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Topic: March 16 - 17 Broken Top Bowl (Read 1013 times)
3/16 - 3/17 Trip Report Broken Top Bowl
Friday 3/15, Nick and I decided we both needed to get the “hell out of dodge” and
get some much needed reprise of March Turns. Nick had just been accepted for an
Internship position in Spokane, WA so we looked at this trip as potentially one of our
last for a while so we amped one another up that we would get some really good turns
to sweeten the last trip. We selected a choice section of good skiing in the Broken Top
bowl in Central OR. We were at the trailhead by 0700 Saturday and ready to go.
Unfortunately, the spring had reached its way to east side of the range and glazed the
crusted over the snow surface. We shouldered our packs and headed out. Practicing
our kick glide provided the desired morning burst of energy expulsion as we skinned
through the Dutchman Flats while we periodically caught glimpses of the Broken Top
bowl through the clouds. Despite the Kansas-flat start, Nick and I really enjoyed our
first 3 miles out. We had heard there may be some snow fall in the forecast, and as
we slowly gained our way toward Todd lake, a few flakes drifted down, but not enough
to accumulate to much. As the trail ended we attempted to navigate our way to our
intended camp site by way of compass, GPS and a small map from a guide book.
By 1500 we finally reached a protected tent perch just below the bowl. The wind had
begun to pick up, and the snow was coming down a bit heavier. We dug out a pit, tested
a few columns and then expanded our hole to accommodate our tent. We ate and
snoozed for an hour before deciding to salvage the afternoon with some late-day turns
in the bowl. Unfortunately, while we lay briefly unconscious, the snow and wind both
picked up. A lot. Visibility dropped to only a few hundred meters and the wind began
gusting in the low 40s, Nick and I began wondering what the hell we were doing. Just
after entering the base of the bowl a gust nearly knocked both Nick and I over; the snow
was patchy at best with wind slabs and pockets of fresh piles each creating a terribly
unstable surface. We each decided it was best to turn around and head back to camp.
As we skied southward towards our camp I decided to keep a small bit of distance
between Nick and I in the event of a low angle slide. As we approached a rolling section
needing some extra speed to reach the top Nick took off rocket-like. Within seconds
after I began following, Nick disappeared. This struck me as odd since the terrain here
is mildly flat and there are no crevasses. Almost immediately Nick reappeared, ski-less
and on his bum. As I approached, Nick frantically waved me off from following his
tracks. As I approached alongside him, I saw what had momentarily consumed my
friend from my sight. A 4 foot drop in a wind carved slab had eaten away at a portion of
the hill and created a sudden increase in Nick’s gravity as he streamed straight into the
adjacent hard pack. When I got close enough to ask what had happened immediately
began telling me, “I know who I am, My name is Nick, The date is the . . . uh. . March
16, Tomorrow is St. Patty’s Day; . . . I love Stephanie. . ” Nick then whimpered about taking
a ten foot drop and then whimpered a bit more about having a hard time catching his
breathe and about some soreness in his chest from landing on his avy beacon. He
calmed his breathing, re-oriented himself and we carried on (a bit more timidly) while
making figure eights back to camp.
We both clambered back to the tent at 1930 and
slept until 0700 the next morning. Nick decided that due to his spill, he was not up for
attempting the bowl, and was ready for returning to Bend beer and nachos. Convinced
he was just wimping out and wanting to “lick his wounds” I held reserve that we’d rise
early and take some powder runs. When we emerged from our tent we discovered an
additional 8 inches had fallen overnight, and the sun was beginning to peak through the
Central Oregon Sky as we stuffed our packs. We attempted to reapply our frozen skins
to skis and scarf down the last of pita, cheese, and sausage in the 20 degree morning
before bidding farewell to the Broken Top Bowl, which we still could not make out
through it’s dense shroud of cloud.
The ground was covered in a perfectly light “face-shot-worthy” 8 inches of
powder. Yet in the nearest half mile there was no hill steep enough to collect such
speed, so I trudged on following Nick’s grunts and winces back to the Dutchman Flats.
Again we were challenged to practice our navigation with compass and periodic GPS
referencing. Within the last three miles Both Nick and I were groaning from well-formed
blisters and bruising shins. The presence of the sun over us kept us moving. Finally as
we approached the final flats we read a sign reading 1/4 mile to Dutchment Flats Sno-
Park. After another, what must have been 3/4 of a mile, we finally reached the car, a
wonderful sight to our nearly sunburned faces. We then retreated to Bend to enjoy
après-ski treats and then return to the west side. On our drive back we joked about
rather cruel nature of not being able to ski the best snow of the weekend, discussed exit
scenarios for more serious falls, and then griped more about missing powder. All told,
we only took a total of half a mile of actual turns for the entire 11 miles of skinning.
The following Monday I heard news from Nick, turns out the fall left him with a
cracked rib. Time to rest up and get ready for late April turns!
The weekend left us with a few questions to ponder, would love to hear thoughts from
1) We both experienced severe blistering from the approach. The only thing we
can think to blame it on that was “new” was the flat approach with AT boots. Any
others have this experience?
2) No emergency exit needed to happen and Nick was able to skin out. It left us
feeling pretty vulnerable to the mountain (which is probably a good thing), but
forced us to consider more ideas about how to get help if we needed it. We
tossed around different ideas about what we could have done if one of us was
unable to ski out. Make a sled with the other’s skis and come back for the bulk
of the gear later, leave the injured partner in camp with plenty of food, water and
communication ability and go find help, any other ideas?
« Last Edit: 04/05/13, 03:54 PM by jschloemer »
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