Sunday, December 29, 2013

Skimpy Ski Season

Since buying my new skis on the hottest day of August, I've been waiting.  Through September, October, November, I've been patiently counting the days.  Getting my gear ready, tuning my skis, checking weather reports, watching the newest ski movies, becoming hyped.

But has the weather cooperated?  Nooo.......!

Mt. Bachelor in the fog

Oregon has had one of the driest Decembers on record.  Although many folks don't miss the rain, it spells bad news for those of us who love to ski.  At Thanksgiving, Mt Hood Meadows, my local ski resort had a 24" base.  Almost a month later, nothing much has changed.  People are still sliding on that same 24 inches of snow.

Sunny skies and frosty trees

However, that doesn't mean I didn't go check things out for myself.  The first Friday in December had me battling frigid temperatures (it was a whopping 4 degrees!) at Meadows.  Although the grooming crew did a great job with what little snow they had, many slopes were looking sadly barren.

Fog bank hanging over the mountains

The following weekend, I packed my car and headed for Central Oregon's Mt. Bachelor, hoping to find better conditions.  I left foggy, cold Portland at 5 am, and four hours later, arrived to partially blue skies and frosty slopes.  The fog was hanging low and thick at the base.  But a short chairlift ride brought me out of the fog bank and into a beautiful sunny day.

Chair with a view

Although Bachelor had about a foot more base than Mt. Hood, it still wasn't enough to open the entire mountain.  The first day of my trip, only two of the seven main lifts were in operation.  As with Meadows, the grooming crew here had also done a great job, taking snow from the parking lot and spreading it on the slopes.  Coverage was good on all the runs I skied.

My new "fat girl" skis

Of course, I was itching to use my new boards.  But with minimal snowpack, I didn't want to risk hitting a rock or tree stump and scratching the bases on their maiden voyage.  I started out with my old beat up skis, but upon discovering the runs were well covered, switched to my fancy new, wide, (115 cm under foot) Solomon Rockette skis. (aka "the fat girls")

By afternoon, the fog was lifting

Although it was fun to use my new toys, I found these wide girls are best used for powder days, and not groomed runs.  Trying to turn these babies on hardpack snow quickly wore my quads out (time to hit the gym harder!)

And the mountains played "peek-a-boo"

One of the great things about skiing at Mt. Bachelor is the wonderful mountain views from its slopes.  On the first day, the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountain were shy, and stayed hidden behind the fog.  But by mid-afternoon, their tops could be seen peeping out from the clouds.  A nice way to end day one.

Day two began with this interesting cloud

Day two I teamed up with my friend Kim (who'd driven out separately with her sister) and my brother Dale, who lives in nearby Bend.  That morning as we headed towards the mountain, I noticed two things.  One - the sky was clear and blue, and two - temperatures were way above freezing.

Kim and Dale take in the views

Kim, who suffers from terminally cold feet when she skis, was hoping to try out her new boot heaters.  Well, she didn't need them today!  We were all sweating after the first couple of runs.

Dale has a snow blob on his helmet

Dale had a minor wipeout, and a small chunk of snow stuck to his helmet.  I told him he looked like a dinosaur.  So when I took this photo, he had to play the part!

Lift line under the cone

I ran into Kathy and Dean, two of my skiing friends, who happened to also be at Bachelor that same weekend.  All five of us decided to take a run together.  We'd barely traveled a quarter of the way down the slope, when Dean hit a hidden snow ridge, caught air and came down hard.  When he didn't get up, Kim went to fetch the ski patrol, while Dale and I hiked up to give him aid.

This scenery can't be beat!

After a sled ride down to the medical center, the prognosis was a possible ACL tear in Dean's knee.  Not what anyone wants to hear!  Dean was majorly bummed, of course, and so was I.  He's one of my favorite ski buddies.  I'll miss ripping up the slopes with him this year.

The Three Sisters

After helping Kathy get things settled, I met back up with Kim and Dale to continue our skiing.  But it was hard at first.  I kept thinking about how how quickly an innocent crash had led to a season-ending injury.  It made me dial back my skiing a bit.

Blue skies and mountains

Despite the bad news of my friend's injury, I still had a fun weekend.  Although the mountains here need much more snow, it still felt good to be back on skis again.  And a trip to Central Oregon is always wonderful, especially in the winter.

Kim and I strike a pose

But a bad cold the week of Christmas, and the lack of snow have kept me away from the mountains ever since.  I'm double-crossing my fingers and toes, praying for snow, and making sacrifices to Ullr, the snow god (alcoholic sacrifices, hee-hee!)  And if that doesn't work, I'll resort to doing snow dances.

This girl wants to ski powder.  Please bring us some snow!  Please, please, pllleeeaaaseeeee!!!!!!


  1. Sorry to hear of your friend's injury.. big bummer there
    But I'm glad you had a good weekend of skiing.
    I'll help with the snow dance.. though I don't ski I do wander the snowy mountains for photo ops.

  2. Owie on your friend's ACL tear -- that had to hurt big time!

    Wishing for some big snow for you Linda so you can try your new skis out fully! :) Beautiful photos.

  3. Snow is snow to me and we get little I never realised you could get different types. Take care Michael Schumacher is critical in Hospital after a fall of petse. I'd miss your blogs

  4. The skiing looks like fun. Beautiful scenery and photos.

    Linda, wishing you all the best in 2014, a Happy New Year to you and your family!

  5. Hopefully your dance will work. Raining plenty here, with some of our ski slopes open. Vertical runs of 450 metres!

  6. Loved hearing your ski adventures and also your shots were great. Bet you will really enjoy your fat girls if your sacrifices just work to the snow god. So sorry about your friends injury, and sure he is too. Be safe and hope it snows alot!

  7. Wish I could give you some of ours- we got another foot last night- don't know what the mountains here got.

  8. It is so pretty there! Just breathtaking. I'm glad you finally got to try out your new skis!

  9. Wow, these are so great, sorry to hear about your friend too. I must say I really like your photography, the composition and look. (Like those clouds over the valley!)

    Mersad Donko Photography

  10. It may be skimpy skiing, but it is simply stunning scenery! Finger's crossed that the New Year brings a big dump and that your friend makes a full recovery quickly.

  11. Except for your friend's injury, that would have been a great weekend. Beautiful photos, it looks like a perfect place to ski.

  12. Feeling the NEED for snow here too...gray is not my favorite color and arctic fronts that are dry bore me.
    Hope you and I see some of that beautiful powder soon. Until then, I will drool over your beautiful WINTER photos:)

  13. Beautiful photos!
    Hi from one Linda to another!

  14. Ick - torn ACL. Wishing a speedy recovery. As for the dry season - I know California had its driest year, I think everyone could use some snow.

  15. The photos are great! I've never skiied even though I've lived in OR almost all my life. Sorry to hear about your friend's injury and hope he heals well. Hope the snow comes soon, I don't mind the rain. We need the snow for a good run off this spring and make them waterfalls in the gorge beautiful! Hugs and get to feeling better. I've not been feeling good since day after Christmas! Thanks for posting a comment on my blog and becoming my newest follower! Happy New Year!

  16. The scenery is outstanding!
    It should not surprise me at all that you are a downhill skier, Linda. :)
    We have a couple of little "mountains" nearby (just big enough to pass for ski hills) but they all seem to have shut down over the past couple of decades.
    Bummer about your friend's injury.
    One of the kids our boys' football team went down on a play this year & did not get up.. it turned out to be a torn / partially torn ACL, MCL AND meniscus.
    He just finally had his surgery this past week. It's bewildering to think how fast things can change in an instant, but I don't think he would have traded a moment on the football field doing what he loves. He only regrets that he's missing out on being out there until he's recovered.

  17. Hope you get more snow Linda. The landscape is just sooo beautiful! Your pictures are always so magical .. the frosty trees, the snow capped peaked and the lovely ski slopes! You live in Paradise :) Happy new year!

  18. Happy New Year Linda! I's sure your sacrifices will help! Snow MUST come sometime. And, great choice in new skis! I am sure you'll love the Rockettes once you get to rock them in some powder.

    Best wishes to you and yours in 2014!

  19. Ouch! How sad that your friend has hurt himself!

    Hoping you soon find powder on the slopes!

  20. Those views cannot be beat - look at the clear skies!

    Do the ski resorts out there not make snow when the natural snow is skimpy?


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