Skiing the Wyeast, Fast

After a few months of playing phone tag, Tom Nelson and I finally managed to get out for some skiing this past weekend. Tom is a financial planner by day, ex-nordic skier, and strong skimo racer by night. For a guy with a wife, kids, and business, he really finds a lot of time to go run up hills.

Tom smiling above Vista top shack.

Our choice for the day was Mt Hood’s Wy’East face. I’ve skied this before, but Tom had never been. It was a good choice for our first outing together before seeking out some steeper objectives. I still think that this run is one of the crown jewels of cascades volcano skiing when it’s in good condition. Unfortunately, spring has been rocky out here, and just a week ago the mountain saw almost 30 inches of new snow.

Clouds, inversion, and cold East wind.

Our hope was that the week of sunshine would consolidate that snow into some good corn, and we thought we’d need an early start to go get the corn harvested before it turned too creamy. Tom met me in Government Camp at 5 am, and we left the Meadows lot at 5:30, cruising up the impressively snow-covered (but closed) resort.

If only the sun on the face was softening the snow.

Unfortunately, it was clear from the beginning that the snow wasn’t as consolidated as we’d hoped. A moderate crust from the overnight freeze was supporting us over the sloppy new snow, but the sun wasn’t going to improve the situation much.

Tom is fast, so we crushed it up to the bottom of the face in around an hour and half, about twice as fast as I’d done it previously. There, the speed stopped, as we sat down to wait for the sun. Again, we got a bit screwed, as a cold and dry East wind was coming in off of the desert and cooling the snow.

Some of the ridge above Newton Canyon was a bit bumpy.

After about 40 minutes of sitting and chatting, we finally got bored and booted the face up an old set of impressive postholes. It wasn’t long before we were transitioning and committing to the steep upper roll on very firm but edgeable snow.

Booting up old post holes.
Soaking up the sun and getting ready to ski.
That way?

The face gradually softened as we descended, and the continuation into the corn factory called Superbowl at the top of Newton Canyon was first pretty choice and then ultimately pretty sloppy. Tom ripped the whole thing confidently on his cute little Salomon Minim skis. His background in alpine racing is obvious. On my race skis, my quads were feeling the burn fromĀ not skiing recently, but only once did I lay myself down in the snow when I turned too hard to avoid a suprise crevasse.

Tom ripping the Wy’East.
Dropping into Super bowl.
The Wy’East face and Superbowl.

After some super-sticky snow down through meadows we were back at the car in 3:44, with a moving time of 2:16. That felt pretty good for 5300′ and a morning’s work. By this weekend, the corn should be in much better shape. Hopefully, I will be too.

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Category: Skiing



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