November 13, 2020 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

Friday was shaping up to have the potential for being a good day of storm skiing, so I flexed my schedule to be able to take off in the mid-morning after my morning work commitments. My day started early, and I was in the office by 6:30 am, but by 10:30 am I was out the door and on the road heading to the pass. I hoped my timing would work out nicely, because it looked like the storm was going to start out warm, but be cooling down in the early afternoon. It was raining as I neared the Pass, but turned to a rain/snow mix when I pulled into the parking area, where Dan and Joe were already parked.

Ready to head out

A quick phone call to them confirmed it was snowing up higher on the hill, so I shouldered my gear quickly and headed out. It sounded like they were on Peak 2, but the weather was so inclement they were going to head back over to the frontside. I followed their skin track up KP, and it was faint in places. Travel was quick, and soon I made it to Eagle’s Flight and started up. There wasn’t a skin track on Eagle’s, and it was deep — probably 18 inches of new snow or more. I was about halfway up the run when Joe and Dan came into view, and it was refreshing to see them make nice turns on the way down. I pulled out my camera and took a few pics as they skied by me.

Dan skiing Eagle’s
Joe enjoying fresh November pow

I continued breaking trail, and worked my way up to the top of the run, and took shelter in the trees while it continued to snow heavily. About 15 minutes later, Joe and Dan crested the top of the run, with big smiles on their faces. We agreed to head up and check out Good Time to see if it was skiable. That turned out to be an excellent choice, as the turns were prime…

Joe on Good Time
November pow at the Pass

We started down, and the snow and coverage both exceeded expectations. I took a few photos of the skiers on the first half of the run, then Dan grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots of me enjoying the fresh snow.

Cruising down Charlie

We skied our way down the run, and headed back to the skin track on KP, fully intent on another lap. It was snowing so heavily that by the time we got to Eagle’s our skin track from just a half hour ago was pretty faint and somewhat difficult to follow. Joe did his best to follow it, and we headed up.

Skinning back up Eagles
Arriving at the top of KP

We worked our way up Eagle’s and decided it was worth heading to the top of EPA to get a run in from the top, as well as check out the new addition for patrol this season, which was the old summit lift motor shack. Given the concerns with COVID-19, the motor shack will serve as a place for patrol to bump this season out of the inclement weather and away from the lift ops. On this day, it certainly proved to be a well-positioned spot out of the weather, and we were thankful to spend a few minutes inside while drinking a cold beverage as the storm raged on outside. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a super tasty Pass Stout, appropriately named for both the beer and the location, from my favorite brewer Goodlife Brewing Company.

Pass Stout from Goodlife
Hangin’ in the summit motor shack

After a nice break out of the weather, we made the short hike to the proper top of EPA, and prepared to ski another lap. A few pictures ensued before we stepped into our bindings, including the two shots below.

Dan hiking to EPA
Matt atop EPA

We slid down the hill, and decided to check out High Lead, but quickly aborted that plan as the coverage looked a bit thin there, and headed back over to Good Time, which proved to be just as good, if not better, than our previous lap. It had snowed so much since our last run that our tracks were almost entirely filled in. Like before, we traded the camera and snapped lots of pics….

Dan and Joe on lap 2
Dan heading down

As before, we skied down to where it was time to cut back to KP, except this time I bid Joe and Dan farewell. They were heading down after a long day of climbing and skiing, and I was jonesing for one more run. It was still snowing hard, but there was enough daylight for one more lap, so I headed back up. This time the skin track on Eagle’s was entirely gone, so I got the opportunity to break trail again, but soon found myself at the top of EPA once more. After a quick call to my wife at home, I dropped in for some more powder turns.

Cruising down Charlie
Mid-November pow at the Pass

The run was superb, and I tried my best to follow Joe and Dan’s tracks out on the runout. I was able to make it out to KP before I lost their tracks entirely. It was a slow ride down KP, but eventually I made it the bottom and made the short hike back out to the car. Fortunately, I didn’t have to dig out, and was able to get back onto the highway without much fanfare. I made the short drive down to the cabin to join Dan and Joe for a dinner of ‘brats.

The Cabin

After some good food and conversation, it was time to hit the road and head home, fully satisfied with an excellent day of a little work and much play. Until next time, here’s a parting shot from the day of Dan skiing mid-November pow on Eagles!

Skiing Eagle’s Flight


April 19, 2020 – Willamette Pass

In what should have been the first weekend that the Pass was officially closed, Dan and I decided to head up in search of some corn snow, knowing if was going to be pretty warm. After hitting the store in the morning to buy a 6-pack and some brats for the apres-ski, I headed to Dan’s and we carpooled up Highway 58 in his Tesla, making good time to the Waldo pullout for a quick pit stop, and then to the Pass, where we shouldered packs and headed out.

The Tesla at the Waldo Rd
Looking up at the Pass

The frontside was holding, but the snow was going fast, and bare patches were starting to show on ByGeorge. It was warm on the skin up, and we worked our way up George and over to High Lead under the relentless sun. Once at the top, it was a quick skin over to Peak 2 for a run down Northern.

Skinning up George
Dropping into Northern

Coverage on Peak 2 was holding on quite nicely, and I snapped a few photos of Dan as he dropped in. The snow quality wasn’t as good as we were hoping for, closer to mashed potatoes than corn. Even so, it was a fun slide down the marquee run on Peak 2…

April turns on Peak 2
Dan skiing Northern

We skinned back up Escalator, then Boundary back to the top of Peak 2. We contemplated another run on the back, but elected to hang out at the top of SDN and enjoy the views while putting a beer on ice. Sitting there in the sun, looking out over Diamond Peak, Fuji Mtn and Waldo Lake, it was hard to deny the beauty of this part of the cascades, and how easy is is to take it for granted during the season.

Looking out to Diamond
Contact Haze by Elysian

Once the beer was good and cold, it was time pound it down, and then make a few more turns. Given the conditions on the backside, we elected to head back over to the front and make some turns there. I snapped a few pics of Dan skiing the Peak 2 cornice before we headed over….

Skiing the Peak 2 cornice
Matt & Dan on top of EPA

Once on the front, we strapped/stepped into our sliding gear, and headed over to RTS. I handed the camera off to Dan, who snapped a few photos of me making turns. The snow was soft, but the run is so steep, it usually doesn’t matter.

April turns on RTS
Working down RTS

We skied down to the bottom of the run, and decided to head out via Amber’s Way and try ByGeorge, which turned out to be a good idea. The lower mountain was holding the best corn of the day, and we made big, fun, sweeping turns down to the bottom. It was so nice that we decided to do another lap, and donned skins and headed back up. Once we made it to the top, we decided to try Rough Cut, which was just as good as George. I snapped a few pictures of Dan heading down…

Dan on Rough Cut
Skiing down to the car

We skied down to the parking lot, and made the short walk across the lot to the car. From there, we headed to the Gold Lake snowpark to take a well earned break, drink a cold beer, and grill up some brats. Dan’s Coleman grill cooked up the brats quickly, and coupled with some bread and mustard, they hit the spot!

Afternoon Brats
Hangin’ at the Gold Lake snowpark

 Five brats to a package meant two and a half apiece, along with some chips and salsa for the side, and the beer to wash it down. Not a bad way to end a good day of skiing in the mountains.


January 1, 2019 – First turns of 2019

After closing out 2018 with a few friends, Julie and I figured the best way to ring in the new year was making turns at the Pass with the family. The forecast was looking sunny, and the kids were excited as we headed out in the morning. The drive up highway 58 went quickly, and soon we were sitting in the patrol room helping the kids with their gear. Somehow during the night before when I was loading gear, I forgot Julie’s ski boots, so she ended up spending the day in slippers in the patrol room reading a book. We all walked over to Twilight to begin the day, and I snapped a pic of the family before we loaded the chair…

The fam at the base

We started our day with a great groomer down Duck Soup and Sally’s Way, and both kids were skiing well. Carson wanted to ski Sally’s again, so we hit it up for a second lap before skiing down Picaboo for our third run in the Twilight zone…

Second run down Sally’s Way
At the top of Twilight

After three runs, we headed in to check on Julie, eat an early lunch, and drink some hot coco. Carson wanted to stay in with Julie and hang out for a little bit, so Shaun and I headed up EPA for a couple of runs. The views from the top were excellent as usual, and the groomers off the top were in excellent condition, so we tried out KP and the Rosary’s.

Matt & Shaun at the top of EPA
Shaun coming down Upper Rosary

After two runs off the top, we checked back in at the patrol room and Carson was ready to ski again. He was pretty stoked to ride “the big lift” so we loaded up EPA and headed to the top for his first ever trip to the top of the mountain. At the top, Joe was hosting and was pretty stoked to see the boys, and graciously offered to snap our picture in front of Diamond Peak and Odell Lake. For Carson’s first run, we headed down KP, and he ripped it…

Matt, Shaun & Carson on top of EPA
Hanging out on KP

We spent the next hour and a half spinning laps on EPA, alternating between the Rosary’s and KP. Shaun wanted to do Eagles and Charlie, but we agreed we’d try those next time after Carson had a bit more experience under his belt. Watching the kids ski down the runs, up and down the banks on the sides of the runs, and through the trees, I couldn’t help but feel proud at how they were doing…

Skiing Upper Rosary
Heading for home

We called it a day in the mid afternoon, and headed down to the patrol room to where Julie was waiting. The kids were happy with the day, but ready to leave, in part due to the promised Dairy Queen treats later in Oakridge. I loaded the gear in the car, and as we pulled out onto the highway, I thought to myself — there really isn’t any better way to ring in 2019!  

December 31, 2017 – Willamette Pass

It seems like 2017 was the year of Willamette Pass I thought to myself as I made plans to head up that way Dan for the final day of 2017.  There had definitely been some good days up there over the past year, most filled with bottomless powder even into the month of May.  On this day however, Dan and I both were trying to think of other options for turns, but given the extremely thin snowpack we just couldn’t come up withe any good options.  So, after driving around looking for options, then stopping at the Gold Lake backcountry shelter for a bit, we ended up at the Pass.

The Pass from the Highway

We loaded our gear and skated across the parking lot, and worked our way up the hill.  Conditions were looking pretty meager, and the snow was firm.  It was still cold, but our hopes were that the snow would soften in the afternoon sunshine…

Looking up George
Diamond peeking thru the trees

Within an hour or so we were at the top and skinned over to Peak 2 to check out conditions.  Unfortunately the snow stake was only reading 18 inches — the lowest total for the season since early October.

Dan at Peak 2
Atop Peak 2

After milling about for a bit, we decided to ski Upper Rosary, which had been getting morning sun and looked soft.  It was, and we made fun turns all the way down to the big corner.  Skiing Rosary in such low snow conditions reminded me of a previous trip Dan and I made a few years ago in early November.  At the bottom, we decided to boot back up to Eagles to have a break for lunch and to enjoy a beverage before taking another run.  I snapped the picture below of one of my new favorite beers on my most recently completed splitter….

Copperline Amber Ale and my Jamie Lynn split

After our snack, we peered down Eagles. It looked good, but we decided to give it a bit more time and booted up for one more run on Rosary.  There’s nothing quite like being able to boot up a firm ski run with 6 inches of total snow on it on the last day of the year….

Looking out over Odell and Lakeview Peak

On our second run down Rosary, I decided to snap a few photos of Dan to document the conditions.  I’m pretty sure the pic below makes the snowpack look deeper than it really was….

Dan skiing Rosary

With two runs down Rosary in the bag, we headed backup to our half drank beers at the top of Eagles, finished them off, and strapped in for a run down the super deep snowpack on Eagle’s.  Dan snapped a few photos of me shredding the deep stuff….

Riding down Eagle’s

All kidding aside, at least the snow was soft.  It was somewhat difficult skiing, but still fun.  We definitely had to be on our toes though, because the rocks and trees were thick…

Dan skiing upper Eagles
Skiing lower Eagle’s

Once at the bottom, we traversed our way over to George, and made scratchy turns all the way down to the base.  For whatever reason, probably the inversion, the lower mountain never corned.  Not to worry though, the turns were still fun and all in all it was a good day.  It just need to snow more…..soon!  Here’s a parting shot from the day….

Dan skiing the deep stuff


December 17, 2016 – Peak 2 Opener

Blue sky was in the forecast, at least for the morning, and it shaping up to be a great Saturday at the Pass.  A significant amount of new snow had fallen in the previous days, and the stoke was high at the morning patrol meeting.  It was unclear if Peak 2 would open, given that nearly three feet of new snow needed to be cleared from both the top and bottom of the lift, and the avy routes would need to be run as well.  Nevertheless, the first ride up the EPA chair yielded the sweet scenery the Pass is known for…

Toby atop Eagle Peak
Diamond out yonder

The morning light was perfect, and I didn’t waste anytime snapping a few pics, including the shot below of Kerstin at the top of Eagle Peak…


After a couple of runs on the front side, I headed in and grabbed my new Amplid Miligram split to take it out for it’s maiden voyage.  The first two runs on the board, on both steep slopes and firm groomers blew my mind.  The board rocks, and is the first split I’ve ridden in a resort that rides as good or better than a solid!

By 10:00 or so, Brian and I hiked over to the backside, with the intention of running a couple of avy routes to get Peak 2 open if possible.  Several other folks were digging out the ramp at the top, so we headed over with Dan to Dragon’s Back to do the control work.

Dan & Brian above Dragon’s

We setup the rope and belay, and Dan ski cut the slopes above the cliffs while Brian belayed and I snapped a few photos….

Dan on the avy route

I was surprised that with all the fresh snow we only got surface sloughs to run and nothing deep.  Regardless, we finished the upper route and then dropped in for a few turns before skinning back out to run the lower route….

Brian surfing the steeps
Pow turns in the meadow

We made short work skinning out from the meadow back up June’s, and I definitely happy with the performance of the Miligram on the skin track — the board was much lighter underfoot than I was used to.  Back at the top, we completed the lower avy route, with the bonus of dropping into Gravity chute on the way out….

Brian below Gravity

After running both avy routes on the splits, we headed down to the base of Peak 2 and were able to catch a lift ride back up.  Shortly thereafter, with both avy routes complete and the top and bottom of the lift dug out, Peak 2 opened for the season at 1:30.  There was no shortage of stoke, pow turns, or skiers waiting to rip up all the fresh snow…

Brian blasting after Peak 2 opened for the season
Enjoying the new snow

Everyone made lap after lap in the fresh snow.  I spent the whole time on the Amplid and was too stoked to head in for lunch.  Some of the best turns were had in the trees between Down Under and June’s….

Toby dropping a knee
Shannon getting some pow action

Towards the end of the day, I ventured out towards the meadow again with Brian, and we found one last powder stash.  This time, Brian grabbed the camera and snapped a few pics of me enjoying the fresh snow…

Last run powder slash
Enjoying pow on the Miligram

At 3:40, it was time to sweep Peak 2, but the stoke was high knowing that the lift with some of the best terrain on the mountain was now open for the season.  Frontside sweep followed, and then it was time for apres beers after a great day.  Here’s a parting shot from the day…

Peak 2 pow