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Friday, May 1, 2015

Volcano Tour Part 2: Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 2:12 PM

On Tuesday morning, the fourth full day of our trip, we headed up Crater Lake Highway, through a tunnel of trees glistening with fresh snow melting in the morning sun. It was a crisp, cold day and the snow was refreshing. We parked on the side of the road between Diamond Lake and the east ridge of Mount Bailey. Without a direct trail to the summit, we decided to bushwhack to the ridge and head straight up 3,000’ to the summit, carrying our skis on our backs until the snow was deep enough to skin. The sun was shining, lighting up Mt. Thielsen to the west and the dark blue waters of Diamond Lake below. Yet the air remained cold enough to keep the fresh snow in its powder form. By the time we reached the top of treeline, I was sinking to my knees as I broke trail. It made for hard work getting up the ridge, but our excitement for Bailey’s east bowls grew with each fluffy step. Storm clouds threatened and at times, the summit became socked in and diminished visibility, but each time, it cleared up again a few minutes later.

We reached the summit, and to our amazement, it wasn’t scoured or wind loaded. There were some enormous cornices across the bowl, but just below us looked good. We did some small tests for stability and quickly realized that not only were we in foot-deep powder, but the snow was totally stable, so we dropped into the bowl and skied the best powder of the year. I know with the lack of snow this year, everyone has said that it was the best powder every time it snowed this year, but seriously. This was legit!

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We paid for our powder turns with a long bushwhack back out to the road. The snow down low had melted, leaving partially hidden logs lurking below the snow and brush, waiting to take us down (and they did, more than once). We reached the road with a mix of exhaustion and relief, ready for a beer and a meal. The Pine Drops IPA I had stashed in the snow managed to stay cold even though most of the surrounding snow melted. Then snow flurries reappeared, so we packed up for a trip to Umpqua hot springs. We arrived late, after dark, and were shocked to find a total party scene and all of the springs occupied. We decided to come back at sunrise with our coffee instead. We crawled into our tent, set up next to the roaring Umpqua, which more than drowned out the noise of the partiers and made for an excellent night’s sleep. In the morning, we had the hot springs to ourselves and the hot water reinvigorated my tired muscles that had been cold for days on end. We hiked out and headed back up to Diamond Lake and the Mt. Thielsen trailhead, where we laid our gear in the sun to dry, made breakfast and got ready for our next volcano.

Mt. Thielsen is an easy hike (on a real trail!) that heads pretty much straight up its west ridge, where it intersects the PCT before emerging above the treeline. Its pointy, 9,183’ summit is an aesthetic icon visible from Crater Lake, Highway 97 and the mountains around Bend. We saw coyote tracks in the snow intersecting the trail and disappearing into the forest. We could also see our tracks in the Mt. Bailey bowl to the west. It was a sunny and warm day, the storms finally having seemed to move on. The snow was soft, but it became mushy as we ascended the slope above treeline, quickly lowering our expectations for the descent. But, it was a beautiful day and we had the mountain to ourselves, so we definitely were not complaining.

We reached the top of the ridge and looked over the steep drop off to the east. Crater Lake's glassy blue waters and Phantom Ship on its surface were just barely visible. From the ridge, the final climb to the base of Thielsen’s summit pinnacle looked really close and was tugging at me. We figured we had enough time to get up and down before dark if we didn’t hesitate too long. We couldn’t see the actual route up the summit pinnacle, so we couldn’t tell whether it was covered in ice or clear, but it couldn’t hurt to go up and check it out, so we dropped our skis and started booting up the slope.

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It was harder going than expected – the snow was deep and really soft, sticking to our boots and causing us to slide backwards. But, we made it to the base of the summit pinnacle, which, it turned out, was partially covered in snow. We still couldn’t make up our minds on whether to try climbing it or head back down to our skis. We were so close. We had been on a roll, bagging the last two peaks, and it was so tempting. Aaron started up the first couple climbing moves to see how it was. I started to follow and lost my confidence after a few moves. I had never climbed rock in my crampons and I wasn’t fully trusting my footing. Plus, it’s not a place where you can take a fall and expect to be okay, and we didn’t have a rope with us. And, even if we made it up, the thought of down climbing was troublesome. We have both been on the summit in summer conditions and decided that it didn’t make sense to take the risk. The descent back down to our skis was still tough in the mushy, slippery snow, and I was scolding myself for pushing it over the top. In the end though, it worked out.

Back at our skis in fading sunlight, we noticed that the snow had firmed up during our little side adventure up to the summit pinnacle. Awesome! We skied down on almost-corn snow for about a thousand feet before it got soft again. Even still, we were able to ski quite a ways down the trail to where we had stashed our shoes for the final hike out on dirt. As we made our way back to the trailhead, we saw the sun light up Thielsen with evening alpenglow before it finally sank behind Mt. Bailey.

Booting up Mt. Thielsen in mushy snow.
  • Booting up Mt. Thielsen in mushy snow.
We cooked burritos and camped at the trailhead for the night. The next day, we would be taking a rest day as we drove north to Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. We also decided that since we didn’t get to ski Lassen Peak at the beginning of the trip, we would tack a day tour of Mt. Rainier onto the final day of our trip. 
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Friday, April 24, 2015

California and Southern Oregon: Blasting Wind and a Surprise Storm

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 10:55 AM

The Volcano Tour kicked off with a series of setbacks that altered our plans right off the bat. First, the California Cascades got up to two feet of snow several days before we left Bend, blocking access to the trailhead we needed for Lassen Peak. So, Mt. Shasta became our first objective. Our plan was to spend the first night camping at Helen Lake, at about 10,400’ and then head for the summit at 14,179’ the following morning. We arrived in Mt. Shasta City on Friday evening and stopped to pick up extra batteries and water. To our dismay, we discovered that The Goat Tavern, where we planned to enjoy a post-climb beer and burger, had gone out of business. We found a quirky pizza joint whose entertainment included ancient looking vending machines with temporary tattoos, questionably old gumballs and a “Love Meter” that we fed quarters to learn our sex appeal (my rating was sadly low). But the pizza was good and they had Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA on tap. With fully bellies, we headed up to the mountain and found a place to camp for the night.

On Saturday morning, we loaded up heavy packs and made our way up toward Helen Lake. It was slow going as we adjusted to the weight on our backs, but we got used to it and made good timing, reaching camp in just over three hours. The weather was sunny with storm clouds shifting through, dropping snow flurries, but it wasn’t too cold. The wind, however, was blustery and powerful gusts were increasing as we made camp and cooked soup, hot tea and hot cocoa. We watched snow getting launched over the ridge above us and occasionally making its way down to us. It felt like getting blasted in the face with sand, and with wind burned faces, we retreated into the tent and set an alarm for 3 am.

Those aren't clouds. That is snow getting blasted in every direction by the wind.
  • Those aren't clouds. That is snow getting blasted in every direction by the wind.
At 3 in the morning, the wind had not let up, and combined with the bitter cold, made for a restless night. Concerned about the risk of a wind slab avalanche on the exposed face we intended to climb, we decided not to attempt the summit on this trip. After 14 uncomfortable hours in the tent, we braved the wind, packed up and skied back down to milder conditions.

From there, we booked it back to Oregon and camped at the summit trailhead at Mt. McLoughlin. The weather was sunny and forecasted to continue improving through the week, so we were feeling optimistic and excited. On Sunday morning, we took our time drinking coffee before hitting the trail around 10:30 am. Compared to Mt. Shasta, we expected a mellow day, with about 4,000 feet of climbing to Mt. McLoughlin’s 9,495 foot summit. The hike was relatively mellow, although the wind reappeared during the final 1,000 feet to the summit, gusting strong enough at times to knock me sideways. The ascent was just steep and icy enough for the wind to stir up my fear, and as I kicked my crampons into the snow, I pleaded with the wind for a break. This time, it did give us a break and we successfully reached the summit, snapped some photos, and switched over to skis for a long ride down the northeast bowl and back to camp. The skiing was tough—a grabby, breakable crust—but the views were incredible. We could see the Crater Lake Rim, Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen to the north, Mt. Shasta to the south, and Fourmile Lake and Klamath Lake down below.

Aaron skiing NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin with Fourmile Lake below.
  • Aaron skiing NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin with Fourmile Lake below.
Skiing the NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin.
  • Skiing the NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin.
Back at the trailhead, we opened celebratory beers (Deschutes Pine Drops IPA) and began cooking dinner. We noticed the temperature had dropped and clouds rolled in, but with the sun low in the sky and a sunny forecast for the week, we didn't think much of it. Then it began spitting rain and lightly hailing, but we laughed, thinking it was just a passing squall. By the time it was dumping snow, we were running back and forth from the picnic table to the car, throwing gear wherever it would fit. We devoured our dinner in the car and then headed out, intending to drive to Mt. Bailey via Medford and the Crater Lake Hwy. As we turned from the forest road to the highway, a full on white out had descended on us. Crawling through the snow at maximum speeds of 25 mph, I was still in denial, thinking that this storm would soon dissipate as quickly as it had appeared. But that didn’t happen. The snow stayed with us almost the entire way to Medford, and exhausted, we pulled onto the first quiet forest road we found and called it good for the night.

In the morning, we woke up to sunshine and blue skies, surrounded by forest of old growth blanketed in sparkly white snow. Feeling revived from the previous night’s ordeal, we made our way up Crater Lake Highway toward Diamond Lake, where  we would spend the next two days climbing and skiing Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen. To be continued... 

Camp along Crater Lake Highway.
  • Camp along Crater Lake Highway.



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Friday, April 10, 2015

Cascade Volcano Ski Tour - Seven Volcanoes in Nine Days

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 4:36 PM

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Some people take vacations to go relax on a beach, perhaps even a resort, as a way to check out from daily life and just be—do nothing or maybe even indulge in things they might otherwise forego. Others prefer to spend their time away actively, perhaps doing more of the things they normally only get to do occasionally, on the weekends—bike, hike, backpack, ski or explore a state or national park. Even fewer still take time off work to blend travel and active pursuits—to race international marathons or triathlons, to go on yoga retreats, or to rock climb or surf at world renowned destinations. I definitely fall in the latter group. That's why I'll be spending the next nine days cramming in as much adventure into my life as I can handle. For me, the best place to find adventure is in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. 

My partner and I will be driving south on Friday, April 10, camping at the trailhead of the Cascade Range's southernmost volcanic peak—Lassen Peak (if the road is open)—and then climbing, summiting (weather permitting) and skiing Lassen Peak on Saturday. From there, we'll move north to Mt. Shasta, a 14,000 foot peak, and we'll spend two days climbing and skiing the mountain, spending one night camping on the mountain at 10,000 feet. Our plan is to stop at the the Billy Goat Tavern in Shasta City for a well-earned burger before making the drive up to Mt. McLoughlin in Southern Oregon. We'll climb and ski McLoughlin and then continue north to Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen. We'll skip the Central Oregon peaks and round out the week climbing and skiing Mt. Adams and then Mt. St. Helens. 

We do have one rest day built in—it will be the day we drive from Thielsen to Adams. This will also be the day to restock any supplies or food that we may need. Of course, our itinerary and successful peak bagging is entirely dependent on things like cooperative weather and maintaining physically healthy and mentally energized. The mountains can be fickle, especially in the spring, so we'll work with what the conditions of each day present. With any luck, we'll get some incredible views of the Pacific Northwest, lots of adventure, great skiing, and we'll come home with tired bodies and rejuvenated hearts. 

Check back with The Source Weekly for a post-trip recap and follow @sourceweekly and @allimmmiles on Instagram for periodic trip updates. 
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Local Mono-Skier Ravi Drugan Wins Bronze at Winter X-Games in Aspen

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 2:42 PM

OREGON ADAPTIVE SPORTS
  • Oregon Adaptive Sports
Local mono-skier Ravi Drugan took third place in the monoski-cross at the Winter X-Games in Aspen. A Mt. Bachelor season pass holder and sponsored athlete of Oregon Adaptive Sports, Drugan became a double amputee after being hit by a train in 2004 at the age of 15. OAS helped him learn to ski again, and he hasn't looked back.

“I’ve been with them (OAS) since my first day skiing about six years ago. They’re awesome and it’s great support to have them here with me and great to grow with the organization," Drugan told ESPN.

This was Drugan's third time competing at the X-Games. Before the competition, he spoke with the Source:

"At first," Drugan says, "I did not think skiing on one ski was gonna be easy or even much fun." Though, he adds, "But I kept a open mind."

By noon that day, Drugan was hooked. He explains, "After lunch, my dad and I went to the top of Hoodoo and I was skiing black diamonds with my dad; just me and him the rest of the day till last chair."

Read more about his path to the X-Games
in this week's issue of the Source.

And check out this video interview with Drugan following the race.



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Monday, January 20, 2014

Meissner Nordic to Halt Grooming, Citing Lack of Snow

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Were hoping for more of this, but until another storm blows in, Meissner may be a no-go.
  • We're hoping for more of this, but until another storm blows in, Meissner may be a no-go.

Though the Nordic skiing at Meissner today is reportedly good—15 degrees warmer than town, sunny and a few freshly groomed trails—today is likely the last day to ski the community trails until the next snowfall.

Typically, Meissner Nordic, the nonprofit that operates and grooms the ski trails at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park, grooms on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as holidays such as today (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day). But because of a severe lack of snow and with no new storms in the forecast, starting tomorrow Meissner Nordic is planning to halt grooming operations until further notice. Check the group's Facebook page for further grooming details.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meissner is Open for Skiing!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Meissner's Nordic season officially kicked off on Dec. 14 (read about their new grooming machine HERE) and regular grooming has commenced on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Also exciting, and infinitely useful, is the new Grooming Report rubric on Meissner's website. See what's been groomed and plan your workout accordingly.

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Meissner Nordic—with new the addition of new trails, an updated website and active social media pages and a fancy new grooming machine—continues to impress and is fast becoming one of the best community ski organizations in the country. Thanks, y'all.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Skyliner's Ski Swap

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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The Ski Swap, an event where locals can buy and sell used ski equipment, is back but in a different location this year.

Where: 20545 Murray Rd., Bend 97701

When: Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

How Much: $5 individual, $10 per immediate family (benefits MBSEF Scholarship Program)

Additional Info: mbsef.org/events/skyliners_ski_swap

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Today's Pine Party at Mt. Bachelor Canceled

Posted By on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Sad, but true.
Not exactly sunny and warm up there, which is what Mt. Bachelor needed for the celebratory Pine Party (Pine Martin lift runs 'til 7pm, $20 4-7pm lift ticket, live music on the patio, etc.).
From mtbachelor.com:

FRIDAY PINE PARTY - CANCELLED due to snowy weather and powder returning to the forecast. If the weather permits, join us next Friday, April 12, for our next Deschutes Brewery Pine Party! CLICK HERE for more info.

If sun beats out snow, the third and final Pine Party WILL happen NEXT Friday (April 12). Details here.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bend's Laurenne Ross Crushing Alpine World Cup Circuit

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 4:02 PM

In early March, Bend's Laurenne Ross took second in a World Cup downhill race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany—her first ever World Cup podium! Crushing!
This week the 24-year-old shredder is in Lenzerheide, Switzerland at the World Cup Finals. Races were canceled yesterday because of fog, but were expected to continue to today.

An update from the US Ski Team can be found here.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

(Very Incomplete) Great Nordeen Results, 2013

Posted By on Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Todays start.
  • Today's start.

Bend skiers Santi Ocariz (XC Oregon) and Ollie Burress (XC Oregon) took first and second, respectively, in the 30K freestyle race outside of Bend today. Ocariz finished in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 3 seconds, while Burress crossed the line less than a minute later in 1:04:16. Sam Cordell (Madshus/Mt. Borah) of Parkdale was third in 1:04:36.
Bend women swept the women's overall podium in the 30K as Mary Wellington (XC Oregon) took first (1:18:30), Alyce Pearce finished second (1:20:40) and Anna Schulz (MBSEF) crossed the line in third (1:24:59).

The times were fast and the grooming was marginal. But it was sunny and all (most) had a good time. Post-race beer and snacks at WebSkis/WebCyclery seemed to make everything better for the bruised and battered. This correspondent grew up in Tennessee and found the icy, uneven conditions to be quite challenging.

The 2013 edition of the Great Nordeen course started at Mt. Bachelor's West Village and finished at Wanoga Sno Park. Options for a 30K and a 17K were available.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Local Guide Saves Life in Avalanche

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM

...And Central Oregon beefs up its avalanche awareness. Read on...

On Sunday a skier who was exploring the backcountry around the Alta Ski Area was buried under four feet of snow after he was consumed by an avalanche.
Lucky for buried dude, part-time Bend resident and mountain guide Todd Glew was on the scene.

Todd Glew, hero!
  • Todd Glew, hero!

Glew, who works for Timberline Mountain Guides, was the first one to reach the victim. Glew immediately switched his beacon to "search" mode and found buried-dude quickly. The first probe strike, which came from the victim's partner, who had followed Glew to the toe of the avalanche, found buried-dude and the two skiers quickly uncovered him.
UnofficialNetworks.com reports that Glew said the following:
“I was not really excited about the whole rescue,” Glew said. “When I saw it, I thought I was digging up somebody that was dead…We dug up a guy who is purple and blue or whatever, but he was OK.”

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dakota Does it Again

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Last week Bend's Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess finished third in the classic sprint at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah.
Today, with a win in the freestyle sprint, he earned a spot the on podium's top step.
The National Championship title is the 26-year-old Bend Endurance Academy racer's first.

"Finally on the top step. National Championship," Blackhorse-von Jess wrote on his Facebook page today.

DBvJ is the guy in the middle. With the No. 1 bib.
  • DBvJ is the guy in the middle. With the No. 1 bib.

Congrats young man. Well done.

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