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

January 31, 2021 – A better day than forecast

The final day of January turned out to be a pretty good one at the Pass. Patrol 2 was on the schedule, and I was hill chiefing for the day, so I arrived at the hill early to take care of business prior to opening. The forecast was calling for 1-2 inches during the day, and I wasn’t expecting much. It looked like about an inch had fallen overnight, and it was still coming down as we conducted our morning meeting and headed out to open the hill.

Early morning before opening

It didn’t take long to get the frontside open, and Peak 2 was open a few minutes after that. It continued snowing, and conditions were pretty good on the back, even though the day before had seen the biggest crowd of the season at the hill. I snapped a few pictures of patrol gearing up to open the mountain, and then headed over to Peak 2.

Matthew & Anna up top

After a lap on the backside, I hung out up top for a few minutes, hoping to run into Andy who was coming up for the day. After about a 5 minute wait, I spotted him on the chair and we were able to get a few runs together. We headed down through Obvious Choice, which rode really nicely, and then decided to check out Lighthouse. Surprisingly, nobody had skied the headwall the day before, so we dropped in for some really nice turns…

Andy skiing lighthouse

Andy on the Peak 2 chair

A couple of calls came in over the radio that I had to dispatch, and then it was time for a second lap, this time heading over towards Dragon’s to check out the terrain in the glades. It turned out to be a good call, and we were able to enjoy some good turns there as well. All the while it continued to dump really hard…

Turns below Dragon’s Back

A quick break below Dragon’s

Back up top, I convinced one of my fellow patrollers to snap a picture of Andy and I, and even though I had my patrol coat on, it reminded me of the days gone by of some good lift-accessed ski turns we used to make all over the state over 10-15 years ago at places like Mt Hood Meadows, Timberline, Mt Bachelor, Hoodoo, and the Pass.

At the top of Peak 2

We made three or four more runs back on Peak 2, and around 1:00 headed down for lunch. I bid Andy farewell, knowing he was leaving in an hour or so and that there was additional work to do on the frontside. It was snowing hard at base when I got down, and after a hasty lunch, I headed back out on the hill.

Snowing hard at the base

It continued to snow for the rest of the day, and we had a couple more incidents and courtesy rides, but overall it was a really good day. Peak 2 sweep commenced at 3:40 per usual, and even though it was the end of January, it was only the second time during the season that I was able participate as an actual sweeper and make it to the bottom.

Peak 2 closing

After Peak 2 sweep, we headed over to EPA to close the upper mountain, and pushed off a few minutes after 4 in the thick clouds and snow. I stayed up top while the sweepers headed down, which is always a nice treat to be the last person up there, then vacated via RTS to help Anna on Twilight. Since we were pretty short staffed, we had to get help from the area to sweep all but one run on Twilight, and then it was off to do some fencing work before ending the day.

Getting ready for Upper Mtn sweep

Anna after some fencing work

The day ended with our evening meeting, and a picture of Patrol 2 and the flexers that I took while everyone did their best to maintain social distancing. Overall, it was a really nice day that exceeded expectations, and by the day’s end there was 8 inches of new snow up top.

The crew after a long day

Heading for home

After putting the radios away, checking the incident report forms, and wiping down the aid room, it was time to head out. The drive down highway 58 went smoothly, and soon I was home by the fire enjoying a “free” beer courtesy of Oakshire Brewing that had been donated to the patrol. This offering was an old favorite — a smooth tasting Watershed IPA that definitely hit the spot.

Watershed IPA

With a snowier than forecast day over and another patrol day in the books, the final day of January was definitely one to remember, and hopefully a precursor for things to come later this season.

January 2, 2021 – First day of the new year on patrol

January 2nd was the first Patrol 2 day of 2021, and while it was hard to believe 2020 was over, I wasn’t necessarily sad to see it leave and usher in a new year. I arrived at the Pass early, well ahead of the rest of the patrol, and set about gearing up for the day. Heading over to the patrol room, I snapped a few pics of the hill in the early morning light with my fisheye lens…

Early morning at the Pass

Once in the patrol room, I filled out the whiteboard with the daily assignments, and then headed out to EPA to talk with Tim about the day. Bennet was at the bottom of EPA with the groomer, and with my fisheye lens still on the camera, I was able to get some pretty cool shots, including the one below…

The groomer parked at the base of EPA

After talking with Tim, and confirming it had been windy the night before, I headed back to the patrol room to get ready for the morning. Soon after, the rest of patrol arrived, and we had a quick morning meeting and loaded EPA by 8:20. Given the windy conditions the night before, I sent Jon, Dan and Anna out to check the avy route, and the rest of us worked to get the frontside open.

Ready to head out for avy work

A half hour later or so, with avy work complete, we opened Peak 2, and I met Dan up top to take a few laps, before we headed back down to the base.

Dan & Anna on top of Peak 2 after Avy

Down at base, we got a quick bite to eat, and then met Tim outside the patrol room to talk business. After some discussion, we agreed a little saw work was in order on a few downed trees on Down Under and RTS that had fallen during a previous wind event. Dan and I headed out with a saw and shovel in tow, and worked our way over to Peak 2.

Saw skiing down Destiny

Working on a downed tree

Skiing with the saw was pretty fun, since usually we’re having to pack them around on foot earlier in the year, but the cutting work was a bit more tedious than in the fall. Clearing the branches required quite a bit of digging, as well as wallowing in the snow, but soon we had our work complete on Down Under and worked our way over to RTS…

Heading down RTS

More tree work

On RTS, we got half of the tree cleaned up before getting the call from 20 about an incident at the top of Twilight. With Patrol 2 being pretty thin this year, and some of my other resources already on other calls, I dispatched myself to the scene, with Dan as my backup. The incident turned out to be a routine wrist injury, and after a quick sled ride to the base, it was time to head back up to Peak 2 for sweep. On this afternoon, I stayed up top to put the equipment away, as well as to snap a few pictures of the patrol coming back up on the last chairs.

Patrol after Peak 2 sweep

With Peak 2 sweep complete, we headed over as a group for upper mountain sweep off of EPA, and Dan and I stayed up top since we had enough coverage for the runs with mountain hosts and SPY. Sitting at the top after everyone had pushed off, it reminded me of evening dusk patrols from years past. The only thing missing was a cold beer, and perhaps a little cold pow!

Our gear up top

Matt atop EPA after sweep

After snapping a few pics and when the runs were swept clean, we headed down to Twilight via RTS. By the time we got to the bottom, lower mountain sweep was already on, so we picked up the saw, which was stashed in the Twilight lift shack, and headed down.

Skiing RTS after closing

A final bit of saw work on Duck

We headed down Swoosh, enjoying good turns, and then worked our way down to the base. Once everyone was in, we had a brief evening meeting, and then Dan and I took care of a few things that needed tending to in the patrol room, including laundry. Given a flurry of late in the day incidents, there was quite a bit of laundry to do, and we ended up working until 7:00 pm. The one good thing was we had a few beers to keep us company, and it was actually kind of fun to just chill in the aid room, looking at pictures of old patrollers as well as the different awards from season’s gone by.

Closing Swoosh

Bulldog Stout

My beer of choice for the evening was an excellent tasting Bulldog Stout from McKenzie Brewing, which Dan went with his standard Prisimatic from Ninkasi. Eventually, after what seemed like forever, our beers were gone, and it was time to pull the last load of blankets from the washer and put them in the dryer. With that chore accomplished, it was time to head out. All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to start 2021, and I’m definitely looking forward to more powder turns this winter. Hopefully 2021 can deliver!