Central Oregon Explorations

Alright the title might lie a little, it wasn’t a huge portion of Central Oregon that we explored, but we made the most of our 72 hour trip.

With camp sites located and set up, we set out from Smith Rock to Bend for the Oregon Winterfest where delicious beer was consumed, liquor was sampled, and cupcakes were eaten. Still not completely satisfied, we checked out the local watering hole, Rat Hole Brewing. A round of delicious beers (the Vanilla Porter gets my approval) and we were off to attempt to find a restaurant with room for 4 on Valentines Day. As you can imagine the waits were 100+ minutes long, so we pushed back to Smith Rock and were able to find a delicious dinner in Terrobone.

Overnight temperatures dipped in to the low 20’s and waking up to frost all over the tent was a bit of a surprise. It really shouldn’t have been though, it is February after all. The morning was pretty lazy as we took it easy warming in the rising sun, drinking coffee, and preparing breakfast. Cassie and I finally set out to do some rock climbing, while Kris and McKinley went for a trail run. We planned to meet back later that afternoon for a hike up Misery Ridge to catch the sunset over the southern Cascade Mountains. It was well worth the hike!

Chilly again Sunday night, we were moving earlier Monday with the unfortunate end of our trip in sight. Camps were being broke down all over the place and ours unfortunately was too. Once we were all packed up, Cassie and I said our goodbye’s to Kris and McKinley, we set off towards Redmond, OR for a some single track fun before the long drive back home to Seattle.

The 3 day weekend felt short, but we made the most of it! We could not have asked for better weather or a more fun time, especially for a time of year that is supposed to resemble winter.

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Avalanche Education


Backcountry skiing and snowboarding has become a booming industry. Resorts are more crowded and many of us want to escape the confines of ski area boundaries and make our own adventures. The important part of making your own adventure though is ensuring that you live to tell about that adventure at the end of the day. While many ski resorts provide easy access for us to escape in to the backcountry, it’s easy to get lost and think that since the ski area is so close, you will be safe. This is far from true though and it’s extremely important that you take the appropriate measures as you venture our further and more frequently.

The ski and snowboard season in the Pacific Northwest has been horrible this year! It hasn’t really created much stoke to get out and ride as the storms are very few and far between. In all honesty it’s felt more like spring as we have been seeing sunny skies with highs in the mid 50’s for nearly the whole month of January. While this makes for excellent mountain biking, it doesn’t do much for the ski areas or backcountry travelers. Although the snow has been lacking, I know that avalanche education is still important and even learned that lots of snowfall isn’t exactly needed in order to have a proper AIARE Level 1 class. So, I finally committed to signing up and completed my class this January.

I took my class through Pro Guiding Service out of North Bend, WA. Their instructors Kurt and Solveig were amazing! They made due with what little snow resource we had available and ensured that our class still learned the basics of reading what the snow is doing and how to search for a missing partner should we have to deal with the unfortunate event of an avalanche. I’ll admit, moral in the class was down as we were mostly in a snow/rain mix or just pure rain for the two field days in the Alpental Valley, but it was well worth it!

If you are intrigued by backcountry travel, or if you currently travel in the backcountry, I highly encourage you to take at least an Avalanche Awareness class (these are generally free) and if you can take your AIARE Level 1 class. Many states have avalanche centers that will provide you with not only the current forecast but also a long list of educational resources for you to take advantage of. You will learn so much and it will help you become a safer and more responsible backcountry traveler.

Avalanche Education Resources

AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) – http://avtraining.org/

NWAC (Northwest Avalanche Center) – http://www.nwac.us/

Utah Avalanche Center – http://utahavalanchecenter.org/

Colorado Avalanche Information Center – http://avalanche.state.co.us/

ASARC (Univ. of Calgary Applied Snow and Avalanche Research Center) – http://www.ucalgary.ca/asarc/

Movie Monday: Sherpa Peak NW Couloir

The snow season in the Pacific Northwest hasn’t exactly mounted to much yet. But hey we get some huge storms in February and March, so it’s coming right?!

Well even if it doesn’t come, some folks are still getting out and finding what they can. Often what they find is excellent too! Check out this week’s video from Sherpa Peak.