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Cascade Range, OR – Road Tripping for Powder

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Sierra Nevadas, CA – Hitting the Jackpot

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Cascade Mountain Range, WA – Searching for Good Snow

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05
Apr

 width= Beautiful overnight trip Andrew Eckels took up to the Sisters Range (the sweet massive twin peaks you might have noticed off to the far right while rolling towards Mt. Baker ski area, from Bellingham). Sounds like a little work to get into the zone, but as you will see for yourselves the reward is MASSIVE! Below are some notes from Andrew, along with his edit of their March 23rd and 24th adventure.


On March 23rd, my friend James and I set out for an adventure in the mountains closest to our homes in Bellingham: The Twin Sister Range. We knew the road was blocked by rockfall before our desired trailhead so we brought mountain bikes and began the trip with a 6 mile 1000 vert ride into the wilderness. With sore butts we crossed the Nooksack on a precarious log and began our walk up a trail through beautiful old growth stands. Once at base camp we enjoyed a short sunset pow lap before resting up for the summit day. Our progress was slowed by incredible views and we opted to linger at the top of a windless col instead of skiing an extra lap. On the descent we were treated to fantastic stable pow and awesome rolling terrain. For the retreat we opted to take the high route out and enjoyed new views and more powder making for an incredible day of skiing in solitude. The approach to ski ratio was low for the trip, but I find myself ansy to return to this wild mountain range!


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04
Apr

 width= Wow, I got a 10 minute late start on first chair and when I made it to the top I had only seen a few people (2 of which are good friends that wanted to ski the front side, I had to jet, so down Nash I would go). I didn’t have skiing in my morning plans but when I walked outside first thing and saw the trees up high, nice and white, that schedule for my day shifted slightly. If you are close to the mountain, there’ still some time and fresh tracks to be had! Get some!


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04
Apr

 width= Just a quick visual conditions report in the 4,000′ zone down into the younger growth timber 3,000′ zone. Everything is still looking good going into our Spring season. The skiing was variable, but fun, seeing loose granular up higher in the open areas and somewhat firm snow in the lower timber zone ( without too much tree debris)… A little more snow would be nice to keep the skiing good to pass elevation. No new snow overnight at pass level but Alpental saw apx 6″ of new on top of Alpental for this mornings shred session.


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03
Apr


Two afternoons ago, April 1st, I decided to take a walk up the Kendall Clearcut (a Snoqualmie Pass classic, and one of our passage ways into the epic playground that lies North of I90). Two of my best friends, Dale Boehm and Robert Bolton, and our 3 kick ass ski dogs (Boots, Hobart and Trooper) have spent many days rolling in this area (more than most, I’m sure, Robert having had a cabin right at base of the old growth, up Yellowstone Rd.). Something we all learned during our many tours up the Kendall Clearcut besides how precious life and loved ones are to all of us, it was also fact that the Kendall Clearcut is great place to hone your guiding skills through the lower old growth/steep frozen pitches to the young growth that seemed to get worse every year, making it more like a massive maze with dead ends everywhere (meaning – a big ass tree well, or something that takes you away from the middle riser “lazy man shuffle”, as Dale would call a perfect pitch/pace).


As I began walking by the first group of cabins this past April Fools day, heading into the old growth, I realized this was the first time alone in this area… Wait, this was the first time I had ever toured in the “true” backcountry totally alone (at the very least my boy Trooper was always with me). I soon became somewhat depressed, having lost my Trooper dog on Feb 19th, Dale loosing his boy Boots early this season, and the thoughts that were making my walk even more intense, were the words Dale spoke to me on this past Saturday morning. Dale had given me a call, to tell me some bad news, but before the news came out, he mentioned something along the lines that he knew I’m (TNT) still hurting for our boy Trooper dog, and he hated to tell me why he had called. Dale, who has since moved back to his homeland of BC, Canada, was planning to take the sleds out with a bro (powder sled neckin’… very, very hard to turn down), but told him, he felt the need to hang with Hobart (the last of the 3 bad ass ski dogs) taking him on a nice walk etc… As retired bad ass ski dogs and their best buddies do. Anyway, as they were on a beautiful standard walk, Hobbie (as we loved to call him too) had a stroke. Dale had his wife (Hobart’s mom) call for their local vet, but it was Hobart’s time and our beautiful leader of the pups, took one more breath and passed in Dale’s arms. It actually is hurting me to type this post right now (tears streaming down the face), but I feel so blessed having spent a million feet of up and down beautiful mountains with all three of our pups, Dale and Robert… SO Blessed!


Hobart and his skier (Dale) living large!
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Soon, after the cycle of heavy duty thoughts flowed through my head, similar to the story I just mentioned, I had realize taking a slightly different course through the old growth, making it the most fluid trip I have ever lead up the mountain (or was I indeed the one leading this group of nobodies?). I soon realized I wasn’t alone (even though I was “in person” alone) as I popped out of the old growth and flowed through the young growth perfectly. Wow, quite trippy to me, almost like the pups finally could lead the way through those spots that always tripped us up slightly (but I never would listen to their lead when it was “in person” or should I say “in pup”, saying something like, “hey dogs get back over here and TRAIL)? All of the sudden I had a strong feeling of “NOT ALONE”, and the feeling remained the entire day (and continues today). It was also kind of fun when Sting showed up on the pass, gave a cell call just in time to catch me ski from the “Summit” down through “Bolton Alley” as she sat at Red Mountain Coffee. The last thing that blew me away, would be my extremely fluid ski through the old growth and back to the car with only doing about 5 herringbone steps (and getting the maximum steep ski the entire way)!?!? What a day, what a life, and always remember… “Live to Ski Another Day” and savor every single second! R.I.P. Hobart, Boots, & Trooper! The pups all left us in one season, so now they all can once again shred and rest in peace together for ever more (on the same beds, which believe it or not, Trooper dog- aka the red devil, would actually share his bed with ONLY these two brothers)!


All three of our boys doing what they did so well…
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I would be stoked if everyone would check out this very special trip Dale, Boots, Hobart, Trooper and myself did back in the 2005/2006 season… My first video ( a compilation of the year of NON lift skiing, the chapter in video below was the final one of that year’s video).

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02
Apr

 width=Just met a few new young friends in Summit Central’s terrain park last week, Kade and Ethan Lee (two brothers) along with their cousin, Cooper Lee. I met them shortly after noticing Ethan (11 years old) throwing down bigger than most of the older kids that day… Very impressive. They like to shralp Alpental too, so I’m looking forward to see more from these young rippers. Give the short vid a watch and make note of these guys that I’m excited to see grow their skiing, filming and editing skills.


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01
Apr

 width= Well, it’s no surprise to The Snow Troopers’ gang, that this year’s Crystal Mountain “Dirt Bag Ball” Queen is none other than Tara Simpson!!! That’s right, the year round BIG mountain skier (and Carl Simpson’s better half / #1 ski partner through life) has put in her dues as a local Crystal Mtn. “Dirt Bag” by spending countless days slayin’ the POW from opening to closing (hanging the entire time with the fast pace of Carl and the boyz), then closing down the bar and waking up in a trailer, car, tent, etc., the next morning keeping the powder dayz rolling. I was blown away with the amount of gifts Crystal Mountain showered Tara with at 2014 Dirt Bag Ball this past weekend, that will surely make the rest of this season and next even that much more memorable. As most of you already know who follow The Snow Troopers, once Crystal shuts down for the Summer, Tara’s playground grows by hundreds of miles, as she and Carl spend every chance they get exploring the endless lines you would need a thousand lifetimes to ski them all. Congrats Tara!


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31
Mar

 width=Alright, here’s one of the precious gems with in the Cascade Crown, Mission Ridge as seen yesterday! Little side note about Mission Ridge, if it looked that good yesterday, my guess is today should be status quo (except, bring your own friend, because mid-week they are hard to come by at this epic “person to acre” ratio resort, that has terrain which will give the expert a good case of jitters, and the super long beginner/intermediate runs that will have them all excited to get back on the chair for more)! This mountain is a great get away for the Cascade day skier or an excellent destination target, that will give you and the crew great memories, from the excellent terrain/views, the hopping new Wenatchee markets, pubs, hotels, the Columbia River and don’t forget to visit the super cool town of Leavenworth (oh yeah, Wenatchee has their own airport too). For more info, start off right here by clicking to the Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort website, you’ll be glad you did. Edit below and photo above by Mike Rolfs, Thanks Mike!!!

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30
Mar

 width=A week ago this morning, Jeff Rich and company were taking the very somber detour around the Oso mudslide, as they were heading into the North Cascades for Ruby Mountain. The Oso Mudslide is such a tragic event that has taken so many lives (which the actual number is still unknown). My thoughts and prayers for all the families living though this nightmare (which is still taking place), so close to one of the most beautiful places I have been in the lower 48. If you would like to help our friends up in Oso, WA, just click this link to the RED CROSS right before you click play on Jeff’s video, that shows the epic zone which is found just beyond Oso, WA.


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29
Mar

 width=Last Saturday (3/22/14), The Summit at Snoqualmie held their second annual pond skim event, dubbed “Spring Splash”. Just like last year, the pond skim brought out droves of spectators taunting the skimmers to go faster for the big SPRING SPLASH! I wanted to give a shout out to the “Events Crew” for the cool “stadium style” venue they whipped out ( I say whipped out but having seen what it takes to push snow and put something together like this event, “whipped out” is quite the understatement). Also, a big Shout OUT for the brave little pond skimmers on 50mm underfoot skis and tiny snowboards, and our good friends the “T-Bagging Bandits” for rocking the slopes and plaza.


Below is a short edit, I put together capturing a little of the day of fun… Check it!


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28
Mar

 width=We’re having a hard time transitioning into spring. Another winter storm is underway. We’re looking at possible snow totals for the West slopes of the Washington Cascades of 18″ by tomorrow afternoon and 30″ by Sunday morning at elevations >4000ft or so. That will keep us firmly in the top #1 and 2 spots for the deepest snow base in N. America. Leading the nation is the King of Snow: Mt. Baker with a whopping 188″ at Pan Dome. Second place goes to our own Alpental at the Summit at Snoqualmie with 173″ at the summit. Neighboring western WA and OR resorts aren’t far behind. Tyler Tran sent this video over of the gang getting some turns up in the Baker zone yesterday, pre-storm. They spent the day up in the Swift Creek area, just out past Austin Pass, on what looked to be a pretty gwanchy day of skiing… But, it was skiing, and they were skiing the fresh :-) . Just wait until tomorrow! It’s snowing nicely outside our Central Cascade headquarter windows right now (at 2,600’ above sea level, Hyak, WA), making for another excellent start to a Spring weekend if you stay nice and high. By the way, Seattle broke a record for rainfall in March (and it’s not over yet).

 

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