August 5, 2022 – Mt Hood, Zigzag & Palmer Snowfields

After our plans of making turns on Middle Sister fell through a few days earlier in the week due to inclement weather, Dan, Joe and I were anxious to get out and find some snow to get our August turns in. The plan was to head to Hood and check things out on the Palmer and possibly beyond. We met early at the cop shop in Albany, and loaded gear into Dan’s Tesla, and made good time up the freeway, pulling into Sandy around 7:00 am to charge. After about 20 minutes, we were back on the road again.

Charging the Tesla in Sandy

 A short time later, we made our way to Timberline, and were pleasantly surprised by how good the coverage looked, especially compared to the last few years. It looked like the White River snowfield connected to the Palmer, and that the snow in the Mile Canyon went way down. After loading our skis and boots on the packs, we started out.

The Climber’s lot shot
Checking out the canyon

The hike to Silcox went quickly, and after passing by a fashion shoot at the top of the Mile, we headed west and worked our way up. After we were about halfway up the Palmer, we headed climber’s left and were abke to get on snow and start skinning towards the Zigzag…

Hiking west of the Palmer lift
Working towards the Zigzag

Once we worked our way over to the Zigzag proper, we were pretty stoked on the snow coverage and conditions. Not only was it filled in fat, but it was really smooth as well. We continued skinning on up to somewhere around 9500 feet, then switched to booting for the final section below Crater Rock which would be our high point for the day at a few feet shy of 10,000.

Looking south to Mt Jefferson
A tasty Pilsner from Terminal Gravity Brewing

The first order of business, as it usually is, was to snap a picture of the beer and then put it on ice. My beer was a great tasting Pilsner from Terminal Gravity Brewing out of Enterprise, Oregon. Joe had picked up a 6-pack earlier in the morning during our stop in Sandy, and was kind enough to offer me one in the parking lot before we headed out.

The view from our high point

We sat around up high for a little bit, enjoying the views and a bite of food, but eventually it was time to drop in. Everyone stepped into their bindings to get ready for a corn harvest, and I headed down first to shoot a few shots of the skiers as they descended.

Dan’s first turns from below Crater Rock
August turns on the Zigzag snowfield

Dan dropped in after me, and I snapped several shots of him coming down, and then it was Joe’s turn for some action. I fired away as he came down towards me, and was happy to get a few good shots as he skied by me, including the two below…

Joe’s turn for some action
Skiing above Illumination Rock

We made a brief pit stop after about 400 feet so Dan could pick up his pack (he’d left it where we started booting knowing we weren’t going much higher) and then we continued on.

Dan and Illumination

The snow was choice, and everyone was pretty stoked on the quality as we worked our way down the snowfield below Crater Rock. I fired off several more shots, and Dan (or Joe – I can’t remember) grabbed the camera and returned the favor by taking a few pictures of me enjoying the action.

Turns below Crater Rock
Matt getting in on the action

We worked our way down the upper snowfield, and continued down towards the connector patch between the main Ziggy and the little Ziggy. The skiing seemed to go on forever, and I snapped more pics as we headed down to document the action.

Joe harvesting some really nice corn
Joe ripping in front of Illumination Rock

It really was a treat to be back on the Zigzag after it completely melted down to nothing last year in September. Seeing it pretty fat in August this year made us all very happy, and getting to ski it in such good corn was icing on the cake.

More Ziggy turns
The skiers heading down the snowfield

We made hundreds of turns down the gut of the snowfield, and switched back and forth with the camera to grab some pictures as we descended. The quality of the snow remained near perfect as we headed down, and was probably some of best August corn we’d ever encountered.

August corn harvesting on Mt Hood
Feeling small on a big mountain

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we made our way to the connecting snow patch between the big and little Zigzag, and stopped to take a break.

Matt enjoying the turns
Cruising down the Zigzag snowfield

This seemed like the perfect place to crack open the Pilsner’s from Terminal Gravity, and they hit the spot — cold, crisp and refreshing. I caught a pic of Joe enjoying his with Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters in the background.

Enjoying a cold one after some great turns

After our brief break, it was time to continue on and we shoved off again. Rather than continue down the big Ziggy, we opted to try the Little Ziggy since it looked really smooth on the way up. The turns were pretty nice, and we worked our way down.

Joe on the little Ziggy
Dan heading down

We worked our way towards the 7,000 foot mark, stopping a few hundred feet above as the slope started to mellow, before donning skins and heading back up to reconnect with the Palmer.

Skiing down the Little Zigzag

Skinning back up to the Palmer was a bit tiring, but eventually we made it and found a suitable spot about a hundred vertical feet above the top shack to catch a rest before heading down. It was also time for another tasty beverage, and this time I pulled out a Falling Sunshine IPA from Block 15 Brewing. I had planned on getting a picture of it on a trip to Middle Sister as the sun set over the McKenzie River Valley, but since our Middle trip didn’t happen, this afternoon on Hood would have to do. Nevertheless, it tasted great as we sat up above the Palmer enjoyed the views.

Falling Sunshine by Block 15 Brewing

Before long, we were ready to make some more turns, and were looking forward to shredding the Palmer. After clicking into the skis and board, it was time to shove off. The turns were awesome, as demonstrated by the two pictures below…

Heading down the Palmer
Joe cranking turns on the Palmer snowfield

The snow was fabulous — soft, perfect corn. Secretly, we were hoping that we might get lucky and catch one of the cats laying down a groomer track that we could track up, but even though that wasn’t the case, it didn’t much matter — the snow was just that good.

Cruising down the Palmer
The skier’s coming down

We worked our way down the main section of the Palmer, passing by the the mid-station several hundred vertical feet below. Then it was into the Palmer Canyon, which was holding a lot of snow and in great shape.

Dan heading down
Taking a break to rest the legs

We finished up with a great ski down the Mile Canyon. The snow stayed good almost all the way to the bottom, I snapped a few pictures of the skiers heading down…

Joe skiing below Silcox
Skiing out the Canyon

When it was all said and done, we were able to slide to within about a hundred vertical feet of the lodge. All three of us were stoked on the day, and with how good the snow conditions were.

Matt at the bottom of the Mile Canyon snow
Headed back to the car

The walk back to the car was a quick one, and once we arrived it felt great to take off our boots and change into shorts and flip flops. I busted out the chips and salsa, and we got the brats cooking on the grill, and soon we were enjoying a great meal after some of the best August turns in recent memory.

Dan and Timberline Lodge
Apres ski at the car

As usual, the brats hit the spot, and put an exclamation point on a great day of skiing and riding. Once finished, we loaded the gear in to the Tesla and hit the road, looking forward to a return in September with hopes that the fat snowpack would hang in until our return!

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