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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!

January 15, 2023 – A Sunday Full of Incidents

I was looking forward to a three-day weekend with an extra day off of work, and the plan was to head to Sunriver with the family to enjoy a couple days of vacation. Shaun and I had a patrol day smack dab in the middle of our weekend, but we were happy to get some turns in and headed out early from the east side and made the trip south on highway 97 before arriving at the Pass. Our morning meeting went well, and soon we were out opening the hill.

A busy morning at the Pass
Looking towards the Lodge from the Patrol Room

I could tell it was going to be a busy day, and soon the chairs were full of skiers and riders and the lift lines started to queue. The first couple hours of the morning went pretty smoothly, but then things started to get interesting….

One of my favorite views of the lodge
Looking up at the hill

As it sometimes does, things started to happen in a flurry, and within an hour we were managing 6 different incidents that included a broken wrist, a seizure on the Peak 2 chairlift, a diabetic that hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for hours, a very small girl with a fractured leg, and concussion, and a single leg amputee that had fallen out of the chairlift from 20 feet. Needless to say things got busy. After dispatching all my patrollers, I ended up treating the broken wrist until Toby could come and relieve me, and then I took the toboggan down to the skier who fell from the chairlift. While skiing down, I came across another injury, a twisted knee, and let them know we’d get to them as soon as we could.

Patrick ready for a tow around from the base of Peak 2
Heading off for the patrol room

After dropping off the sled and riding back up the chair, I grabbed another and headed down to meet up with Patrick who was treating the knee injury. We took the patient down to the bottom of Peak 2 and I bid Patrick farewell as he headed off around the haul road for the front.

Toby with another patient all packaged up and ready to go

I managed to get over to the front and the aid room was like a MASH clinic with patients everywhere. After a bit, we were able to get things somewhat calmed down and I found 20 minutes to eat my lunch before heading back out on the hill when we started to get more calls from dispatch. Another knee, a concussion, etc., the calls just kept coming.

Brett ready to head out from the base of Peak 2
Brett and Toby making the tow around

Eventually, things calmed down and the day moved to an end with sweep, but not before one more incident which brought the total for the day to 11, not including courtesy rides. Sweep went off smoothly, and I was pretty happy for that, and I managed to capture a few pics of Amber as we closed RTS.

Amber skiing RTS
Sweeping RTS

Back down at the patrol room, we held the evening meeting and it was clear everyone was a bit weary from the day. We recapped the day’s incidents, discussed learning points, and then it past time to enjoy a well deserved cold one. My beer of choice for the day was a fitting Mountain Rescue Pale Ale from Good Life Brewing, and it hit the spot after a stressful day on the hill.

A tasty Mountain Rescue from Good Life Brewing

An hour or so later, after looking over the incident report forms and closing up the patrol room, Shaun and I headed back to Sunriver. Both of us were looking forward to getting back with the rest of the family and taking a dip in the hot tub, before coming back to the Pass the next morning to ski together with the cousins! The next day was definitely fun and a lot more relaxing. Below are a few shots from our day…

The crew up top at EPA
Luke and Shaun on Peak 2
The family at the Whistler 2 house

January 7, 2023 – First turns of the new year

I was on duty for my first patrol day in January on the 7th, which was also the first Saturday of the month. Conditions were looking to be ok, with about an inch of new snow overnight and sunny skies in the forecast. I headed up in the morning with Shaun in tow, and we made it to the ski area in good time, arriving early to the morning quiet ahead of the hustle and bustle a few hours later.

Early morning at the Pass
Shaun before the morning meeting

Our patrol had a good morning meeting, and then we headed up to the top of EPA to open the mountain. After our first lap, I snapped a picture of a few of the gang at the top.

The crew up top

The plan for the day was to get all of our toboggan instructors through a continuing education clinic, to ensure everyone would be on the same page for teaching the sled candidates coming up over the next couple of months. We wanted to start that early, so I snapped a picture of Jon and Anna at the top of EPA and headed over to Peak 2 with several others to get started…

Anna and John at the top of EPA
Gathering for the sled ICE

Once at the top of Peak 2, I found several others getting a few Cascade 100’s ready to roll down Waldo. We talked over a few points applicable to proper sled running, then headed down to the rollover to chat some more….

Patrollers heading down Waldo
Talking over sled training tips

We talked over a variety of issues associated with running the 100’s, including proper use of the brake and how to effectively run the tail rope, as well as proper weight distribution for skis, etc. After our discussion, Craig headed down with Brian on the tail and we all slid down Waldo. I snapped a few shots as everyone headed down, capturing Mt Ray in the background….

Patrollers talking over proper sled mechanics
Cruising down Waldo

After making a couple of runs, we called it good for the sled running and headed up to the top of EPA to play with the sled pickets that Laurie was interested in. Basically the sled pickets were just mountaineering pickets with some sewn runners and carabiners that work pretty well to anchor the sled in most snow conditions.

Laurie and the crew
Demonstrating how the anchors work with resistance on the sled

We spent a little time practicing with the system, and it definitely worked well holding the sled on a slope with a load applied to it. Hopefully we won’t have to use the pickets anytime soon, but it’s nice to have the option in the event they might be needed.

Laurie pounding in a picket
Laurie and Joe talking it over

By the time we wrapped up the sled work, it was time to head over to Peak 2 and get ready for sweep. I was able to catch up with Shaun, and we swept Escalator together. I let him go down ahead, and snapped a picture of him at the bottom looking quite small from up above.

Shaun sweeping Escalator

Peak 2 sweep went quickly, and soon we were all back up top and ready to head over to EPA for upper mountian sweep. I captured a few pictures of the SPY as well as James and Julie with the SPY up top before we headed over.

Patrol 2 SPY
Peak 2 Sweep Crew

After making the short hike to EPA, we swept the upper and lower mountains. The frontside sweep went smoothly (no major incidents or courtesy rides) and we were back down at base in time for me to snap a few more pictures, including Shaun below as well as a pic of my cold beverage of choice for the afternoon, a tasty Cloud Core Hazy Pale Ale from Ecliptic Brewing.

Shaun after sweep
A tasty Ecliptic brew

After our evening meeting, it was time to dive into the beer and chips/dip, and it felt great to hang out and catch up with fellow patrollers after a fun day on the hill. Good camaraderie with fellow patrollers is one of my favorite things about being on patrol, and probably the main reason that I keep coming back year after year. Like many days on patrol, this day was a great day, and I’m hoping to have many more this year filled with good snow and good friends! Here’s a parting shot from the day….

Parting shot from sled training on Waldo


December 31, 2022 – Final Patrol Day of 2022

As hard as it was to believe, the last day of 2022 was already here, and I was heading up to the Pass with Shaun for a day of patrolling. I was excited to be patrolling with Patrol 3 since I was covering for Toby, and there was a dusting of fresh snow when we pulled into the parking lot. After the morning meeting, we headed out to get on the hill. Unfortunately, the weather the night before had rained and then froze, and then finished with a little snow, which meant EPA was pretty iced up. It took several of us pushing chairs through the base of the lift for about an hour to get it going, but soon we were in business.

Patrol 3 Crew waiting for EPA to open
Ian working on a sled at the top of EPA

After we got EPA open, I headed over to Peak 2 to take a few laps and help open runs. The skiing was pretty nice, even though the snow conditions weren’t optimal. I ended up getting busy fairly quickly with incidents, and took part in three during the next few hours, either through toboggan transport or assistance in the aid room. When I finally got back out on the hill, it was time for my bump up top. I managed to catch a picture of Tyler at the top of EPA, and then headed down to the bump shack to hang out.

Tyler looking on
The view from Bump

Once my bump was over it was time for Peak 2 sweep. I headed over and we closed the back without incident. Once back at the top, we made the hike up to EPA and the lighting was really nice. I pulled out the camera and took multiple pictures while we waited for last chair. I even managed to have one of the patrollers get a picture of me and Shaun!

Meghan and Meagan at the top of EPA
Shaun and I prior to sweep

The month of December is a great time to get some really good light at the Pass, especially around sweep, and I was happy to pull my camera out and take some more shots as the minutes ticked by. The two shots below of Ian and Sarah and the starburst with Sarah are a couple of my favorite from the day…

Ian and Sarah discussing sweep
Sarah at the top of EPA

A few minutes later, we had last chair, and it was time to begin sweep. Normally I like to sweep RTS, but I chose to head down Good Time with Shaun since I had been so busy all day it was our first chance to ski together.

Meghan and Megan at sweep
Devin and the setting sun

 We worked our way down the Toothpaste Tube and then onto Charlie. The softer snow from earlier in the day was beginning to refreeze, but Shaun managed to negotiate it without too much trouble.

Shaun closing Good Time
Shaun and Asa sweeping KP

We swept the run clean and met up with the other patrollers from KP and Eagles once lower mountain sweep began. I snapped the below photo of various patrollers and SPY sweeping KP, and it reminded me of the previous year before Shaun was on Patrol when he was really excited to get to sweep with us.

Patrol sweeping down KP

At the base, everyone shuffled into the patrol room, and we had a quick evening meeting. It was nice to relax after a long but fun day on the hill, and I enjoyed a tasty Pilot Rock Porter from Caldera Brewing.

A tasty porter from Caldera

And just like that, 2022 was in the books. I’d have to say it was a pretty great year, and I’m hoping 2023 is even better!