Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tumalo Ski Descent

Emily recently bought a full AT Ski setup consisting of the Black Diamond Joule skis, Marker Baron bindings and Scarpa Diva boots. After I got out of bartending friday night Emily and I headed over the pass towards Paulina Peak of the Newberry Crater
intending to ski it in the morning. When we got to the area we were met by a closed gate and after calling the fishing lodge up at Paulina Lake under the peak we found out that the road would not be opening the next day. Unfortunately for us we only had ski boots and not sneakers that would have allowed us to walk the dry road to where we met snow. We didn’t want to walk in ski boots over 3-5 miles of pavement even if they were flexible AT boots. Instead we decided to drive towards South Sister based on on reports that the Cascade Lakes Highway was open so we could get to the S. Sister trailhead. Unfortunately again, those reports were about the south entrance to the highway with the north entrance still blocked by a massive wall of snow. With Bachelor across the street and us not wanting to spend $65 to downhill ski and it being too far to attempt S. Sister our only option was to head up Tumalo Mountain which we had climbed over Thanksgiving last fall.
We first headed down the snowed-in road towards S. Sister for practice because she had never been on AT
skis before. Almost immediately she learned the very painful lesson of wearing socks that are too thick inside of thermal-lined ski boots. After she lost circulation she learned how painful it is when the blood returns to the feet! After we fixed that we headed up Tumalo through the woods, not following any particular trail. Emily was fantastic on her first ascent with skins. We quickly made it to the top and had wonderful views of the Sisters and Broken Top.

After a quick lunch Emily got ready for her first AT ski descent of the back Northeast Bowl of Tumalo. It was a bit icy and cold so the snow wasn’t very forgiving. After about two turns her skis slipped out from underneath her and she slid a little bit down the slope. I thought it all pretty amusing and without her knowing I got it on film. I skied down to meet her at the bottom and then decided it was time to teach her some steep slope mountaineering skills with crampons and an ice axe. It took her a while to get up the slope but we took our time and I think she really got the feel for it. It was a wonderful day and Emily really loves her new gear!

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