October 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

After watching the snow patch on the south side of Mt Hood dwindle during the month of September, Dan, Joe and I made plans to ski on the 1st of October to give us the best chance to get our turns in. We met at the cop shop in Albany, and made the drive up I5 to Hood. It has snowed a few days before on the mountain, and there was even a few inches at the lodge, but the warm weather and rain from a day or two ago melted most of the new snow away. Even so, pulling into the climbers lot, it was good to see snow on the mountain again…

Hood from the Climber’s Lot

We went about getting our gear organized, and after a few minutes it was time to shoulder the packs and hit the trail. Hiking up to Silcox afforded some pretty views of the mountain, so we had to stop and snap a few photos along the way…

Headed up towards Silcox
Dan on the approach

As we neared the top of the road below Silcox, we encountered some snow on the road, and it looked like it would have probably been skiable a few days ago, perhaps even down to the parking lot. Continuing on, we arrived at the hut a few minutes later, and took a few minutes to enjoy a rest along with the views….

Joe booting up the road
Ready to depart from Silcox

After enjoying our quick rest, it was time to head on up. We changed into ski boots, started booting up the canyon, and cleared some rocks along the way. It looked like we’d be able to ski most of the way back down to Silcox on the return if we played our cards right…

Hiking up the Mile Canyon
Looking up from the Palmer mid-station

Once we made our way to the mid-station and got a good look at the Palmer, we were all pretty astounded at the lack of residual snow. In fact, beyond one or two really small patches, the Palmer was gone and the only snow was that which had fallen a few days ago. Nevertheless, we worked our way up to the top of the Palmer, and then headed on up above, since the snow up higher looked pretty good…

Dan & Joe above the Palmer
Matt & Dan heading up

As we worked our way up, the views became better and better. Off in the distance, Illumination Rock loomed large, and once we got to a point where we could peer down on the Zigzag, we were pretty amazed to see it looked like it had basically melted out completely, sans a really small patch of smooth snow that was perhaps residual.

Looking out to Illumination Rock
Matt hiking above the Zigzag

We continued up, and every time I thought we might run out of snow, we were able to link another patch and continue hiking. I was pretty stoked to be getting up in elevation even with the minimal coverage, and it was beginning to look like we’d have a pretty good day of turns as the snow started softening…

Heading on up
The skiers high above the Palmer

As we headed up above 9,500 feet, the views back to the south to Mt Jefferson and the Three Sister became better and better, and it was pretty awesome to be able to have visibility without the haze of the summer forest fires clogging our views….

Looking out to Mt Jefferson
Looking down on what’s left of the Zigzag

We climbed up to just over 9,800 feet and decided to call it, and found a nice spot to drop our gear and enjoy a well earned break a few feet away from the climbers trail and the White River Glacier. After getting my beer on ice, we took a little walk over to the ridge to check on the health of the White River after a scorcher of a summer, and as suspected, it was looking pretty bad… 

Looking out to the west
Matt on the climbers trail

We stood there and admired the views, barely believing our eyes with how much ice had melted. Looking up at the headwall, it was melted down to bedrock in the middle, and the gap between the headwall and the rest of the glacier was huge…

Looking up at the headwall

After soaking in the views of the glacier, it was time to head back to our packs and crack open an cold one before doing what we’d come for. I pulled out my now ice cold beer from the snow and cracked it open. This day’s beer of choice was a Cosmic Cold Brew Stout from Block 15 Brewing Co, and it definitely was what the doctor ordered.

Cosmic Cold Brew by Block 15 Brewing

We sat around for about 20 minutes or so, enjoying the views, drinking our beers, and getting stoked on the turns. Finally, when our beers were gone, it was time to drop and enjoy the turns. I headed down first, and set up to shoot some shots of the skiers.

Dan heading down
Turns in front of Illumination Rock

The snow was really nice, having corned perfectly for some pretty sweet turns. We ripped nice turns back down our boot track, linking the patches without having to take the skis with one or two exceptions.

Joe skiing below Crater Rock
Dan sliding down high up on Hood

We continued picking our way down, enjoying the nice sliding as we went, and then Dan grabbed the camera and fired off a few shots of me getting some of the action. I was on my favorite rock board — my DIY Jamie Lynn Lib, and it didn’t disappoint….

Slicing through the corn on Hood
Matt cruising down the southside

A little farther down, I grabbed the camera back from Dan, headed down a few hundred feet below the skiers, and set up to shoot some more shots as they headed down. This time I zoomed in a bit more, and captured the below images of Dan and Joe enjoying the corn harvest…

Dan enjoying the action
Joe ripping it up

The turns above the Palmer seemed to go on forever, I think in part because we climbed a long ways up above the Palmer, but also because the snow was holding in the gullies. Instead of being able to ski a wide open snowfield like would be possible in May, we were a bit more confined, but it made it all the more fun. Instead of skiing a slope, we were skiing the mountain, and all of it’s fun features, like the gully in the first picture below…

Dan & Joe coming down the gully
Dan carving an October turn

We kept making turns and taking pics, working down to above the top of the Palmer. The snow about 500 feet from the top of the Palmer was choice, and we milked the turns for all they were worth….

Matt enjoying the October turns
Dan coming down while Joe looks on

Finally, we made our way to the top of the Palmer, but not before milking the last of the snow above it. I pulled out the camera and snapped one more shot of Dan hopping off a roll over before we made our way down below the top shack…

Dan popping over a small rollover

Once onto the “Palmer,” we started out on skiers right of the lift, and then worked our way down under the lift. As mentioned before, the riding was only on the new snow, and we worked down through the fingers and gullies towards the mid-station below…

Matt heading down
Dan skiing the “Palmer”

We managed to hit one patch of residual snow on the Palmer, and though it was super short, it skied really good. In the second photo below, you can see Dan enjoying what’s left of the Palmer snow patch….

Joe cruising down
Dan skiing the only residual snow on the Palmer

We navigated our way down to just above the mid-station, and decided it was time for another break. Joe and Dan each had another beer, and I’d saved my can from up above, so we put the beers on ice and enjoyed a quick rest. Joe’s offering, which he graciously split with me, was a tasty Battlestar IPA from the Crux Fermentation Project.

Battlestar IPA from Crux Brewing Co

We enjoyed the beers for the next few minutes, and then it was time to head down again. There’ nothing quite like taking off to make turns with minimal snow coverage and a slight beer buzz — it’s really one of the best feelings in skiing.

Joe heading down from the mid-station
October turns below the Palmer

We worked our way down, connecting snow patches to skier’s left of the main gully. We were able to milk the turns quite a ways before having to take the skis off and walk a short bit…

Dan & Joe below the Palmer
Matt at the end of the line

The hike from on patch to the next went pretty quickly, and before we knew it we were back on the sticks and enjoying some more turns…

Hiking down to the next patch
Joe cranking some tight turns

We connected some more patches, then ultimately ended up back in the canyon and were able to ski it out to Silcox below. From there, we picked up our shoes, and made a short walk down to the last patch of snow in the Mile canyon. Our boards went back on one more time, and we made some surprisingly good turns to within 500 vertical feet or so of the lodge, satisfied with an awesome day of turns.

Walking to the last patch below Silcox
At the bottom of the Mile Canyon

The hike down to the car went smoothly, and I even found one last patch of snow to ride — one of the benefits of walking down in snowboard boots while the skiers had already changed over to sneakers. Back at the car, it felt good to change into shorts, and bust out the chips and salsa and get the ‘brats on the grill. They were ready in short order, and we made short work of them, gulfing them down in no time after a big day of turns. Overall, though there wasn’t much snow on the mountain, what there was was in pretty good shape, and this October day will be one not soon forgotten. Below is an apres’ ski picture, as well as a parting shot from the day….

Apres back at the car
A parting show from the day