Wednesday looked like the perfect weather window for November turns, provided enough snow fell at Mt Hood from the recent storm that passed over the Oregon cascades. I decided it was worth the gamble to take a day off work, and met Joe at park and ride on I-5 early in the morning. We cruised up the Interstate and soon found ourselves staring at a refreshing sight —- a snow covered Mt Hood.
Stepping out of the car, the temps were cold, and it was nice to experience the winter environment again. We got our gear in order, donned skins, and started climbing up the road towards Silcox Hut, which was nicely tracked from a snowcat earlier in the morning. The snow was around 8 inches deep at the lodge, and held that depth up to Silcox Hut…
I always enjoy skinning up to Silcox so much more than hiking, and especially enjoy seeing the rime ice on the roof of the old building after the first real snowfall of the season. Below is a shot of Silcox under winter’s first coat of snow in black and white….
Once above Silcox, we found skinning on lookers left of the Palmer to be the easiest, and worked our way up the snow filled gullies to the top lift shack. At the top of the Palmer, we took a quick break for lunch, then continued up under beautiful blue skies. By the time we reached 9000 feet, the snow depth was somewhere on the order of 18-20 inches, and we were pretty stoked…
The snow between Crater Rock and Illumination Rock looked best, so we headed that way, following the smooth gullies and staying clear of the rime covered ridges. The snow on the upper mountain was soft wind packed powder, which made breaking trail easy….
The rime on the rocks of the upper mountain on Hood is always impressive in the early season, and such a welcome sight after the long dry months of summer. Joe and I snapped a few pictures below the Steel Cliffs, but the pictures don’t do justice actually being there in person….
At the base of Crater Rock, somewhere near 10,000 feet, we decided to call it. Clouds had been rolling in and out of the crater for the past hour, and it looked like the sun was starting to lose the battle for good on the upper reaches. We hiked over a few feet to the ridge to get a look down into the White River before strapping in for November turns…..
After soaking in the views for a few minutes, it was time to drop in. I was extra stoked, as the coming turns would mark a turns all year milestone for me — 120 months (10 years) of consecutive riding. Joe dropped in first with my camera, and made sweeping turns down the smooth snow. A few moments later, it was my turn…..
We skied the middle of the smooth snow down, working our way down adjacent to our skin track. I snapped a few pictures of Joe as well, enjoying the November pow…
The snow was good all the way down to the Palmer. We passed one other skier a few hundred feet above the Palmer, but for the most part nobody else was around on the upper mountain. It certainly was nice to ride some fresh snow again after months of corn and firn….
At the top of the Palmer we stopped to enjoy a beer and some lunch. Soaking in the view from the top of the Palmer is always nice, but even with the fresh snow, it was shocking to look out and see how little residual snow made it through the summer — definitely a different look than normal. After our quick break, it was time to shred another 2500 feet back to the car. Following our skin track down the Palmer worked best, and the snow quality remained good…..
Once we made it back to Silcox, we followed the road back down to the parking lot. Riding the road was fast and fun, and allowed us the ability to catch a pow turn or two off the track where there weren’t too many rock sharks lurking. I captured a few shots of Joe heading down, including the one below….
Back at the car, we enjoyed a well earned beer, as well as some other snacks, including my personal apres ski favorites — fresh homemade salsa from the garden and pickled halibut caught in the Pacific earlier this spring. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better day, nor a better way to log 120 months of turns all year!