Ski season is upon us!
“Dude, take off your pants!”
I'm not sure how this became a substitution for 'Cheese' before taking a photo with Mr. Chris Pew but we sure laugh like little kids at it.
We get to a point in our lives and have to answer for our good and bad choices. I have made so many bad choices and I have made so many good choices in this life. Karma gives and takes, and this is a story of good choices coming back to pay up.
There is something special about watching the sun come up while climbing under the stars. A sense of peace and connection realizing our families are home dreaming comfortably in bed. Knowing that the only thing better than waking up with our feet touching and arms wrapped around our loved one is we are in the mountains out for an adventure.
Climbing up to the Hogsback I asked Chris to pull out his Jambox and light up the track Truffle Butter featuring Drake & Lil Wayne. I could see the disappointment in his eyes when he had to tell me he didn't bring the Jambox. We were quickly distracted with the sun coming up over the ridge to warm us. The jokes and funny stories were flying while we started talking about what would be the line to ski for the day.
We came to the consensus to ski Leuthold Couloir, a 1600-foot couloir with a sustained 35-40-degree slope that drops from Queens Chair near the summit down to the Reid Glacier. It is one of the most beautiful descents on Mount Hood.
We reached the 11,239-foot summit via the Pearly Gates, then enjoyed a BroPicnic courtesy of Barry: Swiss chocolates, Italian cheeses and meats. Bellies full from laughter and food, we started the traverse of the summit ridge over to the Queens Chair.
The summit ridge can be a little awkward for those who don't like exposure. Falling to the right would take one down 2000 feet down the north side and most likely never coming back. Falling to the left could have the same consequence with a possibility of just getting seriously hurt. We began getting our boards on while Luke cut the tension telling a who's your mama/papa prison joke.
There is something so sweet about the first turn when it's completely untracked and realizing it's safe. It's like that first kiss that is scary and wonderful in the same moment. Typically Queens Chair is nothing but ice and rime making for survival skiing. However today was different. A foot of cold smoke and stable!
We skied the route safely, one at a time. Every time we would stop the laughter and stoke was Richter-scale. Even while standing on a forty degree couloir the hugs and high-fives couldn't be helped. The turns were powder the entire way down.
Hitting the Reid Glacier we traversed east to Illumination Saddle before having to worry about crevasses. There we were greeted by Mount Hood legend and OG of Portland Mountain Rescue, Rocky Henderson. We dropped into big Zig Zag Canyon and had perfect powder all the way back to Timberline. A little over 5600 feet of pow pow was the greatest gift on a snow year without much to excite.
Phrases like "all-time", "epic", "best day ever" are used so frequently these days they have become diluted. You hear every person in the brewpub telling anyone willing to listen about how stupidly sick and all time his/her day was on the mountain. It has become white noise. I don't know if our day was "all-time" or "epic" but what I do know is five regular guys laughed all day and skied something that was pretty epic for us.
Asit Rathod is a first generation East Indian born and raised in Oregon. He started cross country skiing at the age of five on Mount Hood and spent five winters in Chamonix, France and four summers in Las Lenas, Argentina. He is currently the ambassador to skiing for the great state of Oregon and recently completed his 200th ski descent from the summit of Mount Hood.
Other Shred Hood stories from Asit Rathod: