June 22, 2023 – Mt Bachelor

The end of June was approaching, and Dan, Joe and I wanted to get out for some more turns before the month slipped away. The conditions over the past few weeks hadn’t been very good, but our hope was that a few inches of snow from a recent storm would provide a much needed refresh of the snowpack. The three of us met early at Dan’s house and piled into his Tesla and headed up the road, hopeful for what the day would bring.

Gearing up at the parking lot
The boys heading up

We made good time to the mountain, and found the snowpack looking a bit anemic but smooth looking. Dan backed the car into the charging station and plugged in, and we donned ski boots and packs and headed out. It was a short hike to the snow, and we worked our way up the halfpipe and then the snow above…

Hiking up the pipe
Joe and Buddy working their way up Bachelor

Once partway up Canyon, the slope mellowed and the snow became consistent enough for skinning. It didn’t take long and we cruised our way to mid mountain and were working our way up above Pine to the higher slopes/

A quick break near the top of Pine
Joe skinning above Pine

We skinned up towards the summit ridge above Pine under sunny skies, eventually needing to put the skis on the packs and boot the last several hundred feet to make it to the top.

Dan working up towards the Cirque Bowl
Heading up the summit ridge

On the way up, we were afforded good views into the Cirque bowl and the snow looked really white and smooth and we knew the ride down was going to be a good one. A few more steps brought us to the top, and we enjoyed the views from the summit. It was a good time to pull out my Red Sands Amber Ale from Kohola Brewery and snap a summit picture of it, but given it was a bit cold and windy I elected to drink it a bit later in the day.

Joe at the summit
Red Sand Amber Ale from Lahaina Brewing

We enjoyed a quick snack at the top along with the views, but made the transition from skins fairly quickly and proceeded to drop in, enjoying perfect corn turns a few feet shy of the summit proper.

Matt up top
Dan dropping in off the summit
Turns off the summit
Joe enjoying good corn off the top

The turns off the summit and into the Cirque bowl are always fun and spicy, and as usual they didn’t disappoint. The corn was nearly perfect, and I snapped several shots of Dan and Joe as they headed down off the steep summit pitch and into the throat above the Cirque bowl….

Turns above the Cirque bowl
Dan skiing the steep headwall above the main Cirque bowl
Negotiating the upper Cirque bowl
Skiing through the throat

Once down off the steep upper pitches and through the narrow throat which was melting out quickly, we regrouped and decided it was definitely worth milking the rest of the bowl to the very bottom. Dan grabbed the camera and headed down, and then stopped to fire off a few shots of me, and then I returned the favor…

Matt enjoying smooth corn in the Cirque bowl
Dan ripping the smooth June corn
Cirque bowl turns
Dan skiing above Tumalo in the Cirque bowl

We continued on down and I shot a few more pictures of the skiers as they descended. The snow was super smooth and nearly perfect, and we milked it for all it was worth…

Joe ripping it up
Turns in the lower Cirque Bowl

At the bottom, we stopped to enjoy a break and admire our turns. All three of us were pretty stoked on how smooth the snow was, and given the area was warm and out of the wind, it was the perfect time to drink my beer before we donned skins and headed up towards the rope tow to make some more turns.

Skinning out of the bowl
Joe on the skin out

We worked our way back up a ways, to a highpoint that coincided with the location a favorite late season ski that we termed the Batch Patch. Here, the skins came off and it was time to make turns again. Joe dropped in first, and Dan, Buddy and I followed.

Joe heading down
Dan and Buddy enjoying some June turns
Buddy leading the way with Dan behind

As we descended, we skied over towards Pine and hit the slopes below the rope tow. I fired off a few pictures as we descended, and we enjoyed smooth turns down to the access road at mid-mountain below…

Turns in front of South Sister
Matt near mid-mountain

It was a short walk across the road, and then the skis went back on and more turns were enjoyed. I fired off several more pictures of Dan, Joe and Buddy heading down, including the ones below…

Buddy and Dan heading down
Joe skiing with beer in hand
Heading down with a beautiful backdrop
Turns on the lower mountain

Eventually we made our way to Canyon run and were able to link turns on a few strips of snow nearly all the way down to the halfpipe…

Dan skiing down Canyon
Enjoying the last few turns

We skied down to the grass and then walked over to the halfpipe, and I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy a few pipe turns before we made it back to the car….

Riding the pipe
Joe near the parking lot

The final turns down the pipe were pretty swell, and then it was a short walk down to the lodge where we washed off skis and boots with the wash station for the mountain bikers. At the car, it felt great to switch out of ski boots and get into flip flops, and we go brats going on the grill. It was also time to enjoy another cold beverage, and my second offering was a tasty Trailhead Tropical IPA from Ninkasi Brewing.

Trailhead IPA from Ninkasi
Apres in the parking lot

The brats hit the spot, and put the cap on a great day of skiing and riding. We enjoyed the sun, the food and the beer until two of the three were gone, and then it was time to load the car, unplug and hit the road home. All in all, it was a pretty great June day on the snow.



June 7, 2023 – Mt Adams, Avalanche Glacier Headwall

After watching the forecast closely for a few days, it looked like a weather window for Adams was approaching. I called up Joe, and he was thinking the same thing, so we decided to head north for a mid-week shot, with the hope of riding the Avalanche Glacier Headwall. It had been awhile since I’d been on the line, and I was pretty stoked when I left work around 4pm and headed up the freeway to meet Joe at the cop shop. We carpooled the rest of the way up, and made it to White Salmon in good time, where we stopped to get a bite to eat from the local grocery store. A few minutes later, we hit the road and got our first good look at the hill from Trout Lake, and it was looking good.

Mt Adams from near Trout Lake

From Trout Lake, we rolled up the road and soon worked our way up the gravel roads towards Cold Springs. About a mile and a half from the trailhead, we were stopped by a large snow drift blocking access to the campground. A couple of folks were working on digging out a track, so Joe and I decided to park and give them a hand. It took a couple of hours of digging, but we were able to get it in shape for a dude with a large Dodge with chains to bust through. Once he made it through, the rest of us were good to go and it was pretty nice to be able to drive all the way to the trailhead, both from the standpoint that we would be able to have a level place to sleep and since we’d be that much closer for the climb in the morning.

First truck to the trailhead for the season

As soon as we got to camp, I got the bivy setup and we hit the sack a few minutes later. I slept pretty well that evening, and the next morning we were up by 4:45 or so. After a quick breakfast, we shouldered our packs and headed up the trail. There was some snow right off the bat, but both of us were happy to be in approach shoes since we had a mile or so of walking before we were able to put on the skins…

St Helens from the trail up
Skins on and heading up

Once we hit the snow, we donned skins and it felt nice to get the skis and boots off our backs. We worked our way up the trail and towards the ridge to the west of what’s labeled as the Crescent Glacier on the maps. There was a spicy traverse just before gaining the top of the ridge that required taking the skis off for a short section, but soon we hit the ridge and continued on up.

Joe and Mt St Helens
Booting for a short stretch

Soon we started gaining altitude quickly, and followed a bit more traditional path towards the bottom of Suksdorf Ridge rather than following the current climbers path that was quite a ways further east. As we headed up, a solo skier took off with a kite to do some kite skiing, so we had to stop to get a picture of that action…

Heading towards Pikers
Kite boarding on Adams
Joe snapping a pic of the kite skier

After a short break, we continued skinning as high as we could, eventually finishing the last thousand feet to the top of Piker’s in crampons with the skis on our backs. As usual, the climb up to the top of Piker’s was a slog. The snow on the last five hundred feet to the top was in really poor shape, and both of us were happy that we wouldn’t be skiing that on our way down…

Booting through the choss
Looking down the SW Chutes

At the top of Pikers, we took another quick rest break, and enjoyed some food along with the views. Looking down into the SW Chutes, they looked to be in good shape, and we were optimistic about the conditions of the Avy Glacier headwall.

Joe arriving at Pikers
Looking south from Pikers

After catching our breath and enjoying the views, we agreed the snow on the summit slope looked worthy of our attention, so we set off on skins and worked our way to the base of the final slope to the true summit. The last few steps above 12,000 feet were a bit of work, but we topped out around 11:30 am or so if memory serves.

Heading towards the summit
Rainier from the summit of Adams

 As usual, the views off the top of Mt Adams didn’t disappoint, and it was great to see Mt Rainier’s southside staring us in the face. Looking off to the west, there were some spicy lines of the West Pinnacle, and I made mental notes to get back for something on the White Salmon in the next few years.

West Pinnacle from the summit of Adams
Crescent Harbor Citra IPA from SeaQuest Brewing

As we hung out on top, the weather was really nice. I grabbed my beer to take a picture, but given that I was feeling a bit tired, I elected to just take a picture of it and enjoy it later when we were down at a lower altitude. I do have to say, that Crescent Harbor Citra IPA from SeaQuake Brewing was one of the tastiest IPA’s I’d put on my taste buds in quite awhile!

Matt at the summit

Around noon or so, we readied to take off and head down to check out our line. As we were getting ready to leave, a single skier approached on skins, and as they got closer I could tell it was Amar. It was good to see Amar again, and we chatted for several minutes on the summit. Turns out his party was back at Piker’s waiting while he tagged the summit, and they were going to ski the headwall as well, so we agreed we’d all ski it together. After firming up that plan, we clicked into our bindings and headed down….

Amar making turns off the top
Joe skiing at 12,000 feet

The turns off the summit were pretty nice, especially for the summit slope on Mt Adams. I headed down first, and then setup to shoot some shots of Joe and Amar as they came down. After we worked our way down a ways, Joe grabbed the camera from me and returned the favor…

Corn turns off the summit
Matt carving turns high on Mt Adams

After descending a ways, we regrouped and Amar headed down towards the entrance to the headwall to meet up with the rest of his crew. Partway down, we met up with David, who was also with Amar, and then we continued on down.

Turns on Adams with St Helens in the background
Working down towards Avy Glacier
David enjoying some good corn
Amar checking out the entrance

Above the headwall proper, we met up with the rest of Amar’s crew, which included Khanh who is a good friend of a friend of mine at work. The entrance to the headwall was looking quite a bit spicier than the last time I was up several years back, but nevertheless it still went, so one by one we dropped in. Once we got through the choke entrance, the steep long slope of the headwall was looking really inviting…

Joe skiing below the choke
Looking small on the Avy Glacier headwall

 The turns down the upper headwall are always quite exhilarating, and are made even better when the snow is smooth. The turns down on this trip didn’t disappoint, and we worked our way down, enjoying the smooth corn and steep slope angle.

David coming down the headwall
Heading down the steep headwall

I shot a bunch of photos of the skiers as we descended, and in between taking some shots of the action I enjoyed several big, sweeping turns down the steep pitch, with a few occasional jump turns mixed in. One of the things I love about this line on Adams is the views looking off to the north as well as looking down the line on the from above with the forest sprawling out below.

Some of the skiers coming down
Joe ripping through a steep section on the headwall
One of Amar’s party coming down
Enjoying the afternoon corn on the headwall

We continued working our way down the long, steep pitch, which seems to go on forever and is several thousand vertical feet in length. On a few occasions, we had to stop to rest tired legs before continuing on down…

Working down Mt Adam’s west side
Joe making more turns
Enjoying the corn on Mt Adam’s west side
Joe enjoying a quick rest on the descent

Finally, we made our way to the bottom of the headwall and waited for the rest of the skiers to complete their descent. I snapped a few pictures showing the skiers near the bottom of the line which provides a good perspective for the scale of the lower half of the slope…

A few of the skiers looking small on the headwall
Looking up at Mt Adam’s west side

Once everyone regrouped at the bottom, we discussed exit options and decided to head further down the slope in hopes of making a lower traverse option work. This was a different exit than I was used to, but I deferred to Amar’s experience given he was fairly confident in being able to link turns on snow for most of the way out.

Khanh enjoying a break on the descent
Evaluating our exit options

The turns down the lower portion of the runout were a bit bumpy but still fun, and we slowly worked our way back towards the south side of the mountain, working down as we skied. Eventually we ended up running out of snow, and needed to throw the skins on and work our way back up to the regular exit, which didn’t require that much climbing. From there, it was (what felt like) a long slog back to our uptrack on the south side route. It’s always longer on the way out when you’re tired after climbing over 6,700 feet!

Joe on the exit

A bit weary from all of the climbing and skiing, we finally linked back up with our uptrack, and after a quick break and putting the skis/boards back into ski mode, Joe and I bid the group farewell and headed down. We were able to link turns way back down towards the trailhead, which was quite a treat, and left us with just a short hike back to the pickup/

At the end of the snow

We made a quick change back into trail shoes, and a short time later were back at the car enjoying a cold beverage and changing into comfortable clothes. Both Joe and I were pretty stoked on the ski day, and definitely happy with our choice to head north from the valley to gamble on getting some corn on Mt Adams.

Back at the truck

We wasted little time loading gear into the truck, and headed down the bumpy road back towards home. After a quick pit stop back in White Salmon to refuel, it was an easy drive back down I-84 and then I-5 home. All things considered, it was the perfect way to spend a couple of days in early June!

May 21, 2023 – Mary’s Peak

After hearing Carson talking about going to Mary’s Peak for a couple of weeks, Julie and I decided it was a good day to head up and go for a hike. We didn’t leave our house until about 1:30 pm or so since the morning was filled with taking care of chores, and I decided to throw the snowboard and boots in at the very last minute just in case there was any residual snow patches lingering.

Carson happy to be hiking at the Peak

We arrived at the parking area an hour or so after we left the house, and it didn’t look like there was much snow around. We decided to head to the top without the board in tow, and a bit later arrived at the top. Walking over to the far side, I could tell there was a patch that still went, so we agreed to head back to the car and come back up to get some turns in.

Julie and Carson hiking the road to the top

The weather was surprisingly cool, and clouds shrouded the upper part of the Peak as we headed up for our second trip to the top. Carson was pretty excited to be out for an afternoon hike, as evidenced by his big smile in the photo below.

Rounding the corner to the Meadow

A few minutes later we made our way to the top and over to the snow patch. Carson was excited to play in the snow, and would have loved to ski, but we had returned his season rental to Berg’s at the end of April.

Looking across the summit prairie to the snow
Ready to make some turns

I handed Julie the camera and stepped into the bindings on my DIY split. I can’t remember the last time I snowboarded in shorts, but it seemed like this patch called for it and I set off. I rode down by Julie and continued on, enjoying the low angle slope and smooth snow. Surprisingly, the continued down quite a ways, and I worked my way down until it ran out.

May turns on Mary’s Peak
Milking the Mary’s Patch

At the bottom, I stepped out of my bindings and hiked up the grass along the snow patch back up to Julie and Carson who were hanging out up top.

Looking back up from the bottom of the patch
Carson ready for lap 2

At the top, I was able to convince Julie and Carson to let me go for another lap, so I quickly stepped back into my board and headed off again. I don’t know what it is, but sliding on snow is fun no matter where I’m at, be it a 5,000 foot 4o degree line or a 600 foot long 20 degree patch.

Cruising down for a second run
Turns on lap 2

I milked the patch to the bottom again, and headed back up to Julie and Carson one more time. We met halfway this time, and took a different trail back down towards the car. I snapped a quick picture of Carson with my board next to a big ant hill, then loaded it up on the pack for the walk down. It was starting to get quite cold, and it was nice to crank the heat in the Subaru once we loaded up.

Heading back down the trail
Back at the car

To cap off the day, we decided to head to American Dream Pizza in downtown for some good pie and a beer. Julie and I enjoyed a tasty Hazy High IPA while Carson had an Izze.

The lineup at American Dream
Enjoying a High Hazy with Carson

All things considered, it was a pretty good way to spend a few hours in the afternoon in late May. I’m already looking forward to heading back the next time the Peak is skiable.

May 19, 2023 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

The month of May was starting to slip away, and I was hoping to get an evening dusk patrol day in at the Pass, so I phoned up Dan and Joe who both were game to get some turns. I left work around noon and we carpooled up 58 in Dan’s Tesla, stopping at Gold Lake to gear up. Halfway up the highway I realized I’d left my skins at home, so booting it would have to be for me.

The view from the Pass exit

We arrived at the Pass a few minutes later, and loaded packs and headed out. The coverage was about what we expected, and it looked like we’d be able to ski all the way to the base on the way out. The weather was warm, and some big thunderheads were looming to our north and east, but stayed far enough away that we felt comfortable on the approach.

Joe skiing up Rough Cut
Skinning up Amber’s

We worked our way to the top of Twilight, and then up to Amber’s and RTS. The booting wasn’t bad, and soon Dan and Joe changed over to boots as well for the climb up RTS.

Topping out on RTS

At the top of RTS, I found a full 16 oz Rainer can sitting next to a tree that had melted out, which improved my mood significantly and made up for leaving my skins at home. We worked our way to the top of EPA, and then over to Peak 2 to check out the conditions on the back.

Checking out the snow stake
Maiden and the Peak 2 chair

At the top of Peak 2, we put a beer on ice and nervously watched a very large developing thunderhead to the northeast which seemed to be approaching our direction. My beer of choice for the day was an aptly named Maiden West IPA from Little Beast Brewing. I positioned it with Maiden in the background and snapped a few photos, including the one below.

Maiden West IPA from west of Maiden Peak
Matt & a huge thunderhead

At one point, we decided we weren’t going to drop into Northern because the clouds were looking pretty menacing, but after another 15 minutes or so they dissipated enough that we elected to give it a go. After taking a tripod shot of the three of us, I stepped into my bindings and headed down to shoot photos of the skiers making turns…

Tripod shot of the three of us on Peak 2
Dan dropping into Northern

I positioned myself just down the slope far enough to catch the skier’s coming over the slope as a silhouette. The turns looked nice and the corn was flying. Dan dropped in first…

Dan dropping into Northern
Peak 2 turns

After Dan, Joe dropped in and I fired off several shots from my Canon R5 as he headed down. Some of them are below….

Joe’s turn to drop in
Joe skiing Northern
May turns on Northern
Evening turns on Northern

We skied the run about halfway down, maybe a bit more, then decided to exit stage right because the snow was still a bit on the bumpy side from closing weekend a week before.

Skiing the lower half of upper Northern
Traversing over to head back up

We slid our way through the trees, and it was hard to imagine that only a month ago we were running sleds through here in the deep stuff while doing sled training for patrol. It was a short boot hike up to Boundary, and then we walked back up Kris Kross to the top of EPA.

Hiking back up Kris Kross
At the top of EPA

Sitting at the top of EPA, it was a good time to take a break, enjoy the views, and drink that cold Rainier that I found earlier while coming up RTS. We watched a marmot (most likely the same one from a month earlier that we saw during the season) and enjoyed the calm that comes with a pleasant evening in the spring at the Pass.

A cold Rainier beer
Hanging out up top

A few moments later, it was time to click into the bindings and shove off. We had to walk down from the top to the Success patch, but it was worth skiing as Dan demonstrates in the below photo.

Dan skiing the Success patch

The get in to RTS was a bit spicy as usual, but once in the skiing was really good. One of my favorite parts of skiing the Pass during May and June is hitting RTS when it’s at it’s most sketch.

Dropping into RTS
Joe skiing the upper pitch on RTS

We all made it through the crux without issue, and Dan gave me the camera back. I headed down a bit further, and took some pictures of Dan and Joe as they headed down. Joe skied all the way to the bottom and by the time I could get my camera out of it’s pouch he looked tiny at the bottom….

Looking down RTS with Joe at the bottom
Dan ripping RTS

At the bottom we were all pretty stoked with how good the run was skiing, and it wasn’t a hard decision to head back up to reuse the bootpack and put in another lap. The hike up went quick, and we dropped in again in perfect conditions and perfect weather.

Back at the top
Dan skiing through the crux

I took some more pictures, including ones of both Dan and Joe skiing through the throat near the top of the run while dodging rocks, trees and stumps…

Joe skiing though the throat
Dan enjoying a second lap

We skied the second lap top to bottom in perfect corn, and everyone was all smiles at the bottom. As usual, RTS delivered once again and we got to enjoy a perfect sunset as well as excellent snow.

Basking in the glow of a couple good runs
Looking back at RTS

At the bottom, we gathered our gear that we’d left below, shouldered our packs, and headed off down Lois Lane to ski Swoosh back to the car. To our amazement, Swoosh had firmed up just enough from earlier when it was roasting in the sun and it skied perfectly.

Heading down Swoosh
Joe skiing with beer in hand
Skiing on down to the base
Matt enjoying the action

We worked our way down the run, enjoying the smooth snow right down to the bottom. It definitely was a pleasure being able to link turns all the way to the lodge…

Evening turns at the Pass
Our tracks on lower Swoosh

At the bottom, it was a short push over to the parking lot, and then back to the car. Although it was hard to believe how much snow had melted in the week since closing, we definitely couldn’t complain at the quality of snow we had during this evening outing.

Looking back at the hill

Once back to the car, we made the short drive down to Gold Lake to enjoy a beer and cook some brats. I was looking forward to a cold Farmstand Fresh Mango IPA from Deschutes Brewing, and it hit the spot with a tasty brat hot off the grill.

Farmstand Fresh IPA from Deschutes
Grilling at Gold Lake

We hung out in the parking lot for a few, enjoying our beers and food, and even had to don jackets as the temperature dropped. A bit later, it was time to hit the road, and I think I can safely safe we all were pretty happy with how the day turned out. Here’s a parting shot from the day….

Parting shot from RTS