This winter I decided it was a good idea to get off the lifts and explore the back country. Along with my buddies Matt, Brooke and Scott we ventured into the world of back country skiing.
Last year was one of the most memorable ski seasons to date with many powder filled trips up to Mount Hood Meadows Resort. However, it seemed like no matter how early we got up to try and get some fresh lines, the best we could find was a turn or two. That’s not to say there weren’t epic runs, stashed away secrets, shared with me by Matt and Brooke. The more off the beaten path we went, the better it got. So we decided to go a bit further.
We spent fall gearing up; buying new bindings, boots, skins and avalanche safety gear. It was a fun but expensive process. I rationalized the expenses by telling myself that I won’t have to buy a season pass to Meadows. Though the math didn’t quite work out that way — maybe two seasons. Anyways, with the new gear we were amped to get up to the mountain and test it out.
So we did, and to be honest, the first time we went up hurt. It doesn’t matter how much you do your research, or how many boots you try on, it just seems that they have yet to figure out how to make them comfortable. Heat molding be damned, the first time going up my feet felt like fiery stumps. But we persevered, skinning two miles up from the Timberline parking lot our first time. The views numbed the pain, and we reminded ourselves that things can only get better: gear will be worn in, legs will get stronger, and the snow will come.
But the snow never seemed to come. It was one of the driest winters on record but we still spent every weekend skinning up timberline — “training.” We crawled up in whiteout fog, sideways rain, and scorching sun. We saw everything but snow until very late in the season.
It’s all about earning your turn. By the end of the season we did. Our backcountry guru Scott told us of a great logging road that leads to some snow covered clear cut sections of forest. You have to get away from the crowds. Being in tranquil snow covered evergreens made it all worth while.
I can’t wait for next winter. I’m ready.