Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's Good in the Hood!

I'd been itching to get up on the mountain since mid-November, when the snow started falling.  After a couple of failed weekend attempts, due to bad weather (high winds), I was dying to get my skiing fix.  Last Friday, the planets aligned and I got my chance! 

Friday was a sunny, clear, cold day.  It had been really cold in Portland, so I was worried that it might be a cold day for skiing up on the mountain.  But I packed my warmest gear, and a thermos of hot tea, and hit the road!  I made good time getting up to the mountain.  The views at White River Sno-Park were so nice, that I took the time to stop and to take a couple of photos.  The photo above is of Mt. Hood and the snow-covered White River.

Here's a close up of Mt. Hood.  It's nice to see the mountain with some snow, but it still needs a little bit more.

I pulled into Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot, and there was hardly anyone there.  I donned all my gear, grabbed my telemark skis, and hit the lifts.  Although the temperature was cold, the sunshine helped give the allusion of warmth and I wasn't freezing.  Trying to do tele-turns helped warm me up quick!

On a sunny day, Meadows has the best views from its higher lifts.  Above is an example of the great views.  You can see Mt. Jefferson and some of the other Cascade peaks against the sky.

They had the Cascade lift open.  It is the higest lift at Meadows, and it is often closed in the winter due to high winds and low visibility.  I felt like it was my lucky day -- no crowds, bluebird day, and the Cascade was open!

Here's what the main run down from the Cascade lift looks like.  Some nice moderate cruiser runs.  Meadows had many of the runs nicely groomed.  If it's a powder day, I stay off the groom, but since it was my first day out this season, and the off-piste was pretty icy, I stayed on the groomers all day.

Sadly, Heather Canyon was not open.  I didn't look like they had enough snow yet, and what was there looked pretty icy.  I'll ski Heather on a powder day, but when the snow is Cascade concrete I stay away!

Here's a view down into Heather Canyon.  It is a beautiful  (but steep!) place to ski into.

I skied down Shooting Star Ridge, which is an excellent cruising run.  It is a very good place to practice tele-turns (and parallel turns too).  About this time, my legs were complaining.  It was time to head back to my car for lunch, and change into my alpine skis.  After telemarking all morning, alpine skiing seemed like a piece of cake!

I had so much fun on Friday, but boy did I feel it on Saturday!  However, my friend Kim wanted to take her kids up on Sunday and invited me to come along.  I'm never one to miss an opportunity to ski, so I downed some Motrin and was back on the slopes Sunday morning.  The mountain had received an inch of so of snow overnight (although the snow phone claimed it was 4 inches!).  The trees were all snow-covered and looked beautiful.

Here's my good friend and long-time ski buddy Kim.  She was bundled up because the wind was blowing hard and it was really, really cold!  It was colder on Sunday than it was Friday.  The white cloud that is over the top of Mt. Hood is due to blowing snow on the upper reaches of the mountain.

I'm so bundled up, I'm almost unrecognizable!  Boy it was a cold day!

Here's a cool view of the snow blowing over the top of the mountain.  

The day before, three climbers got lost up on Mt. Hood, and throughout the day Sunday we watched a couple of helicopters and an airplane circling the mountain searching for the climbers.  One climber's body was found, but the other two have not been located yet.   What a tragedy.

Even with the somber news of the climbers, I still enjoyed my ski weekend on the Hood.  I had two bluebird days, and skied until my legs said "enough!"  It was a good way to begin the year.  Here's hoping for another good ski season.

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