Three of us left from Eugene and two from Bend, and we decided to meet up at the Crescent Lake Sno-Park at 8:30am, which would give us enough daylight to skin in the ~3.5 miles, do a couple laps on Redtop and then ski back out. As Jace, Adam and I pulled into the sno-park, it was snowing pretty hard and there was lots of snow already blanketing the parking area. A little later Irena and Andrew showed up, and after finalizing our gear preparations we did a quick beacon check and headed off in the direction of Redtop.
|Starting it off|
It became immediately apparent that breaking trail was going to be a chore and that we’d need to switch off on lead to preserve our energy levels. For the first ¾ mile we didn’t follow an established trail but instead headed straight in a northwest direction. Eventually, we ran into the Pretty Lake Trail and decided to follow that all the way to the lake and the base of Redtop. Although the trail was covered in snow, the path was pretty apparent, which helped quite a bit for navigation. The higher we climbed the deeper the snow got, and breaking trail was quite exhausting. I was pretty impressed with how well our group worked together to share in the effort and we made pretty good progress despite the extra effort that was required.
|Deep, right off the bat.|
After 2hrs and climbing ~1,000’, we reached Pretty Lake. From here we traversed around its southern flank and started up the least steep corridor toward the summit of Redtop. Looking around at the wide-open glades and deep snow raised the stoke level and helped supply us with some additional energy to make it to the top. Although the slope was relatively mellow (20 to 25 degrees) it was really tough breaking through two feet of fresh snow. We were also keeping an eye out for avalanche warning signs. Based on our observations, the storm snow was fairly unconsolidated and our biggest risks would probably be wind slabs higher up on the ridge and sluffs lower down. Before long we reached the north ridge, which had a wide-open ramp up to the summit. Luckily, there was a line of trees to our right (west), which helped block the wind, which was pretty savage. We ended stopping just down from the summit to stay protected from the wind. As we transitioned over to descent mode we struggled to stay on top of the snow and we found ourselves up to our knees in white goodness.
|Tough going on the up|
|A little windy on the ridge|
|Closing in on the summit|
Since we wanted to play it safe we decided to head back down the same way we’d come up. I headed down first so I could grab some photos (and fresh tracks!). The snow was deep and the slope was pretty gentle, so it was difficult to get enough speed to keep the tips up. I basically ended up straight-lining it down the first pitch. Soon after, the others came down, encountering the same challenge that I had. Even so, everyone was grinning ear to ear and we were looking forward to dropping into the next pitch, which was a little steeper.
|Andrew get his first freshies of the day|
|Jace battles a bit of wind and low vis|
On the second pitch, we leap-frogged down the east side of Redtop, popping in and out of thickets of trees and open glades. As we closed in on the flats at the bottom of the run I was just starting to feel dialed in with the deep snow conditions. Luckily, we had ended somewhat near our skintrack, which we could now use to climb back up to the top for another lap.
|Andrew finds some nicely spaced trees|
The second trip up the skintrack was certainly much easier and faster than when we were breaking trail, and before long we were once again at our top-out point. Since we were planning to take a run down a lesser peak, which was located just down the ridge to the north, we didn’t skin all the way to the top of Redtop. Once we were transitioned, we dropped into the line in a similar order that we had followed on the first lap. The short ski down to the saddle between Redtop and the lesser peak started off pretty fun but soon turned into a short section of thick trees that took some effort to navigate without falling into a tree well. We ended up meeting back up on the other side of the trees, where we found ourselves in a small depression, which required us to put skins on for the short ascent up to the high point of our planned line. Once at the top, we evaluated conditions and slope angle and decided our best bet was to ski the open glades directly down the east aspect.
|Adam, kickin' up dust.|
|Andrew practices his monoski skills (with two skis).|
|Iryna, finishing up the meadow pitch.|
After we had all gotten back into ski mode, we dropped in one by one and found a really fun series of pitches. Basically, we were treated to perfectly spaced trees intermixed with small open areas that provided good stopping points to regroup as we made our way down. At this point, we were all feeling pretty dialed and skiing well, and a few in the group even got to visit the white room. All too soon we found ourselves at the bottom of the run, torn between doing another lap or heading back to the sno-park. Unfortunately, minimal available daylight would drive our decision and we made the wise choice to head back out before darkness set in.
|Iryna drops into some steeper trees|
|Andrew, always playing around.|
|Andrew enters the white room|
|Jace, all smiles.|
|Dropping into the next section of trees|
|More open sightlines|
|Andrew, kicking up some white smoke.|
The ski out was a bit of a chore at first, with the skintrack being fairly flat and even having some small uphill stretches. Thankfully, it eventually transitioned into a general downhill trajectory, where we were able to lock into the track like a slot car. I actually quite enjoyed the ski out on the skintrack, which is about as close as I’ll get to piloting a bobsled – it was especially exciting on the steeper sections with tight turns. Of course, the ski out was quite a bit faster than the skin in, and we reached the car in under an hour.
Back at the car, we celebrated another successful tour – we didn’t have any major issues, the snow was perfect, and everyone skied well! To end the day on a proper note, we headed to Manley’s Tavern in the town of Crescent Lake for some beers and broasted chicken! What is broasted chicken you ask? Well, that’s just something you’ll have to discover for yourself…
Redtop ended up being just what the doctor ordered, for a deep powder day. It certainly isn’t as striking or offers up the bigger lines like many of the Cascade volcanos do, but it does offer a solid selection of tree runs that cover all aspects, ranging from 500 to 1,000 vertical feet. It also has a wide-open face that I would love to ski at some point, unfortunately, avi conditions were just a little iffy to drop in on it during this trip. But hey, that just gives me another reason to head back for another go!