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June 2016

Cascadia: Part 2

Sunset on the south sister - @tumbili

More tales from a ski-touring road-trip of the Cascade volcanoes with a bunch of reprobates and a camera.

#ThisIsCascadia

Words By Jess Oundijan

@Rileybathurst

@Rileybathurst

If the first half of the trip could be considered our warm up, then the return of the sunshine signalled that it was now game time. With heavy hearts we had to wave goodbye to one of our Kiwi reprobates and send him back to his real-world job, while we pushed on in the pursuit of more good clean ski-bum fun.

Our friends leaving :( @tumbili

Our friends leaving :( @tumbili

The plan was now settled for a three day snow-camping mission in the Three Sisters Wilderness, during which we hoped to climb both the South and Middle Sisters from a camp between the two mountains. We paid a visit to the local REI, to stock up on freeze dried meals and mini carabiners, then drove out of Bend, past the town of Sisters and along the forest roads to the Sisters Trailhead.

We camped overnight and, in the morning, packed up some convincingly heavy backpacks while waiting for the arrival of our new volcano-chasing friend, Jeff, and his wife Kelly. Once they arrived and we had all spent sufficient time dicking around in the parking lot, we finally began the four hour hike and skin to our chosen camp zone.

Picture by Lewis

Picture by @lewiscmoore

Unaccustomed to such a heavy pack, I was mightily relieved when we were finally allowed to shed our bags and pitch camp. However the steadily increasing wind was raising concerns, and our afternoon activities were soon dominated by aggressive tent pegging and giant snow wall construction.

Cutting block and building - @tumbili

Cutting block and building – @tumbili

Sunset on the south sister - @tumbili

Sunset on the south sister – @tumbili

Unfortunately the winds did nothing but increase throughout the night, and despite waking to sunshine and bright blue skies, there was no way we were heading for any summits that day. I was secretly quite pleased at the prospect of an easy day, as my legs were a little cooked after the four hour weight-training session that had been our approach the day before. However, sadly the shutdown meant that our friends Jeff and Kelly had to leave us to return home for work. We bid them goodbye and spent the morning reinforcing our camp and building more snow walls.

Digging the tent into the walls for protection - Lewis Moore

Digging the tent into the walls for protection – @lewiscmoore

With our fortifications complete, we ventured out for a mellow adventure tour to ski some of the undulating, volcanic terrain around the base of South Sister.

Skinning around under South Sister - @tumbili

Skinning around under South Sister – @tumbili

Semi frozen lakes and the South Sister - @tumbili

Semi frozen lakes and the South Sister – @tumbili

All the while, we were scoping the route up the Middle Sister across the way, holding out hope that tomorrow the winds would calm and we might be able to at least make a bid for one summit.

Exploring in front of North and Middle Sister - @rileybathurst

Exploring in front of North and Middle Sister – @rileybathurst

Afternoons at camp - @tumbili

Afternoons at camp – @tumbili

The following morning greeted us with a more hospitable, if still fairly gusty, wind that had now swung round to the East.

Sunrise over Bend - @tumbili

Sunrise over Bend – @tumbili

This would prove to be in our favour, as it meant that most of our route up the Middle Sister was protected by the ridge-line we would follow. Stoked to finally be able to climb, we scoffed our breakfast and then sipped on coffee while we broke camp, stashed the tents and slid daypacks onto our backs.

Ski touring - @rileybathurst

Ski touring – @rileybathurst

The climb couldn’t have gone much better for us. We navigated our way up to the main ridge, then transitioned from skins to crampons and began the boot pack towards the summit. As we neared the top we manoeuvred our way across windswept rime and ice, suddenly grateful for the intensely spiky protrusions attached to our feet and hands. Finally, ten steps from the top, we lost our protection and were subjected to the full force of the gusting winds.

The last few steps - Lewis Moore

The last few steps – @lewiscmoore

Summit of Middle Sister - @rileybathurst

Summit of Middle Sister – @rileybathurst

Posing for some hasty summit shots, we retreated back to a sheltered spot for a snack then descended a little way to where we could don our skis and get on with the fun part. As luck would have it, we had timed it perfectly, and were skiing down just as the corn was ripe for harvest.

Transitioning from crampons to skis - Lewis Moore

Transitioning from crampons to skis – Lewis Moore

With stoke bubbling out of every orifice, we ripped exuberant turns down wide, steep faces. Stopping sporadically to regroup and allow Riley a chance to set up new shots, we marvelled at the snowy volcanic peaks dotting the horizon. This place, our very own slice of Cascadia, was truly incredible.

Just Skiing @tumbili

Just Skiing @tumbili

Buzzing with adrenaline from our first ‘real’ summit and sporting massive grins after the epic descent, we zipped back to camp, packed up our things and began the adventure back to the cars. An adventure it proved to be, as we decided to take things into our own hands and use mobile topo maps to take the most direct route possible back to the trailhead.

Boys in navigation mode - tumbili

Boys in navigation mode – @tumbili

Skin until the snow stops, then keep skiing - @tumbili

Skin until the snow stops, then keep skiing – @tumbili

Skinning until long after it was ever appropriate, we finally caved, switched out of our ski boots and started bushwhacking through the blackened spires of the fire ravaged forest.

Removing ski boots - @tumbili

Removing ski boots – @tumbili

Adventurous river crossings - Lewis Moore

Adventurous river crossings – @lewiscmoore

With our eyes peeled for the elusive trail, we at last crested a hill and stumbled straight into the only signpost on the trail, directing us along the final dusty miles towards celebratory beers, warm showers, a good feed and a luxurious motel bed.

On to the next adventure. - @rileybathurst

On to the next adventure. – @rileybathurst

If you missed part one of #thisiscascadia, you can view it here

Part 3 coming soon.

Cascadia: Part One

Sandwich time on Ball Butte - @rileybathurst

A ski-touring road-trip of the Cascade volcanoes with a bunch of reprobates and a camera. #ThisIsCascadia

First views of Shasta - Riley Bathurst

@rileybathurst

Skiers and snowboarders spend so much time these days chasing crazy ascents, gnarly descents and massive hits. It all gets a little tiring and sometimes we forget to just go adventuring with a bunch of buddies and have a damn good time.

2 Such a wholesome Cascadia crew

@rileybathurst

So three weeks ago, once the lifts stopped spinning and the spring melt was in full force, I moved out of my apartment, stored my stuff and bundled the rest of my life, plus an inflatable crocodile, into my trusty Subaru named Quest.

Jess Oundjian (@tumbili). Roadtrip in the making

Jess Oundjian (@tumbili). Roadtrip in the making

For five days I cruised down the sufficiently stunning coastline of BC, Washington, Oregon and California as far as Santa Cruz, where I met up with a motley crew of shred friends to begin the trip back north through the volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest.

@tumbili

@tumbili

@tumbili

@tumbili

Convening from various corners of the globe, we took a day in Santa Cruz to pack, plan, eat homemade tamales and cut loose in the pool with Jerry the Trailer Park Croc. The very next day, however, we loaded our crew of skiers and splitboarders, and our talented camera-wielding buddy Riley into various cars and hit the road for Lassen National Park, where we would take on our first objective, Lassen Peak.

@kaygbiv

@kaygbiv

After an unintentional detour through the town of Yolo, California and a quick stop off to sample the delights of US gas station sustenance, my new co-pilot and fellow Brit, Lewis and I arrived at our Lassen campsite just a touch later than the rest of the crew. We were subsequently dubbed “Team Lost”, a name that we consistently lived up to during the trip.

@tumbili

@tumbili

Lassen Peak

@tumbili

Lassen provided us with a solid warm-up. We hiked, skinned, cramponed, ice-axed, rockclambered and skied around, never quite reaching the summit but figuring out some group dynamics, practicing good communication and skiing some delicious corn snow in the process. We also made friends with some local volcano-chasers that we would repeatedly bump into throughout our trip.

Jeff Steele @hefe_steele

Jeff Steele @hefe_steele

@rileybathurst

@rileybathurst

Initially our next objective was to be the majestic Mount Shasta, however we decided the group wasn’t strong enough yet for such a big mission and instead leapfrogged up into Oregon. The plan was to head into Crater Lake for some exceedingly scenic snow camping. In a strike of genius, our trip visionary and mastermind, Mike, had acquired a giant tipi from Scandinavian brand Tentipi, and we proceeded to lug said tipi three miles along a closed road and set it up with minimal instructions on the crater rim.

Camping spot - orage

@rileybathurst

Crater Sunset

@tumbili

A stunning sunset ensued, followed by some rather enthusiastic whiskey drinking and a minor incident involving vomit inside the tipi. Needless to say, one member of the group will not be living that story down for a long time.

Crater timelapse by @rileybathurst

Crater timelapse by @rileybathurst

Waking after a very windy night, Kenzie and I took advantage of clearing skies to skin and ski Watchman Peak next to our campsite, which the boys had skied the night before at sunset. Sadly though conditions were not prime for further skiing in Crater Lake so we dismantled the tipi and hiked back out to the cars, ready to set our sights on the many volcanoes and breweries surrounding Bend, Oregon.

Kenzie ready to ski of Watchman Peak. @tumbili

Kenzie ready to ski of Watchman Peak. @tumbili

Unfortunately the weather was not looking prime for the coming week and much of the Bend backcountry is best accessed by sled. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to find a willing sled driver through my swipings on the local Tinder scene. So at 11pm, with the team crammed into a motel room, we scrambled to find a suitable one day touring objective for our last sunny day in a while. After much deliberation we settled on a small peak north of Mt Bachelor called Ball Butte.

Starting the skin to Ball Butte with middle sister in the background - @rileybathurst

Starting the skin to Ball Butte with middle sister in the background – @rileybathurst

Sandwich time on Ball Butte - @rileybathurst

Sandwich time on Ball Butte – @rileybathurst

It was a 5 mile skin through a sledding zone to the base but once on top we had incredible views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top mountain. We skied and filmed a couple of laps on Ball Butte and then began the long slog back out. After a round trip of 13 miles we got back to the cars and made an instant beeline to the nearest brewery for restorative beers and oyster shooters.

Ball butte skinning out

Skinning out on these dangerous curves – Lewis Moore @lewiscmoore

All things considered, we had maximized our weather window pretty well and now it was time to settle in for a few weather days in Bend. We rented a perfect AirBnB apartment aptly named the Adventure Chalet, which became our home base for the week. Once settled, we proceeded to sample the ongoing delights of the Bend Ale Trail, close down classic local dive bar The Westside Tavern, purchase a spectacular Ten Gallon hat from the local cowboy store, and take an adventure hike through a burnt forest to the truly beautiful Whychus Creek Falls.

Cowboy hat - @lewiscmoore

Cowboy hat – @lewiscmoore

Whychus Creek, OR - @rileybathurst.

Whychus Creek, OR – @rileybathurst. Jess with the Orage Retreat Jacket

Sisters snow camping

@tumbili

We rounded out our week with a surprisingly tame (read: hungover) Cinco de Mayo, tucking into homemade tacos and margaritas in the Adventure Chalet. However, the weather was soon to break and plans were taking shape for three days snow-camping in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Mt Hood from Mt St Helen's - @rileubathurst

Mt Hood from Mt St Helen’s – @rileubathurst

Little did we realize we were heading into our most successful stretch of climbing and would soon be stacking the peaks faster than our legs could recover…

Part two now available. View it here