The end of February was rolling around, and that meant it was time for the annual hut trip with the crew to Tam McArthur Rim. The conditions this year were looking to be all-time, and the stoke factor was high as we headed out from the valley. I headed over with Andy after meeting in Springfield, and the drive up highway 126 was quite slow with about an inch of slushy snow the whole way. We made a quick pit stop in Sisters to get some food, and saw Brian, Shannon, Hutch and Brad there as well. A few minutes later, we all ended up at the Upper Three Creeks Snopark. It didn’t take long to unload our gear, sign waivers, pack the sleds and get ready to head out.
Jonas and Gabe drove the sleds while the crew mushed, and I could tell it was going to be a good trip. Not only was the forecast calling for snow throughout our trip, but there was a couple of feet of fresh snow already on the ground from the past couple of days. After a quick avalanche debriefing, we unloaded our gear in the huts and headed out.
We worked our way up to the Playground and split into a couple of groups from there. Brian, Jon, Chase, John, Tyler and I headed over to the Jelly Roll to check out the snow, and were rewarded with endless face shots. Hutch led a group up towards East Peak, and it sounded like they had perfect conditions as well.
As usual, I had my camera along and took a ton of shots of the action. In fact, during this trip I ended up with a few thousand shots, of which a number ended up in this trip report!
On the way down from the Jelly Roll, Brian wanted to hit a cliff in the Dan Bowl, so we worked our way over to the spot and I captured the below shot of Brian going big. The picture doesn’t do the cliff justice, as it was at least 25 feet.
From there, our group made the decision to head back up for another lap. We reutilized the existing skin track up to the ridge, and then headed over for a lap down some good looking snow. I fired off several more shots, including the ones below…
After a few laps in the area, we decided to put a skin track in up to the top of the Proboscis and get a few turns in there. The snow on the face wasn’t bad, but there was a bit of a crust about a foot down, so we decided it would be one and done after we skied it.
With our itch scratched for the Proboscis, we headed over for one more lap in the Playground. Brian, Tyler and I headed out a bit further to ride a fun line on the west side, and Brian dropped in while I stayed up top and snapped some pictures. Tyler dropped next, and then I headed down last. We regrouped at the bottom in a safe zone, and it was a great place to drink a tasty IPA from Crux Fermentation Project.
Soon the beer was gone and it was time to head back to the huts. We traversed across the lower part of the Playground and worked our way back through the trees, coming out by the spring and the wood shed. The rest of the crew was already back and had the appetizers out. After taking care of my gear and getting skins set out by the fire to dry, it was time to kick back and relax. A little later, everyone gathered in the Owl hut, where Brian and Shannon made a dinner of salmon and pasta that hit the spot!
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the company and playing “What do you Meme?”, which had everyone pretty much in stitches. Eventually, everyone retired to bed for the night, and we woke to a few inches of fresh snow on the ground the next morning. I was up early to keep the fire stoked, and Mark was already out shoveling snow, along with Jim and Brad
Before long, the others were up as well and breakfast making commenced. The offering for the morning consisted of hashbrowns, eggs, and bacon, and after enjoying the food and doing a round of dishes, we were ready to hit the skin track in search of more fresh snow.
We did a quick beacon check as we headed out from the huts, and then worked our way up through the forest on the previous day’s skin track. Like the day before, we split into a couple of groups, and I set a skin track out towards the Proboscis. Because we were on a different route, we elected to skin over and forgo the top, wanting to get out to the Orchard Bowl early since it looked like this might be the only day the weather would allow it.
We pulled skins near our turns from the day prior, and enjoyed our first turns of this day on our way over to the Orchard Bowl. The snow was perfect, and everyone was stoked on the ride down.
As usual, I snapped a bunch of photos of everyone as they ripped down. One by one they came through, everyone entering in and out of the white room with each turn….
Finally we made our way to the bottom, and enjoyed a quick snack while transitioning back to the skins. Then it was off to the west, and I put in a familiar skin track up through the smaller trees dividing the two main sections of the Orchard Bowl.
We set a nice skinner to the top, and it started getting deep. There weren’t any signs of instabilities, but all of us were a bit wary of the large cornices looming precariously above us. After finding a suitable place to stop, we stomped out a platform and pulled the skins and readied to drop in. Once everyone had “eyes on,” Fisher headed down first, and then I followed. I headed partway down and the snow was great. Jon and Chase came down after me, followed by the rest of the crew.
At the bottom, we we regrouped and headed back up for another lap. The skin up was quite a bit quicker on the second go-around, and before long we were back at our drop-in point and ready to send it down the hill again.
This time I was game to try skier’s left of our skin track, and I dropped in first. The turns were choice, and like the previous lap, I stopped halfway down in a safe spot and waited for the others to shoot some pics. Tyler came down first, followed by Adam and Chase.
I captured several shots of Chase, and he was really ripping as he came down. As it turns out, he went a little too fast, and I laughed as he biffed right in front of the camera…
After Chase recovered and headed down, Adam continued on down and I shot a few pics of him ripping the perfect snow. Then I put the camera away and headed down to join the crew.
At the bottom, it seemed like a perfect time to pull out a beer and enjoy a taste before heading up for a third lap. My beer of choice for the day was a Knockout Stout from Oblivion Brewing Company, and it was super refreshing.
After drinking about half of my beer and eating part of my sandwich, I was ready to head up again, and we donned skins and headed out. The weather was holding, and visibility remained good as we worked our way up the familiar track to the top.
We made good use of our third lap in the bowl, dropping in and taking skiers left for this run. As before, the snow didn’t disappoint, and we ripped it to the bottom.
At the bottom, we made the decision to head over to the Playground to catch a quick lap before heading back to the huts for the evening. That went as planned, and a while later we strolled in to the huts, where the outdoor fire was already going as were the appetizers.
Hutch was on for dinner, and served up some of the best tasting homemade ravioli anyone could remember (at least since last year when he made it for most of us for the first time), and we enjoyed some margarita’s along with another game — this time it was Poetry for Neanderthals — a pretty hilarious game! After everyone had had enough drinks and laughs, we headed off to hit the bunks.
The following morning, we woke to 18-20 inches of super light, perfect 16 degree powder. The snow was nothing short of phenomenal. We cooked up a tasty breakfast, restocked the wood, stoked the fire, and made a beeline for the skin track.
Given the amount and quality of the snow, and the fact that it was basically puking, we elected to head up to East Peak and assess the conditions from there. The skin track was pretty much gone, but with our crew it wasn’t too much work to the put the track in. Skinning up through the deep snow reminded me of some pretty epic years when I first came into the huts 12-13 years ago.
As we arrived at the top of East Peak, we switched over to ride mode and dropped in. I caught some of the best photos of the trip over the course of the next couple of runs, including several of the shots below….
I caught a good sequence of Shannon riding down towards me, and the snow was so deep that when she rode past and stopped, she fell over and sank in basically up to her neck!
The conditions were definitely pretty all-time, and we wasted little time heading back up to put in another lap. More deep turns followed, along with a bunch more pictures….
Down at the bottom, we ripped skins again and headed back up. For a few fleeting moments as we headed up, it stopped snowing, and allowed just enough visibility for us to try our hand on the east side of the Jelly Roll. Hasty tests showed it to be stable, and the lack of wind associated with this storm laid the snow on the slope perfectly, so we dropped in and let ‘er rip.
The turns were perfect, and we worked our way to the bottom one by one before donning skins and heading back up to do it again.
After a quick break, we dropped in again and I took dozens of photos of the skiers and riders coming down. Several of the shots are below….
Lap after lap ensued, and I honestly forgot how many laps we put in during the morning and into the afternoon. I continued to shoot photos and we continued to harvest the snow in what most of us would describe as probably one of our top 10 days of all time….
Eventually, we decided to move on from the Jelly Roll and a few of our crew headed back to the huts. Not wanting to be done quite yet, Brian, Tyler and I headed over to the Playground to get another line in. It was a bit of effort to get there, but definitely worth it in the end.
At the bottom, we topped off the day by enjoying a cold beer, and I was happy to pull out a cold Coconut Hiwa Porter from Maui Brewing Co. that I’d brought back from a trip to Hawaii in November. After enjoying our beer and our line, we skinned out from the Playground and found Hutch coming down as well.
From there, it was a quick ride back to the huts via the skin track and we settled in for the evening, having thoroughly enjoyed one of the best ski days of our lives. Hutch prepared dinner again, and it was awesome. Another round of games and margaritas hit the spot, and before long it was time to hit the bunk as we were all anticipating a big day in the morning with the weather forecast calling for clear skies, cold temps and sunshine.
The following morning did indeed dawn clear and cold, and after whipping up a breakfast of hash browns and eggs, we hit the skin track with thoughts of touring in mind. As we climbed higher towards the Rim, the views didn’t disappoint, and it was awesome to see the peaks and terrain we’d been skiing the last few days but couldn’t really see.
As usual, the view from the top of the Prow was spectacular, and it was nice to capture the views from the top of the Rim with the whole crew. In addition to taking a number of scenic shots, Andy captured a group shot (below) as well as a shot of me.
After milling about on the Prow for a half hour or so, some of our crew headed back to farm some turns closer to the huts around East Peak and the Playground, while Chase, John, Jon, Tyler, Brian, Shannon and I decided to continue touring with the goal of peering into Snow Creek and maybe skiing there and/or the Yahtzee bowl.
The skin out to Snow Creek went quickly, and soon we were enjoying the views of the familiar terrain we’ve skied several times. It wasn’t to be on this trip however, and we decided that our current location would be a good place to take a break to eat lunch, and then putting a couple of laps in around the Yahtzee bowl would be in order.
After enjoying lunch and the views, we headed back to the Rim and enjoyed the view looking back towards Three Creeks Lake, the huts and the Orchard bowl. Access to the Yahtzee bowl proved to be a bit difficult, and we ended up having to down climb through a spicy section of rock to get to the line with the best snow.
A few moments later, we were dropping into the bowl one by one, and the snow was perfect – fast and fun powder. I had a great run down, but tagged a rock super hard at the bottom that produced a core shot. Nevertheless, it was still a great run, as evidenced by looking back up at our tracks…
At the bottom, the temperature was staying cold, so we elected to put in a skin track up the Pyramid, with the goal of making turns on the backside, a spot I’d looked at a few times but oddly enough had never skied in all the trips into the Rim.
Once we worked our way to the top of the Pyramid, it was as short boot pack through snow/rocks to get to our intended drop-in point. It was also a great spot to take a break and bust out a well-earned beer. Today’s offering was an Off-Grid IPA from Backwoods Brewing Company, and it paired perfectly with my view of South Sister and the Three Sisters Wilderness.
A bit later, we stepped into our gear and dropped into a fun line on the northeast side of the Pyramid. The snow was smooth, light and fun, and we worked our way down. I managed to tag another rock halfway down, but other than that it was a great run.
We worked our way to the bottom, and Brian, Jon and John headed back up for another lap. Shannon, Tyler and I decided to head in to the huts, since I needed to get started on dinner for the evening.
We worked our way back to the huts, and ended up down at the lake level, which required a creek crossing, but soon we were back at the huts drying gear, eating some tasty appetizers, and drying our gear from the warmth of a cozy fire.
For our last night, I whipped up some super tasty fish tacos, made with halibut I caught with my dad the summer before in the ocean out of Newport. The tacos had all the fixings, including avocado, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, shredded cheese, shredded red cabbage, limes, and you name it. Some rice and beans topped it off, and we ate like kings for a fourth night in a row. Our last evening was a fun one, and after the usual fun of some games, margaritas and lots of laughs, we hit the sack in anticipation of our final day of skiing for the trip
The next morning we awoke to more fresh snow, but unlike the previous four days, this storm came in with some wind. We set about doing the normal morning activities, including restocking the wood for the fire, making breakfast, and emptying the wash water. A bit later, we donned skins and headed out. The wind was definitely picking up during the morning, and it was pretty stiff by the time we left the huts. Halfway up to the Rim, it was pretty fierce. We broke into three groups, and John, Adam and I headed up towards the Jelly Roll to see how it looked.
As it turned out, it was so windy we elected to turn around part way up the Jelly Roll and just make a few laps lower down in the Playground. It was obvious the wind slabs were starting to form, and the snow was getting heavy and slabby. We headed down and skied a line in the Playground, then headed back up to get a line in the Dan bowl.
We did a couple of laps in the Dan bowl, and then decided to call it a trip and head down to pack the sleds and get ready for the mush out. I was also stoked to grab a final beer of the trip, and enjoyed taking a picture of an Oregon classic brought back by Hop Valley Brewing —- Henry’s Private Reserve.
The next hour or so was spent enjoying our beer, loading the sleds, and generally being stoked on what a great trip we had the good fortune to have.
Before long, Jonas emerged from the trees, and we started the sleds and headed out. It was extremely windy on the haul out, and made for fitting ending to what was an awesome trip, and one that I don’t think anyone of us will forget anytime soon. Our reservations are already on the books for next year, and the whole crew is stoked to come back!