February 16, 2023 – Willamette Pass

Friday the 16th of February was shaping up to have potential, so I made plans with John and Dan to head up to the Pass and see if we could find some fresh snow to make some turns in. We pulled into the parking lot and unloaded our gear a few minutes before Patrol 4 headed out to the open the front side. After gearing up, we made our way to the lift and got in line, ending up a few chairs back from the front.

The Pass early in the morning

It had snowed about 6 inches overnight, and we made about four laps on the front, enjoying High Lead, RTS and the trees of SDN while waiting for the rope dropped on Peak 2. The snow quality was heavy but fun, and by the time Peak 2 opened we decided it was time to head out of bounds to find a bit of untouched snow.

The boys heading out to Pulpit
Dan enjoying some soft turns

We donned skins and worked our way out towards one of our favorite spots, arriving at a spot a few minutes later where we could pull skins and slide down to a good point to drop in. After assessing the snow, we determined it was stable and ripped down the center of the bowl. I dropped in first, then snapped photos of Dan and John as they came down after me…

Dan and John both ripping
Dan skiing the bowl

We skied down to the bottom, then donned skins and put in a track back up to our waiting beers at the top. After breaking trail through some thick powder, we made arrived back at the top of the ridge and it was time to enjoy the cold beverages. My offering for the day was a tasty hazy IPA from Gilgamesh Brewing and it hit the spot.

Ready to head back up
A tasty Gilgamesh Hazy IPA

After hanging out up top for a bit and enjoying about half of our beer, we dropped in for a second lap. As we did, I stopped to snap a photo of Connelly’s sign at the top of the bowl — rest in peace, Steve.

Connelly’s Couloir Sign

For our second lap, Dan grabbed the camera and fired off several shots of me as I came down, and a few turned out decent and are included below…

Matt enjoying a heelside turn
February turns out of bounds at the Pass

Again, we skied to the bottom and then donned skins and headed back up. After checking our watches and having two runs to sample the snow quality, we decided it was a good idea to head back to the area and catch the lift.

Dan at bottom of run two
The Fish on the skin track

A bit later, we made our way to the lift and used it to access some different aspects that might hold good snow. As we made our way to the top, the snow indeed felt a bit lighter. We followed an existing skin track, no doubt set by Jensen, and soon were ready to drop in for our final run of the day.

Sponsor shot on top

The turns down the south facing slope were indeed quite good, and probably our best of the day. We worked our way through the trees and eventually back to the area, and then to the patrol room. Dan wanted to hit the bar in the lodge before calling it a day, so we did that and enjoyed a cowboy coffee before heading down the road to grill some brats at Gold Lake.

Dan working some turns in the trees

After enjoying our drink in the bar and packing our gear, we headed down to the snow park to keep with tradition and cook up some brats. We all enjoyed a cold Kettlehouse brew courtesy of Jack, and the brats hit the spot after a good day.

Apres at Gold Lake

All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Friday, and it was nice to get out on the skins again and find some fresh snow. Until the next go-around, here’s a parting shot from the day.

Slashing through some heavy powder at the Pass

December 16, 2023 – Hoodoo

After sitting around waiting for winter to arrive for several weeks, I was able to persuade Dan to get out for a day of turns. Our goal was to ski a peak that I’d skied once before a few years earlier, but I didn’t know if it would go or not. We met at Dan’s house early with the goal of finding out, knowing that Hoodoo would be a possible backup option in the event things didn’t work out.

Dan ready to head out
Heading up the road

We made our way to the Santiam Pass area and then drove up the road to where we wanted to access our peak from. There was some snow on the road, and it looked promising as we started out on skins. After a mile or two, we got a good look at our objective. Unfortunately it didn’t go. It looked like the warm inversion that had been plaguing the mountains had caused the upper slopes to melt out, so we turned around and enjoyed the slide back down the road, getting a few decent turns along the way.

Getting closer
A couple miles in

The ski down the road was a bit crack headed, but we made it back to the truck in one piece with plenty of time to head up and check out Hoodoo. Before we headed out, Dan skinned up a side road and made a few fun turns back down to the truck. We enjoyed a Hazy IPA from Ninkasi Brewing while changing out of ski boots, and then hit the road.

Dan getting some turns at the truck
Enjoying a Hazy IPA from Ninkasi

After a short drive, we arrived at Hoodoo and the snowpack was looking pretty dismal — maybe 6 inches for a base? We figured it would go however, and hope was that maybe we could find some soft turns somewhere on the hill. It didn’t take long to get the skins on and soon we were working our way up the slope.

Skinning up Hoodoo
The view from the top

W followed our standard route up and it was quite warm. Before long, we arrived at the top and enjoyed the views of the volcano’s to the north and south. I snapped a picture of Mt Washington looking pretty fine in the early afternoon sunlight with the telephoto lens. It was also a good time to enjoy a cold beer, and my Hippy Haze IPA from Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond hit the spot.

Mt Washington looming large
A tasty Hippy Haze IPA

We enjoyed our beers along with the sunshine and views on the summit, and then it was time to drop in. The north facing terrain was pretty firm and cut up from skiers who made turns a few weeks earlier, but I thought the east face might yield some corn so we checked it out.

Sponsor shot from the top of Hoodoo
Dan dropping in on the east face

After the first turn I knew it was going to be great skiing, and immediately I wished we would have come here earlier instead of spending a few hours slogging up and down some out of the way Forest Service roads. Regardless, I enjoyed some choice turns before setting up and shooting a few shots of Dan as he came down.

Corn turns on the ‘doo
Dan harvesting some December corn

We skied down the bowl, then cut out early since the lower half was snow free, popping out at the top of Ed’s chair. From there, we were able to find a few soft turns in the sun, but the rest of the ski down was on an icy crust. Even so, it was fun to get out and make turns, and we were all smiles by the time we reached the parking lot.

Corn skiing in December at Hoodoo
A quick break on the descent

We made turns right to the truck, and decided to drive up the lot a little ways to find a spot in the sun to enjoy a beer and grill up some brats. It was really warm as we fired up the grill. In fact it was so warm that Dan was able to sit comfortably in shorts and flip flops! A few minutes later, the brats were ready to go, and we enjoyed them along with some chips and salsa to cap off a day that turned out to be pretty damn nice.

Dan enjoying a cold smoke in the parking lot
Grilling after enjoying turns

After we scarfed down the brats and finished our beers (thanks Jack for the Cold Smokes!), it was time to load up and head out. The temperature was above 55 degrees as we headed down the road from Hoodoo towards highway 20, and although it felt great to sit in the sun and enjoy the nice afternoon, I’m ready for some cold smoke to fly and looking forward to a return to winter!