Gateway Green Project

What used to be the site of the Rocky Butte Prison from 1942-1983 is now becoming a 25 acre mix use park in Portland, OR. Sitting between two major highways, this unused land was recently the home to over 200 homeless. In the fall of 2016, a large outreach effort was started to provide assistance and resources to those living on the land.

A cleanup and trail building effort has since begun and volunteers from @nwtrail, Friends of Gateway Green and @portlandparks have put in thousand of hours thus far. 

This multi-million dollar project will also provide the mountain bike community with a local home and the Dirt Lab section of the park is slatted to open at the end of June 2017.

Check out to learn more.

Staying safe on Mt. St. Helens

We just got back from our second trip up to Mt. St. Helens. We attempted a summit in mid-December but had to turn back because of questionable snowpack stability. This trip was no different, after digging our pit we found some questionable wind layers and chose some safe routes on the ride down. Stay safe out there with all of this very cold dry snow, we don’t get this often in the PNW.

Dry powder in the PNW

Headed up to Crystal Mountain this weekend with Eric Mireiter and met up with a few Crystal Mountain locals. Waking up Sunday morning, we hopped out of the camper truck to find 21cm of fresh snow and it was by far some of the driest snow I’ve seen in the PNW in a long time. Stay safe out there!

It’s time to get scared again…

(photo: Cory Betzel on Mt. Rainier)

Well it’s that time of the year again. What time is that? Time to get the board and skis waxed? Time to start watching all of the new powder films? Time to plan all of your Winter trips? Nope.. It’s time to get scared again.

On September 27th of this year, we experienced the first avalanche death of the season in Banff. If it wasn’t already in our Fall plans, this should be a urgent reminder that it’s time to dust off our Avalanche Training books and start to review our materials. It’s easy to go into the season with too much confidence and to forget some of our basic knowledge when the stoke is high after a long absence of powder in our lives. So it’s time to get ourselves scared and educated again before we enter the backcountry…

Where are some good places to get scared? There are a lot of ways but here are some of my favorite places:

  1. Read the accident and avalanche reports from the past season in your area. Besides being an eye opening reminder of what can happen, it also gives you a better understanding of what happens in your surrounding area.  At you can read about some of the 30 avalanche deaths we had in the 2015-2016 US season.
  2. has a good list of all of the Avlanche Centers in the US and they also have a terrifying video of being caught in an avalanche.
  3. Films! Go watch some of your favorite films where people have accidentally triggered avalanches. Another good film is Snowman, the story of an avalanche forecaster in BC.
  4. Besides your avalanche training materials, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is great book to read if you want to get into some statistics on fatalities and accidents.
  5. Lastly, Youtube “Caught in Avalanche

Now that you’re scared, here are some useful online resources to refresh your knowledge:

  1. The K2 Elevated Education Videos gives you a good overview of everything from skinning to digging pits.
  2. The Jones Snowboards Cheatsheet.
  3. BCA’s Learn Section.
  4. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research forecast info.
  5. National Avalanche Center’s online training.

Enjoy the new pow and stay safe out there.

Inter Glacier, Mt. Rainier

Just got back from the Inter Glacier on Mt. Rainier. We opted to head to Rainier to escape Oregon’s rising freeze levels and to avoid the crowds at Paradise Glacier. After a dry approach for a few hours we finally hit the Glacier Basin and got our first glimpses of the Inter Glacier. The terrain was a little thinner than Corey, Kristian and I hoped for but still enough dust on crust to get some good turns in. This is definitely some of the best snow we’ve all ridden in years for October and I can tell the stoke level is growing as each storm rolls in.

Night Mission, Mt. Hood

Threw together a quick edit to get you stoked for the weekend! When you see the freeze levels rising the day after a huge October snow storm, you do what you have to do. You grab the yea-sayers, some bright ass video lights and you go find cold powder. Great riding with you Jay Swain and Cory Betzel!!!


It’s time!!! After the storm that hit the PNW last week, it left Mt. Hood with fresh powder mid-week and corn by the weekend.  So Cory BetzelKristian Gamiao and I headed up to get our first fresh turns of the season. After dry approaching up to Silcox Hut it was a relief to find 6″ of soft snow on the skin up thru the canyons that lead to Palmer Glacier. By the time we hit the top of Palmer at 10am, the fresh snow turned into perfect corn and rode perfectly for about 1,500 feet.

I hope this is a foreshadow of what the rest of the season holds….

It’s snowing.. but it’s still fall out there!

I headed up to the Annual Tilly Jane wood stacking party this weekend. This is a crucial volunteer event to help get the cabin ready for the upcoming backcountry season. About 50 volunteers came out and we stacked and cut about 6 cords of wood. To help get the stoke going even more, it was snowing the whole time! Even tho it’s snowing, the fall colors on the mountain bike ride down were fantastic. Get out there and enjoy them while they last!

When it rains… hit the river trails.


So far this season, it seems as if the weather is perfect during the week and raining on the weekend. Luckily a lot of the lower elevations are clear of snow already, so when you can’t harvest spring then you might as well ride some single track. I had a great time taking two friends out for their first mountain bike experience. Happy they returned safe and are stoked to ride again!

Weather Forecasting: What I’ve learned so far…

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m no weatherman and I personally feel like it’s one of the hardest things to predict when it comes to snowboard mountaineering. I often get asked tho, where do you look for weather, when do you start looking and what are some good tools. It’s simple when the weather calls for a blue bird day, but what if it says partly cloudy, a chance of snow, etc. How do you really know when you’re weather pocket is going to be, what elevations will the mountain be socked in and so forth? Well… I’m still learning that too but here is what I’ve learned so far for figuring out weather in the PNW!


When do you start looking at the weather and what is my process?


Ten days out from an objective is generally when I start looking at the weather. Since I’m a weekend warrior, I can’t always just head out when the weather is perfect. So a lot of the time I have to make a decision if the weather is “good enough” for a trip up a mountain. I find that weather 10 days out is still a long shot and if it looks like a storm front is starting or leaving around that date, then it could happen a day before or after too.

I usually hop on OpenSnow and check out the resorts in that area for their 6-10 day forecast. I’ve created a dashboard on OpenSnow to see all of the resorts in the PNW region and this gives me a better idea of where the storm is coming in the heaviest and where the freeze levels are.

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Five days out is when I really start paying attention. Since I’m signed up for Open Snow, their daily forecasts really give me a good 5 day outlook for the resorts, but what if I’m not touring near a resort? This is when I turn to Mountain-Forecast and NOAA. I find that Mountain-Forecasts forecasts are little too optimistic for good weather, but their wind speeds and freeze levels are reliable. I find that NOAA is often too optimistic when it comes to snow amounts but offers a lot of amazing tools. So I kind of aim in-between of what both are saying.
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For NOAA, I use it in three ways. One is to look at the broad PNW weather. The second is to use their pinpoint forecasting by searching for something like “Mt. St. Helens noaa” and then clicking on the map to get the elevation and aspect I want. From there, you can get a 7 day forecast but it’s really general. To really dive into the weather, you need to go to the menu in the bottom and use the “Hourly Weather Forecast” and the “Forecast Discussion” and I’ll discuss those below. The third way I use NOAA is their cloud level predictions. This is really useful for trying to figure out if the mountain will be socked in or not. Notice that the forecasts are in UTC time, so you’ll need to translate them into your region.

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NOAA Pinpoint Forecasting


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MET MOS Ceiling Height

One to three days out is when I really start to use the “Hourly Weather Forecast” and the “Forecast Discussion” from NOAA.  Using the “Hourly Weather Forecast”, let’s you pull up a graph with a handful of very useful weather forecasts like wind, temps, precipitation potential, sky cover, etc. I find that these will continue to update and narrow down up until the night before. So it’s highly useful in figuring out good weather pockets. Remember when using this tool, it’s only for the elevation you picked when using the pinpoint map, so you can pick another zone if you’d like to check another elevation.

One thing I learned last year while flying in a Cessna is that pilots are often looking at the weather the same way that mountaineers do. Single prop and smaller planes are usually flying around the same elevation that mountaineers are climbing at. So I find that you can get some useful information from the “Forecast Discussion” section of NOAA and reading the aviation forecast. It’s a little hard to decipher sometimes, but do some googling and you’ll easily figure it out and understand what they are talking about with cloud types and visibility. I find that looking up the weather to the closest area to where you’re climbing on Wunderground works too. You’ll see on the right side of the forecast will have some aviation codes and will provide you cloud levels and what elevations they are at. This information, combined with the cloud level predictions should give you a better idea of if the mountain is going to be socked in during your climb and what time.

I keep checking these forecasts until I’m leaving the door. Just remember tho, weather on a mountain can change at any time, so always be prepared.

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NOAA Hourly Weather Forecast

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NOAA Forecast Discussion


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What tools or apps do you use?


As mentioned above, I often use these tools for checking the weather forecasts:

I hope you find this information useful and I plan to keep writing more posts as I discover new tools to help me with weather forecasting.

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