April 11 – Cinder Summit Success

By Frank Hoffman

Sunday Dave Dietrich and I headed out from Potato Hill snopark so I could make another attempt to reach the top of the Red Cinder cones just north of Sand Mountain, a destination that has been on my list for a number of years. There was about 1/2″ of new snow on a very solid base and very few people headed that way. We took the lower half of the Hash Brown loop to the road that drops into snowmobile territory and took their tracks out to the old Santiam Wagon Road. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. My suspicion that the south facing slopes of the cinder cones had lost a lot of snow were confirmed but there was still enough to find a path around brush and stick mainly to clear areas to make our way to the top of the east and middle cones. The views were fantastic but the stiff cold wind at the top quickly drove us off after getting some nice photos and panoramics. The crater was cool to look down into but too many trees to ski into. I also confirmed that a circumnavigation of the cones would get into some densely trees areas. I got in a few good turns on the way down but it was tricky due to the angle and obstacles. With more snow it would be a blast. I think the effort for the climb and descent were well worth it. We retraced our tracks and other than the shady areas being fast and the sunny spot causing face plant stops it was a pretty easy return.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

The Willamette Chapter has an active volunteer program assisting the Forest Service with ski trail clearing and marking as well as shelter construction, maintenance and firewood stocking. Thank you volunteers! Please call Mark Olson (503x559x0728) or Jim Todd (503x378x7003) for more information about our club’s volunteer program.

During the ski season Willamette Chapter members help the Forest Service maintain and improve ski trails by reporting trail and shelter conditions. Please help the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests use their limited resources efficiently by sending a Nordic Trail Report when you ski their marked trails. Contact Mark or Jim about trail or Sno-Park conditions and they will forward the information to the appropriate Forest Service office.

Once the snow melts our volunteers survey ski trails to record conditions and then begin clearing brush, removing saplings and downed trees and placing more blue diamonds in preparation for next season. Please sign up with Cascade Volunteers https://cascadevols.org/ so you can help us.

If you can’t wait until the snow melts, Cascade Volunteers and Willamette NF are holding a tree planting event in the Terwilliger Burn on April 17-18. Details are at https://cascadevols.org/event/terwilliger-tree-planting-event/ .

Volunteer Training

By Jim Todd

Willamette National Forest and Cascade Volunteers are offering a great opportunity for volunteers to obtain training and certification in chainsaw and crosscut saw use on volunteer trail projects. Chainsaw classes are May 8-9 and Crosscut classes May 22-23, at Fish Lake Guard Station. These classes are free, but do require students to sign up as Willamette National Forest volunteers through Cascade Volunteers. First Aid/CPR certification is also required, but Cascade Volunteers is offering comprehensive Wilderness First Aid classes on May 7 and May 21, for only $25.

I will be taking the classes May 21-23, and would be happy to answer questions about them and about the Forest Service volunteer programs, if you phone me at 503x378x7003. You can also obtain more information by visiting the Cascade Volunteers website at https://cascadevols.org/ or by emailing Beth Dayton, Cascade Volunteers Saw Program Coordinator at mailto:sawprogram@cascadevols.org.

2021-04-05 Mon Cottonwood ski

By Frank Hoffman

I parked at the 801 road at 8:30: 26°, clear, calm. Snowpack icy, 10” less than a week ago. I skinned east to the storage area, SW to the PCT-North Loop junction, then continued on the North Loop and Circle Lake trails to Circle Lake. Just north of the lake, I entered the unsigned north leg of the Cottonwood trail and turned east.

This trail was created about 15 years ago, following the 2003 B&B burn; eight years ago when I last traveled the trail the terrain was still quite open. as soon as the trail descended into the first valley, it became clear, new lodgepole growth was more than I’d anticipated. I was able to skirt most of it fairly easily by keeping to higher ground to the north, and the view from the ridge where the trail turned south was well worth the trip.

Below and to the east was a pond I hadn’t noticed on previous trips. As I turned south, it became clear that the entire valley through, which the east leg of the trail passed, was mostly filled with thickets of lodgepole 6-8’ above snow level, with shallow but close-spaced tree wells, which, in combination with interlacing branches above, made progress a slow affair—with near-zero visibility of the route ahead. After some trial and error, I found better conditions by following a series of low ridges to the west of the original trail: these ridges had less tree cover presumably due to drier conditions than in the valleys.

As I neared the 500 road, I left the post-burn area and entered a relatively open hemlock forest to reach the low point of the tour at the 500 (or Fireline) road. Conditions remained quite icy. I met a couple of skiers at the 500-Circle Lake trail junction who’d come down the Circle Lake trail and were about to return the same way. After lunch at the shelter, I followed their tracks back on the Circle Lake trail, removing skins at the Cascade crest on the North Loop for good spring skiing the rest of the way back to the 801 road.

My track log showed 8.2 mi, 510’ elevation gain. The original route of the Cottonwood trail after it turns south is so overgrown that it wouldn’t make much sense to revive it. Re-establishing a spur trail out to the expansive views from the ridge just before the turn south could be worthwhile—and is quite possible even now for those who feel comfortable with a little off-trail travel. Distance out is .8 mi with 100’ elevation loss

TOUR REPORT

By Jim Todd

March 30, Tuesday: when Frank and I met at Ray Benson we found sunshine and a 3″ layer of almost-powder on a solid base–nearly perfect conditions. Continuing our recent rambles, Frank planned a route that avoided marked trails or groomed roads and we headed for another destination we had never visited: the lowest point on Santiam Pass. Say what? Yes, tucked into the triangle formed by Hoodoo, Big Lake and Sand Mountain lies a crater that is only 4475′ at the bottom; and it holds a tiny pond which, since we have now visited, we choose to name Low Lake.

The journey was a fine ski making tracks only a couple inches deep in pristine snow. Lodgepole thickets with tangled branches and tree wells did force us onto a groomed snowmobile route for a short distance, but 70% of the trip adhered to our goal of skiing untracked snow. The skiing was “interesting” and the views of Mt. Washington, Patjens Butte, Sand Mountain and Hayrick were great. You should add Low Lake to your skiing Life List, too.

But where is Low Lake and how do you get there? Well, Low Lake is at 44 degrees 23′ 1.8″ N and 121 degrees 54′ 5.1″ W. Consult topo maps and satellite views, grab a compass &/or GPS and navigate your own route to Low Lake. It will be rewarding.

Volunteer Training Opportunities

Willamette National Forest and Cascade Volunteers are offering a great opportunity for volunteers to obtain training and certification in chainsaw and crosscut saw use on volunteer trail projects. Chainsaw classes are May 8-9 and Crosscut classes May 22-23, at Fish Lake Guard Station. These classes are free, but do require students to sign up as Willamette National Forest volunteers through Cascade Volunteers. First Aid/CPR certification is also required, but Cascade Volunteers is offering comprehensive Wilderness First Aid classes on May 7 and May 21, for only $25.


I will be taking the classes May 21-23, and would be happy to answer questions about them and about the Forest Service volunteer programs, if you phone me at 503x378x7003. You can also obtain more information by visiting the Cascade Volunteers website at https://cascadevols.org/ or by emailing Beth Dayton, Cascade Volunteers Saw Program Coordinator at mailto:sawprogram@cascadevols.org.


Jim Todd, Day Tour Chair
Willamette Chapter – Oregon Nordic Club

Trip Report

March 24, Wednesday: by Frank Hoffman

I made a pre-sunrise start on a trip to McKenzie Pass. After a customary stop in Sisters, I turned the key, anticipating about a 15-min drive on Hwy 242 to the starting point of my tour. But instead of a healthy roar, I heard only a brief, unenthusiastic grinding noise followed by a dash full of lights. After a few repetitions I accepted it was hopeless, and that my well-laid plans might come to naught. I called Les Schwab and reached a sympathetic person who said he could have someone out to jump the car in the next half hour. Within 10 minutes a fellow had me started; in another 45 I was back on the road with a new battery.

Temp was near freezing at 9am when I parked just below the east gate at 4000’; road had packed, icy snow. Clear blue sky, no wind. I skinned up to Windy Point, removed skins, and continued 1.4 mile on the road to 5020E, where I exited to the lava field. As usual, some blind alleys ending in rocks and drop-offs, but a fairly direct route SW for about 1.75 mi to Dee Wright. I never sank more than 4”, usually less—a good snowpack with near-ideal conditions. I had lunch at the observatory with clear views, though some clouds were building to the west. North breeze as I returned by the same route. I met two snowmobilers shortly after I got back to the road, then a group of 6 or so at Windy Point, finally a skier near the Cross-District trail. Last quarter mile near the gate was slushy; back to the car at 3:50. 13 mi, 1400’ elevation gain. This should be a good tour into spring; typically the road progressively melts out and plowing starts at some point. Euro Sports staff in Sisters often know about road condition above the gate, as they cater to cyclists who use the road before it opens to motorists in June.

Frank sent a nice map. I was unable to copy the pdf into wordpress… DS

Trip Report March 23, Tuesday:

by Jerry Vessello

Today was the first day of real time on AT gear.  Jon Wiener and I skied Bennett Pass to seek some easy downhill as well as tour.  Jon is truly an expert alpine skier, but generously accompanied me on something not at all challenging for him.  I also played with the Gaia software, using it a bit for way finding and recording our route.  I have included a map, our route is in Teal, about 6 miles and 1,000 feet of vertical.  The base map is the National Geo trail map.  Gaia gives you several choices and you can overlay several, including avalanche risk and slope angle.

Today promised to be the best of the week, sunny skies after fresh snow, and it delivered. Snow definitely got heavier as we descended but quite nice for most of vertical in our runs. Unfortunately it will not be as nice for a while as it ages and temperatures rise. Avalanche risk was minimal due to slope angles and nothing above us, but we had our transceivers, probes and shovels. The trail is multi-use, and we saw some people loading 3 snowmobiles when we arrived, otherwise we did not see or hear any. There were several people with snow shoes, several AT skiers, and lighter gear tourers, but the area is big, so we only ran into them in passing. The trail looks down onto Teacup, and we have both been curious about skiing between the two, but there is this problem called Hood River, so we aborted that goal when the snow got heavy as we descended, since it wasn’t going to happen anyway. As far as first time on AT gear, (except for the 3 turns I did with many of you when you weren’t looking in December,) I found myself trying to do tele turns, particularly to the left, that being even more of a problem on the first run since I forgot to lock my boot cuffs, which isn’t so critical on tele, but seemed to be really important on AT gear. After locking and the first run, the natural inclination to tele diminished. You can see on the map that we didn’t start by taking the main Bennett pass trail, but instead traveled up the backside of the ridge until we connected again with the main trail. Neither of us had taken that road in the past, so it seemed like a good idea There are many places along the main trail where you can drop down into well spaced trees on various slope angles, another place to see if you haven’t been there! The trail leads to the notoriously famous Terrible Traverse which is further along on the trail that we skied today. It was a very fun day, and got me much more receptive to trying AT some more!

SNOTEL and other Snow Informations Resources

by Bob Young


Many of you may have been using, as I have, the snotel website for accurate information on current snow depths as you plan a tour. A month or so ago my link went to a page that just said the information had been archived and I was unsuccessful reestablishing that resource. Thanks to Frank Hoffman we now have an address to the revised site.

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/or/snow/?cid=nrcseprd1725421 pasted into your browser address bar should take you to the interactive map with all of the Oregon snotel sites marked. Once here you can bookmark the site for a shortcut or you can go further into the site and specific information you want, like Hogg Pass and 7 day hourly table, and then bookmark that. The interactive map page though gives you lots of options for locations and type of information you might want.

That last reference is what I use to see what new snow really fell yesterday at Santiam Pass and how much consolidated or blew away overnight. I still also look at the Santiam Ski Patrol weather page http://www.santiampassskipatrol.org/wx/weather.htm which tells what the wind and temperatures have done at Hoodoo over the previous 48 hours and then look at Tripcheck https://tripcheck.com/ for road conditions. Tripcheck’s snow depth information is highly unreliable as it is only a report of what a plow driver observed, like “no new snow” but is that since the last time he drove it, ignoring the 6″ that fell last night . . . . Well, that’s my take anyway. Also be sure to check NOAA https://www.weather.gov/ (hint: enter “Santiam Pass, OR” in the location box) or Mountain-Forecast https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Hoodoo-Butte/forecasts/1738 to see what the rest of your day may be like. So no excuses now. Know before you go and get out there to enjoy the snow.

Trip Report

Sunday, March 20. Spring is here? The snows continue to come down and provide us with good skiing. Crowds at the Santiam Snopark appear to be diminishing as we found few cars when we arrived at 9:00. It was lightly snowing and a stiff breeze was putting the wind chill somewhere in the low 20’s or below so 5 of us bundled up and headed towards the PCT highpoint above Booth Lake. As we got to higher elevations we were finding wind exposed surfaces a bit crusty and icy and changed my plan to ski the ridge line down toward Square Lake and instead made our way into the crater below the PCT. Bianca, Dayna, Fiona, and I had fun runs and good workout climbs as we did multiple trips to the bottom. The bottom of the crater provided a nice protection from the persistent stiff breeze where we had a fairly leisurely lunch before the final climb out and fun ski back down to the Skyline trial. The snow was not as fluffy as it could be but was still soft enough for nice turns as we sought out the most fun route. Just another of those great ski days with the best of company.

By Bob Young

IN MEMORIAM

By Jim Todd


George Susbauer, a long-term member of the Willamette Chapter passed away last week at the age of 70. In addition to skiing with our club and hiking with the Chemeketans, George was a noted community volunteer and was named Citizen of the Year by Sublimity and Stayton in 2012. As a volunteer for the Willamette Chapter, George will be remembered for his work building the North Blowout Shelter (and serving fresh sweet corn to our volunteers) and for inventing the Blue Diamond Hammer that the club still uses to place ski trail markers. Thank you, George. Rest in peace.