September 6, 2010 – Illumination Rock, Mt Hood

I left the southern Willamette Valley just before 5 in the morning, seeking September turns at Mt Hood.  After a quick drive up Interstate 5, I pulled into the Alpine campground at 7:30 to meet Todd, who’d spent the night there.  We headed up to the Timberline parking lot and it was quite cold.  Looking to make the most of our day, we bought a summer lift ticket, loaded the Magic Mile chairlift and rode up to the Palmer Snowfield.  For the first couple of hours in the morning, we spun laps on the snowfield, and the snow was in great shape.  Around noon, we headed down to the parking lot for a quick break and some lunch before heading back up to do some climbing.  From the top of the Palmer, we chose to ascend via the White River snowfield.  Here’s a shot of Todd skinning below the White River Glacier headwall….

Climbing below the White River headwall

The White River snowfield was pretty cupped on the ascent, so we headed out towards the Zigzag Glacier and Illumination Rock in search of some smoother snow.  Dropping down onto the Zigzag Glacier, we were pleased to find much better snow conditions.  After a short break, I climbed out to Illumination Saddle, where the wind was really howling.

Illumination Saddle

The view down to the Reid Glacier was beautiful with the cloud deck a few thousand feet below, and it appeared to still be in decent condition for riding.  Since Todd had my camera, I snapped the below photo with my cell phone…..

Reid Glacier, September 2010

We strapped into our gear around 11:30 and headed down, as it appeared the clouds might be moving back in and could possibly obscure our vision on the way down.  The first turns were a bit bumpy, but it was pretty nice for September!  Here’s a couple of shots from around 9000 feet….

Todd skiing below Crater Rock
September turns on the Zigzag

The snow below about 8800 feet was smooth corn and in really nice shape for September.  We continued to make turns down the snowfield, with Illumination Rock in the background…

Boarding below Illumination Saddle
Todd skiing in front of Illumination Rock

Once down to the bottom of the snowfield, we cracked open a Green Lakes Ale from Deschutes Brewery and admired our turns down the last pitch (ours are to the left in the picture)…

Turns on the Little Zig Zag

After downing the suds, it was a quick 10 minute hike back to the east and we were standing at the bottom of the Palmer Chair.  So, we hopped on the lift and spun another lap before the hill closed.  The run down the Mile Canyon was pretty nice, and left us within a few hundred feet of the cars.  Overall, I’d have to say this was probably my most enjoyable September up on Hood!   Here’s a parting shot of Todd skiing on the Zig Zag…

Sweet September Corn!