August 2, 2023 – Mt Hood, Zigzag Snowfield

With plans falling through for Middle Sister due to the rapid spring melt-off and warm temperatures, Joe, Dan and I made plans to head up to Mt Hood instead to see what we could find for August turns. I met Dan at the Harrisburg exit on I-5 after being dropped off by my wife, and we cruised up the freeway to Albany to pick up Joe. After a quick stop in Sandy to charge the Tesla and get a cup of coffee, we headed up the highway and pulled into the climbers lot. The mountain was looking more like September than August, but it was still looking good.

August view of Mt Hood from the climbers lot

We unloaded our gear from the car, stuffed our packs with essentials for the day and then headed out. The hike up the road went quickly, and soon we made our way to Silcox. The three of us were pretty happy with how the snow looked in the Mile Canyon, which went basically all the way down to the lodge and meant we’d have some good skiing way low on the return.

Looking up from Silcox Hut
Snow in the Mile Canyon

We putted around Silcox for 5 minutes or so, enjoying a quick break as well as the views. Then we crossed under the Palmer lift and started up. Our goal was to head over to the Zigzag and check out the snow conditions, and we worked our way up the southside until eventually popping out at our usual spot on the Zigzag snowfield.

Self-portrait from Silcox
Joe at the Zigzag snowfield

The snowfield was looking nice and smooth, and we decided that heading further up was in order so we donned skins and started out. An bit later we made it to the high point where the snow petered out and pulled the skins and enjoyed the views. Sitting atop the Zigzag in the summer is one of my favorite places to visit, and the views on this day definitely didn’t disappoint.

Looking down at the Zigzag snowfield
Turns in front of Illumination Rock

We hung out for awhile and enjoyed the views along with some food, and then it was time to step into the bindings and make a few turns. After we were all strapped or clicked in, I headed down first, enjoying the August corn, and then setup at a suitable spot to shoot a few shots of Joe and Dan as they dropped in.

Dan dropping in
Turns down the upper Zigzag snowfield
Joe scoping the best line down
August corn below Illumination Rock

We rode down the middle of the snowfield from our high point, cranking turns in front of Illumination Rock, and then headed down towards skier’s right where the snow was exceptionally smooth and nice. Partway down, Dan grabbed the camera from me and fired off a few shots as I rode down, and then we regrouped about halfway down the snowfield.

August corn on the Zigzag snowfield
Cruising down the ‘Zag

We worked our way down the field, cranking hundreds of turns in the smooth corn. As usual, we milked the snow for all it was worth, and ended up at the bottom in the canyon.

Dan enjoying some August corn
Ripping turns on the Zigzag
Working down the Zigzag snowfield
Milking the final turns to the bottom

At the bottom, we threaded our way through a small silver of snow and enjoyed a few final turns before calling it and switching back over to the skins. Sitting at the bottom of the Ziggy at the start of the canyon in the summer and fall has to be one of my favorite places to be on the whole mountain.

At the terminus of the Zigzag snowfield
Skinning back up

The skin back up didn’t take too long, and soon we were back where we stashed our approach shoes and beers. It seemed like a good as of time as any to shoot a shot of my beer of choice for the day, which was a great tasting Spindrift Hazy IPA from 7 Devils Brewery.

Spindrift Hazy from 7 Devils Brewing
Looking southwest from the high on Hood

A few minutes later, Joe and Dan were changed back over to approach shoes and we made the hike back over to the top of the Palmer, where we enjoyed a break and our beers above the top shack while soaking in the view. The Palmer was looking good, so we didn’t hang out too long before the urge to drop in got the best of us and we were making some great turns again…

First turns on the Palmer
Joe dropping in
Matt getting some Palmer action

We took turns with the camera while enjoying the great snow on the descent, and shredded the snowfield down to the mid-station. The summer turns were nearly perfect, and the three of us were all smiles as we took a moment to catch our breath before heading down the canyon.

Cruising down the Palmer snowfield
Dan enjoying some late-afternoon corn
Cranking turns on the Palmer

The snow in the canyon was just as good as the snow above, and we continued down while I fired off some shots of the skiers as we descended.

Just below the mid-station
Dan skiing in the Palmer canyon

Eventually, we worked our way into the Mile Canyon and on down towards the lodge below. The snow continued to of good quality and the skiing was excellent, and we cranked turns down below the normal summer stating area for the snow cats.

Joe skiing the Mile
Cruising the Mile canyon

Once at the end of the snow, it was a short hike to the car, where another cold beer and some good food was waiting. The apres’ on Hood in the summer is something I always look forward too…

At the end of the snow
Looking back at the mountain on the walk down

At the car, it felt great to get out of ski and snowboard boots and into flip flops and shorts. On this trip, instead of cooking up brats, we busted out some fresh garden salads that I’d made up the night before, and they were top notch. Chips and fresh garden salsa topped it off, and I washed it down with a tasty Surfer Blonde Ale from Pelican Brewing Co.

Enjoying fresh salads after a great day
Surfer Blonde Ale

The beers and salads capped an excellent day, and then it was time to hit the road for the drive home. We made good time in Dan’s Tesla, burning electrons instead of fossil fuel, and I found myself recharged and ready to get out again soon for another good day in the mountains with friends. Until then, here’s a couple of parting shots from the day…

Joe skiing the Zigzag
Dan enjoying some August turns