#1~Sat. November 21st 1998~Mt. Batchelor
Got the new GMC Suburban on Thurday 11/19 and got all the gear together on Friday and drove to Bend. They got 35 inches of snow from Friday night to Saturday morning. Pretty heavy but still fun. Winds in excess of 70 mph at the top of Pine Marten Express was fairly bad but it was better down in the trees and on the Sunshine Excellerator Express. Snowed constantly. Me, Ken, and Chuck.
#2~Sun. November 22nd 1998~Mt. Batchelor
Another 15 inches of lighter snow and very little wind made for better skiing. Ken and Chuck rents skis and I ran my Chubbs. Ken tried some Dynastar Bigs and Chuck used Olin Outer Limits. Knee surgery for me scheduled for Dec. 15th. The truck ran superbly the entire trip and we had no problems with it. Looking forward to adding a few small things to make life even more comfortable.
Who: Me, Ken and Chuck
Mountain Stats: 57-67 inches of base by Saturday afternoon. 32º on Saturday and 28º on Sunday.
Trip Stats: Total miles: 800 Gas: Roughly 55 gallons. Time there: 7 hours Time back: 6 hours. Averaged around 55 on the way there and 70 on the way back. Terrible multiple fatality accident south of Barlow Pass on SR23 caused a 40 minute+ delay on return trip. SUV truck hit a small car head on in ice and snow conditions and destroyed it.
#3~ Thursday, November 26th 1998~ Mt. Baker
24 in 24 hours at Baker. We drove to Bellingham the night before and stayed at the Best Western with a bunch of linemen from Canada here to work on power outages from the winter storm. The hotel was a circus .Ken drunk Chuck very drunk kicked out of the hot tub at 2am by a stressed-out desk clerk. Snow was very thick and sticky but deep very hard to ski off the groomers except on the steeps, so we did a little of both. Chuck ate a raw pork chop for breakfast and had a hangover so he quit early. Me and Ken skiied and Kevin Ryan boarded a couple more hours til the falling snow turned wet then we left.
Who: Me, Ken, Chuck, Kevin
Mountain Stats: Anywhere from 60-100 of base, depending on what you call base. 32º-34º.
Trip Stats: Total miles: Didnt pay attention. Gas: 15 gallons. Time there: 90 minutes to Bellingham. Time back: 90 minutes from Mt. Baker parking lot.
#4~ Thursday, December 3rd, 1998~Stevens Pass
Awsum conditions...drove up early in the morning and arrived at 8:45. 11" of new snow reported...very light in the 28 degree weather. Good visibility and light winds. Rode the new Hogsback Express towards the end of the day but spent most of the time on the backside (full operation began today). Hyperextended my right knee on the first run on the backside and skiied hurt all day.
Who: Me and Ken
#5~ Saturday, December 5th, 1998~White Pass
Left on friday night and drove I-90 to Yakima then up SR 12 to White Pass. Drive there went fast but GPS went out after Snoqualmie and electrical problem began on I-82 outside of Yakima. Got up to the pass at 11:30pm (3.5 hours) and the room I reserved at The Village Inn was unlocked and ready. Ken and I took a walk across to the lodge but everything was closed of course. Breakfast at 9am at White Pass Lodge and skiied groomers all day. Chuck and Ken skiied off trail a bit but me and Tim stuck to the groomed ruuns due to knee trouble. Beautiful weather...27 degrees all day and overcast...snow began about 3pm and has dumped about 5" in the last 4 hours. Drove to Packwood around 4pm and found fresh crash on the very icy and bad road 7 miles down from the summit. A Honda Accord was slammed by a van..no apparent injuries...flagged a snowplow down and had him radio it in since neither my nor Chuck's phones work out here. Back to the summit and our room about 6pm. Spent about 2 hours in the 100 degree heated pool and just got out and am sitting here writing this waiting for someone to make dinner....
#6~ Sunday, December 6th, 1998~White Pass
About the same conditions today. Got up at 7:30am, packed, and drove across the street and parked. Breakfasst at 9am in the lodge and skied the Great White Express (the quad) all day long again...the quad is all we rode the whole time "the Great White Express accessed the whole resort" [note from Tim]. Alot of fresh snow...that and the wind pretty much covered everything up. Cold on the mountain today...high temp was 26 degrees.
Who: Me, Ken, Tim, and Chuck
Trip Stats: Total miles: 380 Time there: 3.5 Time back 3.5 Gas: about 40 gallons Good speed and fair weather both ways.
#7~ Tuesday, December 8th, 1998~Stevens Pass
Careful consideration of the weather led us to Stevens today for one of the best days so far this year. We are 6 for 6 now on picking times and places. Stevens got a ton of snow yesterday and overnight and today it was 26 degrees, partly cloudy, no one was there and there was waist deep powder in alot of places. Knee deep was average. We skiied the backside the first half of the day...made a trail into Ken & Bobs Powder Stash and trashed that with a dozen runs. Had lunch in the lounge and back out for 6-8 runs down Barriers face in glorious untouched powder.
#8~ Saturday, December 12th, 1998~Silver Mountain, Idaho
Made reservations at the Super 8 Motel at the base of the gondola and drove thru typical horrid conditions to Kellogg, Idaho friday night. Arrived at 2am and slept. Headed up on the gondola about 10am in rather warm weather. We came to Silver because the weather over the entire western US is warm from a huge southern high pressure front and this look like the best chance at not being rained on. We didnt get rained on. Barely. It was very thick, slushy snow and we only took a few exploratory runs. On the last one we had to pop out of our skis and hike a bit. When Ken popped out, the heel tab on his binding wedged under the binding brake. We took it up to the mountain lodge and got it apart but the binding was completely broke, so we just called it a day. Me and Tim were ready to quit anyway because the snow was so hard to ski in with bad knees. We ate dinner in a place across from some lounge on the east side of Kellogg...the dinner was incredibly bad and we all had to order a pizza at Zany's at the gondola later. We hit a lounge and a pool hall for a couple hours each....at the pool hall we shot pool on full sized Brunswick tables that are at least 80 years old. Several people told us so. We ended up at Zany's and the Super 8 hot tub (which is open 24 hours).
On Sunday, the curse of Silver Mountain struck again. We woke up to warm weather and warnings of rain on the slopes so we decided to bag it and go shopping. We hit some outlet stores in Post Falls, Id, and took a detour to Wenatchee to go to Asplund's Sporting Goods. Took SR2 home instead of I-90 and stopped at Stevens Pass to look in the ski shop there....something me and Ken havent done yet this year. Probably my last trip for awhile....knee surgery is december 15th.
#9~ Saturday, December 19th, 1998~ Crystal Mountain
Extremely cold weather blew in over the last few days, but little snow. As a result, we have boilerplate ice and hardpack groomed runs to ski. So I got my Volant Zone Z's mounted to some new Marker M41s on a riser and a pair of Volant Ti Chubbs with Marker 8.1SC bindings. I rode the Zones and Ken ran some dirty nasty old rock skis and we ripped up the groomers at Crystal. We left Lake City at 6:30am in order to get to Crystal before the major traffic. We did...but it was 12 degrees when we got there and no one else came...so we had the place to ourselves. We ran from the top of REx to the base area and from the top of the Emerald Queen Express to the base, taking advantage of the new high speed 6 seat detachable chair at the base. Lots of high speed groomers. Tested the new vhf radios and they work good.
Who: Me and Ken
Weather: Light winds all day. 12 degrees when we arrived, 8 degrees when we left in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy; didnt see any sunshine.
#10~ Sunday, December 20th, 1998~ Stevens Pass
Still very very cold and clear today. Temperature at 9:30am in the upper parking lot is zero. High temp so far is 5 degrees. Ran hard and fast all day...mostly frontside runs. We started out like this: Me on Ti Chubbs, Ken on old dirty rock skis, Tim on Millers, and Jeff on the 180cm Langes. At midday we went to the truck and changed. I ran Zone Zs, Tim ran Supercarves, Ken rented some dirty old rock skis (he rented Rossis or something..he didnt like em), and Jeff still ran the Langes. It was a nice day, other than the temperature. There was no wind at all and it was very clear on the sun was out most of the day. Very few people, even on a sunday, had the guts to come out and ski in 5 degree weather but it was really a good day for a groomer day. Hit mach speed plenty of times. Got separated from Jeff in the afternoon so since we have the vhf radios we split up to look for him. I am sitting in the truck writing this as Ken and Tim look for him.
#11~ Wednesday, December 24rd, 1998~ Stevens Pass
Me, Ken, Tim, and Jeff went back up to Stevens today to hit some fresh powder. We found about 8 inches and some good deep spots filled in by the wind. Tims first time on fat skis; he rode my Chubbs and I used the Ti Chubbs. We skied all over the mountain until about 1pm then Tim and I went to the lounge and Ken and Jeff skied until they had to take back the Rossi Bandit XX's they rented. We stayed in contact with the vhf radios and met at the lounge later and took one more run off of Barrier and left. Snowed most of the day...sometimes it was falling pretty heavy.
#12~ Saturday, December 26th, 1998~ Silver Mountain, Idaho
Drove to Kellogg friday night and arrived at 2:30am after a typical drive down I-90 thru rain, sleet, snow, ice, and heavy fog. Took us about 6 1/2 hours total. On Saturday, Tim and Ken really enjoyed themselves. I thought it sucked, the snow was crusty and windpacked, so I quit after 2 hours and went back to the Super 8 and slept all day. Tim, Ken, and Jeff skied all day, Jeff rented some 170 Ti Chubbs. Tim ran my Chubbs, I ran Ti Chubbs, Ken was on Atomic fats. Apres-ski was at Zanys at the gondola...the owner and the girls all remembered us and we got first class service. There was 16 inches of fresh but it was very windpacked and nasty. Everyone got good and drunk and by 3am Ken was wet and crawling thru the hotel halls scratching on doors trying to find our room.
#13~ Sunday, December 27th, 1998~ Silver Mountain, Idaho
Have a seat, this is gonna be a long report. Woke up to moderate winds and only 3 new inches of snow reported. We set up with the same gear as Saturday and hit the slopes. The snow quality was much better, although the wind had scoured many ridgetops and open faces and deposited the snow in deep drifts and wind lips. Tim and Ken had scouted out the area pretty well the day before and they took me back on some of the gated glades they found. The four of us skied a couple hours then went to the Moguls lounge at the top of the gondola for lunch. After lunch we went back out to the glades again. It was snowing hard and there was sustained winds of 40+ mph and our tracks were being filled in and giving us multiple powder runs down the same track. In the glades we were skiing, the ski area ended at a line of closed signs and a long traverse trail was well beaten in and allowed us to ski back out to the main runs and the chairs. We did this run several times, carefully instructing Jeff to stay with us and NOT to go past the closed signs. At the end of one run, me and Tim were at the chair when Ken arrived and Jeff didnt come out. We waited for a bit then began to get worried. We (Bobby, and Ken NOT Tim he had to wait at the FUCKIN chair lift") [note from tim] skied the run down to the out-of-bounds area known as South of the Border and called him on the vhf radio. He reported that he was on a traverse 500-1000 feet below the closed signs. We got pretty worried then. I instructed him to climb directly uphill from his position but he decided to continue his traverse...after all three of us told him not to. We decided it was time to notify the ski patrol. We told an expert backcountry patroller and he began organizing the search. He instructed us to go and mark Jeff's tracks and make radio contact. We were able to do neither. The tracks were washed away by the winds and he was unresponsive to radio calls. We returned to the top of Chair Two and the patrollers shack to give a full report and begin the rescue. Tim remained at the Chair Two shack, Ken took the patroller into the area we lost him, and I skied down to the base of Chair One/Two and attempted to make radio contact (I had the strongest radio and best reception from Jeff). He had gotten himself about 2 miles from the resort following a cat track and was near an area known as Avalanche Ridge. (Did I mention that the avi danger was extremely high? One patroller said its the worst he has ever seen.) I was able to maintain radio contact with him, but only sporadically as his batteries were very low and he was turning off his radio to conserve them. I was able to relay vital information from Jeff to the search team leader and they were able to pinpoint his location fairly quickly from that...without a doubt, the radios saved Jeff from spending a night in the woods and possibly saved his life. Two telemark skiers and the backcountry patroller went in from my position at the base of One/Two and located him in about an hour from the radio reports. Ken, Tim, and I then left. We went to Moguls for a drink and to wait for the gondola line to go down, then we rode the gondola back to town and had dinner in Zanys. Around 6:30pm, I mentioned that we should probably just stay in Kellogg another night. Tim called Seattle and found out the passes (Snoqualmie and Stevens) were closed. They are still closed as I am writing this, at 9:40am Monday morning. Me and Tim are now sitting in Zanys debating how we are gonna get home. ***Home now. Trip was suprisingly uneventful. I drove flat out all the way home and averaged 70+ mph and got home in well under 6 hours, even with a short stop for lunch and shopping in Post Falls, Idaho. Snoqualmie Pass was bare and wet. Along with the already-described events, we saw a tractor-trailer on its side in the median on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass, and we saw a man, his wife, and thier 5 year old kid fall ten feet off of a chairlift and land in a heap on the ground. They were all okay. ***Tonight I made reservations at the Super 8 in Kellogg for Tuesday night. The desk clerk at the Super 8 instantly recognized my name and informed me that we were all famous now. I indicated that Jeff would not be returning this time. The desk clerk said thats too bad because he got his name in the paper and that he would save us a few copies. More on that later, I'm sure. We plan to ski Silver Wednesday or possibly drive to Schweitzer, Big Mountain, Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, or Salt Lake City from there, depending on where the snow is. Its 9pm Monday night as I write this and tomorrow night Ken, Tim, and I start our 5 day New Years ski trip.
#14~ Wednesday, December 30th, 1998~ Silver Mountain, Idaho
Arrived at Kellogg about 2am Wednesday morning. Skied for a few hours in the morning then went to Zanys to log onto AOL and plan where to go. Weather was beautiful; clear sunny skies all day. The snow, however, was rock hard crud. It was so frozen that the groomers couldnt bite thru it and the runs were basically crud churned up by the snowcats. We all agreed they were the worst groomers we ever saw. The snow down on the slopes near South of the Border wasnt bad after the sun softened it. Still, we decided to get an early start to our next destination, The Big Mountain at Whitefish, Montana.
#15~ Thursday, December 31st, 1998~ The Big Mountain at Whitefish, Mt.
Arrived at The Big Mountain at 8pm after a short 4 hour drive thru the Montana backcountry and a drive up Big Mountain Road on black ice where we saw a fatal accident. A ski patroller driving down off the mountain slid off the road and hit a tree and was killed. Got a room at The Alpinglow, the original resort. Its a nice old place and is very slopeside...one chairlift virtually serves the hotel. Skied a couple hours on snow that wasnt a lot softer than Silvers snow..until I twisted my knee and Chuck blew up his boot...then we quit and Tim and Ken skied awhile longer. Went to the ski shop across from the hotel and bought new Technica Innotec TiR's for Chuck and a few clothes. Had dinner last night and tonight at the hotel restaurant. Walked out to a few of the local bars but all are packed and none of us are too excited about new years eve.
#16~ Friday, January 1st, 1999~The Big Mountain at Whitefish,Mt.
Woke up to sunshine that quickly vanished behind heavy clouds and 20 degree weather. We all went up about 10am on chair two and skied over to the North Side and hit the groomers on chair seven. Me and Ken dressed too light and I gave up early...because I was cold and it was a groomer day...nothing too exciting. Tim agreed and followed me down. Chuck and Ken skied for a couple more hours. Tim and I got back to the room at 11:30am and changed and went to Hellroaring Saloon at the top of the village lift for an excellent breakfast of clam chowder in a bread bowl. By the time we got back to the room, Ken and Chuck were calling on the radio for me to unlock the car because they were cold and hungry. They all went and ate and went back out and I slept a few hours. They came back about 6pm and got me and we went out for a few more hours and night skiied on the Zone Z's and ate dinner at Moguls at the base of chair two. Tim has been skiing my Volant Supercarves exclusively this entire trip. I think he likes em. I skied the mornin on the Ti Chubbs and then let Chuck change from the 2 year old Chubbs to the new Ti Chubbs. Ken ran his Powder Cruises until the nighttime forced us to go faster...he wore his nasty old rock skis that we custom bent last week.
#17~ Sunday, January 3rd, 1999~ Silver Mountain Idaho
Skied for a few hours on the groomer before heading home. Trip home took 5 hours@80mph.
#18~ Saturday, January 9th, 1999~ Silver Mountain Idaho
Another 5 hour run to Kellogg to ski Silver and party at Zanys. It is snowing in Idaho...thats the closest place its snowing so we are here. Silver got 4 inches in the last 24 hours and it was snowing in Kellogg when we arrived at 10:30pm last night. It snowed all day on the mountain and the skiing was great. We got first tracks on North Face Glades and tore it up with several runs. We also hit the South of the Border run several time and some other black diamonds off of chair #4.
#19~ Sunday, January 10th, 1999~ Silver Mountain Idaho
We got up and stood in a gondola line that wound around the building today. When we did finally get on the mountain, it wasnt quite as good as yesterday. The freezing level rose unexpectedly and we were skiing just above the snowline. We again skied NFG and Wardner Peak was open today so we skied that several times. We took Jackass/The Ridge to the bottom of chair #4 twice and ended up skiing below the freezing level and getting rained on. By the end of the day all of our gear had had a good water test...we were all soaked. Some more than others. The drive back took about 6 hours with a stop at an italian restaurant in Couer D'alene for dinner.
#20~ Saturday, January 16th, 1999~ Stevens Pass
Great powder day. Me, Ken, Tim.
#21~ Sunday, January 17th, 1999~ Stevens Pass
Slightly less great powder day. Me, Ken, Tim
January 18th, 1999 ~ Avalanche on the Shuksan Arm
#22~ Saturday, January 23rd, 1999~ Mount Baker
Nice day, sunshine and deep but heavy powder. Skied OOB in the Shuksan Arm. Took several runs off of the main traverse before going out across an exposed, convex slope and starting an 18" deep hard slab avalanche and almost getting buried. Closest avalanche call I ever had. Lost one of my LifeLink poles when I went down and the hill ate it....second time I lost a pole within 1/4 mile of that spot doing something extreme. Me, Ken, Tim.
#23~ Thursday, January 28th, 1999~ Stevens Pass
Dont know if we are actually gonna get to ski today. Sitting on Hwy 2 now waiting for an avalanche to get cleared. We already had to take the Gold Bar-Index shortcut to get around a power line fallen and blocking the road. Stevens reported 30" of fresh at the morning call so...ya gotta go when it snows. Unfortunately, there is so much of it we cant get up the hill...so we'll sit here and wait a lil longer.
Ed. Note: By this point in the season, things had gotten so dramatic that keeping notes on it all wasnt possible. In the next 30 days, it would snow 303 inches at Mt. Baker and in the North Cascades. We would ski another dozen times in February in some of the most epic conditions imaginable, including a week long trip to Lake Tahoe. The season lasted well into June and on June 30th, Mt. Baker broke the world snowfall record.
February 14th, 1999 ~ Avalanche on the Shuksan Arm
Addendum: Resorts we've been to so far
Steven's Pass, Washington
Mt. Baker, Washington
Mission Ridge, Washington
Crystal Mountain, Washington
White Pass, Washington
The Summit at Snoqualmie, Washington
Mt. Hood Meadows, Oregon
Mt. Batchelor, Oregon
Silver Mountain, Idaho
The Big Mountain, Montana
Park City, Utah
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia