GRAND TOUR OF THE NORTH (USA)
California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada
THE STORY BEHIND
We are in the second Corona winter, the urge to travel grew strong in the meantime. The Grand Tour of the North was actually already planned for January 2021, and even if the ski resorts in the USA were open this winter - as in Switzerland - the 14-day quarantine on entry was not exactly beneficial to the desire to travel.
In the fall of 2021, the conditions changed, quarantine is no longer applicable and nothing stands in the way of the Grand Tour of the North. First we celebrate Christmas with the Californian part of the family and on New Years Day the trip starts.
It will be a road trip of more than 5000 miles with 34 ski resorts in 7 states, leading through the forests of Oregon, the great valley of the Columbia River, the vastness of Montana, the loneliness of Wyoming and through the deserts of Nevada. The skis in the trunk and the Best Buddy on parts of the way on the passenger seat (he mostly without skis, more about that later). There was not much snow on the trip, the winter 2021/22 was only in Washington and Oregon a good one - but the road conditions were good and I had no problems with the snow chains - the fear to put on snow chains is known to be my constant companion. There were only two stretches of road where chains were probably compulsory (if I understood that correctly, it's not clear to me in each case), but my 4WD, in combination with the driver, coped excellently with these passages. Also the great cold prevailed only until one day before my arrival at the respective place, so I can talk three comfortable more-or-less winter weeks. Honestly, it could have been a bit colder.
The tour started and ended in Petaluma, California. The locations on this trip were located from 38° N (Heavenly) and 48° N (Schweitzer Mountain) and 122° W (Mount Ashland) and 109°W, it covered an area of approx. 714’408 square kilometers (275’834 square miles) or two times the size of Germany (or 17 times the size of Switzerland). In total, the trip was 7912 km (4918 miles) long, the average stage was 416 km (259 miles), by far the trip with the longest distances.
01/02/2022 - 3 Lifts
It's only a short drive from the village up to the ski resort, where I'm traveling alone at first, until suddenly more and more cars gather and in the end a whole convoy is on the road. I will probably never get rid of the parking paranoia that I earned in 2017. But everything is fine: although it is Sunday and holidays, there are still parking spaces available. It is quite busy in the small lodge, but the lifts are still empty.
The area is an Arena-type, accessed by three lifts that become more and more challenging in a clockwise direction. The Marmot lift takes you to flat runs, the Coyote lift to medium runs, and the Douglas lift opens up steeper runs. A small complete area here. And if also the 4322 meter high volcano Mount Shasta would have shown itself in its splendor, it would have been really perfect, this entry into the Grand Tour.
Lifte 3: Marmot, Coyote, Douglas
01/02/2022 - 3 Lifts
I drive an hour further north and am in Oregon for the first time. The access road to the area leads over a good 15 kilometer long snow-covered road further and further up, the view becomes more and more tremendous. However, the wind is also getting stronger and stronger and when I reach the top, my fear that the wind will affect the skiing is confirmed: The highest lift, Ariel, has ceased operation. Since this lift serves about 50% of all slopes in the area, the already small area becomes even smaller. What remains is the fantastic view of various volcanoes here. And the impressive ride through the Rogue Valley, up to the High Desert plateau, to Bend.
Lifte 3: Windsor, Comer, Sonnet