June 10-11, 2023 – Nuts & Bolts Clinic at Mt Hood

The second weekend in June meant it was time for the annual Nuts and Bolts Clinic at Mt Hood, and I was looking forward to attending this year for the first time in 10-years. I was extra motivated to head to the mountain and enjoy the fun this year because Shaun was able to come with me, and he was really looking forward to a few days of late season skiing. We left our house on Friday afternoon, and made our way to Government Camp in time to get in on some of the evening shenanigans at the Ratskellar, including pizza and beer. We met up with the rest of the crew from Willamette Pass, and after a couple of hours headed to crash at the Edelweiss for the evening.

Shaun at Timberline on our first morning

The next morning, everyone woke early and enjoyed a quick breakfast before making the short drive up the road to Timberline. The check-in process was pretty smooth, and soon Shaun and I were hanging with the rest of the crew representing patrollers from all over the northwest. After some announcements and discussion about the plans for the day, we took a picture of the Willamette Pass crew and headed out to load the Mile chairlift.

Hanging out at registration
The 2023 Willamette Pass Nut’s & Bolts Crew

I was stoked to show Shaun the area, since he had been to Timberline before but never to ski. We loaded the Chair up the mile and I ended up with a sled in tow, and we worked our way over to load the Palmer. Seeing a bunch of patrollers descend on the mountain is pretty cool, and I took a few shots of patrol queuing up in the lift line from the air.

Waiting for the Palmer Chair
Looking back at the Palmer station

We made our way to the top of the Palmer, and after unloading the sleds we broke out into various groups to get instruction in different disciplines. I took several shots of Shaun, and someone (can’t remember who, maybe James?) took a few shots of me and Shaun as well.

Shaun and a sea of patrollers at the top of the Palmer
Matt and Shaun

Once everyone made their way to the top of the Palmer, we headed off to our respective clinics. Shaun headed off with some others to take a ski enhancement seminar, and I headed out to the east side of the snowfield with several patrollers from Mt Hood to have Toby show us some tips and tricks for running the edge sled.

Toby talking it through with some Mt Hood Patrollers
Checking out the Edge

To start things off, we took a lap down the Palmer running the sled unloaded, and really worked to exaggerate getting the sled up on edge by working the handles. It’s always nice running the edge, and I enjoyed my time in the handles while enjoying the views as well.

Hood Patrollers running the Edge
Heading down the Palmer

After our first lap running unloaded, we headed back up at the mid-station and spent the next several laps running the sled loaded. Everyone got a turn in the handles and on the tail rope, and when I wasn’t doing either of those two tasks or being ballast in the sled I fired off some pictures with the camera.

Talking it over at the mid-station
 the Palmer
The Mt Hood crew
My view from the sled

After running several laps with loaded sleds, we switched over to doing a few drills with boo. One of my favorite was the uphill traverse, a trick that Toby showed me how to perform which involves the patroller in the handles turning 90 degrees to the sled and pushing on the uphill handle while the tailroper pulls the sled from behind while out in front (or nearly in front) of the patrollers in the handles (kind of like a slingshot). When done properly, you can actually traverse the sled uphill.

Toby and Jeffrey working the boo course
Skiing the edge in the timed trials

To cap off the clinic, we ran a few timed trials with the sled unloaded but with a patroller in both in the handles and on the tailrope. I ran a couple of laps with Toby and overall it was a pretty fun experience. Once the clinic was over, I called Shaun on the radio and caught up with him at the top of the Palmer. He wanted to ski down through the half pipe and then all the way to the base of the Mile, so that’s what we did and the snow was in great shape.

Shaun and the Pipe
Skiing above the Lodge

The last couple of hours were spent free skiing, and it was fun running laps with Shaun and the rest of the crew from Willamette. I snapped a few pictures of our group in between runs, as well as while they were getting some turns in.

Our crew at the top of the Palmer
James, Shaun and Amber enjoying some free skiing

A few minutes before 2:00, we shoved off from the top of the Palmer and made the last lap of the day since the lifts were closing. It was a leg burner skiing all the way down to the lodge again, and Shaun and I enjoyed cruising through the Park as well on the Mile. Skiing to the lodge parking lot is always a treat, and I was stoked to get to do it with Shaun and the rest of our crew.

James cranking turns on the Palmer
Stoked at the bottom of the Mile

Once down to the lodge, we made a quick pit stop at the cars to ditch the ski gear and change out of boots, and then headed over to the lodge to enjoy a beer at the Ram’s Head. After ordering our beverages, we found a nice spot to sit and enjoy the scene. A half hour later or so, it was time to head down to Govy and get ready for dinner at the Mt Hood Ski Patrol building on the west side of town. Our crew made the short walk down and found a Hawaiian party happening…the Mt Hood Ski Patrol definitely knows how to throw a good party.

Shot ski table
Meghan and our friend from Alaska enjoying the party

We hung out for quite awhile, and found some good offerings for food and beverage. Shaun enjoyed the spiced chicken before checking out and heading back to the condo, while the rest of us stayed and enjoyed the company and drinks. There was quite a beer selection on ice, and I chose a tasty Superfuzz Pale Ale from Elysian Brewing Co. and it definitely hit the spot.

Superfuzz Pale Ale from Elysian Brewing
Matt & Jen enjoying the scene
James chilling at the luau

After enjoying a couple of cold beers, Ian and Meghan decided it was time to hit the shot ski, so we took turns with that. I snapped a few pictures while they tipped the ski back, and then enjoyed a shot ski of my own with them a bit later.

Readying the shot ski
Tipping it back

Eventually the scene died down at the patrol party, and we made our way back to the condo. We enjoyed the company of Larry Davis from Santiam Ski patrol who hung out with us for the evening, and then eventually made our way to bed in anticipation of the next day’s activities.

Shaun ready for day 2

We woke early, enjoyed a quick breakfast, and then made our way back up to Timberline. Similar to the day before, we had a quick orientation at the Wy’East Lodge before heading up the Mile and then the Palmer. It looked like it would be another gorgeous, sunny day as we unloaded at the top.

Back at the top of the Palmer
Jen and Meghan on Sunday

Shaun was planning on free skiing on Sunday since there wasn’t any specific clinics that he could attend, and I tagged along on a couple of different clinics to shoot some pics and enjoy the turns. I started out with the Women’s clinic, and snapped several pictures of the ladies rocking the sleds down the slope.

Women’s clinic with the 350
Jen and Amber running the Palmer
Jen pulling the 350
Jen and Amber near the mid-station

After spending some time with the ladies, I headed over and found James working with the Edge sled. I fired off a couple of pictures of him on the tailrope and lapped back to the top before riding down and finding Meghan working with the 350.

James tailing on the Edge
Meghan working the tail handles on the 350

It was awesome seeing Meghan work the sled like a pro after getting a few tips from the women at Hood. Even though it was her first time running a sled, you wouldn’t have know it and clearly she was a natural…

Meghan on the tail handles
Working the 350 down the Palmer
Meghan rocking the 350 and the tank top
Cruising down the Palmer with the 350 in tow

Shortly after noon or so, the clinics wrapped up and I regrouped with Shaun to do some free skiing. We ran a few laps on the Palmer and he also wanted to hit the park on the Mile so I did that with him as well. We thought about quitting at 1:30 pm or so, but Shaun wanted to ski until closing so we headed back up to the top.

Shaun cranking turns on the Palmer
James, Shaun, Matt and Meghan at the top of the Palmer

We found several of our crew at the top of the Palmer and it was fun to run laps down to the mid-station with absolutely nobody around. By 1:00 pm the place had cleared out, so we had the entire upper Palmer basically to ourselves.

Last lap on the Palmer with the Pass crew
Pass patrollers heading down the Palmer

Skiing the Palmer with nobody around reminded me of several past trips with Dan and Joe later in the season after hiking up and dropping in when the lift was closed. This was just about as good, and made even better with the lift assist! Around 1:45 pm, we dropped in for our last lap and Ian had an idea for a fun picture with four of our patrollers simultaneously shredding the Palmer. I headed down and set up, they dropped in, and after firing several shots, I was pleased with the below picture…

Enjoying the Palmer all to ourselves
Amber enjoying the Palmer on a quiet afternoon

We worked our way down to the Palmer and then the Mile, and Shaun skied through the Park on the way down. We were fast enough that he was able to head back up for another lap, while the rest of us headed to the car for a beer and some treats. It was cool to see Shaun going until the last chair! At the car, it was good to get out of ski boots and enjoy a cold beer. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a Stratus Hazy IPA from Worthy Brewing, and it hit the spot (so did the cold Blue Moon I had afterwards as well from Ian!).

Worthy Hazy IPA
The crew enjoying some food

We sat at the car basking in the glow of a great ski day, and enjoyed a good spread of food. Shaun showed up a few minutes later, and I got a good photo of everyone with the wide angle lens and the mountain in the background, capping of a fitting way to end a perfect couple of days on the mountain. Overall, it was a great trip to Hood, with great people and great conditions. I’m already looking forward to heading back again next year!