April 21, 2024 – Closing Day at the Pass

Like it does every year, the end of the season snuck up on me way faster than I anticipated. Patrol 2 was closing this year, and as I ‘d done several times earlier in the season, I woke Carson and Shaun early in the morning and we loaded gear and headed to the Pass for one last day of riding the lifts and helping the skiing public. We arrived to the patrol room early, and other patrollers started trickling in. As usual, we had our morning meeting at 8:00 am and then headed out to open the mountain.

Opening on closing
Patrol 2 SPY ready for closing day

The coverage on the hill was beginning to look a bit like the season was ending, but as we worked our way up EPA and then over to Peak 2 there was still a great base for skiing and riding. I snapped a few shotos of some of our crew as we headed up the chair and got to the top, and then we set about opening runs and readying for day’s tasks.

Heading up EPA for opening
The opening crew

After opening the hill, I headed down to base and worked with Hutch to go over our plan for ensuring closing went smoothly. We walked over to the lodge and had a quick chat with management, and after getting buy-in from them on our plan for Peak 2, we headed up to the top of Twilight and loaded up gear that could come down on the sleds, including the evac gear and extra tarps, etc. By the time we got to base, a few of the crew were cooking up lunch on the grill, so our timing was perfect.

Hutch and Amber at Twilight
Atticus tending to the grill

After eating a quick bite, I headed out with Carson to make a few laps on EPA before we got into the more extensive work of bringing in tower pads and equipment later in the afternoon. We took a couple of runs on Eagle’s Flight and then headed over to Twilight to get ready to pull tower pads from EPA…

Carson and Hutch at the top of EPA
Carson skiing Eagle’s

After loading the chair and riding the lift up, we found Steve and Chris at the top hanging out on bump. I joked that Chris looked like a marmot from the lift, sitting on top of his perch on the rock in the snow. A few minutes later, several other patrollers and SPY arrived and we headed out to pull the pads on EPA and Midway.

Steve and Chris sitting bump at Twilight
Ian on By George

With the healthy crew, we made short work of the tower pads, after closing By George (with the exception of the park that had an exit to Twilight). The SPY were all over it, and contributed in a big way!

Shaun, Atticus and Scarlett bringing in tower pads
Taking a quick break from the work of closing

With the tower pads on Midway and EPA down and handed off to Laurie and crew at the base, I headed up to EPA to get ready for pulling pads on Peak 2. I had enough time to make a couple of runs on the back with Brian before we started our work…..as usual on closing day, it’s hurry up and wait!

James, Jenn and Ian hanging out up top
Brian ripping a heelside carve on Peak 2

Carson was tagging along with us, and skiing pretty well. He followed us down Escalator and then caught the chair with Brian.

Carson and Brian on the Peak 2 chair

Once back at the top of Peak 2, the SPY and a few patrollers headed down to pull the pads. Again, they made quick work of all the pads on Peak 2, and fortunately we were able to stack them all neatly at the base for the area to take care of later in the week as opposed to having to haul them all the way back to the base.

Hutch bringing down tower pads
Shaun and Ryan bringing down gear

It only took one run to pull all the pads with the help of the eager SPY, which gave Brian a few minutes to enjoy some down time at the base of the lift :).

Brian enjoying a quick break

Then it was time to head up top and get ready for the final Peak 2 sweep of the season. I pulled my beer from my pack that I’d been packing around for a photo op (don’t worry I didn’t drink it until after we were done with our evening meeting well later in the day) and snapped a few pics. The 1983 Lager can from McMenamin’s looked good with Fuji Mountain providing a blurry backdrop.

McMenamin’s 1983 Lager

After snapping some pics of my brew, I turned the camera and captured a few shots of some of the crew below me at the top of Peak 2, including Dan, Brian, Hutch and Joe.

Getting ready for Peak 2 sweep

A few moments later, we swept off Peak 2 for the final time of the season and then regrouped at the bottom. After riding the chair back to the top, I was able to orchestrate a pic of our crew before most of us headed off to EPA for sweep and a few others headed down with sleds loaded with gear.

The crew at Peak 2

Another picture of our crew went down at the top of EPA before upper mountain sweep, and it was awesome to have both Shaun and Carson in the picture with our crew. Amber, who is always up to some sort of shenanigans, unzipped her patrol coat for the photo, which created one of the better photo bombs in recent memory :).

Upper Mountain Closing Crew

For sweep, Brian and I headed down RTS to be extra resources at Twilight, and I caught a few pictures of Brian ripping the run riding switch. Brian rides switch better than most people ride normally…

Brian riding RTS switch

The remaining work on Twilight included bringing down loaded sleds and pulling tower pads. I skied down with a Brian, Edward and a few other SPY, and we pulled several tower pads on our way. Brian, Edward and I all were able to catch one more lift ride (after closing and after sweep started) to head up and get a final lap of the season in and bring down the remaining gear and sleds. I brought down the Sabrina and Brian took a Cascade 1o0, and with that the hill was officially closed.

Hutch with a load of Twilight tower pads
The Sabrina Edge on Rough Cut

At base, we spent 45 minutes or so putting all the gear away, including evac ropes, sleds, tower pads, etc. and then it was time for the final evening meeting of the season. I was stoked to pull out the frozen Snickers and Klondike bars from the freezer that I’d brought up, and the patrol (especially the SPY :)) made short work of them. I enjoyed my McMenamin’s Lager which I had icing down on the snow, and just like that another season at the Pass was in the books. All in all, even though it started out slowly, it was one of my favorite of the last several. It was awesome to be able to have several good days on the mountain with both Shaun and Carson, as well as such a good group of people that make up the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol. I’m already dreaming of those first lift served turns at the pass next year, and can’t wait for winter to make a return!