| Summer 2015 |
Skiing all year is a funny thing. I love skiing so much that I never want it to end. When the more sane members of mountain communities are months into their transition from skis and snowboards to bikes and boats, you can find me high on a mountain looking for something to ski. There is simply nothing as fun as sliding down a snowy mountainside with sticks on your feet. Nothing!
I’ve done the ‘turns all year’ thing before, but it has been a few years. Injuries and life in general can end a ski streak pretty easily. But a new person came into my life this year and rekindled my interest in this rather ridiculous pursuit.
By the time we started hanging out regularly this June, Mike Hollum had snowboarded 22 consecutive months. I was on month 8. We bonded over our mutual obsession with snow. I wasn’t necessarily planning on it, but it quickly became apparent that I was going to be skiing all summer – I had a partner in crime!
The other character in this tale of summer skiing is Meghan Jewitt, who I met in March and has consistently been game for every ski adventure I’ve suggested since we’ve met. Obviously Meghan was down to ski all summer too!
The season kicked off on the weekend of the summer solstice, when Meghan and I joined a group of friends for a climb and ski of Mt. Shasta. Can you think of a better place to celebrate the beginning of a summer of skiing?
Our Shasta trip was the beginning of a season of hard work. Or, as I like to think of it: a skewed ratio of suffering to fun. Drives to trailheads are longer, backpacks are heavier, hikes are farther, snow is dirtier, turns are fewer… but the experiences are incredibly memorable!
Two weeks later, Mike and I spent the morning of the 4th of July hiking Mt. Bachelor for his annual freedom shred. We drank PBR at the top, and then ripped through the giant patches of corn snow, giggling and squealing all the way down (OK, the giggling and squealing was mostly me).
Meghan couldn’t join us for the freedom shred, but we still had the rest of the month to get in her July turns. At the end of the month, she and I drove up to Mt. Rainier to take some mountaineering courses. Of course we brought our skis, with the intention of skiing higher up on the mountain once our courses were finished. Our plans were foiled when a weather system moved in – neither of us wanted to climb and ski on a new mountain with zero visibility in the rain.
We had a problem! This was Meghan’s last opportunity to ski in July. We had two days left, and all of the Pacific Northwest had rain in the forecast. Things looked a little better farther to the south, so we headed to Mt. Hood.
Pulling into the Timberline parking lot in the morning, motivation was low. Mist filled the air, and I’d never seen Mt. Hood so bare. It was going to be at least a 2-hour walk in the rain to get to the snow. Ugh. We sat in my truck, deliberating. How important was it that Meghan get in her July turns, really? We decided that it was really important and had to happen!
I made a phone call, and two lift tickets for Timberline materialized. Thank you, ski industry connections! We were so happy to get a ride up to the snow! Hot laps in the mist commenced. We dodged hundreds of rocks. It was awesome. July — check!
Our August ski day was so glorious. All three of us got together to hike up to the bowl of Broken Top, where I knew there would be some snow hiding. We had a storm system on our tails, but we were never rained on. We found a steep and narrow ribbon of corn snow atop an icy, rocky glacier. We skied it over and over again. It was so much fun!
I’d been hyping up my go-to September ski trip on Middle Sister to both Mike and Meghan all summer, so I was incredibly bummed to realize that our schedules weren’t going to align for all three of us to go on the trip together.
Meghan and I spent two of the three Labor Day weekend days on Middle Sister. I’d been in this zone in September three times before, and was absolutely blown away by how little snow was on the mountain this year. It was unreal. At our camp at around 8,000’ we were on water rations, as we weren’t anywhere near snow to melt for water.
The next day, we found two inches of perfect corn snow atop a dark and rocky patch of ice. The skiing was fantastic! And, because we were skiing new snow that had fallen a few days prior, it was our first ski day of the 2015 / 2016 ski season!
The following weekend I joined Mike for his September turns: this time on the tiniest, rockiest, wettest “snow” patch I’d ever been on. We decided it was the consistency of a half-melted Slurpee. This was dedication. It was Mike’s 25th month!
With a record low snowpack in Oregon, it was an interesting time to decide to get back on the ‘ski all year’ program. The years I’d done this in the past had fat snowpacks with leftover snow all over the mountains to find all summer long. But this year’s trips were full of fun, adventure, and great friends. It was a summer to remember, for sure!