Thursday, February 2, 2012

Another Sucky Ski Day

What's up with the weather on Thursdays?  Two weeks ago it was raining.  Last week the skies were clear as a bell.  But the wind was blowing so hard, Mt. Hood Meadows was all but shut down. Only two main lifts and the bunny hill were running.

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

Snow blowing off the top of Mt. Hood

To top it off, at 5 am the temperature was 32 degrees.  At 7 am, the mercury had dropped to 20 degrees.  This ensured any snow that hadn't already been blown away got encased in an icy crust.

Icky, icy crust on the snow at HRM

Of course we clueless souls on the ski bus didn't know any of this when we boarded our ride that morning.  Everyone expected another warm, wet day.  But checking the snow phone on our way up the mountain gave us an inkling what we were in for.

Melting snow creates interesting patterns

We arrived at Meadows to howling winds.  The MH Express Lift was running at a greatly reduced speed.  The first ride up the lift was so miserable, my bus friend Linda and I decided to head for the lower HRM lift and get out of the wind.


Chairlift shadows

But - remember the drastic temperature drop?  It created a lovely thick ice crust on all the snow from the top of HRM on down.  Did Meadows bother grooming any runs off of HRM?  Of course not!   So Linda and I unknowingly were led into some of the crappiest skiing conditions I've seen so far this year.  We ran into thick ungroomed heavy snow with a hard icy crust on top.  It was near impossible to turn in the gunk, and once you sunk below the crust it was all one could do to keep from getting stuck, wiping out, and twisting a knee.

Linda heads down Two Bowl

It took Linda and I almost an half hour of slow, careful skiing to finally reach the bottom of the lift.  We had both decided long before that we were not coming back here.  We heard later there was a Meadows employee stationed at the top of HRM warning everyone not to go down.  All I can say is shame on you Meadows for opening an area with such unsafe snow conditions!

Too windy to ski, might as well drink!

So Linda and I were stuck on the windy MH Express.....  But someone told us Two Bowl had good snow, so we decided to give it a try.  That person was right on!  All of the snow blew off the main trail and settled into the bowl.  It formed a wonderful soft fluffy carpet of powder.  We had the best skiing of the day right there in little ole Two Bowl.

My buddies from the "Love Bus"

Conditions ranged from "blow you off the mountain" windy, to "blown off icy" to "soft powder stash in wind-protected areas."  Linda got cold and tired, so she ended up quitting around 1:30.  I didn't want to give up so easily (I'd taken a vacation day from work to ski after all!) and stayed out awhile longer.  But the weather seemed to get colder and windier.  My last lift ride I was joined by a nice older couple.  They dug out an airline bottle of Yukon Jack and offered me a nip.  I usually don't drink and ski, but it was so cold I took a swig.  And I have to say that stuff does a great job of warming a person up!

Bus moms Dixie, Lisa and Linda

But around 2:30, I'd had enough.  I hung up my skis and joined my bus friends in the bar.  And I have to say, if I'm stuck in a ski resort bar, these are great people to pass the time with.  That's the best part of riding the ski bus - you meet some wonderful folks.

Linda keeping us bus riders in line

There were many toasts, and lots of laughter.  The time passed quicker than I expected.  Soon it was time to load the bus for the trip home.

Our great bus sign - created by fellow rider Doug

So even though the conditions were less than stellar, I had fun with my fellow bus-mates.  And I have to admit it was better than going to work!  Maybe this ski day wasn't so sucky after all.


  1. You are bringing back some awesome memories for me :) I used to ski on Mt. Hood with my much fun :) Sorry the conditions were way less than perfect :P

  2. Nice pictures in spite of the weather

  3. Bummer on the sking but sounds like you had a great time anyhow and that makes it worth it


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