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Feb 26-Mar 2 – Tam McArthur Rim

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.

The 2023 crew ready to head in

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.

Brian approaching the ridge
Chase getting some pow shots

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.

Jon enjoying the pow
Jon looking on

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!

Tyler surfing the pow
Tyler stoked on the conditions
Brian and Tyler enjoying a break in the action

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.

Brian airing it out in the Dan bowl
Chase heading down through the pow

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…

Brian floating through the storm
Ripping a heelside turn
John and Tyler all smiles after numerous face shots
Debris in the Playground
Skinning into the light

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.

Brian cranking some more pow turns
One of many pow slashes

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.

Dropping into a nice line
A tasty Crux IPA

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!

Prepping the salmon for the grill

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

Morning shoveling duty
Hutch and Brad in the early morning
The view from the wood shed
Hutch on shoveling duty

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.

Shovel work before breakfast
The crew ready for day 2

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.

On the skin track
Change over below the Proboscis

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.

John skiing below the Proboscis
Adam enjoying some soft snow
Jon’s turn heading down
Tyler’s turn

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….

Chase ripping
Surf turns
More pow turns
Harvesting some quality pow pow
Catching a little air
The crew at the bottom

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.

Skinning up the Orchard Bowl
Almost ready to drop

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.

Jon dropping into the Orchard Bowl
Waist deep in the Orchard Bowl
Chase getting pitted
Looking up at the Orchard Bowl

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.

Adam and Tyler on the ascent

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.

Tyler ripping in the Orchard Bowl
Adam working the trees

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…

Chase on lap number 2
Biffing it halfway down

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.

Surfing below the rim

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.

Knockout Stout from Oblivion Brewing
Tracks in the Orchard Bowl

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.

The gang up top
John getting the pow
Jon getting pitted
Scoring some third lap pow

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.

Near the bottom of the bowl
The crew ready to head to the Playground

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.

Enjoying the fire at the huts
The gang ready for night 2

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.

Morning view from the woodshed
Splitboards in the wood trailer

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.

Early morning at the huts


The Owl hut door
Looking out in the morning
Ready to head out for powfest

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.

Shannon on the skin track
Chase getting pitted
Andy floating through the pow

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….

Andy’s turn for powfest
Skiing down East Peak
Shannon ripping a pow turn
Waist deep blower pow
Shannon ripping

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!

Neck deep in pow
Brian all smiles near the bottom
Brian and Tyler
The crew ready for another lap

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….

Brad getting fully pitted
Pow slash on East Peak
Brian surfing the no-board
Shannon enjoying run number 2
Floating on the Hovercraft

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.

Heading up for a Jelly Roll lap
Tyler and Shannon running the ridge to the Jelly Roll
Andy pit deep in the Jelly Roll
Adam in the Jelly Roll
Surfing the pow
Shannon during a rare moment when it wasn’t puking

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.

Shannon and Brad back atop the Jelly Roll

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….

Tyler absolutely ripping the pow
Tyler shredding
Brad armpit deep
Blower snow in the Jelly Roll
Andy scoring some all-time snow
Shannon during a brief moment of sunshine

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….

Brian surfing the no-board
Andy ripping the pow
Another pow shot
Andy entering the white room
Tyler riding the white wave

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.

Heading to the Playground
Brian’s line on the no-board
Looking back at our Playground line

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.

Coconut Hiwa Porter from Maui Brewing
Hutch scoring some pow in the Playground

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.

A beautiful morning from the top of the Prow
Zoomed view of North Sister

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.

Broken Top in the distance
Brian and Shannon in front of North Sister

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.

Looking out from the top of the Prow
Tam Rim View
Matt above the Animal Bowl
The crew on top of the Prow

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.

Tyler biffing it on the skin track
Looking out over Snow Creek
Millington’s and the Sisters

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.

Enjoying lunch with a view
Taking a break at Snow Creek
Matt and Snow Creek

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.

Looking back across the Rim
Down climbing to our drop in point
Tyler and John talking it over

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…

Shannon ready to drop in
Our tracks in the Yahtzee Bowl
Brian looking back at our line

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.

Heading up to the Pyramid
Shannon and our turns in the Yahtzee Bowl

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.

Off-Grid IPA from Backwoods Brewing
The crew near the top of the Pyramid
John and Chase enjoying a break and a beer

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.

Tyler dropping down from the Pyramid
Jon and the Oregon Cascades
Brian slashing in the sun


A  heelside turn in front of the Rim

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.

Shannon after skiing the Pyramid
Almost back to the huts

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.

The crew hanging out for our last evening

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

Ready for a last day of turns

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.

A bit windy above the Playground

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. 

Hutch in the Dan bowl
Brad getting some action on our last day
Adam surfing in the Dan bowl
Adam with some of the final turns of the trip

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.

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.

The crew with sleds loaded and ready to head out
Sleds packed and ready to rock

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!

Sledding out

February 18, 2023 – Carson’s First Day Shadowing Patrol

After a fun weekend leading the avalanche class, I was back on the hill the following Saturday for another patrol day in February. As usual, Shaun and I showed up early and unloaded our gear in the patrol room before parking the car and getting ready for the morning meeting.

My Chevy at the Pass in the early morning

The morning started off nicely, and I headed out to help open Twilight by taking a sled up the lift. After making a run back down to base, I headed up on EPA and opened RTS, which was in good condition. The rest of the morning was spent making turns and doing various patrol work, before I headed in for lunch a few minutes early so I could meet Julie who was bringing up Carson to ski for the afternoon.

Hauling a sled up Twilight
The area sign at base

Right about noon and just on time, Carson and Julie showed up and pulled into patrol. I helped Carson get his skis and gear out, and we got him situated in the patrol room before saying goodbye to Julie who was heading back down the hill.

Julie and Carson at the Pass
Outside the Patrol Room

A few minutes later Carson and I headed out and he was ready to rip. After making a run or two off of EPA, we headed over to Peak 2 and skied down Boundary Pass and then Where’s Waldo. Next we sampled Escalator before heading back over to the front to make turns down Eagle’s Flight and Good Time Charlie.

Heading down Waldo
Cruising down Eagle’s

Fortunately for me, it was a slow day from the patrol perspective, and we only had a few incidents that needed management, so Carson and I were able to ski together most of the afternoon. Before we knew it, it was time for Peak 2 sweep so we made our way to the top of the lift.

Carson and Patrick for Peak 2 sweep
Carson and Shaun on Boundary

Carson was excited to get to help sweep, and we took Boundary for our sweeping assignment. Shaun was sweeping Escalator, so he headed down upper Boundary with us and Ken was gracious enough to snap a picture of all three of us together on the run.

Shaun, Carson and I on Boundary

After sweeping Peak 2, we headed over to EPA. I snapped a few pictures of patrol just before upper mountain sweep started, and then we headed down. Carson and I headed in ahead of lower mountain sweep so I could review incident reports and get the bean dip going,  and soon after the rest of the patrol started to trickle into the patrol room.

Shaun and the crew at the top of EPA

After clearing the mountain and calling dispatch, we held a quick evening meeting and then it was time to enjoy the bean dip and crack open a few beers. My beer of choice for the evening was a tasty Hazematic Hazy IPA from Ninkasi Brewing, and it was quite refreshing after a good day of skiing.

A cold Ninkasi Hazy IPA to end the day

Eventually the bean dip was completely consumed, and folks started to trickle out to the parking lot to head home. Once everyone had left, I locked up the patrol room, made a few notes for the crew coming up on Sunday, and grabbed Shaun, Carson and our gear and loaded the truck to head back to the valley, happy with another fun day of patrolling at the Pass.

February 11-12, 2023 – NSP Level 1 Avy Class

Mid-February had arrived, and with it was our first NSP Level 1 Avalanche course that we’d offered through patrol in the last several years. And although conditions weren’t prime for holding an avalanche class, it was good to be up at the mountain for a couple of days of fun. As usual, I pulled in early at the Pass with Shaun (who was on duty for the weekend for SPY) and we unloaded our gear into the patrol room.

Saturday morning at the Pass

Soon, other patrollers and folks taking the class arrived as well. After grabbing the gear we would need for the day one, including beacons, probes and shovels, we headed over to the lodge to get oriented and discuss plans for the day. A short time later, we headed up on EPA, dividing the groups into two for the morning. One group would go over tranceivers and probing, and another was set for digging and evaluating snow pits as well as strategic shoveling. Brian, John and I led the snow pit group and we headed out to Lighthouse Knob to dig some pits.

The first crew digging pits at Lighthouse Knob

The weather was absolutely gorgeous during the morning, and as suspected we didn’t find anything too interesting in the pits with respect to weak layers. Numerous extended column tests didn’t produce fracture/propagation, but the students still found a lot of useful information in the pits. After a couple of hours, the two groups switched, and the folks from the transceiver group headed our way and we did it (digging pits) all over again.

Jenn, Brian and Shannon enjoying a break
Jen, Emily and Alex working in a snow pit

The morning went by quickly, and soon it was well past noon and time for the students to do a little work on their own with companion rescue before we all met up below the Sleepy headwall for some formal organized probing to round out the day. Hannah and Laurie led the conversation with the group, and soon the commands of “probe left, probe center and probe right” rang out.

Students probing along the line
Hannah surveying the probe line above Sleepy

After a healthy dose of organized probing, it was time to call it a day and we headed down about the same time as patrol was completing sweep. It was a good end to our first day of the class, and I was looking forward to a well-earned beer. My offering for the evening was a tasty McKenzie Hazy IPA from McKenzie Brewing.

Patrollers heading in from sweep
McKenzie Hazy IPA

After hanging out in the patrol room for awhile and enjoying some good conversation, it was time for Shaun and I to head down to Oakridge for the evening. Brian and Shannon were kind enough to let us stay over at their place, and it was nice to have a shorter drive the next morning for day number two. We had a good evening filled with good food and wine, and then headed back to the hill early the next morning. The students headed out with a few instructors on tours to put together all the information from the in-town lectures and yesterday’s field day, while Hutch and I recruited the SPY to help set up the final avalanche scenario.

Shuan and a couple of SPY at the top of EPA
Hutch demonstrating an avalanche scenario to the SPY

Setting up the scenario is always a lot of work, but I think this year we made the most realistic looking avalanche we’ve made in several classes. Hutch dug out an awesome crown face the day prior, and the SPY did a great job of climbing up and down the slope and churning up the snow to make the debris look realistic. We put out several clues, buried six “victims” and things were pretty much ready to go by 12:30.

The SPY churning up the snow

Around 1:30-2:00 pm, the class met at the top of Peak 2, and we went over the logistics of organized rescue as well as the various tasks associated with it. Before we headed in and turned the students loose, I snapped a group picture of everyone at the top of Southbound.

The class prior to the scenario

A few moments later, we headed in and the “rescue” unfolded. Toby was kind enough to act as the incident commander, and formed the teams prior to entering the scenario. The first team in was looking for the victims that may have had beacons, and did a great job honing in on them quickly.

Tyler digging for a buried beacon
Toby acting as the Incident Commander

A short time later, a search team was deployed to strategically probe around clues as well as uphill of trees and around the toe of the avalanche. They did an awesome job, communicated with their team leader and IC well, and found a few more “victims.”

Julie spot probing near a tree
The class in action

 It was fun watching the class unfold, and I snapped several pictures to document the action. All told, including setting up the scenario, I must have climbed up and down the slope at least a half a dozen times if not more.

Grayson spot probing
The teams in action

Finally, after there wasn’t any beacon signals anymore and all clues/likely catchment areas had been spot probed, the team setup an organized probe line to find the last two remaining “victims.”

The instructors looking on
Looking down on the class working through the scenario

Prior to setting up the probe line, I took advantage of the great light and snapped a few candid pictures of Brian as well as Hannah and Shannon with the trees along West Peak as a back drop…

Brian enjoying a quick break
Shannon and Hannah enjoying the sun

The students setup the formal probe line, and did a great job, eventually finding the last two “victims” in and near the toe of the avalanche.

Hutch heading to the probe line
The instructor crew hanging out up top

After the class, we did a debrief at the top of Peak 2 as we usually do. All things considered, I think this class performed as well or better than any class we’ve had in the last several years with respect to the final scenario. Once the debrief was over, folks headed down with gear in tow to the patrol room. Since we weren’t in uniform, Tyler, James, Brian and I headed down via SDN for our final run of the day, one of my favorite parts of the avalanche class.

Tyler cruising below West Peak Saddle
James on the RTS runout

The snow wasn’t the best, but it was still fun and we enjoyed the run back to the area. Down at the bottom, I was happy to have a cold beer waiting for me as we wrapped up our day. This day’s offering was a cold and refreshing Alpha Centuri IPA from Hop Valley Brewing, and it hit the spot!

Alpha Centuri from Hop Valley Brewing

Like the day prior, I enjoyed socializing with patrol for a half hour or so after the day was over, and then it was time to grab Shaun and hit the road. With all the effort that goes into planning and executing the class, it’s always a bit of a relief when the weekend is over, and this year was no different. All in all, it was another great weekend at the Pass. Here’s a parting shot of Tyler shredding through the terrain below West Peak Saddle on his way back to the patrol room.

Tyler deep into SDN

February 5, 2023 – February Freshies

The winter of 2022-23 kept marching forward, and before I knew it, February was here and so was my first patrol day of the month. As usual, I headed out early in the am, with Shaun in tow, and we rolled up to the Pass around 7:20 am. The mountain was looking to be in good shape, with 4-5 inches of fresh snow overnight.

My Subaru at the patrol room

After our morning meeting, we headed out to open the hill. The front of the mountain was skiing all right, with the fresh snow settled over a crust, but by the time we worked our way to Peak 2 I could tell we were in for a treat. The new snow settled over the existing base nicely, and with no crust, the conditions were quite good. We got the mountain open, and then waited for the public before heading down for a second lap. Shannon, Gretchen and I headed over to June’s Run, and I was able to snap a few pictures of them before the masses tore it up…

Shannon enjoying a pow turn on June’s
Gretchen dropping a knee

After opening, the plan for the day was to head to the top of Peak 2 to work with the candidates on some sled training. I met up with the others at the top and it continued to snow — making it a decent day to run the 350!

The crew getting ready up top

The plan was for the candidates to get some work in both on the handles and the tails, and the preferred location was the trees on skiers right of Northern. The candidates worked on full scenarios, by heading down with the unloaded sled to a “patient,” and then loading them and running them down to the base of Peak 2.

Taking a quick pause during a training run
Althea running the sled in the trees

Everyone was looking strong on the first run, and it didn’t take long to get patients loaded and work our way down to the base of Peak 2. After a quick debrief, it was back to the top for another lap…

The gang at the top of Peak 2
Elise working the 100

We switched up roles a bit on the second lap, and rotated folks from the handles to ballast and from ballast to the tail rope. The second lap went smoothly as well, although I was interrupted by a radio call for a couple of incidents.

Sled training with the 100
Gretchen cruising down through the trees

 After taking care of the incidents, it was back to work running laps in the trees. Gretchen and Jenn were rocking it on the 100, with James in tow. It was fun to watch their progress improve with each lap down….

Gretchen, Jenn and James
Harwood supervising the sled training

After shooting photos of Gretchen and James, we headed down and then back to the top for another lap. This time, I shot a few photos of Michael coming down, with James on the tail and one of our instructors in the sled….

Michael pulling the 100
Pulling the 100 through the trees

After lunch, we spent another couple of hours with the sleds, getting everyone more time in the handles and on the tails. The afternoon was quiet as well from the perspective of incidents, a welcome surprise after the previous few Patrol 2 days we’ve been having as of late. I caught a few more runs with the candidates, and before I knew it, it was time for sweep.

Some of the Crew on June’s Run
The whole crew at the bottom of Peak 2

We swept off Peak 2 and then EPA, and I bailed on lower mountain sweep to head in and do paperwork before our evening meeting. It also provided a quick minute to grab a picture of my beer offering for the day – a super refreshing Irish Stout from Coldfire Brewing.

Irish Stout from Coldfire

The evening meeting went quickly, and it was time to enjoy the beer and some good company before packing it up and calling it a day. I grabbed Shaun, and we hit the road, happy with having logged another great day at the Pass. Here’s a parting shot of Shannon from earlier in the morning on June’s Run…

Shannon surfing on June’s Run

January 28, 2023 – Sled training at the Pass

Where has the time went I thought to myself as I headed up Highway 58 for my last patrol day in January. As hard as it was to believe, the month was coming to a close. I was looking forward to a fun day on patrol, and was happy to see the mountain looking good as I pulled up to the patrol room to drop off gear.

Early morning at the Pass

Our morning meeting went smoothly, and after discussing the plans for the day, we headed out to open the hill. I snapped a few pictures in the morning light at the base as we headed out, including the shot below of Tyler, Gregg and Anna. By the time we arrived at the top of EPA, the clouds were rolling in and out, but I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day.

Tyler, Gregg and Anna ready to load EPA
Anna, Ian and Gregg up top on EPA

After opening a run on the frontside, I worked my way over to Peak 2 and decided to traverse out to our avalanche route to check it out. Not having had the opportunity to run the route yet this season, it was nice walk the ridge, and it reminded me that I needed to get back out to the backcountry again soon.

Looking down from Dragon’s Back ridge

After checking out the route, I skied back down to Where’s Waldo and enjoyed a nice groomer to the bottom of Peak 2. The lift ride to the top went quickly, and it was time to begin sled training with our crew of candidates who were ready to go.

The crew at the top of June’s
James & Ian ready to drop in

We met at the top of Peak 2, and then headed over to the top of June’s Run with a Cascade 100, Cascade 350 and an Edge sled in tow. The conditions were exactly all time to run the 350, with only about an inch of new snow over a firm crust, but it would have to do. After talking things over at the top of June’s, the candidates jumped into the handles, sleds and tail ropes, and we shoved off…

Dropping into June’s for sled training
Michael and Jenn the 350

The first run down June’s went smoothly, literally because half of the run had been groomed the night prior. The candidates did well on the Edge and Cascade 100, and had a few challenges on the 350, which was expected given the conditions.

Shannon surveying the training

Once down at the bottom, we provided some feedback, before heading back up to do another lap. This time, folks switched positions and those in the handles, went to the tails or provided ballast for the sled. This time, I jumped in since we were short a couple of folks, and got pulled down the hill by Gretchen and Sarah.

Gretchen and Ian talking it over on lap 2
My view of Gretchen in the handles of the 350

Gretchen and Sarah did great, although I could tell the conditions were challenging. We made it to the flats below, and they ran the sled empty from there down to continue practicing with the 350 sans a heavy load.

Gretchen and Sarah running the 350 unloaded
Looking down on June’s Run
Sarah in the handles on the 350

The rest of the morning was spent making a few more laps on June’s, which went similarly to the first couple. I snapped a few more pictures as we practiced, and then it was time to head in for lunch.

Running down June’s
Greg jumping down after kicking cornices on Peak 2

After lunch, which provided a quick rest, it was back to sled training. The feedback and repetition was starting to set in for the candidates, and the runs after lunch looked quite a bit better than in the morning. 

Ian and the crew headed out for more training
Staging at the top of June’s

The shadows started to creep onto the run, and pretty soon most of June’s was in the shade — a subtle reminder that winter wasn’t giving way to spring quite yet. I fired off several more shots, including a couple below that I liked of Tyler and Althea pulling Ian and then Gretchen and Jenn pulling James….

Tyler and Althea dropping in
Gretchen in the handles and Jenn on the tail rope

After shooting the above mentioned crew, I headed to over to the other side of the run and was able to snap a few photos of Amber pulling Michael on the Edge sled and then zoom out to get a wide-angle shot of the crew heading down towards the base of Peak 2.

Amber pulling Michael near the trees
The crew working down June’s

Down at the bottom, I caught James lounging in the sled, and he was more than happy to pose for the camera :). We had time for a couple more laps before sweep, so we headed up decided that Escalator would be a good run to finish on. 

At the bottom of Peak 2
Tyler on a steep pitch on Escalator

I jumped into the sled pulled by Jenn and Gretchen for our final training lap of the day. They rocked it on the way down, and I was able to capture a few shots of Jenn from my vantage point in the sled, including the picture below.

My view of Jenn from the sled

After our last training run, the candidates took care of the sleds and it was time to close Peak 2 and then EPA. Closing went smoothly, and I snapped a picture of Greg on RTS before heading down to take care of paperwork and get the beers and bean dip ready for after our evening meeting.

Gregg closing RTS

I kept the evening meeting short, and enjoyed a tasty Robot Overlord Hazy IPA from Loowit Brewing that I’d picked up a few months earlier in Vancouver while visiting Mt St Helens with my family. It hit the spot, and so did the bean dip.

A tasty Robot Overlord Hazy IPA

I enjoyed the camaraderie with fellow patrollers in the patrol room while looking over run reports, and eventually it was time to call it a day and hit the road with Shaun. All in all, it was another great day on patrol at the Pass!