Friday, January 13, 2012

Spring Skiing in January??

This has been one of the wackiest winters ever.  Hood's had hardly any snow for the entire month of December (if it wasn't for the NYE dump, we'd have been skunked).  The weather gods brought clear, sunny skies - unheard of for Portland in early winter.  And temps up on the mountain have been above freezing.  The timing of the seasons is way off.  We have spring skiing in January.

Hood looks over a barren White River

My friend Dean and I teamed up for a day at Mt. Hood Meadows last Sunday.  I love skiing with Dean.  He's super enthusiastic about snow-riding and is a lot of fun to be around.  He likes to attack the gnarly steep stuff.  We're pretty evenly matched in our abilities.  And we both love to ski Four Bowl.

Sunrise at White River

On our way up to Meadows in the morning, the sunrise was lighting up Hood so nicely, I made a pit stop at the White River Sno-park to snap a few photos.  Since this Sno-park has a "little boys room," Dean took the opportunity to have a pit stop of his own.

Dean flies down the slope

Dean and I arrived at Meadows under sunny, bluebird skies.  It was already feeling warm in the parking lot.  No heavy layers needed today!

What's in that flask, Dean?

Dean is a well-prepared guy.  He always stuffs his pockets with snacks and carries his water in a small flask bottle.  Dean get some funny looks when he pulls out his flask on the lift!  Not everyone believes him when he says it's only water inside.

Yes, this is one of the slopes!  Grass skiing, anyone?

We started out at the Hood River Meadows lift (affectionately called "herm" by we locals) the lowest elevation lift. The upper runs were still icy, but down at HRM, the snow was already soft and ski-able. Even the dreaded "face of HRM" was easily traversed.  We had a couple of good runs, but did have to dodge some protruding stumps, rocks and bushes.  Ah - the joys spring skiing already!

Lookin' down Inner Limits

After HRM's trails started getting really soft, we moved up to Shooting Star.  The snow was just perfect and we enjoyed some most excellent runs.

Dean does his "Karate Kid" impression

Around 11 o'clock-ish we decided it was time to move higher.  Dean and I rode the lift over to the Cascade - the highest trails in the resort.  The snow was just beginning to soften, so our timing was good. 

Can you see me up there?

The blue skies and plentiful sunshine guaranteed jaw-dropping views up top.  We were not disappointed.  Dean and I had planned to take a lunch break around 11:30.  But the snow was perfect right around then, so lunchtime was delayed until 12:30.

Icy, icky slope.  Yeah, we skied through that.

After lunch, we headed right back up to Cascade.  Dean spied a south-facing slope, warmed by the sun, where he thought the snow would be good.  We skied over to find it and discovered, much to my dismay, that reaching the slope required a traverse through a bumpy, icy plain.  I took one look at this spot, glittering with ice, and said "no way!"  But Dean told me he was going for it, so I had no choice but to follow.  Bumping and sliding through the ice field, I complained "this better be worth it!"

Dean and I's favorite run

Ooohhhh.....and it was!  The first turn down was pure heaven.  It was hero snow.  My ski edges cut like butter.  I made a bunch of effortless sweeping graceful turns.  I ended up liking the run so much that we rode the lift back up, endured bumping back through the ice field, and did it again.

Dean, pointing out Upper Elevator

By early afternoon, Meadows was a corn snow paradise.  Everything off the groomers was totally soft and ski-able.  Dean and I hit the face off express.  Fabulous!  Riding the lift back up, we eyed Four Bowl.  Beings it's our most favorite run, Dean and I just had to go leave tracks on it.

Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters dominate the skyline

For the final trip, I suggested to Dean we check out Upper Elevator.  Neither of us had skied that run since last year, so he was totally game.  I kind of remembered  how to get to the top of the slope, but the trail sign was iced over, so it there was a little bit of guesswork involved.  We did manage to head in the right direction and found our slope of choice.  And we had a most excellent trip down to the bottom.

If you can't have fresh pow, sunshine is the next best thing!

It was a fabulous sunny, "spring" day.  I always say, if you can't have fresh powder, sunshine is the next best thing!

Any day on skis is a good day! 



  1. What a beautiful, crystal clear day!

  2. Ahh, yes a good GOOD day... but not as good as MLK day! I soooo wanted to call in a ski, ahem sick, day today. 10" last night, 10-13" today, 15 degree temps. :D

    Sigh, no thigh muscles left though. :(


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