I made it to the Tumalo Mountain Trailhead just in time for three and a half hours of sleep before a day in the backcountry with some friends from G5. It snowed over a foot last night so it was not that hard to get energized and stoked for the day ahead.
We spent the day shredding bottomless pow, laughing and got to catch up with each other. What a perfect day. Amazing how less than 24 hours earlier I was headed to Squaw Valley feeling sick to my stomach. The tides had turned.
The very next day I returned to the same zone on snowmobile with my friend Rex. We were welcomed with radically different snow conditions and higher avy dangers as a result of the rising temperatures. Conditions change fast in the mountains.
My post from today’s adventure:
Skiing this zone yesterday was a humbling experience. We received a small reminder of the power of nature and how conditions can change in seconds out here. Grateful my buddy and I skied away to shred another day. Be safe out there friends.
Rex’s post from today’s adventure:
Really fun day in the backcountry with @skiclimb! We were on the same wavelength. Scott and I both stayed up late the night before, hanging with friends and needed to sleep in. So, naturally a noon start felt organic.
However, we encountered a rapid rise in temperature that affected the snow conditions adversely as the day progressed. We dug a snow pit at the top of the zone and the stability appeared to be good. There was no propagation or explosive energy in the snowpack. But halfway down our line we realized it wasn't so stable.
Luckily, we skied only 100ft at a time, kept each other in sight and managed our risks effectively. One of the ski cuts we performed consequently set off a significant slide on the top 6 inches of snow. Had we not picked our way down this steep terrain we may have potentially gone for a hazardous ride.
This experience reminded me of an avalanche I was partially buried up to my nipples in 2014 and gave me a returned feeling of post traumatic stress.
Even if you do everything right in terms of analyzing the snow pack, that analyzation is only valid in that specific time, location, elevation and aspect. One can ski 300 feet down the snow covered slope and encounter completely different snow conditions!
Nature never ceases to blow my mind and expand my perspective in this mountainous environment. Be careful out there everyone! ❄️🗻⛷🚀😎
Rex and I returned home safe this day. Neither of us got even partially buried, but we did kick off three noticeable slides while navigating down some expert ski terrain in the Three Sisters Wilderness.
The next day I connected with my buddy Blair. We were going to ski Tumalo Mountain and the back bowl if avy conditions permitted. En-route to the top we crossed paths with Mike for Central Oregon Avy. He gave us a professional run down to the snow conditions. After our conversation and analysis we were convinced skiing anything beyond low angle tree runs was suicide.
Blair and I did summit Tumalo, we dug a pit in a slightly dangerous area and the results were pretty mind opening. Our snow pit column test resulted in a fracture at 30cm, 60cm and 120cm. Basically, if we were to ski the bowl and trigger a slide then burial was a probable outcome.
As the conditions in the mountains worsened my mind shifted from pow skiing to work mode. Yes, I still work, however my relationship to work has changed radically. It is no longer my life, rather a means to live the life I want to live. The rest of my week in Bend was spent meeting with some of my amazing customers that I am truly honored to serve, spending time with my best friend and preparing for my return home.
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