February 25-29, 2024 – Tam McArthur Rim, Three Creeks Huts

After much anticipation and angst over what late February would bring for weather, the week finally arrived and with it great weather was forecast for our annual hut trip to Tam McArthur Rim with Three Sister Backcountry. It was looking like several feet of snow might fall during the week, and our group was amped as we prepared to head out. As usual, we had a great crew and a couple of full huts, and it looked to be an awesome week.

Getting ready to head out for the 2024 hut trip

I left my house early and met up with Andy at Dan’s house, and after loading a boatload of gear into my truck, we headed out up highway 126 towards Sisters. Halfway there, Dan realized he left his food and booze in a bag in the garage, so we dropped him off at Ray’s in Sisters, grabbed a coffee at the nearby McDonald’s, and then regrouped and headed up to Snopark. The rest of the crew was either there or pulled in shortly thereafter, and everyone set to work loading the trailers with gear. 

Jonas talking over a few details

A bit later, after squeezing everything in, we headed up the road and made our way towards the huts. Jonas led the way, and we stopped a few hundred yards from the huts to discuss recent avalanche/snow conditions as well as what to expect over the next few days. Although there had been some recent storm slabs that were reactive a few days earlier, the conditions overall were in really good shape.

Jon, Brian and Shannon on Day 1

We set to work unloading the gear from the trailers and getting it into the huts, and then before long it was time to don the skins and head out. Our group decided given the weather forecast that it would be a good day to head out and check out the Orchard Bowl and possibly beyond because that terrain likely wouldn’t be available later in the week if the forecast held. With that in mind, we headed up the skin track and made our way to the top of the Playground before dropping in and making some fun turns.

Hutch heading towards the Animal Bowl

At the bottom, we donned skins again and made a beeline traverse over towards the Orchard bowl to check out the conditions. The snow in the Orchard looked decent, and a few of our group decided to skin up and test it out, while several of us, including me, decided it would be better to head straight to the Animal bowl.

Brian and John looking small in the Animal bowl

Brian and John decided to put a steep booter in on the near-side of the bowl, and Hutch and I headed over to lookers right of the bowl and put in a steep skin track to access some smooth, untouched snow. Jon and Shannon followed, a little ways back.

Hutch dropping in
Turns in front of the Pyramid
Jon and Shannon up top after we dropped in

I dropped in first, and enjoyed some really nice turns before setting up to shoot a few shots of Hutch riding down. After snapping a few photos, I put the camera back in the bag and milked turns to the bottom of the bowl, just in time to see Brian and John coming down from their steep line above us.

Brian and the Fish skiing their line

About the time Brian and John made their way down to where we were, Adam, Rob, Mike and Dan made their way over to our positions after skiing a run in the Orchard bowl. Our group, somewhat spaced out, headed up the track that Hutch and I put in to make another run.

Adam on the skin track
Rob getting ready for a lap in the Animal Bowl

On run two in the Animal bowl, I caught up with Dan and dropped in ahead of him and snapped a few shots of him ripping the soft snow as he headed down. After Dan skied by, Brian dropped in and I clicked the shutter a few more times before heading down to rejoin the group at the bottom.

Dan dropping in
Cranking turns in the Animal Bowl
Brian on a second lap
Adam at the bottom of the Animal bowl

Satisfied with a good afternoon of skiing, we decided to don skins and head back towards the huts. Dan, Brian and I held back for a bit after the group took off, and Dan and I enjoyed a beer while hanging out. My offering for the afternoon was a tasty Tropic Blur Hazy IPA from Cascade Lakes Brewing.

The crew after skiing the Animal Bowl
Tropic Blur by Cascade Lakes
Dan pounding a cold one

Once our beers were finished, we headed over to the Orchard bowl and decided to make a half lap there in some really nice snow, before finishing up with a run in the Playground that led us back to the huts for the evening.

Brian and Dan ready to head out

Back at the huts, everyone settled in for the evening, while Hutch cooked up a super tasty dinner of ravioli that was coupled with some awesome bread and salad. After we all feasted like kings, Mike poured everyone a shot and I snapped a group picture of everyone enjoying the evening in the Owl hut.

Evening at the Huts
The crew at dinner on night one

Everyone enjoyed the awesome dinner as well as the good company and drinks, and after carrying on for a bit, it was time to hit the sack and get ready for the next day. We woke to several inches of fresh, light snow, and I could tell it was going to be a great day.

Hutch on East Peak
Rob slashing some pow

After a hearty breakfast, we shoveled the deck off, loaded the bins up with firewood, donned skins, and headed out. We did a quick beacon check, and then headed up through the trees. The previous day’s skin track was completely buried, so we put in a new one with the goal of heading up towards East Peak to check things out.

Brian ripping the East Peak bowl

About a foot of snow had fallen overnight, and it was light underfoot. Before long, we reached the bench and a few minutes later worked our way up through the trees into the steeper pitches on East Peak. At the top, everyone pulled skins and it was time to drop in. The turns down were sublime, and I snapped a bunch of photos of everyone in the group as they made their way down.

Andy getting some
Jon dropping in
Shannon’s slashing a pow turn
All smiles at the bottom

At the bottom, it was an easy decision to put the skins on and head back up for another lap. Going up a second time was a bit easier than the first on the already established track, and soon we were dropping in again. I snapped a ton of photos in the pretty perfect snow, and a bunch are below, so scroll on through to get next text below…

Andy enjoying a second lap
Hutch waist deep in the light snow
Pow turns on East Peak
Jon slashing a pow turn
Brian surfing the fresh snow
Adam ripping a heel side turn
Shannon looking good for the camera

After everyone was down, I holstered the camera and shoved off, enjoying several face shots on the way down to the group. At the bottom, most of us decided to head over to farm the Playground to see how conditions were over there. As it turns out, conditions were pretty blower in there….

Hutch scoring some Playground Pow
Brian in the white room
Shannon ripping some Playground pow

We skied on the skiers right side of the Playground, and conditions were stable. Brian was able to get a small slide to go by ski cutting the slope a little further west from the lines the rest of the group put in, but overall the snow was stable and riding really nicely — time to head back up for another lap.

Enjoying a quick break at the bottom of the Playground

Lap number two in the Playground was as good as lap one, and we surfed fresh powder from top to bottom. I fired off a few more pictures, and then it was time to take a quick break.

Brian slashing
Dan skiing pow in the Playground
Second shot of Dan ripping

By this time our group had split into two, and a few folks had also made their way back to the huts for lunch since we were skiing so close to them. It was a good time for me to crack open the beer I’d been toting around, and this day’s refreshment was a tasty Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter from Wild Ride Brewing out of Redmond, OR.

Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter

The porter hit the spot, and soon we were back on the skin track and heading up towards East Peak again. The goal was to spin a lap in East Peak and then maybe work our way over to the Jelly Roll to test the waters there. After arriving at the top, Dan offered to shoot a few photos of me, so I took him up on it and we ripped the bowl with him shooting a few shots of me…

Slashing some February pow
A heelside pow turn on East Peak
Matt surfing East Peak

Stoked on the good snow, we took advantage of the skin track and headed back up to the top and worked our way out to skier’s left of the Jelly Roll. The snow was stable, and as soon as we got a break in the weather we dropped in one at a time. I went last, and snapped the below picture of Mike and Dan below me.

Looking down from the Jelly Roll

The turns down the Jelly Roll were pretty sweet, and by the time I was down the clouds rolled back in again and the visibility lessened, so we headed to the Playground and then back to the huts to call it a day. It felt good to get the ski boots off and settle in for evening number two, and a bit later we had an excellent dinner provided by Brian and Shannon. Some shenanigans followed with a fun adult themed gamed called What Do You Meme, and pretty soon the hour was getting late so it was time to hit the sack and get ready for the next day.

Hutch loading firewood in the morning

Our third day dawned with another load of fresh snow greeting us, and I was up early as was Hutch. Before the rest of the crew woke up we had the deck shoveled and the bins loaded with firewood, and a bit later Rob cooked up a big vat of oatmeal for breakfast. After washing down the oatmeal with our morning coffee, our crew headed out to hit the (again fully buried) skin track.

Hutch ripping East Peak
Jon scoring some fresh pow

Like the morning before, we decided that East Peak would be a worthy objective, and Hutch and I started out breaking trail. It was a bit of a grunt, but didn’t take too long to reach the top and a few minutes later we were ready to drop in. It was a rinse and repeat kind of run from the day before, and nothing short of excellent. As usual, I snapped a ton of photos while the crew made turns…

Shannon with a photogenic slash
Brian on East Peak bowl
Coming up for air
Rob waist deep
Adam dropping in

Once down at the bottom, everyone agreed to reuse the skin track with the goal of heading back up and testing out the Jelly Roll. Once up to the top, we worked our way out to the Jelly Roll, and tested the slope with a ski cut. It held fine, and one by one we dropped in and found some quality turns…

Mike ripping the Jelly Roll
Hutch’s turn on the Jelly Roll
Dropping into the Jelly Roll
Slashing another pow turn
The crew at the bottom of the Roll

From the bottom of the Jelly, we put a short track in back over to the Playground. The majority of the crew headed down which left Brian and I up top. We scoped out a nice line a little skier’s left from where the others had dropped, and I headed down to snap a few pictures of Brian descending. He dropped in and slashed a huge wave of snow, which I captured on a three-shot sequence below…

Brian – shot 1
Brian – shot 2
Brian – shot 3
Skins on for another lap at the bottom of the Playground

After enjoying some epic turns on the Jelly Roll and the Playground, we decided to head back up to East Peak and drop the east side, which I hadn’t skied yet on this trip. After spending a few minutes on the skins, we were standing on top of East Peak with a nice little break in the weather.

Brian, Adam and Hutch up top

After removing skins and putting the board halves together, we were ready to ride. I caught some pics of the crew descending, including the shots below. The first shot of Brian reminds me of similar photos I’ve taken over the years and how fortunate we’ve been to have really good conditions on most years.

Brian dropping into East Peak
Slashing through a white canvas
Jon riding East Peak

After getting some shots of the snowboarders coming down, I traversed over a bit to shoot a couple shots of Hutch on the advice from Brain up top. Hutch dropped in and cut a small slab as he rolled over the convex slope, and the snow can tumbling down towards me. Fortunately, we were on a small slope and nobody was caught, but I made a mental note to not take advice from Brian in the future hahaha :).

Adam dropping in
Rob headed down
Hutch with another pow turn

After riding East Peak, we worked turns nearly down the draw to the huts, and then a few of us decided to head back up for one more lap up top. Once we neared the top, since it was our last run of the afternoon, it was time for me to enjoy a beer. The beer that was in my pack from one I’d stole from Dan the day before — a Big Ballard Imperial IPA from Redhook Brewing Company — and it tasted great on this nearly perfect afternoon of skiing and riding. A bit later, we worked our way back to the top of the Jelly Roll and enjoyed a top to bottom run back to the huts.

Skinning back up through the woods
Big Ballard Hazy IPA
Brian airing it out in the Jelly

Once back down to the huts, it was time to settle in for the evening. Mike, who’d needed to leave an hour or so earlier for a pre-planned medical procedure had got his snowmobile stuck a hundred yards or so from the huts, and apparently it took several members of our crew to help him dig out. Brian and I took a quick walk out to survey the hole, and confirmed it was pretty big. Apparently Dan and a few others spent over an hour shoveling.

A cold evening at the Sauna
Enjoying the fire after a great day of turns

That evening, we settled in at the huts, and it was my turn to make dinner. The menu consisted of fish tacos, with Pacific Halibut I’d caught the summer before while fishing with my dad. All of the fixings were prepared, and Hutch cooked up the Spanish rice. The meal definitely hit the spot, and soon everyone started to settle in for the evening. While the rest of the crew was busy drinking a beer and shooting the shit, I grabbed my tripod and headed outside to take advantage of the only evening we’d have on the trip where the stars were out to shoot some photos of the huts at night. A few of my favorite pics are below…

The Owl hut under the stars
Fisheye view of the huts
The fire and the Owl hut on a nice evening

After the photo shoot, I headed in an made a margarita with fresh snow and all the classic ingredients, and enjoyed hanging out with our crew for an hour or so before it was time to hit the sack to get ready for the following day. We woke early, to some fresh snow and a stiff wind. The plan for the day was to head out towards the Pyramid to see if we could ski the easterly facing trees and maybe find some good snow. I broke trail all the way to Little Three Creeks lake, where we regrouped before heading further.

Headed out towards the Pyramid
Skinning across the lake on a windy morning

The winds were whipping as we started out across the lake, and must have been gusting to at least 50 mph. It was clear we weren’t going to find any blower powder higher up, but perhaps a little blown powder.

Brian and Shannon skinning across Little Three Creeks Lake
The crew heading west


Taking a quick break on the way up

The winds continued whipping as we worked our way up the slope, and it was fun to be out in the storm. I was also stoked to see some slightly different terrain than what we usually do, as we were north of the line we skied the previous winter.

Heading up in the stiff wind
Rob and Brian near the ridge

As we neared the top of the ridge, the gusts got so strong that I go knocked over, even after preparing to brace for wind. A few feet shy of the top, we elected to call it and do a “one and done” run and just get down safely. A few minutes later, everyone was making turns and we worked our way back down to the bottom, popping out at a familiar spot near where the creek enters the lake.

Back down at the lake
Looking up to the Prow

From there, we had a quick snack, and then started out across the lake to work our way back to the huts. I followed the group, but also stopped to snap a few photos of the rim and surrounding landscapes.

The Rim from Little Three Creeks Lake
Adam on the skin track back

A short time later, everyone was back at the huts and enjoyed spending a few minutes on the deck enjoying the sun. I snapped a couple of pics as Adam and I rolled in, including the shots below…

Enjoying some rare sun after a fun day of turns
Adam arriving back at the huts

It was a good time to catch a break for a few minutes, grab some food, and enjoy a beverage before heading back out for a couple of short laps above the huts.

The boys enjoying a break on the deck

Hutch was game to head out with me to make a lap in the Playground and stretch the legs, while most of the others in the group stayed in. We found some decent snow that wasn’t too wind affected, and enjoyed some good turns in the Playground and then over in the Dan Bowl before riding the skin track back to the huts. When we got back, I pulled out a beer I’d been saving for just the right time, and I figured now was it, so I snapped a few pictures of it before enjoying it. It was a tasty Cavatica Stout from Fort George Brewery and it was worth the wait.

Hutch enjoying the Dan Bowl
A tasty Stout from Fort George Brewing

Soon, it was time for dinner on evening number four, and we were all treated to an excellent meal from Hutch. He made a super tasty mole chili, coupled with salad and bread that was top notch. After dinner, we had some dessert, a round of margaritas, and enjoyed some good company before heading to bed in preparation for our last day at the huts. The morning dawned with another round of fresh snow, and after clearing the decks, reloading the firewood, and eating breakfast, we stowed all of our gear in the sauna and headed out. As had happened during the previous days, the skin track was buried and we had to re-establish it.

Heading out on the final morning

We worked our way up to the Playground, and it was looking good. The snow was light, stable and ready to rip, so we dropped in and harvested some quality powder. As usual, I took a bunch of photos, and there’s several below. The snowboarders in our group got absolutely pitted, and the skier’s were getting after it too.

Jon getting pitted
Jon exiting a nice pow turn
Brian just leaving the white room
Fischer enjoying the pow
Face shots in the Playground

The turns in the Playground were so good we headed back up for another lap, and this time Brian volunteered to take the camera and shoot a couple shots of me. It felt good to get out from behind the lens and rock the powder on my Amplid Millisurf, which was made for conditions like these…

Rocking a pow turn on the Millisurf
More Playground pow for Hutch
Rob dancing through the pow
Andy getting some action

At the bottom, we headed back up for yet another lap, and this time Brian had scoped out a rock drop that he wanted to hit. I was able to capture a couple of shots of him sending it, along with some more powder shots of the others as they came down…

Brian airing in the Playground
Second shot of Brian catching air
The Fish working the powder
Shannon cruising

From the bottom of the Playground, it was an easy choice to head up to do a couple of laps on East Peak and cap off one of my best powder trips to the huts. We put the track in like we had the previous days, and once we worked our way to the top it was time to rip skins and get some more face shots.

Jon destroying the pow
Rob scoring some pow on East Peak
Pow turns for Adam
Rob ripping a pow turn
Shannon getting another dose of pow

To cap off the trip, we skinned back up to the top of East Peak with the goal of riding the east slope and scoring a nice line all the way back down to the huts. We did just that, and the snow was perfect…

Matt and Brian ready to drop in
Brian getting absolutely pitted
Hutch working the pow

Down at the huts, the other group had arrived and was getting their gear situated, and we wasted little time loading our gear in the sleds. Before long, everything was packed and it was time to say goodbye to the huts after another stellar trip.

Shannon ready to head out
Jonas and the crew all loaded up

The ride out was nice, and it continued to dump on us as we left. We had to stop a couple of times to push and/or pull the sled due to the deep snow, but made it back to the trucks without incident.

Ready to head out
Adam on the ride out

Back at the parking lot, we unloaded all of our gear, said goodbye to Jonas, and made plans to come back again next year. All in all, this was an epic trip, and one that I think everyone on the crew will remember for years to come.

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