Broken Top and a Broken Ski: An Overnight Wilderness Ski Trip
Unemployment certainly has its perks. Other than being able to avoid small talk about jobs and taxes and such, the chief benefit is being able to jump on every passing weather window. This December, my friend Zach and I took advantage of two days of glorious midweek weather to embark on an overnight ski mission. Our target: Broken Top, one of central Oregon's most impressive volcanoes.
Leaving Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, I felt anything but svelte. My cheap synthetic sleeping bag and three person tent took up about as much room as an 8 year old child in my backpack, forcing me to strap a menagerie of items to the outside. This left me feeling more like a Boy Scout about to leave suburbia for the first time instead of a kick-ass ski mountaineer. My self-image demanded that I dial in my gear selection before the next trip. Maybe if I had a job I could afford some lighter gear...
|Thar she blows!
|The line in pink is Pucker Up, the line in blue is the one that we would ski and dub "Mini Pucker." The pink line shown is a 1,300" vertical drop.
Zach and I hurriedly set up camp at mouth of the crater and started hustling towards the west rim. I was feeling nervous about my ability to safely ski something as steep as Pucker Up. I voiced my concern to Zach and we decided to ski an easier line that we had scoped out, directly down the ridge from Pucker. This would allow us to get a better feel for the approach and see Pucker Up up close, and then hopefully ski it the next day. Despite a crew ahead of us committing the unspeakable crime of boot packing in the skin track, we made it up to the top of the line in no time at all.
|The customary selfie at the top of the climb.
A quick snow pit confirmed that we wouldn't have to worry about the forecasted wind slabs. Although we already knew that the snow would be, uh, less than ideal (is there ever powder above tree line in Oregon?), we were both fired up to finally point our skis downhill. We resisted the urge to get right to the descent and took a few minutes to appreciate where we were (not at work) and scout some incredible-looking terrain on the other side of the crater.
|Photo credit: Zach Smith