August 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Zigzag Glacier

After a nice evening of turns and camping the night before, Dan, Joe and I woke early on Sunday morning with aspirations of August turns. All of us ended up with a pretty good night’s sleep at the White River Snopark, and after a good breakfast, it was time to head back up to Timberline. We pulled into the climber’s lot around 7:30 am, and it looked pretty much the same as the day before.

Hood from the climber’s lot

The day looked to be a warm one, so we wasted little time in the parking lot and headed out. The hike up the road to Silcox went quickly, and soon we were enjoying a break from the top of the old Magic Mile chairlift….

Dan & Joe at Silcox
Ready to head on up

After soaking in the views and getting a quick snack, we set back off up the hill. The trail alongside the Palmer lift was our access to the top, and we made good time to the top of the Palmer. Our target was to hit the Zigzag first, then come back for the Palmer in the afternoon, so we headed west towards the Ziggy.

Dan approaching the Zigzag

 Once we crested the final pitch that affords access to the Zigzag, I was happy to see the snowfield again. It was looking more like September than August, and I shuddered to think what it would actually look like a month from now. Nevertheless, we took the skis off our packs, and started skinning up, ultimately ending up at a high point somewhere around 9300 feet before the snow petered out…

Looking at the upper mountain from our highpoint
Looking down the Zigzag

At the top, after snapping a few photos, we took a well deserved break and enjoyed a sandwich with a view. A few minutes later, we were rested and ready to drop in. I headed down first, and set up to shoot some shots of the skiers. The upper few hundred feet of snow were pretty suncupped, but both Dan and Joe made it look easy as they skied down…

Dan cruising on the upper Zigzag
Joe working his way down

After several hundred feet of turns, Dan grabbed the camera and returned the favor for me, shooting several shots as I rode down, including the two below….

August turns on the Zigzag
Matt and Illumination Rock

We continued working our way down the snowfield, and once we hit about 8500 feet the snow quality improved quite a bit. At this point, we could really open up the turns, and enjoy the corn snow to the max….

Joe taking a break on the way down
Dan making a turn on the Zigzag

As we continued to descend, the snow seemed to get even better, as it often does on the Ziggy. The turns below 8000 feet were really nice, and we continued working our way down, swapping the camera back and forth and shooting pictures as we descended….

Dan skiing with Joe below
Matt heading down

As we approached the bottom, the conditions really reminded me of a quality ski we had back in September 2018. In fact, the day before, I had checked out the snowfield on Google Earth, and the digital imagery was shot one day after we skied it, and you could actually see our turns from space!

Working down the Zigzag
Dan milking it to the end

As we have done so many times before, we milked the snow as low as it would go, enjoying every single turn down to the bottom. Once there, I snapped a few photos, and then we donned skins and headed back up…

Dan & Joe at the bottom

We had a bit of a scare on the skin out — Joe took a little slide on a steep headwall — but skillfully positioned his skis to hit the rocks before he did and he came out mostly unscathed. The rest of the skin back to our gear up top went without incident, and I was happy to be back at the pack where my beer was on ice. My beer of choice for the day was one of the best beers I’d had in a long, long while — a super tasty Blood Orange IPA from Daft Badger Brewing I picked up while on vacation with the family in Coeur’dAlene a few weeks earlier.

Skinning back up
Blood Orange IPA from Daft Badger Brewing

I decided to enjoy my beer at the top of the Palmer, so I stuffed it back in my pack and took a few swigs of Dan’s Ninkasi before we headed out. We made the dusty, dry trek back to the top of the Palmer, and I was happy to see nobody around as we walked up to the top shack. I put my beer back on ice, and it was good to go a few minutes later and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After a bit of BS, it was time to strap back into the bindings again and crank some smooth turns on the groomers…

Dan dropping into the Palmer
Joe enjoying some quality turns

Halfway down, Dan grabbed the camera and started shooting. The snow was really choice, and we ripped the corn down to the mid station…

Matt harvesting some August corn on the Palmer
Dan thoroughly enjoying the smooth corn

At the mid-station, it was a bit of a no-brainer to head back up for another lap. Dan and Joe left their packs at the bottom, and I kept mine as we skinned up for another run. We dropped in as before, and the turns were still sweet….

Joe enjoying a second Palmer lap
Carving an August turn on Mt Hood

We worked our way back down to our packs, then headed down below the mid-station for some fun in the Palmer canyon. Unfortunately there wouldn’t be any fresh corduroy since we were a bit earlier than yesterday and the groomers were still parked below, but the smooth snow was still pretty damn nice!

Working down to the mid-station
Joe in the upper canyon

We continued down the Palmer Canyon and into the Mile Canyon, and like the day before, enjoyed the turns all the way down. I snapped a few photos of the skiers on the way down, but mostly just enjoyed the riding. Near the bottom, we had to wait for a couple of cats to pass, then skied down to the very bottom…

Heading down to the Mile Canyon
Dan at the “Cat Intersection”

Once at the end of the snow, we made the short hike back to the parking lot to enjoy some great apres skiing. On the menu for the day were some garden fresh chips and salsa, as well as a tasty garden salad with all the ingredients. Sitting in the parking lot, basking in the sun as well as in the glow of the awesome day we’d just had, we were all stoked on the day, and looking forward to some more turns in the near future!

Joe working the final few feet of snow
Apres in the parking lot