May 31, 2023 – Willamette Pass

The last day of May was approaching quickly, and Dan and I wanted to get one more day in at the Pass since the snow was melting fast, so we made plans to head up mid-week and check out the conditions. We piled our gear into Dan’s Tesla and made the drive up Highway 58 quickly, arriving at the Pass where we found Jeff and Brett working on the Twilight lift doing maintenance. After a quick chat with them, we drove the Tesla up the haul road and parked at the bottom of Swoosh.

The Tesla on the haul road
Buddy ready to head out

It was nice to get the car off the main road and even nicer for Buddy, Dan’s Border Collie, who didn’t have to be on the leash at the highway as we started out. After leisurly getting our skis and boots on our packs, we headed up the run hoping to find some continuous snow for turns on the way down.

Looking down Chaser
Looking up Success

Unfortunately, the snow on Swoosh wasn’t as good as we were hoping; in fact, there wasn’t really any skiable snow to speak of, which bummed us out a little given our experiences in similar conditions over the previous years. Nevertheless, we continued on up past Chaser and then worked our way over to Success. After a brief break to check out the snow fingers on Timburr (which looked a little better), we climbed up Success toRTS and then the top of EPA.

Nearing the top of Success
Looking back towards EPA

RTS looked like it would “go” as we eyballed it on the way up, and then once on top we headed over to Peak 2 for the primary objective for the day. Arriving at the top of Peak 2 always feels like coming home, and in fact Buddy made  himself right at home on the ramp when we got there.

Buddy at the top of Peak 2
Hanging out at the top of Peak 2

As usual, the first order of business was to get the beer on ice, so I wasted little time getting a couple photos of my tasty Lahaina Haze IPA from Kohola Brewery that I’d picked up the previous fall during a trip to Maui to visit family. (Edited to note; the Kohola Brewery was completely destroyed in the devastating fires that swept through Lahaina and destroyed most of the city).

Lahaina Haze from Kohola Brewing

After enjoying a few sips of beer and then getting it back in the snow, it was time to drop in for some turns. The snow was in good condition as we dropped over the edge, and I snapped several photos of Dan as he came down towards me…

Dan dropping into Northern
Dan and Buddy on upper Northern

We skied about halfway down, and then stopped to regroup. I gave Dan the camera, and he headed down the run a ways to return the favor and shoot a few photos of me…

May turns on Peak 2
A quick break on Northern

The turns were pretty nice, and as always it was a blast to be skiing and riding the patches on Peak 2 at the very end of the season. Given the big snowpack this winter however, both of us were a bit surprised at how advanced the melt was for the last day of May, given that the previous couple of years we were able to ski the runs well into mid-June.

Last day of May turns on Northern
Matt working the Peak 2 patches

We worked our way towards the bottom of the run, and by the time we made it to where Escalator joins in we were all smiles. Even Buddy had a blast, adn I caught a pic of him and Dan at the bottom looking back up at our turns.

Working down Northern
Dan and Buddy at the bottom of Northern

At the bottom, we made the decision to hike up Esalator even though there was a slim chance it might go with skins, and it proved to be a good decision. After booting up the run, I headed on up Boundary in boots while Dan switched to skinning and worked his way up.

Looking down Escalator
Skinning up Boundary

Once back at the top, we hung out for a bit and enjoyed the views and the rest of our cold beers. We kicked around the idea of skiing Waldo for a few minutes, then decided against that since it was getting warm and we wanted to get into RTS before any more snow melted.

Dan and Diamond
Hanging at the top of Peak 2

With a decision made, we shouldered our packs and made a few turns down Southbound towards the saddle, and then walked up to EPA. Accessing the Success Patch required a walk down and round from the top of EPA, but the patch still provided a few good turns as we worked over to RTS…

Skiing the Success Patch
Hiking down to RTS

Getting into RTS required a bit more effort than previous late season ski trips, and reminded me of hiking up and down the run with a saw in tow during the fall while cutting trees from the run.

Finally at the snow
Dan ready to ski

Once we made our way to the snow and got our gear under our feet, we both were a little happier. As soon as we made our first turns, we became much happier. As usual, RTS delivered some fun skiing and riding conditions. Buddy got into the action as well!

Buddy enjoying the snow on RTS
Dan dropping into RTS

I dropped in first and made some enjoyable turns down between the rocks, trees and stumps, and then setup to capture Buddy and Dan as they came down. Dan wasa clearly enjoying the turns, and ripped the run from top to bottom…

Turns thorugh the chocolate chips of RTS
At the bottom of RTS

We took a few photos at the bottom of the run, then headed out via Amber’s Way with the goal of walking over to Timburr to milk the last few patches there. Amber’s “skied” ok for the first half, but soon we were relagated to booting after the snow ran out…

Skiing out Amber’s
Turns on Timburr Glades

The hike across the top of Twilight and past Success was short, and soon we were clicked into our bindings for a few more turns down the Timburr Glades patch. Even though it was low angle, the turns didn’t disappoint! Once the snow on the glades patch ended, we booted over across George for one final ski on the Swoosh patch that we hiked by on the way up.

Heading down the Glades Patch
Matt riding the Swoosh patch

Even though it was short, the Swoosh patch was still fun and Dan captured me enjoying a few turns on the way down. At the bottom, we switched over to hiking shoes for the walk down, and I decided it was time to drink a rasberry White Claw that I found on the way up. Normally I’m not one for hard seltzers, but when you find a full one on at the ski area you definitely have to drink it!

My “found” White Claw
Matt and Buddy at the bottom of the Swoosh patch

With our gear loaded and our packs shouldered, we headed through the trees and over to Swoosh to collect two remaining tower pads on the lower Twilight lifts that Brett asked us to collect when we talked earlier in the morning. We each took 0ne, and they were an easy drag down to the haul road for what would be our final “patrol” work of the season!

Final tower pad work of the season

It was a short walk back to the car from the bottom of Rough Cut, and it felt good to change into flip flops and shorts. A little later, we pulled out and headed to Gold Lake to enjoy a cold beer and cook some brats, and it put the finishing touches on a great day. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a Starburst IPA from Ecliptic Brewing, and it paired nicely with the fresh brats.

Starburst IPA from Ecliptic Brewing
Enjoing the apres at Gold Lake

We enjoyed the food and beer at the snowpark for a half hour or so, and really enjoyed having the snowpark to ourselves while sitting in the sunshine. A bit later, with our beers drank and our stomachs full, it was time to hit the road home. Overall, it was a satisfying last day of (the season) turns at the Pass on the last day of May, 2023. I’m already looking forward to next season and hoping the snow comes back in early and often, all season long! Until then, here’s a parting shot of Dan skiing on RTS….

May 31 turns on RTS