September 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

After watching the webcams pretty closely for the previous two weeks, it looked like the Palmer patch was holding on, so Dan, Joe and I made plans to head to Mt Hood on the 1st in search of September turns. We met at the cop shop in Albany, piled into Dan’s Tesla, and after a quick stop in Sandy to charge, arrived in the parking lot around 8:30 am. We shouldered packs and hit the road to Silcox just before 9:00 am, and started up. As usual, the views from Mt Hood didn’t disappoint…

Hood from the Climber’s Lot
The road to Silcox

The hike up was quite warm, and before long we were all in shorts, trying to keep cool. A bit later, we arrived at Silcox and took a quick break to get a snack and refuel. Just around the corner from the hut, we were pleased to see snow in the canyon that looked like it was skinnable, at least for part of the way up…

Dan & Joe at Silcox
Joe skinning up the canyon

 We were able to skin up about two-thirds of the way to the Palmer mid-station, and had to walk over dry ground the remainder of the way to the mid-station. Once at the mid-station, the conditions were looking pretty bleak, but we knew there was some snow out there somewhere….

Hiking up the dry Palmer Canyon
The Palmer from the mid-station

We worked our way up and over to the snow, and found a suitable place to stage for a few minutes, as well as put our beers on ice. The snow above us looked to be in okay shape, so we headed up after having a few sips from our now frosty cold beverages. My beer of choice for our first lap was a tasty Alpine Trail Pale Ale from Plank Town Brewing Company in Springfield, Oregon.

Dan above the Palmer mid-station
Alpine Trail Pale Ale

The hike to the top of the Palmer went quickly, given the relatively short distance, and we had to stop about 50-75 vertical feet below the top of the lift shack. All told, it looked like we would get about 500 feet of turns or so with each run. We sat around for a few minutes, chatting with a couple of folks we met lower down on the mountain, and enjoyed the view.

Matt at the top of the Palmer patch

Soon though, it was time to do what we’d come for, and we strapped into our bindings. I headed down first, then setup to shoot a few shots of Dan and Joe as they came down…

Dan dropping in
September turns on the Palmer patch

The first few hundred feet of turns were pretty bumpy, but we managed to get some okay turns despite the bumps since the snow was starting to soften. We skied down to our gear at the bottom of the patch, finished our beers, and then headed back up for another lap.

Joe enjoying some September turns
Dan slashing some September corn

We skied back down to the bottom, and it was time to pull out our second (and my last) beer for the day to celebrate some fun skiing. Plus, we decided it was worth heading back up for another half lap, so we needed a good refreshment for that:). My second beer was a tasty hazy IPA called Return to Normalcy, from Worthy Brewing, and it definitely hit the spot.

Return to Normalcy Hazy IPA

After downing half of our second beers, we made the short, 250 foot hike back up to the top of what we considered to be the best snow of the day, and headed down from there. This time, Dan grabbed the camera and snapped some photos of me enjoying some September corn on the patch…

September turns on the Palmer patch
Matt getting in on the action

We enjoyed the turns down to our waiting gear on our third and final run on the patch, and agreed it was the best turns of the day so far. After loading our gear into our packs, we headed down to the middle canyon in search of some skiable snow in hopes of not having to walk back down to the mid-station.

The bottom of the continuous snow

Our hunch was that there would be some snow holding in the middle draw below the Palmer, and our hunch paid off as we found some of the smoothest and best snow patches of the day…

Joe heading down
Turns below the Palmer patch

We had to make a few carries, but the snow kept going below the rocks, and we were pretty stoked to continue to make turns down most of the way instead of carrying skis on our backs…

Headed to the next patch
Dan skiing on of the lower patches

We continued to work our way down the draw until eventually the snow ran out, but our decision was definitely a good one, since our elevation was not just a little below the snow in the Palmer canyon.

Synchronized turns by the skiers
Heading down and over to the Canyon

The hike over to the Palmer canyon was quick and easy, and soon we were back to sliding on snow again. The snow in the canyon wasn’t anything to write home about, in fact it was pretty shitty, but it still be walking down with skis on the back…

Joe cruising down the Canyon
Matt navigating the bumps

We worked our way down and were basically able to ski all the way back down to the Silcox. Not too shabby considering the amount of snow on the mountain.

September turns in the Canyon
Dan heading down

Once back at the Silcox, we picked up our approach shoes and decided it was worth sliding on the remaining snow in the Mile canyon. The snow here wasn’t a whole lot better than the Palmer canyon — it was dirtier, but it was less bumpy.

Joe working down the canyon
Headed down to the last patches

After booting across a few more bare sections, we skied the last patch of snow to within a few hundred yards of our “normal” exit spot in the canyon for the summer. All things considered, we were pretty happy with the amount of skiing we were able to get — pretty much continuous skiing, more or less, from within a hundred feet of the top of the Palmer.

Matt & Dan at the end of the snow
Looking back at the last patch

From the end of the snow, it was a short hike back down to the parking lot, and it felt good to unload packs, change out of ski boots, and bust out the food for some apres’ ski activities. I pulled out some fresh salads made the day prior, with all fresh ingredients from the garden, and along with some fresh chips and salsa, we feasted on the season’s offerings, all with a great view of the mountain.

One of the garden salad’s we enjoyed
Apres’ in the parking lot

As we reflected on the day, we agreed that even though there was minimal snow, it was still a great time and exceeded expectations, and you really can’t beat that. That said, I really hope it snows in October, or conditions could get really grim for those of us chasing this turns-all-year dream!

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

July 31, 2021 – Palmer Snowfield

August was quickly approaching, and given the meager snow conditions in central Oregon, Dan, Joe and I opted to bail on our scheduled trip into the Middle Sister and instead head to Mt Hood for a couple of days of riding. Dan arrived at my house at noon, and we loaded up gear and headed out shortly thereafter. Traffic was decent on I5 with only one major slowdown, and we arrived in the climber’s lot a little after 3:00 pm, where Joe was waiting. To all of our surprise, it started to rain as we got out of the car, but it quickly turned to a mist and then stopped a few minutes later.

Hood from the Climber’s Lot
Heading up the trail

We shouldered our packs, carried our skis, and made the short walk up the trail to the snow’s end. Given the hot summer, I was pretty stoked at how far down the snow went in the canyon —- it would only be a couple hundred yard walk to the parking lot.

At the snow’s edge

We started skinning up the Mile Canyon, and made it about half way up before getting hassled by ski patrol who told us we weren’t allowed to skin in the area even though it 4:00 pm and well after they were closed. It looked like they were taking down the last camp, and had quite a few cats running. We agreed to skin to the side and avoid the cats and headed on up, working our way into the Palmer Canyon, then onto the Palmer proper before making our way to the top around 6:00 pm.

Skinning up the Palmer Canyon
The boys up top

Although it was quite a different experience than sitting at the Prouty Saddle on July 31st like we’ve been accustomed to, we all knew the turns would be better here on this day. We put our beer on ice, then set about removing skins and getting ready to ski down. My beer of choice for our run was a tasty Hazy IPA from Full Sail Brewing Co.

A tasty Full Sail Hazy IPA
The standard shot up top

After enjoying our beers and a quick snack, it was time to drop in. I headed down first, and made some pretty sweet turns on the upper Palmer before setting up to shoot some shots of Dan and Joe as they came down…

Dan & Joe ripping the Palmer
Joe all grins harvesting the evening corn

Halfway down the Palmer, Dan grabbed the camera and returned the favor, shooting several shots of me harvesting the evening corn, including the ones below…

July turns on the Palmer
Matt heading down

At the mid-station, we were stoked to see a groomer coming up with his tiller down, laying a nice track of corduroy behind him. We waited for him to pass, and then it was game on!

Joe ripping the fresh groom
Dan and Joe skiing the corduroy

We skied down to the intersection of the Palmer and Mile canyons, and enjoyed the grooming all the way down. Unfortunately, the Mile wasn’t groomed, but it still skied really nicely in the soft snow and cat tracks.

Slaying the corduroy in the Palmer Canyon
The skiers coming down

We waited at the top of the Mile for a few minutes for one of the many cats to pass, then headed down, skiing all the way back to the end of the snow a few hundred yards from the lodge.

One of the many cats
Heading down thru the park

At the bottom of the snow, we made the short walk back to the cars, and celebrated by enjoying a cold beer in the parking lot. My second offering was a Summer Honey seasonal ale from Big Sky Brewing Company.

Heading to the car
Summer Honey Ale

By the time we had the gear loaded in the cars and our beer drank, it was time to think about a spot to camp for the evening. After looking around, we settled on the White River Snowpark, which I like due to the really nice view of the mountain. Once we had our camp setup, we cooked up some tasty brats for dinner, before hitting the sack in anticipation of getting August turns in the morning. After bidding the skiers goodnight, I crawled into my Outback and fell asleep shortly after my head hit the pillow, stoked from a great day of turns on the last day of July.

The view from camp at the White River Snowpark

 

July 2, 2020 – Mt Hood, Zigzag Glacier

After a lackluster June, Dan and I were looking forward to getting our turns in early in July. We agreed that Hood sounded like a good bet, and Dan was game to drive, so we met at my house early and headed up I5 in his Tesla. To ensure we had more than enough power to get back, we stopped off in Sandy for a few minutes to hit the supercharger, and then made our way to the mountain.

Charging the Tesla in Sandy

We pulled into the climbers lot around 8:30 am, and got our gear organized, including loading skis and boots on packs. Around 9:00 am, we set out on foot up the climber’s trail, which later proved to be a mistake due to how dusty and soft the trail was. The wildflowers along the way were a small consolation to the slow trail hiking, and definitely made for a few scenic photos…

Hood from the climbers lot
The view from the trail

It took two hours to get to the White River overlook due to the heat and extremely slow going, but it was nice to get a good view of the glacier again. It was looking pretty small for July, but at least the snow was mostly white and smooth.

The White River Glacier
Cracks in the White River

We took turns snapping a few pictures at the overlook, then finished climbing up the trail to the top of the Palmer. From the top of the Palmer, we traversed over to and under the lifts, then made the hike out to the Zigzag to check out the conditions. I always enjoy setting eyes on the Zigzag for the first time of the summer, and this year was no exception…

Dan at the White River overlook
Looking down the Zigzag

We worked our way down to the snow on the Ziggy, and it felt nice to take the approach shoes off and put the snowboard boots on. We skinned up the Zigzag until the snow became too bumpy for fun skiing, and called it just below the snow finger that comes down from Crater Rock. Once at our high point, we enjoyed a well deserved lunch, as put our beers on ice. My beer of choice for the day was a very tasty hazy King Sunny IPA from Pacifica Brewery. Although I took a few pictures of it, including the one below, I decided to have a couple swigs of Dan’s Ninkasi and save the Pacifica for later in the day at the top of the Palmer….

Dan near our high point
King Sunny IPA

After finishing off Dan’s beer, as well as our lunch, we took a few more photos, including the one below of me, before we stepped into our bindings to enjoy some hard earned turns…

Looking out over Illumination Rock

I dropped in first, and enjoyed some really smooth creamed corn down for several hundred feet before stopping to shoot a few photos of Dan skiing down. As usual, Dan slayed the corn and looked good doing it in front of the camera…

Dan skiing under the West Crater
Headed down the Zigzag

Partway down, the Zigzag, the snowfield split into two lobes. We decided the western lobe looked smoother, and headed that way. Dan grabbed the camera and snapped several shots of me as I came down, including the ones below….

July turns on the west lobe
Matt headed down

Before we got to the bottom of the west lobe, I took the camera back from Dan and skied down towards the bottom on perfect corn, then found a suitable spot to shoot some shots of Dan as he came down….

Dan harvesting some July corn
Turns in front of Illumination Rock

Once we were both at the bottom of the west lobe, we made a short hike across the rocks and dirt and strapped back into our gear and continued on down. The snow remained really smooth, and we enjoyed each and every turn as we descended….

Headed down the Zigzag
Riding the smooth corn

The turns on the middle of the Zigzag were probably the smoothest on the snowfield, and we ripped big sweeping turns down, enjoying each and every turn.

Summer turns on the Ziggy
Dan skiing below Illumination Rock

We continued on down to the lower snowfield, skiing by a very large rock that has served as an gauge for us over the years with respect to snow level on the snowfield. The rock was just becoming totally exposed, and both of us were a bit concerned since it was definitely early for the snow to be at this level…

Dan enjoying turns on the lower snowfield
Heading down towards the bottom

We worked our way down to about 7200 feet or so, then decided to call it since the snow was getting soft, even though we could have skied down a bit further. Our transition to skins was quick, and soon we were headed back up the Ziggy…

Skinning back up the Zigzag

We made it back up to our gear about an hour later or so, and then made a beeline for the top of the Palmer to enjoy some fun skiing on the Palmer snowfield. Our hope was that we might even get lucky and score a groomer on the way down. Once at the top of the Palmer, we put our beers on ice, and I enjoyed my King Sunny IPA while both of us enjoyed the views. A little bit later, it was time to strap into the bindings and enjoy some really nice corn turns….

Dropping in on the Palmer
Dan shredding the upper Palmer

The snow on the Palmer was equally as nice as that on the Zigzag, and we thoroughly enjoyed the fun turns down to the mid-station. Both Dan and I took turns shooting photos of one another, and were pretty stoked by the time we made it to the lower Palmer…

Dan skiing the Palmer
Heading down below the mid-station

We headed on down below the mid-station and were stoked as we saw the cat coming up, laying down a single groomer track behind him. We stood out of the way and let him pass, and then enjoyed some of the best corduroy this side of Deer Valley.

Matt slaying the groomer
All smiles in the Palmer Canyon

The groomer was so good, both of us couldn’t help but have big shit eating grins on our faces as we headed down. As far as July turns go, we both agreed it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this!

Matt heading on down
Dan getting some groomer action

We cruised on down and into the Mile Canyon, and once we got over towards the half pipe the grooming stopped, but we still enjoyed some really nice turns on down the canyon below Silcox Hut…

Turns by the halfpipe
Dan skiing through the Terrain Park

We worked our way through the terrain park, and down below the cats, and skied to within a few feet of the parking lot. Both of us were stoked on skiing back to the lot, as well as the quality of the snow, and decided to celebrate with a beer in the parking lot.

Dan below the cats

We made the short walk to the car, and it felt great to change into shorts and flip flops. I pulled a tasty Kick Step IPA from Ghostfish Brewing out of the cooler, also pulled out some fresh garden salads I made up the night before. Sitting in the sun, enjoying our beer and fresh food, we both agreed it doesn’t get much better.

A cold Kick Step IPA
Apres’ ski in the parking lot

We enjoyed the food and beer until they were gone, and then loaded our gear in the Tesla and headed out, capping off another great day of summer skiing at Mt Hood.