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November 19, 2021 – Mt Hood,

After missing out on a few opportunities to get November turns in earlier in the month due to work and ski patrol obligations, I was game to head to Hood even though the forecast wasn’t looking real nice. Dan and I mulled it over early in the morning, and even thought the mountain was shrouded in a whiteout and Joe text us from the parking lot that it probably wasn’t worth coming up, we decided to take the gamble. After dropping my son off at school a few minutes before 8:00 am, I met Dan in Coburg, and we headed up I-5 in his Tesla. A couple hour later, after stopping in Sandy for a quick charge, we made our way to the Zigzag Ranger Station to get an annual snowpark permit.

The Tesla at the ranger station
National Forest Sign

After that quick pit stop, we headed up Highway 26 in the driving rain, which turned to snow by the time we hit Govy. The drive up the Timberline Road was a little slippery in the heavy snow, and soon we found ourselves in the parking lot. The snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing, and we met Joe who was slow rolling it after spending the night and skiing the day before.

Ready to head out

It didn’t take long to get our boots on and and our gear packed, and we headed up the hill on skins. Hitting the skin track for the first time each fall after a long, dry summer is always refreshing. Our departure time was a few minutes before 12:00 pm, and we skinned up the road in a stiff breeze. About halfway up to Silcox, we elected to drop into the canyon to try and get out of the wind.

Dan on the skin track
Heading up in a whiteout

Our hope was that it might clear up just a little bit so we could make some nice turns in the canyon, but the weather didn’t appear to be cooperating. We worked our way up to the top of the Magic Mile and then up to the mid-station on the Palmer. At that point, our rock handrail in the canyon appeared to run out, and it looked like this would be our high point for the day.

At the mid-station

Then, amazingly, as we sat around and contemplated what to do, the clouds parted to reveal the mountain above us in all her glory! We could barely believe our eyes, and the decision to head on up was an easy one.

Heading up in the sun
The boys skinning up the Palmer

We made decent time up to the top of the Palmer now that we could see the contours of the snow and where we were going, and around 2:30 pm we ripped skins and planted our beers in the snow. Looking out over the sea of clouds to the south, the views were incredible, and it definitely felt like winter.

Nearing the top of the Palmer
Looking out over the clouds

After the obligatory pictures from the top of the Palmer, it was time to enjoy a frosty cold beverage. My beer of choice for this day was a strong but tasty Dead ‘n’ Dead from Rogue Ales & Spirits. A 9.8% alcohol by volume, I was feeling pretty tuned up by the time I finished it and ready to ride the fresh pow!

Dead ‘n’ Dead by Rogue Brewing

Since Dan and Joe had already got their November turns in, Joe was nice enough to grab the camera and shoot a few shots of me enjoying some turns to complete my 16th year and 192nd month of Turns-All-Year. As soon as I dropped in, I could tell we were going to be in for a great run down…

Matt dropping in
A fresh November pow slash

I grabbed the camera back from Joe partway down the Palmer and returned the favor, shooting a few shots of him and Dan as they skied down. When we regrouped a bit further down, we all had the same shit eating grin on our faces.

Dan and Joe skiing the upper Palmer
Joe cranking a November turn

We headed on down, and the snow continued to ski awesome. The temperature was dropping quite a bit too, and must have been around 25 degrees (compared to the 32 degrees on our approach). More turns and pictures followed as we worked our way down…

Riding down the Palmer
Dan getting some of the action

Joe was kind enough to grab the camera again just above the mid-station, and snapped a several shot sequence series of me ripping by him, including the two shots below…

Thumbs up all the way around
Riding the chalky smoothy powder on the Palmer

We worked our way into the Palmer canyon below the mid-station, and what was hardly visible on the way up was glistening in the sunshine on the way down.

Joe popping off a little roller
Working down into the Palmer canyon

We had to stop and wait for a few minutes for Dan, who was above trying to get his hands warm. After a closer inspection, it looked like new, warmer gloves were in order for him. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get too many shots of him descending, but Joe made up the difference by absolutely ripping it up….

Joe slashing through the pow
Heading down the canyon

We worked our way down into the canyon and to the top of the Mile, and regrouped there before heading down into the Mile canyon. As if the conditions couldn’t get any better, the clouds receded all the way down to the lodge, and provided us with good visibility all the way back to the car.

Joe working the Palmer canyon
Dan & Joe near Silcox

We skied the upper Mile pretty fast, and I didn’t get a chance to shoot many photos, but was able to capture the couple of shots below as we skied towards the clouds….

The boys headed down
Looking back up towards Silcox

The runout through the lower canyon skied really nicely, and we didn’t touch a rock the whole way down. Looking back up at the mountain, it was bathing in the late afternoon sunlight, and made for a very pretty backdrop (although difficult to shoot subject to to the high contrast between the skiers and the mountain).

Carving up the lower canyon
Headed down to the car

We were able to ski right down to the parking lot, and a quick skate brought us back to the car for a day that turned out way better than any of us had dreamed of.

Back at the car

 At the car, it was cold. The temperatures were hovering in the mid-20’s, and the first order of business was to get the brats on the grill, as well as to change out of ski boots. Then, it was time to grab another beer and celebrate one of the best November runs on Hood in recent memory. I celebrated the turns with a tasty Updrift IPA from Pelican Brewing Co.

Tending the brats
Updrift IPA from Pelican Brewing Co.

Before too long, the brats were fully cooked and ready to enjoy. Eating a hot brat after an afternoon of cold pow turns is hard to beat. To commemorate the moment, I setup my tripod and snapped a picture of the three of us, with the mountain looming in the background.

Group shot with the beers & brats

As we wrapped up our dinner and readied to hit the road, all three of us agreed that this would be a day we wouldn’t soon forget. With that, we loaded gear into the rigs, and headed home, fully satisfied with a great day of November turns on Mt Hood. Until next time, here’s a parting shot from the day…

Parting shot from the Palmer

 

November 13, 2021 – Cleanup & Cutting

As hard as it was to believe, the middle of November was here already, and that meant it was time for the annual patrol room cleanup at the Pass. As usual, the plan was to get the patrol room ready to go in the morning, and then either ski or cut in the afternoon depending on the conditions. While this year had some promise early on, it definitely looked like there wasn’t going to be any skiing on this go-around.

Morning view from the base

I pulled into Dan’s house around 7:30, and a few minutes later, we hit the road and headed up highway 58. The weather was really nice at the pass, and the sun was shining down on a clear, cold morning. The first order of business for Dan and I was to get the avy beacons up and running with fresh batteries, and then go through the evacuation gear. The evacuation gear took a bit longer than normal to check, due in part to the fact that we replaced the rope savers with new ones from Cascade Rescue.

Looking over the evacuation tees; Photo by Ian Doremus

When it was all said and done, each system was checked to make sure the ropes were in good working order, and that each evacuation tee was safe with respect to the welds, seats, pulleys, etc. When going through the entire system, I like to apply the mnemonic DCAP-BTLS from Outdoor Emergency Care. Looking at the rope and hardware, I check for deformities, contusions, abrasions, punctures/penetrations, bruises, tenderness, lacerations, and swelling. While not all of those are applicable, you get the idea.

Matt checking the gear; Photo by Ian Doremus

By the time noon rolled around, we’d checked through all of the 11 ropes and associated gear and loaded it back into the totes for deployment on opening day. I headed outside to check on some of the work the other patrollers were doing all morning, which included going through the sleds, checking the radios, and restocking the medical supplies. Dan and I were itching to get up and get a little cutting in, so I threw my pad thai in the microwave, wolfed it down, and we loaded in his truck to head up.

Getting the sleds ready

We headed up the haul road in Dan’s truck, and it was nice to see Diamond with a bit of white on it’s northside from Rough Cut. We worked our way further up the hill, and the views from mid-mountain were stellar as usual. I snapped a few photos of Dan driving up, including the second shot below…

Diamond from Rough Cut
Heading up the haul road

We worked our way up the haul road and past Good Time and Eagles, and then rounded the “big” corner and headed on up. Our goal was to make the top of EPA, but we were stopped a few hundred feet shy on KP by a very mushy snow drift that was about 2 feet deep. We backed down the road to the top of Charlie, turned around and decided to park with a spot that afforded an excellent view.

Looking out over Odell Lake

We grabbed our packs, saws and safety gear, and headed out. Our plan was to spend an hour or two on RTS to try to remove a few more of the taller trees we hadn’t been able to get to over the past couple of year, as well as to buck up the couple of big trees that fell early in the season the year before.

Dan putting on the safety gear
Matt ready to head up

The hike to RTS didn’t even take 10 minutes, and we went straight to work. Walking around RTS with a saw in hand, and a pack full of gas and oil on my back, I’m always amazed at how steep the run is. We spent quite a bit of time cutting the hemlock bushes, which are super difficult to cut because they branch out like a mother, as well as some of the firs that are much easier on the saws…

Dan running his electric saw
Taking out a bushy hemlock

I took the camera out to snap a few shots of the action, as well as the shot below of Dan looking out over RTS. After taking a few pics, I decided to head down and buck up the two big trees in the middle of the run while Dan continued to work up high. I had a bit of mixed feelings in bucking up the trees and lopping off the big, dead branches after using the trees as a landmark on numerous occasions the previous season. I realized I’d come to associate them with RTS, which as a fellow patroller later told me means they’ve probably been there too long. Nevertheless, I bucked them up, and then headed back up to catch up with Dan up top.

Looking down RTS

 Back near the top, we were both hot, sweaty and tired, and agreed to call it for the day. We decided to hike over to Peak 2 to just take a look at it, and see if there was any snow hanging around. On the way over, we saw fresh elk tracks in the snow, and once up top enjoyed the views down the backside. While there wasn’t any skiable snow in the area, there was a bit hanging on in the flats of Boundary…

Looking down Boundary

After enjoying a few minutes at the top of Peak 2, it was time to head back to the truck. Both of us were getting hungry after a long day, plus there was a cold beer calling my name as well. Today’s offering, which was iced down in the cooler, was a very tasty Firestorm Red Ale from Three Creeks Brewing.

Firestorm Red Ale from Three Creeks Brewing

With a cold beer in our hands, it was time to fire up the grill and enjoy some hot brats. They cooked up fast, and coupled with some sourdough bread and mustard, they really hit the spot as the temperature started to drop. We were well positioned to catch the last rays of sun coming up over Good Time Charlie, and enjoyed dinner with a view while looking out over Odell Lake and Diamond Peak.

Cooking brats at the top of Charlie

Eventually, we devoured the brats, and it was time to head back down and hit the road. All things considered, and even though we didn’t have enough snow on the hill for any turns, we were pretty satisfied with the day and definitely looking forward to the start of the season. Let it snow!

Done for the day and ready to head out

 

October 3, 2021 – On-hill refresher at the Pass

After an excellent day of turns at Mt Hood the day before, Dan and I settled in for a long weekend of ski patrol refresher activities, starting with the in-town OEC refresher on Saturday, and then the on-hill refresher on Sunday. Even though it’s always a long weekend, spending the day on the hill refreshing on lift evacuation and outdoor emergency care activities is a good way to spend the day. This year, we did our evacuation practice on the Sleepy lift, and after leading a discussion on the lift evacuation plan and safety concerns with the patrol, I headed over with group 1 to do the evacuation. After loading the seats on the lifts, it was time to get going.

Chair evac practice on Sleepy

Our practice went quickly and smoothly. Passing the rope over the chairs was pretty easy given the height of the Sleepy lift, but it’s always good to get back in the with the ‘biner ‘boo…

Hutch showing how it’s done
Lowering patrollers out of the chair

After everyone from group 1 was lowered, then moved to belayer and then communicator, it was time to rotate out and go through the same practice with group 2. Group 2 went as smoothly as group 1. The only challenge was trying to line the chairs up just right so that we didn’t have to climb more towers than necessary. That being said, it proved easier with the short height of the Sleepy lift to use the wrist rocket system to get the rope over the haul line anyway…

Ben practicing his communications skills
Ben demonstrating proper form in flipping off the rope saver

Before long, everyone was lowered, and then it was time to go through the RTS belay practice and then get some lunch. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and I found a nice spot in the shade since it was getting quite warm.

Enjoying a quick break at lunch
Toby hanging out at lunch

After lunch, it was time to practice some more OEC skills, and various different scenarios. Hannah led the station, and went over the logistics before we broke up into our individual groups to get refreshed.

Hannah going over the logistics

The scenarios ran the gamut from upper extremity injuries, broken femurs, flail chests, etc., and we worked them from start to finish, including patient packaging into the sled. I pulled out my camera and snapped a few photos as we worked…

Kylan rendering aid to Dave
Patrick treating a lower extremity injury

Even though it was hot in the sun, it was good to get refreshed on the different skills that weren’t part of the in-town OEC refresher the day before. All in all, we completed 4 or 5 full scenarios, and then wrapped up and headed over to our last station of the day — mass casualty.

Matthew getting backboarded
Brian & Kerstin applying sling and swathes

Laurie led our mass casualty event, and as usual it was quite chaotic. Such is the nature of those types of scenarios, and after working through the challenges, it was time to call it a day and put the capper on another refresher weekend. We helped get all the gear back into the patrol room, and then Dan and I loaded up and headed to Gold Lake to enjoy a well deserved beer and cook up some brats. My beer of choice for the day was a tasty Hazy IPA from Cascade Lakes Brewing. With the warm weather, it definitely hit the spot.

Hazy IPA from Cascade Lakes Brewing Co
Hanging at the Gold Lake Snowpark

It didn’t take long to cook the brats to perfection, and we enjoyed them with hot mustard and garden fresh onions. Along with some fresh chips and salsa and our cold beers, it was the perfect way to cap off a great refresher weekend.

October 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

After watching the snow patch on the south side of Mt Hood dwindle during the month of September, Dan, Joe and I made plans to ski on the 1st of October to give us the best chance to get our turns in. We met at the cop shop in Albany, and made the drive up I5 to Hood. It has snowed a few days before on the mountain, and there was even a few inches at the lodge, but the warm weather and rain from a day or two ago melted most of the new snow away. Even so, pulling into the climbers lot, it was good to see snow on the mountain again…

Hood from the Climber’s Lot

We went about getting our gear organized, and after a few minutes it was time to shoulder the packs and hit the trail. Hiking up to Silcox afforded some pretty views of the mountain, so we had to stop and snap a few photos along the way…

Headed up towards Silcox
Dan on the approach

As we neared the top of the road below Silcox, we encountered some snow on the road, and it looked like it would have probably been skiable a few days ago, perhaps even down to the parking lot. Continuing on, we arrived at the hut a few minutes later, and took a few minutes to enjoy a rest along with the views….

Joe booting up the road
Ready to depart from Silcox

After enjoying our quick rest, it was time to head on up. We changed into ski boots, started booting up the canyon, and cleared some rocks along the way. It looked like we’d be able to ski most of the way back down to Silcox on the return if we played our cards right…

Hiking up the Mile Canyon
Looking up from the Palmer mid-station

Once we made our way to the mid-station and got a good look at the Palmer, we were all pretty astounded at the lack of residual snow. In fact, beyond one or two really small patches, the Palmer was gone and the only snow was that which had fallen a few days ago. Nevertheless, we worked our way up to the top of the Palmer, and then headed on up above, since the snow up higher looked pretty good…

Dan & Joe above the Palmer
Matt & Dan heading up

As we worked our way up, the views became better and better. Off in the distance, Illumination Rock loomed large, and once we got to a point where we could peer down on the Zigzag, we were pretty amazed to see it looked like it had basically melted out completely, sans a really small patch of smooth snow that was perhaps residual.

Looking out to Illumination Rock
Matt hiking above the Zigzag

We continued up, and every time I thought we might run out of snow, we were able to link another patch and continue hiking. I was pretty stoked to be getting up in elevation even with the minimal coverage, and it was beginning to look like we’d have a pretty good day of turns as the snow started softening…

Heading on up
The skiers high above the Palmer

As we headed up above 9,500 feet, the views back to the south to Mt Jefferson and the Three Sister became better and better, and it was pretty awesome to be able to have visibility without the haze of the summer forest fires clogging our views….

Looking out to Mt Jefferson
Looking down on what’s left of the Zigzag

We climbed up to just over 9,800 feet and decided to call it, and found a nice spot to drop our gear and enjoy a well earned break a few feet away from the climbers trail and the White River Glacier. After getting my beer on ice, we took a little walk over to the ridge to check on the health of the White River after a scorcher of a summer, and as suspected, it was looking pretty bad… 

Looking out to the west
Matt on the climbers trail

We stood there and admired the views, barely believing our eyes with how much ice had melted. Looking up at the headwall, it was melted down to bedrock in the middle, and the gap between the headwall and the rest of the glacier was huge…

Looking up at the headwall

After soaking in the views of the glacier, it was time to head back to our packs and crack open an cold one before doing what we’d come for. I pulled out my now ice cold beer from the snow and cracked it open. This day’s beer of choice was a Cosmic Cold Brew Stout from Block 15 Brewing Co, and it definitely was what the doctor ordered.

Cosmic Cold Brew by Block 15 Brewing

We sat around for about 20 minutes or so, enjoying the views, drinking our beers, and getting stoked on the turns. Finally, when our beers were gone, it was time to drop and enjoy the turns. I headed down first, and set up to shoot some shots of the skiers.

Dan heading down
Turns in front of Illumination Rock

The snow was really nice, having corned perfectly for some pretty sweet turns. We ripped nice turns back down our boot track, linking the patches without having to take the skis with one or two exceptions.

Joe skiing below Crater Rock
Dan sliding down high up on Hood

We continued picking our way down, enjoying the nice sliding as we went, and then Dan grabbed the camera and fired off a few shots of me getting some of the action. I was on my favorite rock board — my DIY Jamie Lynn Lib, and it didn’t disappoint….

Slicing through the corn on Hood
Matt cruising down the southside

A little farther down, I grabbed the camera back from Dan, headed down a few hundred feet below the skiers, and set up to shoot some more shots as they headed down. This time I zoomed in a bit more, and captured the below images of Dan and Joe enjoying the corn harvest…

Dan enjoying the action
Joe ripping it up

The turns above the Palmer seemed to go on forever, I think in part because we climbed a long ways up above the Palmer, but also because the snow was holding in the gullies. Instead of being able to ski a wide open snowfield like would be possible in May, we were a bit more confined, but it made it all the more fun. Instead of skiing a slope, we were skiing the mountain, and all of it’s fun features, like the gully in the first picture below…

Dan & Joe coming down the gully
Dan carving an October turn

We kept making turns and taking pics, working down to above the top of the Palmer. The snow about 500 feet from the top of the Palmer was choice, and we milked the turns for all they were worth….

Matt enjoying the October turns
Dan coming down while Joe looks on

Finally, we made our way to the top of the Palmer, but not before milking the last of the snow above it. I pulled out the camera and snapped one more shot of Dan hopping off a roll over before we made our way down below the top shack…

Dan popping over a small rollover

Once onto the “Palmer,” we started out on skiers right of the lift, and then worked our way down under the lift. As mentioned before, the riding was only on the new snow, and we worked down through the fingers and gullies towards the mid-station below…

Matt heading down
Dan skiing the “Palmer”

We managed to hit one patch of residual snow on the Palmer, and though it was super short, it skied really good. In the second photo below, you can see Dan enjoying what’s left of the Palmer snow patch….

Joe cruising down
Dan skiing the only residual snow on the Palmer

We navigated our way down to just above the mid-station, and decided it was time for another break. Joe and Dan each had another beer, and I’d saved my can from up above, so we put the beers on ice and enjoyed a quick rest. Joe’s offering, which he graciously split with me, was a tasty Battlestar IPA from the Crux Fermentation Project.

Battlestar IPA from Crux Brewing Co

We enjoyed the beers for the next few minutes, and then it was time to head down again. There’ nothing quite like taking off to make turns with minimal snow coverage and a slight beer buzz — it’s really one of the best feelings in skiing.

Joe heading down from the mid-station
October turns below the Palmer

We worked our way down, connecting snow patches to skier’s left of the main gully. We were able to milk the turns quite a ways before having to take the skis off and walk a short bit…

Dan & Joe below the Palmer
Matt at the end of the line

The hike from on patch to the next went pretty quickly, and before we knew it we were back on the sticks and enjoying some more turns…

Hiking down to the next patch
Joe cranking some tight turns

We connected some more patches, then ultimately ended up back in the canyon and were able to ski it out to Silcox below. From there, we picked up our shoes, and made a short walk down to the last patch of snow in the Mile canyon. Our boards went back on one more time, and we made some surprisingly good turns to within 500 vertical feet or so of the lodge, satisfied with an awesome day of turns.

Walking to the last patch below Silcox
At the bottom of the Mile Canyon

The hike down to the car went smoothly, and I even found one last patch of snow to ride — one of the benefits of walking down in snowboard boots while the skiers had already changed over to sneakers. Back at the car, it felt good to change into shorts, and bust out the chips and salsa and get the ‘brats on the grill. They were ready in short order, and we made short work of them, gulfing them down in no time after a big day of turns. Overall, though there wasn’t much snow on the mountain, what there was was in pretty good shape, and this October day will be one not soon forgotten. Below is an apres’ ski picture, as well as a parting shot from the day….

Apres back at the car
A parting show from the day

 

September 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

After watching the webcams pretty closely for the previous two weeks, it looked like the Palmer patch was holding on, so Dan, Joe and I made plans to head to Mt Hood on the 1st in search of September turns. We met at the cop shop in Albany, piled into Dan’s Tesla, and after a quick stop in Sandy to charge, arrived in the parking lot around 8:30 am. We shouldered packs and hit the road to Silcox just before 9:00 am, and started up. As usual, the views from Mt Hood didn’t disappoint…

Hood from the Climber’s Lot
The road to Silcox

The hike up was quite warm, and before long we were all in shorts, trying to keep cool. A bit later, we arrived at Silcox and took a quick break to get a snack and refuel. Just around the corner from the hut, we were pleased to see snow in the canyon that looked like it was skinnable, at least for part of the way up…

Dan & Joe at Silcox
Joe skinning up the canyon

 We were able to skin up about two-thirds of the way to the Palmer mid-station, and had to walk over dry ground the remainder of the way to the mid-station. Once at the mid-station, the conditions were looking pretty bleak, but we knew there was some snow out there somewhere….

Hiking up the dry Palmer Canyon
The Palmer from the mid-station

We worked our way up and over to the snow, and found a suitable place to stage for a few minutes, as well as put our beers on ice. The snow above us looked to be in okay shape, so we headed up after having a few sips from our now frosty cold beverages. My beer of choice for our first lap was a tasty Alpine Trail Pale Ale from Plank Town Brewing Company in Springfield, Oregon.

Dan above the Palmer mid-station
Alpine Trail Pale Ale

The hike to the top of the Palmer went quickly, given the relatively short distance, and we had to stop about 50-75 vertical feet below the top of the lift shack. All told, it looked like we would get about 500 feet of turns or so with each run. We sat around for a few minutes, chatting with a couple of folks we met lower down on the mountain, and enjoyed the view.

Matt at the top of the Palmer patch

Soon though, it was time to do what we’d come for, and we strapped into our bindings. I headed down first, then setup to shoot a few shots of Dan and Joe as they came down…

Dan dropping in
September turns on the Palmer patch

The first few hundred feet of turns were pretty bumpy, but we managed to get some okay turns despite the bumps since the snow was starting to soften. We skied down to our gear at the bottom of the patch, finished our beers, and then headed back up for another lap.

Joe enjoying some September turns
Dan slashing some September corn

We skied back down to the bottom, and it was time to pull out our second (and my last) beer for the day to celebrate some fun skiing. Plus, we decided it was worth heading back up for another half lap, so we needed a good refreshment for that:). My second beer was a tasty hazy IPA called Return to Normalcy, from Worthy Brewing, and it definitely hit the spot.

Return to Normalcy Hazy IPA

After downing half of our second beers, we made the short, 250 foot hike back up to the top of what we considered to be the best snow of the day, and headed down from there. This time, Dan grabbed the camera and snapped some photos of me enjoying some September corn on the patch…

September turns on the Palmer patch
Matt getting in on the action

We enjoyed the turns down to our waiting gear on our third and final run on the patch, and agreed it was the best turns of the day so far. After loading our gear into our packs, we headed down to the middle canyon in search of some skiable snow in hopes of not having to walk back down to the mid-station.

The bottom of the continuous snow

Our hunch was that there would be some snow holding in the middle draw below the Palmer, and our hunch paid off as we found some of the smoothest and best snow patches of the day…

Joe heading down
Turns below the Palmer patch

We had to make a few carries, but the snow kept going below the rocks, and we were pretty stoked to continue to make turns down most of the way instead of carrying skis on our backs…

Headed to the next patch
Dan skiing on of the lower patches

We continued to work our way down the draw until eventually the snow ran out, but our decision was definitely a good one, since our elevation was not just a little below the snow in the Palmer canyon.

Synchronized turns by the skiers
Heading down and over to the Canyon

The hike over to the Palmer canyon was quick and easy, and soon we were back to sliding on snow again. The snow in the canyon wasn’t anything to write home about, in fact it was pretty shitty, but it still be walking down with skis on the back…

Joe cruising down the Canyon
Matt navigating the bumps

We worked our way down and were basically able to ski all the way back down to the Silcox. Not too shabby considering the amount of snow on the mountain.

September turns in the Canyon
Dan heading down

Once back at the Silcox, we picked up our approach shoes and decided it was worth sliding on the remaining snow in the Mile canyon. The snow here wasn’t a whole lot better than the Palmer canyon — it was dirtier, but it was less bumpy.

Joe working down the canyon
Headed down to the last patches

After booting across a few more bare sections, we skied the last patch of snow to within a few hundred yards of our “normal” exit spot in the canyon for the summer. All things considered, we were pretty happy with the amount of skiing we were able to get — pretty much continuous skiing, more or less, from within a hundred feet of the top of the Palmer.

Matt & Dan at the end of the snow
Looking back at the last patch

From the end of the snow, it was a short hike back down to the parking lot, and it felt good to unload packs, change out of ski boots, and bust out the food for some apres’ ski activities. I pulled out some fresh salads made the day prior, with all fresh ingredients from the garden, and along with some fresh chips and salsa, we feasted on the season’s offerings, all with a great view of the mountain.

One of the garden salad’s we enjoyed
Apres’ in the parking lot

As we reflected on the day, we agreed that even though there was minimal snow, it was still a great time and exceeded expectations, and you really can’t beat that. That said, I really hope it snows in October, or conditions could get really grim for those of us chasing this turns-all-year dream!