September 1, 2014 – Mt Hood, Palmer Snowfield

The calendar said September, so it was time to head to Mt Hood in search of some late summer corn snow.  After talking with Dan, we made plans to head to the mountain on Labor Day and meet up with Todd who was planning on getting a twofer on the 31st/1st.  So, on Monday morning, I met Dan and Cindy at the cop shot in Albany and we set out.  After a brief stop at Joe’s Donuts in Sandy for a power breakfast, we arrived in the Timberline Parking lot around 8:30 and found Todd waiting there to greet us.  The weather was sunny and nice, with a slight breeze to keep us cool.  In short order our packs were shouldered and we were hiking up the White River trail above the climbers lot.

Mt Hood on the approach

Mt Hood on the approach

 

Dan and Todd hiking along the White River

Dan and Todd hiking along the White River

Before long we reached the usual vantage point overlooking the White River Glacier, stopping briefly to soak in the views.  The glacier looked about normal for late summer, and had retreated quite a bit from our previous trip in early August.

The lower White River Glacier

The lower White River Glacier

 

White River Glacier Abstract

White River Glacier Abstract

Continuing up along the climber’s trail, we found a suitable spot just below the top of the Palmer that was out of the breeze and worked great for a quick lunch break.  After lunch, we continued up beyond the Palmer and onto the White River Snowfield as a few clouds began to form.  Around 9200 feet or so, snow conditions started to deteriorate so we elected to head down.

Break time...

The view from our highpoint

Todd dropped in first, and dropped a knee, and was followed closely by Dan.  After the two skiers were several hundred feet below me, it was my turn.  I put my camera back in the camera bag, tightened my binding straps, and enjoyed sweet September turns on Mt Hood.

Tele turns on the White River Snowfield

Tele turns on the White River Snowfield

 

Dan getting September turns

Dan following Todd

We regrouped just above the top of the Palmer, then cruised down the snowfield along with a few other paying customers from the Timberline ski area.  Palmer skied about as good as I’ve ever skied it in September, and we ripped it.

Turns on the Palmer

Turns on the Palmer

A few thousand feet later, we stopped at the top of the Mile and debated options.  Dan and I were game to head back up, while Todd was ready to head for the barn, so we bid Todd farewell as he skied down to the car.  Dan and I strapped our sliding gear back to our packs and started up for another lap…

Hiking for a second lap

Hiking for a second lap

Less than an hour later, we were enjoying a well deserved beer at the top of the Palmer, lounging in the summer sun watching European girls in bikinis ski by lap after lap.  Eventually, the hour reached 2:30 and the lifts shut down, and the general public deserted the mountain.  This was our cue, as riding the Palmer after it’s closed with nobody around is about as good as it gets in the summer.  Cindy, who was nearing the mid-station, called us from below, and with plans to meet up we headed down for a second lap…

More perfect snow

More perfect snow

Surfing the Palmer corn

Surfing the Palmer corn

The snow on lap two was as good as lap one — so good in fact, that after we met up with Cindy, we headed back up halfway to the top for another session.  This time, we ripped the snow as before, but Dan grabbed a beer on the way down he’d stashed at the mid-station and pounded it while executing a perfect ski turn……

Pounding a cold one on the run out

Pounding a cold one on the run out

The snow in the Mile Canyon on the way back to the car was great as usual, with the last 100 yards a bit challenging due to all the snowcat tracks.  Hiking out the trail down to the car, it dawned on me we’d skied nearly 5000 vertical feet on the day —- not bad for September!

The snow's end

End of the snow

Sitting in the climber’s lot in flip flops and shorts, we enjoyed some of the season’s finest offerings, including fresh salsa I’d made the day before, cucumbers and dip, and a great pale ale from Good Life Brewing Co.  Reflecting on our day during the car ride home, we agreed that though September might not offer the best terrain options and snow conditions, what we skied this Labor Day will not soon be forgotten.

Comments are closed.