January 20, 2024 – 1st Patrol Day of the 23-24 Season

After waiting for what seemed like forever, it was finally time for the Patrol 2 opener, and the stoke factor was high as Shaun, Carson, Dan and I headed up to the Pass. The week before had delivered some big snows at the Pass, and a huge ice event in Springfield that had me putting in extra hours while helping our community navigate through what turned out to be a pretty large natural disaster. Needless to say, I was looking forward to getting some patrol time in at the Pass.

A few of the crew ready to catch the EPA chair

We pulled into the Pass early, and geared up quickly before having our morning meeting. Patrol 4 and the area had done some great work a few days earlier and had EPA setup and running, so working on Peak 2 was going to be one of our priorities for the day. After our meeting, everyone set to work. Opening the mountain was our first priority, and then it was time to get the Peak 2 gear ready to deploy. The SPY made up sled packs and loaded sleds, patrollers drug gear and sleds out to EPA, and we took them up and staged them at the top of EPA.

Gretchen pulling out a Cascade 350
Patrollers sorting gear at EPA

Hannah, Matthew and Andy were up with a crew of OEC candidates, and they set up at the top of EPA to do their training and also be a resource if needed. I snapped a few pictures of them as well as Dan, Chris, Gretchen and Craig loading a sled with gear to take over to Peak 2 a little bit later.

OEC trainers getting staged at the top of EPA
Loading gear at EPA for Peak 2

I was on the radio with dispatch and lift ops checking in about when Peak 2 would turn, and we got word it would be ready around 11:00 am or so, so Craig, Anna, Dan, Chris and I staged the Peak 2 gear at the bump shack and waited inside for 20 minutes or so to stay out of the cold.

Looking out from the Bump shack
Dan and Chris enjoying a quick break

A bit later, after heading back down to the base to replace a lost binding strap on my board, I booted up and joined the crew at the top of Peak 2 for some shovel work on the ramp before we started out to run the avy route for the first time all year.

Peak 2 shovel crew
Anna and Dan on Waldo

Craig and Chris worked on getting gear stashed at the top of Peak 2 while Anna, Dan and I headed out on Waldo to run the route. The amount of snow at the top of Waldo was pretty impressive, especially given that there wasn’t hardly any only a week or so prior.

Anna heading down Waldo
Heading out on the Avy Route

We worked our way out the ridge line beyond June’s Run and cut a few cornices above the cliff’s. The snow surface was crusted up pretty good from the warm up/rain event a few days prior, and we weren’t able to get anything to slide. My main concern was the buried deeper layers several feet down, but it proved difficult to do anything to trigger them.

Anna clipping in to the Avy rope
Anna on the nose

We made our way out to the nose and then setup the anchor, and Anna donned the harness and clipped into the rope. Dan provided the belay, and I snapped a few pictures while surveying the action.

Anna working down off the nos
Dan providing the belay

After working the area below the nose and knocking some sluff/cornices down, Anna came back up and headed out the main ridge line to start the next portion of the route.

Ready to start the main route
Heading out beyond the nose

Anna worked the slope over well, doing several ski cuts and stomping on the slope to try and elicit a response, but the snow layers were bonded well and nothing moved. Even so, it was a lot of work, good practice and nice to clear the area so that Peak 2 could open tomorrow to the public.

Anna on the sharp end
Working the avy route on Peak 2

After Dan came down and he and Anna setup the second belay, I headed down to leave them to their work and enjoyed a nice groomer down Waldo. It was my first lift-served turns on Peak 2 for the season, and it was nice to get to the bottom and catch the lift back to the top.

First look at Peak 2 spinning for the season

I rode the chair up, did a quick check-in with Brett to inform him of our progress, and then headed down to get Carson who’d been waiting patiently in the patrol room while we worked on getting Peak 2 ready to go. We had enough time before sweep to enjoy a few runs on the front side, and I captured a few shots of him skiing, including the one below on Upper Rosary.

Carson skiing on Rosary

Before long it was time for sweep, and I caught up with Shaun and Dan at the base of EPA. We rode the lift together and met up with a gaggle of patrollers at the top for upper mountain sweep. Before we kicked it off, I snapped a picture of our group at the top, for the first EPA closing shot of Peak 2 of the season.

Shaun and Dan at EPA
Patrol 2 Closing Crew

Upper mountain sweep went off without a hitch, and I headed down after the upper mountain was clear to put the bean dip in the microwave, sign duty cards, review incident forms and get ready for our evening meeting while the rest of the crew swept the lower mountain. I had just enough time to snap a picture of a 6-pack of a super tasty Hopw0rks Abominable Winter Ale that I was looking forward to enjoying after our evening meeting.

Abominable Winter Ale from Hopworks

A few minutes later, the rest of the patrol started trickling in from sweep, and once everyone was in we cleared the hill with dispatch and debriefed the day, including several incidents and lessons learned. A bit later, after patroller of the day nominations, we cracked open some beers, the SPY enjoyed sodas, and everyone devoured the bean dip. All in all, it was a great first day of patrol and a great, albeit late, start to the season. Here’s a couple of parting shots from the day.

Anna skiing Waldo
Controlling the Nose