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.

Running laps on the Palmer

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 couple of shots of Todd skinning along up the snowfield….

Todd on the climb
Climbing below the White River headwall

As we climbed higher, the views became better and better, and soon we had a pretty good look at the White River Glacier below us. To the south, Mt Jefferson was looming on the horizon.

The White River Glacier, Sept 2010

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.

Looking down on the Zigzag
Illumination Rock and 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….

Turns below Crater Rock
September turns on the Zigzag

The snow below 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 on the Zigzag
Todd skiing in front of Illumination

After working our way down a ways, we cut left and headed over towards the connecting snowfields of the LIttle Zigzag rather than head further down the Zigzag proper. The turns were choice and the skiing didn’t disappoint.

Todd dropping a knee
Skiing down the Little Zigzag

Once down towards the bottom of the Little Zigzag, we cracked open a Green Lakes Ale from Deschutes Brewery and admired our turns down the last pitch. It was a pretty good figure 8 pattern if I do say so myself.

Looking back at our tracks
Figure 8’s on the Little Zigzag

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 to date up on Hood! Here’s a parting shot of Todd skiing on the Zigzag…

Sweet September Corn