last patrol day in January. As hard as it was to believe, the month was coming to a close. I was looking forward to a fun day on patrol, and was happy to see the mountain looking good as I pulled up to the patrol room to drop off gear.

Early morning at the Pass

Our morning meeting went smoothly, and after discussing the plans for the day, we headed out to open the hill. I snapped a few pictures in the morning light at the base as we headed out, including the shot below of Tyler, Gregg and Anna. By the time we arrived at the top of EPA, the clouds were rolling in and out, but I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day.

Tyler, Gregg and Anna ready to load EPA
Anna, Ian and Gregg up top on EPA

After opening a run on the frontside, I worked my way over to Peak 2 and decided to traverse out to our avalanche route to check it out. Not having had the opportunity to run the route yet this season, it was nice walk the ridge, and it reminded me that I needed to get back out to the backcountry again soon.

Looking down from Dragon’s Back ridge

After checking out the route, I skied back down to Where’s Waldo and enjoyed a nice groomer to the bottom of Peak 2. The lift ride to the top went quickly, and it was time to begin sled training with our crew of candidates who were ready to go.

The crew at the top of June’s
James & Ian ready to drop in

We met at the top of Peak 2, and then headed over to the top of June’s Run with a Cascade 100, Cascade 350 and an Edge sled in tow. The conditions were exactly all time to run the 350, with only about an inch of new snow over a firm crust, but it would have to do. After talking things over at the top of June’s, the candidates jumped into the handles, sleds and tail ropes, and we shoved off…

Dropping into June’s for sled training
Michael and Jenn the 350

The first run down June’s went smoothly, literally because half of the run had been groomed the night prior. The candidates did well on the Edge and Cascade 100, and had a few challenges on the 350, which was expected given the conditions.

Shannon surveying the training

Once down at the bottom, we provided some feedback, before heading back up to do another lap. This time, folks switched positions and those in the handles, went to the tails or provided ballast for the sled. This time, I jumped in since we were short a couple of folks, and got pulled down the hill by Gretchen and Sarah.

Gretchen and Ian talking it over on lap 2
My view of Gretchen in the handles of the 350

Gretchen and Sarah did great, although I could tell the conditions were challenging. We made it to the flats below, and they ran the sled empty from there down to continue practicing with the 350 sans a heavy load.

Gretchen and Sarah running the 350 unloaded
Looking down on June’s Run
Sarah in the handles on the 350

The rest of the morning was spent making a few more laps on June’s, which went similarly to the first couple. I snapped a few more pictures as we practiced, and then it was time to head in for lunch.

Running down June’s
Greg jumping down after kicking cornices on Peak 2

After lunch, which provided a quick rest, it was back to sled training. The feedback and repetition was starting to set in for the candidates, and the runs after lunch looked quite a bit better than in the morning. 

Ian and the crew headed out for more training
Staging at the top of June’s

The shadows started to creep onto the run, and pretty soon most of June’s was in the shade — a subtle reminder that winter wasn’t giving way to spring quite yet. I fired off several more shots, including a couple below that I liked of Tyler and Althea pulling Ian and then Gretchen and Jenn pulling James….

Tyler and Althea dropping in
Gretchen in the handles and Jenn on the tail rope

After shooting the above mentioned crew, I headed to over to the other side of the run and was able to snap a few photos of Amber pulling Michael on the Edge sled and then zoom out to get a wide-angle shot of the crew heading down towards the base of Peak 2.

Amber pulling Michael near the trees
The crew working down June’s

Down at the bottom, I caught James lounging in the sled, and he was more than happy to pose for the camera :). We had time for a couple more laps before sweep, so we headed up decided that Escalator would be a good run to finish on. 

At the bottom of Peak 2
Tyler on a steep pitch on Escalator

I jumped into the sled pulled by Jenn and Gretchen for our final training lap of the day. They rocked it on the way down, and I was able to capture a few shots of Jenn from my vantage point in the sled, including the picture below.

My view of Jenn from the sled

After our last training run, the candidates took care of the sleds and it was time to close Peak 2 and then EPA. Closing went smoothly, and I snapped a picture of Greg on RTS before heading down to take care of paperwork and get the beers and bean dip ready for after our evening meeting.

Gregg closing RTS

I kept the evening meeting short, and enjoyed a tasty Robot Overlord Hazy IPA from Loowit Brewing that I’d picked up a few months earlier in Vancouver while visiting Mt St Helens with my family. It hit the spot, and so did the bean dip.

A tasty Robot Overlord Hazy IPA

I enjoyed the camaraderie with fellow patrollers in the patrol room while looking over run reports, and eventually it was time to call it a day and hit the road with Shaun. All in all, it was another great day on patrol at the Pass!