Sunday, May 17, 2015

5/09/15, Early Morning Couloir, North Sister

After exploring North Sisters East Face on friday, Buell, Drew and I discussed possible objectives for the next day.  The Diller Headwall was ruled out due to a gaping bergschrund, so we decided to head back to North Sister, and check out the "Afternoon Ridge".  

With a North facing objective, we had a leisurely morning leaving the car at 7:30am.  The afternoon ridge is the steep slope, just to the lookers right of the EMC.  

Buell skinning up the NE bowl.

Drew opted out of the Afternoon ridge, and rode some chutes off the Villard Glacier.  Shredder. 

Booting up the Afternoon Ridge, we took our time as the slope was still well frozen.  Reaching the top, we realized our north facing objective would not soften under the early May sunlight.

Our back up option was either the Early Morning Couloir, or the Villard Headwall.  As the EMC had softened from receiving AM sunshine, we decided this would be our decent.  The snow was a little softer than preferred but, with a little sluff management the snow rode well.  

Buell shredding..

I soaked up the view one last time before dropping.  Volcanoes of Santiam Pass. 

After another fun run down the EMC we were hiking back to the car.  North Sister delivers again!

5/08/2015, Thayer, North Sister

After a successful Volcano season last spring, the list of objectives is shorter this year.  On the top of the list is the East face of North Sister, also known as the Thayer.  With a promising weather forecast in early May, Buell and I decided to head out and check the conditions on North Sister.  

Alpine starts aren't so bad… 

Before long we were looking at our objective.  

Conditions looked manageable from a distance.  The snow in the the rocky chute looked crapy but the main face looked smooth.  Our first challenges; bergschrund, 6' runnel, and rockfall.  

We were happy to get through the rocky crux, and reduce our exposure.  Buell climbing.

Looking up the East face.  Unfortunately, snow conditions were not what we had hoped. 

Gaining the ridgeline, the wind was blasting us.  It was obvious that snow conditions in the face/couloir would not cater to a snowboard decent.  We had to come up with a plan B.  We decided to down climb a portion of the West face,  and traverse around the south side of the mountain, to the SE ridge.

After a short detour, we had climbed partway down the SE ridge, and out of the blasting wind.  The snow in these lower chutes was corning up nicely.  We rode the cutes in the center of the frame.  

After an interesting day exploring in the mountains, we were happy to be off the steep slopes and safely harvesting low angle corn.  Another great day in the mountains.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5/03/15, Finger Chutes, Three Finger Jack

After a fun day on Paulina Peak, my Dad and I headed to Three Finger Jack.  My Dad was not sure if he was up for another day of backcountry touring but, I gently persuaded him into hiking out the next morning.  

We enjoyed beautiful views through the burn trees, on our hike in. 

We were heading up to check out a zone I call the "Finger Chutes".

Recent avalanche crown from last weeks storm.

After booting up a chute to the ridge-line we were soaking in the views. Yeah dude...

He's got the world in his hand.

After a short rest on the ridge it was time to drop.  The snow was corning up nicely, and my Dad ripped it up.

Tele turns in the finger chutes...

Then it was my turn.  I hiked across the ridge to the, "Shark Tooth Chute".

We scored perfect corn for the entire slope.  What a great day of riding!  I am grateful to have shared this awesome day with my father.  

5/02/2015, Paulina Peak

My Dad has been a major supporter of my backcountry snowboarding endeavors and my growing passion of splitboarding. We have talked about going on a trip together for the past couple years but, have not been able to make it happen until this year.  My dad, was able to get 2 days off of work and said he was down to send it.  On Saturday morning, 5/02, we found ourselves at Paulina Lake gearing up for the a hike up Paulina Peak.  

It was a beautiful morning. 

Not a lot of snow on the Eastside.

After a quick hike to the top of the peak we were soaking in the views. 

We took 2 laps in the back bowl, off the main peak.  Not a lot of vertical but, the snow was great.  My Dad, Lance, ripping it up. 

After a great morning of shredding, we headed down to the lake for an afternoon of drinking beers and fishing. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

4/26/2015, Ealy Morning Couloir, North Sister

Ever since riding the Early Morning Couloir last spring, the line has been haunting my dreams.  You can see the couloir from Sisters but, the chute is really nothing like it looks from a distance.  You can not really understand the couloir until you are in it.  It is big, wide open, and steep; an aesthetic run in every sense.  This spring I have been watching the weather and waiting for my opportunity to make an attempt at the EMC with fresh snow.  A series of small storms passed through central Oregon in late April and gave me just the opportunity I was waiting for.  On Sunday, 4/26, Kelcie and I got an early 4:30am start and had a peaceful morning hiking through the Pole Creek burn.   

By sunrise we had hiked the approach, and were soaking in the Volcanic views. 

Looking North it felt like winter with a fresh dusting over Santiam Pass. 

Kelcie skinned to the base of the rocks with me, and rode the lower bowl. 
 Shredder babe in action ; )   

I climbed the Afternoon Ridge to access the couloir.  Clouds started to sock in over the mountains as I climbed, and created this cool Sun Dog. 

I was happy for the cloud cover as it kept the sun from baking the snow in the couloir.  There was 6-12" of snow in the couloir and, I was stoked.   

After dropping the top face, I rode around the dog leg, and traversed to the riders right to let the sluff pass.  Fresh snow in the steep line produced a significant, size 2 sluff.  I was surprised at the amount of snow that rushed past as it produced a powder cloud in the apron.   

Overall an epic day, and everything I had dreamed of.  Also a reminder to respect all avalanche types, even loose snow avalanches as they can have dangerous potential.

Friday, April 24, 2015

4/19/2015, Newton/Clark Headwall, Mt. Hood

In late april, after some much needed precipitation, high pressure returned to dominance over the Oregon Cascades.  Due to poor snow conditions, I had not been up on Mt. Hood since January, and I was itching for a visit.  After a week of warm days and freezing nights, I was hopeful for a consolidated snowpack, and decided to check out the steep slopes on the Eastside of the Mountain.  My plan was to climb up the Wy' East face and snowboard down the Newton Clark Headwall, conditions dependent.  I left SW Portland around 4am and was hiking from the car by 5:30am. 

Hiking through the ski resort I saw a coyote roaming around for scraps. 

I always enjoy this climb, as it is a direct and efficient route up the mountain.  Im going yonder… 

The poor snow year is evident in our spring snowpack.  The bergschrund onto the Newton Clark Glacier is already starting to open up.

4 hours from the car, by 9:30am, I had reached my high point.  The view into the crater, and its swarms of mountain climbers. 

A very smokey/hazey morning.  Looking south, I could not even see Mt. Jefferson.

This was my run. The snow was not fully consolidated but, an early start and overnight freeze kept potential avalanche danger at bay. 

The snow was edge-able and fun.  Looking back up at the slope from the glacier.  I rode thru the big chute in the center of the frame. 

And then it was creamy corn turns in Super Bowl.  5700' vertical of boarding, not a bad way to start the day. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

3/27/2015, Mt. McDonald, Idaho

Spring Break 2015:  The final chapter.  By Thursday, Drew, Kelly and I found ourselves scoping lines in the Sawtooth Mountains.  Even with a snowmobile, access was proving difficult due to the poor snow year.  Roads were closed to vehicle traffic, but they didn't have any snow on them to use the sled.    We found one access point with continuous snow to wilderness boundary, and used this as our access point.  

The Beautiful Sawtooth Mountains. 

We used the sled for the 4 mile approach, left it at the end of the road, and started skinning up the Norther flanks of Mt. McDonald.

We got rocked out about 2/3's of the way up the slope, and scrambled up the ridge to our high point.  

Good view at the top. 


The temps were warm, and the snow was manky on nearly all aspects.  We came for this North facing chuter, and were glad to find settled powder.

I dropped first and rode halfway down to snap some pics.  Kelly was stoked to be ripping in his local zone, stoked enough he decided to BN(butt naked) the chute.  BN'ing in the Sawtooths… 

Drew dropped next, and rode a slightly more NE aspect.  Notice the difference in snow conditions between Kelly and Drews turns….   Aspect is everything.

Shredding the hot pow. 

The Chute was awesome, it took a turn lower down and held soft re-crystalized snow for the entire 2000'.  

After sneaking around some cliffs at the bottom, we were skinning back to the sled.  What an awesome run, and great snow.  Our tracks seen on the hike home.  A great day exploring a new area, and an awesome end to Spring Break 2015.