What a fabulous start it has been to the season at Mission Ridge. This weekend, the 2nd one in December, the skiing was a joy. It started snowing at 10am on Saturday, right on schedule, depositing light, wind fueled pow to an already excellent cover. With 100% of the mountain open, and much of the off-groomed skiing really well, we were like Tronald Dump in a wig shop, absolutely spoiled for choice.
As Saturday went on, the snow came down harder and harder, the crowds diminished, and every run was one of wind filled freshies. We skied, almost in the dark, until 4pm, carving through the first flakes of another 5 inches that were to fall Saturday night after the lifts closed.
Mission Ridge – Johnson’s
Mission Ridge Sunday morning 8.55am
Mission Ridge – my tracks 🙂
Mission Ridge – view of Columbia River
Sunday was a gem. Pow blanketed the mountain. Everywhere we explored was in superb condition. Top picks were the wind-loaded Lemolo and Maggie’s trees, and the narrow tree shot off the car track just past Johnson’s (it must have a name – locals?). That was face shot alley on Sunday. An enforced 1pm departure was a little painful, but while a short day, it was day of the season so far.
Saturday 7600m, Sunday 3700m vert
Season totals: 8 days, 57,700m vert, 3 powder days
Anecdote: The Barwin Curse Strikes at Mission Ridge
We have a friend who claims that whenever he skis Mission, the main chair, The Liberator, is down. This has become known as the Barwin Curse. It is especially strong when he isn’t skiing and we are, and as of this weekend, he hadn’t skied at all this season.
At 2.30pm on Saturday, we rode the Liberator in particularly brutal wind. At the top we all remarked that it was amazing the chair was still running. 5 minutes later it wasn’t. The Curse had struck. We didn’t care because most people had left and the skiing off Chairs 3 and 4 was great. We skied in the dark to 4pm. Little did we realize how strong The Curse had become.
In hindsight, we luckily eschewed a post ski beer at the lodge in anticipation of a slow ride down the mountain. as it was snowing heavily to a level not far above Wenatchee in the valley. As we set off from the parking lot, bumpily rocking across the deep snowy ruts, I noticed the 4WD in our Xterra was not locking in. Then the ‘ABS failed’ light came on. Other lights came on that I’d never seen before. Oops – this was not good.
The first half of the descent we crawled down in a long procession of cars on well packed snow. Even without 4WD, it felt pretty safe. The road then straightens out and steepens. Slightly warmer, the slushy snow was making cars in front slide. We slid too. 3 or 4 times, luckily stopping and avoiding hitting anything. The last time though, we nosedived into a smallish snow bank. Time for a tow truck!!!
The Curse had struck.
An hour later we were pulled out, and snow ploughs had done a good enough job on the road for us to drive carefully down. $200 to the wrecker, and we hit the beer pile in our hotel room.
A plan was quickly hatched to ride up in Kathy’s truck on Sunday, leave the hill early and head back to Seattle in our semi-disabled truck about 1.30pm, as the forecast was pretty good on the mountain passes for the afternoon. Next day, despite the great pow, the plan was perfectly enacted. We rolled out of Wenatchee before 2pm and hit the road in bright sunshine.
10 minutes we heard a strange noise from under the vehicle. We stopped at the gas station at the bottom of Blewett Pass, and checked things out. Nothing obvious, so we kept going. 15 miles later, half way up Blewett, the car started handling weirdly. Then there was a loud clunk and the steering more or less went. Luckily there was a pull out nearby. We pulled in, knowing pulling out would require another tow truck!!
The Curse had struck again.
On this particularly narrow, steep sided part of Blewett Pass, we had no cell reception. Great. We flagged down a passing car, gave them our AAA details, and they drove off to call in for us. 90 minutes later a tow truck arrived? Towards Seattle, please? Er … no. Back to Wenatchee we go.
Crazy Web searching and many phone calls later, we found Hertz at Wenatchee airport had a 4WD we could rent. We raced there in the tow truck and arrived just before the 5.30pm closing. $550 for the week. This was becoming an expensive day.
Blewett Pass was easy, but by the time we got to Snoqualmie, the snowless window had ended. A road that 2 days earlier was surrounded by essentially green hillsides was now laden with 2 feet of snow. The descent from the Summit was as wild as an snow storm we’ve ever been in. It was slow and slightly stressful, but the rental made it. We got home at 9.30pm
The next day we woke up at 7am, fingers crossed that our flights to Denver wouldn’t be Curse-affected. We were hopeful because our friend was strapping his skis on for the first time this season at Mt Bachelor that very day. And, as if by magic, he skied, he was happy, emailing us photos all day, and the Curse seemingly released it’s brutal grip. Our flights were on time, the skiing was superb, and life has been fine ever since.
Keep skiing Bob!!! Then we will all be safe … 🙂
PS Car repair was another $330 – a new wheel bearing