skip navigation

MRT Big Mountain Coaches go deep on Mt Hood

By Coach Ted, 01/06/22, 10:00AM PST


If the phrase, “build it and they will come” holds any analogies to the ski world, it might be “plan it and the snow will come”. In mid-December, four lucky MRT coaches had an opportunity to test this mantra while gaining valuable knowledge in avalanche science.

Planning months in advance, a date of December 11-13 seemed reasonable to conduct an American Avalanche Association Level 2 course with enough snow to dig pits and gather practical information. As the days drew close, the outlook was questionable at best. The ground on the east and northeast side of Mt Hood was covered mostly by fallen leaves and dirt. But coaches were committed and made the plan.

Two days before the mission was to start, winter arrived. Pulling into the Tilly Jane trailhead on Monday morning, two feet had fallen over the weekend. More would be up higher. At an undisclosed rustic cabin, coaches Rust, Mckinley, Wardlaw, and Isakson spent the next 2 ½ days going through notebooks and immersing ourselves in avalanche vernacular and putting it in practice right out our door. Taking advantage of the new snow and shifting winds, we skied through knee deep snow in trees, dug pits to 100cm or more on different aspects, and returned to discuss our findings and how to apply them to forecasting avalanches. It was truly an unequaled way to learn this kind of material. And, it sure was a fantastic way to usher in a winter storm that basically hasn’t stopped rewarding our snow dreams for the past month! Thank you, Ullr!

We are super grateful to Heiko Stopsack for being such a fantastic instructor and guide during our time exploring the Cooper Spur side of the mountain. We’re looking forward to many more adventures with you this winter and beyond!

This advanced Avvy Level 2 training reflects MRT’s commitment to educating both coaches and athletes in best safety practices in the backcountry. As we strive to create more robust touring opportunities for our athletes, this significant investment will help us stay safe both in our daily adventures in Heather Canyon and Private Reserve, and on the Wallowas Tours in March. MRT will continue to seek opportunities for coaches, athletes, and families to gain backcountry safety education as our Big Mountain program continues to grow.