April 1, 2023 – Best April Fool’s Day Ever!

Somehow the winter of 2022-23 kept flying by, and before I knew it April was upon us. Patrol 2 was on the schedule for April fool’s day, so Shaun and I headed up early to prepare for what was shaping up to be a good day. The forecast was calling for several inches of new snow overnight, and by the time we arrived it was looking deep!

A powder morning outside the patrol room

There was a least a foot of new, and it continued to snow all through our morning meeting. We headed out the door to the patrol room a few minutes after 8:00 am, and it was clear it was going to be a bit before EPA started spinning. Patrollers were lined up at the bottom of the lift, and I snapped a few pictures before walking up to the race shack to help Brian and Tyler with the fencing.

Some of the crew at the base of EPA
Wrestling the Race Shack fencing before opening

Walking up to the snack, I knew it was going to be a great day, and with each step we post-holed up to our knees in fresh powder. Tyler took one side and Brian grabbed the other, and we rolled out the fencing and worked to get it setup. I snapped a few pictures of the action, and it was hilarious watching Brian wallowing in the snow.

Brian taking a break
Setting up the fencing

Brian started on one end and I worked up from the other, and soon we had it setup. We strapped in and made some fun turns back down to the lift, and it sounded like it would only be a few minutes until we were able to load.

Fencing up!
Waiting to load EPA

The liftline was growing, and once we got the go-ahead for patrol to load, I made sure we let the lift ops know that we wanted to get to the top of EPA to start our avalanche work on RTS before public loaded the chair. 10 minutes later at the top of the hill, I radioed down to dispatch that we had shoved off and that public could load.

The lineup ahead of opening
Anna opening RTS

I took Anna and Patrick over to RTS with the goal of showing them how we ski cut the slope during avalanche conditions, and Brian, Tyler and Jon headed over to Peak 2 to start on the avy routes on the backside. We eased our way into RTS and were able to get a little snow to slide on the cornice above Success, and one by one ski cut the slope. The snow was surprisingly stable, and after a few traverses across the run we were halfway down and able to ski the side of the run out.

Anna ripping pow on RTS
Patrick enjoying the pow after controlling RTS

The snow was super nice, and easily one of my top three runs down RTS all season. I snapped several pictures of Anna and Patrick as they headed down, and everyone had a huge grin on their faces at the bottom.

April pow at the Pass

After opening RTS and Ambers, we headed down to the base, rode the chair back to the top, and headed over to Peak 2 to work on getting the backside open. Anna and Patrick hiked to the top to take the lower avy route above Gravity Chute, and I hiked with them with the goal of helping Tyler and Jon on the upper route.

Heading up to Peak 2
Anna taking a quick break at the top
Tyler working on the end of the rope

Once at the top of Peak 2, I worked my way over to the upper route and found Tyler on the end of the rope with Jon belaying. I was hoping we would get to see some big slides, but the snow was surprisingly stable given the significant depth, and we mostly got a few larger sloughs to run but no major slabs.

Jon on the belay
Tyler dropping in to cut the slope

The first belay went quickly, and Tyler and Jon worked to get the second anchor setup quickly to start the second belay. A few minutes later, Tyler was on the rope again and working on the lower half of the route…

Bringing in the rope for the 2nd belay
Heading down for the lower part of the route

We finished the route rather quickly, and radioed to Anna and Patrick that we’d down in the meadow shortly and that they could begin their control work on Gravity.

Jon running the belay
Brian overseeing the operations

Once our control work was over, it was time to make some fresh turns in the meadow, one of my favorite parts about doing the avy route. I dropped in first and then setup to shoot a few shots of the guys as they came down. Below is a sample of a few of the primo turns we encountered….

Blasting through the trees
Brian ripping a turn in the meadow
Jon’s enjoying the cold smoke
Waist deep snow on April fool’s day

At the bottom of the meadow, I radioed to dispatch that we were ready for the backside to open, and I knew it was only a matter of a few minutes before the masses would descend on Peak 2 en masse. We took a brief minute at the bottom of the chair to catch our breath, help make sure everything was in order with the fencing, and then loaded up for the top.

The buried Peak 2 chair
John and the Peak 2 crew

About the time we reached tower 3 or so, the public came over the roll on Escalator and we could hear the whooping from the top.

The masses descending on Peak 2

At the top, Brian and I met up with Shannon, and we decided to take a run in the trees between Down Under and June’s. It was a great decision, as the photos below show….

Brian catching some air in the glades
Shannon entering the white room
Shannon in the white room
Shannon exiting the white room

We made a couple of more laps on the backside, and then took the avalanche gear back to the aid room. We got busy with a few incidents in the mid-morning, and then I managed to find time for a quick lunch around 1:00 pm before heading out to finish out the day. Brian switched out of his patrol coat since he wasn’t technically on duty for the day, and we decided it was worth riding the trees between Success and Timburr. It was another good decision…

Airing it out in the Success-Timburr trees
Shannon calling Brian on the radio

We momentarily lost Brian, and as usual he was already down at the base by the time we decided to call him on the radio to find out his whereabouts. Shannon and I rode down and caught up with him, and then I spun another lap up to the top and headed to Peak 2 to check out the snowcat that was broke down near the top of Escalator.

A broken snowcat at the top of Escalator

I finished the day by working tower pads on EPA with Gretchen, and between our work and a few others, we had the whole place looking good by the end of the day.

Gretchen working on tower pads

The rest of the afternoon went off without a hitch, including sweep on Peak 2, upper mountain and lower mountain, and everyone was in a joyful mood for the evening meeting. I pulled out my now famous bean dip from the microwave, and we enjoyed some good food and beers after a great day. My beer of choice for the evening was a very tasty Magnetic Fields from Fort George Brewery.

Magnetic Fields from Fort George Brewery
Amber and Greg after a great day

After a half hour or so of visiting and hanging out with patrol, it was time to close up the patrol room and make sure all the incident reports were in order. When those tasks were completed, I grabbed Shaun and we loaded up the truck. It was still snowing when we left, and was a fitting end to probably my best April fool’s day of turns ever!

Shaun at the end of the day

Here’s a parting shot of Anna skiing RTS in some perfect powder!

Parting shot of Anna