February 16, 2023 – Willamette Pass

Friday the 16th of February was shaping up to have potential, so I made plans with John and Dan to head up to the Pass and see if we could find some fresh snow to make some turns in. We pulled into the parking lot and unloaded our gear a few minutes before Patrol 4 headed out to the open the front side. After gearing up, we made our way to the lift and got in line, ending up a few chairs back from the front.

The Pass early in the morning

It had snowed about 6 inches overnight, and we made about four laps on the front, enjoying High Lead, RTS and the trees of SDN while waiting for the rope dropped on Peak 2. The snow quality was heavy but fun, and by the time Peak 2 opened we decided it was time to head out of bounds to find a bit of untouched snow.

The boys heading out to Pulpit
Dan enjoying some soft turns

We donned skins and worked our way out towards one of our favorite spots, arriving at a spot a few minutes later where we could pull skins and slide down to a good point to drop in. After assessing the snow, we determined it was stable and ripped down the center of the bowl. I dropped in first, then snapped photos of Dan and John as they came down after me…

Dan and John both ripping
Dan skiing the bowl

We skied down to the bottom, then donned skins and put in a track back up to our waiting beers at the top. After breaking trail through some thick powder, we made arrived back at the top of the ridge and it was time to enjoy the cold beverages. My offering for the day was a tasty hazy IPA from Gilgamesh Brewing and it hit the spot.

Ready to head back up
A tasty Gilgamesh Hazy IPA

After hanging out up top for a bit and enjoying about half of our beer, we dropped in for a second lap. As we did, I stopped to snap a photo of Connelly’s sign at the top of the bowl — rest in peace, Steve.

Connelly’s Couloir Sign

For our second lap, Dan grabbed the camera and fired off several shots of me as I came down, and a few turned out decent and are included below…

Matt enjoying a heelside turn
February turns out of bounds at the Pass

Again, we skied to the bottom and then donned skins and headed back up. After checking our watches and having two runs to sample the snow quality, we decided it was a good idea to head back to the area and catch the lift.

Dan at bottom of run two
The Fish on the skin track

A bit later, we made our way to the lift and used it to access some different aspects that might hold good snow. As we made our way to the top, the snow indeed felt a bit lighter. We followed an existing skin track, no doubt set by Jensen, and soon were ready to drop in for our final run of the day.

Sponsor shot on top

The turns down the south facing slope were indeed quite good, and probably our best of the day. We worked our way through the trees and eventually back to the area, and then to the patrol room. Dan wanted to hit the bar in the lodge before calling it a day, so we did that and enjoyed a cowboy coffee before heading down the road to grill some brats at Gold Lake.

Dan working some turns in the trees

After enjoying our drink in the bar and packing our gear, we headed down to the snow park to keep with tradition and cook up some brats. We all enjoyed a cold Kettlehouse brew courtesy of Jack, and the brats hit the spot after a good day.

Apres at Gold Lake

All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Friday, and it was nice to get out on the skins again and find some fresh snow. Until the next go-around, here’s a parting shot from the day.

Slashing through some heavy powder at the Pass