April 10, 2021 – Closing Weekend at the Pass

After a pretty fun dusk patrol the night before, Dan and I woke early at the cabin, anticipating the final weekend of lift accessed turns at the Pass. Both of us were on the schedule with P3, and it looked to be a decent day, with a break in the warm weather we’d been having. We had a hearty breakfast of sausage and eggs, and headed out the door around 7:30 am to make the short drive to the Pass.

Morning at the cabin

There was a  half inch of new snow at the Pass when we pulled in, and I donned the patrol coat and radio for the last time of the season. Heading over to the patrol room, it was bittersweet for the season to be coming to an end, but I knew we’d have many days of turns in the backcountry ahead of us before the snow was gone.

Dan and Brian before the morning meeting

After a morning meeting, we headed out and helped get the ramp and fencing setup prior to the lift opening. The area was running a little slow, so after our work was done I snapped a few pictures…

Waiting on EPA
EPA base from the patrol room

Around 8:45 am, we finally loaded the lift and headed to the top. I was tasked with opening Timburr and Timburr Glades — not the most pleasant task. The snow was super frozen skier cut, and nearly chattered the teeth out of my head. Nevertheless, I made it down, and helped set up the closure at Sleepy…

Quin, Ian and Dan ready to load
Kris running the Sleepy Closure

It was basically one and done to get the mountain open since Peak 2 wasn’t running, so I headed back up with Dan to check out the grooming on Charlie. The corduroy was quite good, and Dan and I ripped it up for a couple of runs. I snapped a few shots of him slashing turns on the first run down…

Cranking turns on Charlie
Dan headed down Charlie

After three or four runs, I headed to the parking lot for a quick break, and found Quin, Matt and Dan hanging out. A few minutes later, Dan and I headed up to Peak 2 with Ian to get all of the patrol gear packed onto the sleds and bring it down for the season.

Quin, Matt & Dan in the parking lot
Ian and Dan headed up Peak 2

Once at the top, we pulled out the two Cascade 100’s and the 350, and set about loading them up with the medical gear, evacuation gear, boo, signs, and packs. It didn’t take too long, and we had Peak 2 ready to be closed down for the year. It was nice hanging out on top of Peak 2 with nobody around, and I was looking forward to being back with my splitboard in a few weeks. Before we left, I snapped a picture of us loaded up and ready to go…

Loading gear atop Peak 2
Closing Peak 2 for the season

Dan and Ian kicked off, and started out down Southbound, with sights set on the Kris Kross closure to grab the gear there as well. I followed behind, towing one of the Cascade 100’s, and snapped a few pictures, before we all headed down Rosary and KP to the base.

Ian and Dan headed out
Picking up the Kris Kross closure

The ski down with loaded sleds was pretty fun, and it didn’t take long to reach the base. I ditched my sled at the bottom, and headed back up EPA in order to get to my bump slot.

Ian arriving at base
Hanging at bump

Hanging out at bump was pretty nice, and was something I didn’t get a chance to do much during the season with P2, either because I was hill chiefing or because we were so incredibly busy most of the year. I was a bit bummed however when a few folks headed back to Peak 2 to pull the tower pads — I wanted to get one more lift ride back there, but it wasn’t to be. Oh well, next year! After bump, I skied a few runs down RTS, which remained super icy. In fact, I think it was as icy as I’ve ever seen it. Success was really nice however in the afternoon sun, and I made several laps on it, adjusting tower pads on EPA as I went. The afternoon passed quickly, and soon we were ready for upper mountain sweep.

P3 ready for sweep

I ended up sweeping Rosary, and although we had to wait for a couple of slow skiers, we worked our way down to the parking lot with plenty of time for the evening meeting and social hour afterwards. The meeting went quickly, and just like that my patrol season was over. There would be one more day of skiing in the morning, but I had several things to take care of on the home front. But that would be tomorrow — for now, it was time to enjoy a cold beer in the parking lot. My beer of choice for the day was a super tasty Cocoa Cow from Sunriver Brewing Co. The pic below was from the day before at Gold Lake snowpark.

A tasty Cocoa Cow from Sunriver Brewing

For the first time all season, the parking lot scene felt like “normal.” With all of patrol fully vaccinated (but still taking some precautions), it was super nice to enjoy the apres’ skiing activities. Dave even busted out the shot ski, complete with pixie cups that were changed out each time it was used.

Shot ski in the parking lot

An hour or so later, it was finally time to hit the road, and call it a season. All things considered, it was a pretty damn good year at the Pass, despite the issues presented by COVID-19, and despite the near record number of people. I’m already looking forward to next year, and hope the snow flies early and often!

March 27, 2021 – Shaun’s first taste of patrol

After getting several days on the hill earlier in the season, Shaun felt like he was ready to tag along with me for a full day of ski patrol. I was pretty excited that he wanted to ski with me for a full day, and it looked like it would be a warm day with decent snow conditions. We hit the road early, and arrived in the parking lot around 7:40 am.

Early morning at the Pass

I let him stay in the truck while we conducted our morning meeting on patrol, and then I headed out to help open the mountain. The temperature was around 25 degrees, and conditions were firm as I opened RTS, but it was easy to keep an edge in.

Patrol 2 morning meeting

After opening RTS, I headed back to the car, helped Shaun gear up, and we headed out a couple of minutes past 9:00 am. It sounded like Eagle’s and Charlie’s were groomed on the front, so we headed up EPA for his first ride of the morning.

Shaun and I ready to head out
Shaun at the top of EPA

We made a run down Eagle’s, and it was in pretty good shape, and we headed back up for another lap. At the top, several patrollers were hanging out, since conditions were still a bit firm. Matthew suggested we get a quick P2 photo, so I pulled the camera out and snapped a pic of the crew and Shaun.

Shaun and Patrol up top

After taking a pic of patrol, I made a quick switch of my lenses and put the telephoto on the camera. Diamond Peak was glistening in the sun, and I wanted to get a few close up shots of the mountain. The below pic turned out nice, and I’m looking forward to getting back in there later this spring…

Diamond Peak in the late March sun

Shuan and I made three or four more runs on the front, alternating between Charlie, Eagle’s, KP, and the Rosary’s, and then headed down for a quick break. While Shaun had a snack and some water, I snapped a few pictures of the base area with my fisheye lens…

Fisheye view of the Pass

Our break was relatively short — I had to explain to Shaun that when you’re patrolling you don’t get long breaks:) — so we headed back out on the hill. By this time, the snow was starting to soften quite nicely, and Shaun was skiing with quite a bit more confidence.

Shaun skiing Good Time
Up top on a beautiful day

Soon, the snow became pretty sticky, so we decided to head over to Peak 2 to check out the conditions on the back. I’m glad we did, because it turned out to be the last day Peak 2 would turn for the season. We spun a few laps on Peak 2, checking out the various runs, and then headed back via the James Bond trail to hit Charlie on our way back to the base.

A quick break on Escalator
Cruising down Good Time

Shaun wanted to do a lap on Twilight, so we headed over there and skied a couple of runs, and then it was time to head back to Peak 2 for sweep. Ironically, after a super busy season, with several double digit incident days, we didn’t have one incident on this day. Nevertheless, Shaun was excited to help sweep, and be the last skiers on the hill.

Getting ready for Peak 2 sweep

We closed Waldo, and it was pretty cool to see Shaun skiing down the run, stopping every couple hundred feet and yell ‘Closing!” We met up with the other sweepers at the bottom, and rode the last chair of the Peak 2 season back to the top.

Shaun Sweeping Waldo

We helped put the sled away at the top, then made the ski/hike back to the top of EPA for upper mountain sweep. I happened to catch John and Joe standing up top with Diamond in the background, so I asked them to hold that pose for a moment to frame a shot of them with the Peak, which turned out below…

John and Joe ready for sweep

For upper mountain sweep, Shaun and I drew Eagle’s, and the snow was pretty soft as we headed down. We met the other patrollers at the intersection of KP, then finished sweeping the fun back down to the base. Shaun and I were in the back, and I think we was really enjoying getting to be the last skiers on the hill…

Sweeping down KP

At the base, we conducted a quick evening meeting, and then everyone headed to the parking lot to change out of gear and enjoy a cold beverage. My beer of choice for the day was a refreshing Steady Orbit from Ninkasi Brewing, and Shaun photo bombed my picture…

Shaun photo bombing my Ninkasi Beer shot

Once out of my patrol gear, Shaun hung out in the truck with his phone, and I joined my fellow (fully vaccinated) patrollers for some post apres` ski fun in the warm parking lot. Watching folks sit around in t-shirts and shorts, I knew the season was almost over, which is always bittersweet. That said, I was super happy that Shuan was able to enjoy a great day on patrol with me, and am looking forward to more father/son patrol days next year!

Post patrol fun in the parking lot

 

March 6, 2021 – A March Patrol day at the Pass

After a pretty sweet February at the Pass, March was rolling in more like a lamb than a lion. Even so, we had a few inches of snow overnight, and Saturday was looking to be a pretty good day for Patrol 2. The official report was a couple of inches of new at the base, but it looked like there was a bit of wind, and I was pretty sure there was more than that up top. I arrived early, and geared up before taking a few pictures prior to our morning meeting.

An early March morning at the Pass
Anna & Dan outside the patrol room

Before we headed out, I was taking a few photos of P2 getting ready to open the hill. Dave Schweitzer grabbed my camera and told me to get in the picture, and took the below photo of most of P2 ready for the day…

P2 before opening

After taking a few pics, I headed out with avy gear in tow. The plan was for Hutch and I to a quick look at the avy route, given the potential for wind loading the night before. Upon arriving at the top of EPA, we headed out, and made the short hike to the top of Peak 2 after skiing down to the saddle. The snow stake at the top was at 108 inches, with about 6 inches of new.

Topping out on Peak 2

After a quick beacon check, we headed out. Kicking cornices along the ridge didn’t produce any results, so we worked our way out towards the nose. Upon reaching the nose, we decided to rope up, with Hutch on the sharp end and me belaying. Not surprisingly, we got a couple of slabs to cut loose by ski cutting, and although they weren’t huge, they definitely would have ruined your day.

Kicking cornices
Hutch on the sharp end of the rope

We finished the avy route about the same time as the area had Peak 2 ready to go, and then it was time to ski down, hit the lift back to the top, and head down to the base to put the gear away. After hanging up the rope, I headed back out to spin a few laps on EPA, then helped Dan with some sled work at the base, changing out the sled pack and hauling it over to Twilight for loading…

At the base
Ready to head to Twilight

The remainder of the day was spent doing a bit of sled work, and getting some good turns off the top of the mountain. RTS was skiing really nicely, and I made a few runs there, enjoying the steep slope and some of the trees on skier’s right:) I also spent a bit of time up top, hanging out with Dan while he was on bump…

Dan in the bump shack

While killing a bit of time up top on EPA, I snapped a few pics of some of the patrollers as we gathered in anticipation of Peak 2 sweep. Dan, Anna and Matthew proved to be willing subjects.

Anna & Dan atop EPA
Dan & Matthew outside the shack

Once the photo-op was over, we headed over to close Peak 2 without incident. Upper mountain sweep went off without a hitch, as did lower mountain sweep and before we knew it, the day was over and it was time for the evening meeting outside the patrol room.

Evening meeting to end the day

Once the meeting was over, it felt good to head to the car and change out of snowboard boots and into some comfortable clothes. Several of us hung out with the parking lot crowd, enjoying a beer and good company after patrol around the campfire. My beer of choice for the evening was a really tasty Midnight Malt Cocoa Porter from Pelican Brewing.

Midnight Porter by Pelican Brewing

Sitting around the campfire, drinking a cold beer with a bunch of other fully vaccinated patrollers, it almost felt like things were close to normal roughly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began. One thing was for sure — with all the uncertainty over the past year, and this winter in particular, it’s been nice to have the resort open and to be able to leave the worries of work and the pandemic in the valley while enjoying good snow and the camaraderie that patrol affords. Here’s to hoping this excellent season continues!

February 13, 2021 – Avy work and pow turns at the Pass

Saturday looked to be a pretty good day on Patrol, with a load of new snow coming in overnight along with strong winds. I left my house early, and arrived in the patrol lot around 7:30. There were several campers there from the night before, and people were already pulling into the main lot, so I knew it was going to be a busy day.

Early morning at the parking lot
The hill before opening

It snowed pretty hard all morning, and by 8:15 am the rest of the patrol was gathered at the base and we started our morning meeting. I grabbed the avy gear and rope, knowing we’d need to head out on the avy route before we could get Peak 2 open. After the morning announcements, we headed out to open the hill.

P2 morning meeting

We had to hang at the base of EPA for a little while, since the lift had some icing issues from the night before, but once it spun a full revolution, we headed up. Dan, Jon, Brian and I headed over to Peak 2 for the avy work, and Buz went up to get equipment taken care of.

Waiting to load EPA
Buz on the way to Peak 2

At the top, we did a quick beacon check and then headed out. Dan and I noticed right away that we were able to get shooting cracks while doing ski cuts along the top of the ridge between Northern and June’s, and figured we’d find some interesting results in the meadow.

Dan arriving at Peak 2
Kicking cornices

We worked our way out towards the Nose, then Brian and Dan headed back to setup for the lower route. Jon and I continued on, and roped up once we got to the nose. I donned the harness, and cut some cornices on the Nose that produced some pretty large snow releases. Next, it was time to ski cut the ridge to the west of the Nose. I was glad to be doing so while on belay, since this was one of those days where the whole slope propagated on my first ski cut. It’s always impressive to see the snow run several hundred feet below, and the approximately 18 inch crown and resulting slab that went would have definitely ruined someone’s day.

John after running the ridge

We skied down through the meadow after controlling the rest of the ridge, and then regrouped with Brian and Dan after making a few nice turns. At the bottom of the meadow, I called the route clear, and the patroller at the top of the hill lifted the saddle closure. We made it down to the bottom and were just able to load the chair when the public started showing up at the base.

Jon riding the Peak 2 chair in a whiteout

Dan and I hung around for a few runs on the back, enjoying the fruits of our labor from the morning avy work, and got a couple of good runs in on June’s and Northern before heading back to drop off our gear. On the way back, we needed to give a courtesy ride to a guest that was having difficulty on Twilight.

Dan skiing Northern

Once back at the base, we took the sled back to the top of Twilight, and finally made our way to the car for a quick bite to eat. It continued to snow, so lunch was short due to the weather, and the fact that we were having a pretty busy day with incidents on the hill.

Enjoying a break at the car

I headed back out on the hill after about a 15 minute break, and made my way back to Peak 2. Upon riding the chair back to the top, I need to backup Patrick for a knee laceration injury at the base of Boundary. It ended up being a pretty deep laceration, so I headed down with the sled, ultimately getting pulled around the haul road by Rick and the snowmobile. I was pretty stoked to be riding my Amplid Dada for the haul. Later in the day, we had several more incidents, ultimately ending with 11 incidents and 3 courtesy rides, making for a 14 sled day. Needless to say, all of us were happy when the hill closed, and after a quick evening meeting, it was definitely time for a cold one.

Evening meeting

My beer of choice for the evening was a tasty Hazy Trail, from 10 Barrel Brewing. It definitely hit the spot as I relaxed by the fire and enjoyed it with some of the motor home crowd. Eventually, it was time to head home, but given it was a long weekend, I was looking forward to coming back with my son on Monday.

Enjoying a cold one after patrol

Shaun and I arrived around 8:30 on Monday, and helped open Twilight. After opening, we headed up to spin a few laps on EPA, and then went to Peak 2 after lunch. Shaun was having fun, and wanted to try some harder runs, so we hit Escalator, Destiny and then Northern.

Shaun skiing Escalator

It was his first time ever down Northern, and it was great to see him excel. After spending some time on Peak 2, we headed back over to Twilight to finish off our day with a few runs on the front, before heading out around 2:45. All in all, it was an excellent weekend on patrol at the Pass, with good snow as well.

Matt & Shaun on Peak 2

 

3-6-2011 – 350 work at the Pass

Sun was in the forecast and it looked to be a fun day at the Pass. After our morning meeting, we headed out to open the hill, which went smoothly. A short time later, I found myself helping with the sled training crew on the frontside. The goal for the day was to get some work in with both the 100 and the 350. I split my time between shooting photos and riding in the sled as ballast for Raleigh, Amber, Val and Norm.

Running down Timbur

We spun a couple of laps with the 100 on the frontside, and then it was time to bust out the 350. Amber and Raleigh were rocking it, and made it look easy…

Amber & Raleigh running the 350
Heading down Timbur Glades

Before long it was time for lunch, and then some more training. We continued to work the frontside, and it was Val’s turn to spend a little time in the handles of the 350.

Val & Raleigh running the 350 unloaded
Amber pulling Cyndy

Before long, the hours of the afternoon wore on, and it was time to put the sleds away and get ready to close the mountain. Sweep went smoothly, and soon we were down at the base for the evening meeting before calling it a day. All in all, it was another great day at the Pass. Here’s a couple of additional shots from the day.

Amber & Norm above the lake
Cruising down the Glades