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!