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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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…
The end of June was approaching, and Dan, Joe and I wanted to get out for some more turns before the month slipped away. The conditions over the past few weeks hadn’t been very good, but our hope was that a few inches of snow from a recent storm would provide a much needed refresh of the snowpack. The three of us met early at Dan’s house and piled into his Tesla and headed up the road, hopeful for what the day would bring.
We made good time to the mountain, and found the snowpack looking a bit anemic but smooth looking. Dan backed the car into the charging station and plugged in, and we donned ski boots and packs and headed out. It was a short hike to the snow, and we worked our way up the halfpipe and then the snow above…
Once partway up Canyon, the slope mellowed and the snow became consistent enough for skinning. It didn’t take long and we cruised our way to mid mountain and were working our way up above Pine to the higher slopes/
We skinned up towards the summit ridge above Pine under sunny skies, eventually needing to put the skis on the packs and boot the last several hundred feet to make it to the top.
On the way up, we were afforded good views into the Cirque bowl and the snow looked really white and smooth and we knew the ride down was going to be a good one. A few more steps brought us to the top, and we enjoyed the views from the summit. It was a good time to pull out my Red Sands Amber Ale from Kohola Brewery and snap a summit picture of it, but given it was a bit cold and windy I elected to drink it a bit later in the day.
We enjoyed a quick snack at the top along with the views, but made the transition from skins fairly quickly and proceeded to drop in, enjoying perfect corn turns a few feet shy of the summit proper.
The turns off the summit and into the Cirque bowl are always fun and spicy, and as usual they didn’t disappoint. The corn was nearly perfect, and I snapped several shots of Dan and Joe as they headed down off the steep summit pitch and into the throat above the Cirque bowl….
Once down off the steep upper pitches and through the narrow throat which was melting out quickly, we regrouped and decided it was definitely worth milking the rest of the bowl to the very bottom. Dan grabbed the camera and headed down, and then stopped to fire off a few shots of me, and then I returned the favor…
We continued on down and I shot a few more pictures of the skiers as they descended. The snow was super smooth and nearly perfect, and we milked it for all it was worth…
At the bottom, we stopped to enjoy a break and admire our turns. All three of us were pretty stoked on how smooth the snow was, and given the area was warm and out of the wind, it was the perfect time to drink my beer before we donned skins and headed up towards the rope tow to make some more turns.
We worked our way back up a ways, to a highpoint that coincided with the location a favorite late season ski that we termed the Batch Patch. Here, the skins came off and it was time to make turns again. Joe dropped in first, and Dan, Buddy and I followed.
As we descended, we skied over towards Pine and hit the slopes below the rope tow. I fired off a few pictures as we descended, and we enjoyed smooth turns down to the access road at mid-mountain below…
It was a short walk across the road, and then the skis went back on and more turns were enjoyed. I fired off several more pictures of Dan, Joe and Buddy heading down, including the ones below…
Eventually we made our way to Canyon run and were able to link turns on a few strips of snow nearly all the way down to the halfpipe…
We skied down to the grass and then walked over to the halfpipe, and I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy a few pipe turns before we made it back to the car….
The final turns down the pipe were pretty swell, and then it was a short walk down to the lodge where we washed off skis and boots with the wash station for the mountain bikers. At the car, it felt great to switch out of ski boots and get into flip flops, and we go brats going on the grill. It was also time to enjoy another cold beverage, and my second offering was a tasty Trailhead Tropical IPA from Ninkasi Brewing.
The brats hit the spot, and put the cap on a great day of skiing and riding. We enjoyed the sun, the food and the beer until two of the three were gone, and then it was time to load the car, unplug and hit the road home. All in all, it was a pretty great June day on the snow.
The second weekend in June meant it was time for the annual Nuts and Bolts Clinic at Mt Hood, and I was looking forward to attending this year for the first time in 10-years. I was extra motivated to head to the mountain and enjoy the fun this year because Shaun was able to come with me, and he was really looking forward to a few days of late season skiing. We left our house on Friday afternoon, and made our way to Government Camp in time to get in on some of the evening shenanigans at the Ratskellar, including pizza and beer. We met up with the rest of the crew from Willamette Pass, and after a couple of hours headed to crash at the Edelweiss for the evening.
The next morning, everyone woke early and enjoyed a quick breakfast before making the short drive up the road to Timberline. The check-in process was pretty smooth, and soon Shaun and I were hanging with the rest of the crew representing patrollers from all over the northwest. After some announcements and discussion about the plans for the day, we took a picture of the Willamette Pass crew and headed out to load the Mile chairlift.
I was stoked to show Shaun the area, since he had been to Timberline before but never to ski. We loaded the Chair up the mile and I ended up with a sled in tow, and we worked our way over to load the Palmer. Seeing a bunch of patrollers descend on the mountain is pretty cool, and I took a few shots of patrol queuing up in the lift line from the air.
We made our way to the top of the Palmer, and after unloading the sleds we broke out into various groups to get instruction in different disciplines. I took several shots of Shaun, and someone (can’t remember who, maybe James?) took a few shots of me and Shaun as well.
Once everyone made their way to the top of the Palmer, we headed off to our respective clinics. Shaun headed off with some others to take a ski enhancement seminar, and I headed out to the east side of the snowfield with several patrollers from Mt Hood to have Toby show us some tips and tricks for running the edge sled.
To start things off, we took a lap down the Palmer running the sled unloaded, and really worked to exaggerate getting the sled up on edge by working the handles. It’s always nice running the edge, and I enjoyed my time in the handles while enjoying the views as well.
After our first lap running unloaded, we headed back up at the mid-station and spent the next several laps running the sled loaded. Everyone got a turn in the handles and on the tail rope, and when I wasn’t doing either of those two tasks or being ballast in the sled I fired off some pictures with the camera.
After running several laps with loaded sleds, we switched over to doing a few drills with boo. One of my favorite was the uphill traverse, a trick that Toby showed me how to perform which involves the patroller in the handles turning 90 degrees to the sled and pushing on the uphill handle while the tailroper pulls the sled from behind while out in front (or nearly in front) of the patrollers in the handles (kind of like a slingshot). When done properly, you can actually traverse the sled uphill.
To cap off the clinic, we ran a few timed trials with the sled unloaded but with a patroller in both in the handles and on the tailrope. I ran a couple of laps with Toby and overall it was a pretty fun experience. Once the clinic was over, I called Shaun on the radio and caught up with him at the top of the Palmer. He wanted to ski down through the half pipe and then all the way to the base of the Mile, so that’s what we did and the snow was in great shape.
The last couple of hours were spent free skiing, and it was fun running laps with Shaun and the rest of the crew from Willamette. I snapped a few pictures of our group in between runs, as well as while they were getting some turns in.
A few minutes before 2:00, we shoved off from the top of the Palmer and made the last lap of the day since the lifts were closing. It was a leg burner skiing all the way down to the lodge again, and Shaun and I enjoyed cruising through the Park as well on the Mile. Skiing to the lodge parking lot is always a treat, and I was stoked to get to do it with Shaun and the rest of our crew.
Once down to the lodge, we made a quick pit stop at the cars to ditch the ski gear and change out of boots, and then headed over to the lodge to enjoy a beer at the Ram’s Head. After ordering our beverages, we found a nice spot to sit and enjoy the scene. A half hour later or so, it was time to head down to Govy and get ready for dinner at the Mt Hood Ski Patrol building on the west side of town. Our crew made the short walk down and found a Hawaiian party happening…the Mt Hood Ski Patrol definitely knows how to throw a good party.
We hung out for quite awhile, and found some good offerings for food and beverage. Shaun enjoyed the spiced chicken before checking out and heading back to the condo, while the rest of us stayed and enjoyed the company and drinks. There was quite a beer selection on ice, and I chose a tasty Superfuzz Pale Ale from Elysian Brewing Co. and it definitely hit the spot.
After enjoying a couple of cold beers, Ian and Meghan decided it was time to hit the shot ski, so we took turns with that. I snapped a few pictures while they tipped the ski back, and then enjoyed a shot ski of my own with them a bit later.
Eventually the scene died down at the patrol party, and we made our way back to the condo. We enjoyed the company of Larry Davis from Santiam Ski patrol who hung out with us for the evening, and then eventually made our way to bed in anticipation of the next day’s activities.
We woke early, enjoyed a quick breakfast, and then made our way back up to Timberline. Similar to the day before, we had a quick orientation at the Wy’East Lodge before heading up the Mile and then the Palmer. It looked like it would be another gorgeous, sunny day as we unloaded at the top.
Shaun was planning on free skiing on Sunday since there wasn’t any specific clinics that he could attend, and I tagged along on a couple of different clinics to shoot some pics and enjoy the turns. I started out with the Women’s clinic, and snapped several pictures of the ladies rocking the sleds down the slope.
After spending some time with the ladies, I headed over and found James working with the Edge sled. I fired off a couple of pictures of him on the tailrope and lapped back to the top before riding down and finding Meghan working with the 350.
It was awesome seeing Meghan work the sled like a pro after getting a few tips from the women at Hood. Even though it was her first time running a sled, you wouldn’t have know it and clearly she was a natural…
Shortly after noon or so, the clinics wrapped up and I regrouped with Shaun to do some free skiing. We ran a few laps on the Palmer and he also wanted to hit the park on the Mile so I did that with him as well. We thought about quitting at 1:30 pm or so, but Shaun wanted to ski until closing so we headed back up to the top.
We found several of our crew at the top of the Palmer and it was fun to run laps down to the mid-station with absolutely nobody around. By 1:00 pm the place had cleared out, so we had the entire upper Palmer basically to ourselves.
Skiing the Palmer with nobody around reminded me of several past trips with Dan and Joe later in the season after hiking up and dropping in when the lift was closed. This was just about as good, and made even better with the lift assist! Around 1:45 pm, we dropped in for our last lap and Ian had an idea for a fun picture with four of our patrollers simultaneously shredding the Palmer. I headed down and set up, they dropped in, and after firing several shots, I was pleased with the below picture…
We worked our way down to the Palmer and then the Mile, and Shaun skied through the Park on the way down. We were fast enough that he was able to head back up for another lap, while the rest of us headed to the car for a beer and some treats. It was cool to see Shaun going until the last chair! At the car, it was good to get out of ski boots and enjoy a cold beer. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a Stratus Hazy IPA from Worthy Brewing, and it hit the spot (so did the cold Blue Moon I had afterwards as well from Ian!).
We sat at the car basking in the glow of a great ski day, and enjoyed a good spread of food. Shaun showed up a few minutes later, and I got a good photo of everyone with the wide angle lens and the mountain in the background, capping of a fitting way to end a perfect couple of days on the mountain. Overall, it was a great trip to Hood, with great people and great conditions. I’m already looking forward to heading back again next year!
After watching the forecast closely for a few days, it looked like a weather window for Adams was approaching. I called up Joe, and he was thinking the same thing, so we decided to head north for a mid-week shot, with the hope of riding the Avalanche Glacier Headwall. It had been awhile since I’d been on the line, and I was pretty stoked when I left work around 4pm and headed up the freeway to meet Joe at the cop shop. We carpooled the rest of the way up, and made it to White Salmon in good time, where we stopped to get a bite to eat from the local grocery store. A few minutes later, we hit the road and got our first good look at the hill from Trout Lake, and it was looking good.
From Trout Lake, we rolled up the road and soon worked our way up the gravel roads towards Cold Springs. About a mile and a half from the trailhead, we were stopped by a large snow drift blocking access to the campground. A couple of folks were working on digging out a track, so Joe and I decided to park and give them a hand. It took a couple of hours of digging, but we were able to get it in shape for a dude with a large Dodge with chains to bust through. Once he made it through, the rest of us were good to go and it was pretty nice to be able to drive all the way to the trailhead, both from the standpoint that we would be able to have a level place to sleep and since we’d be that much closer for the climb in the morning.
As soon as we got to camp, I got the bivy setup and we hit the sack a few minutes later. I slept pretty well that evening, and the next morning we were up by 4:45 or so. After a quick breakfast, we shouldered our packs and headed up the trail. There was some snow right off the bat, but both of us were happy to be in approach shoes since we had a mile or so of walking before we were able to put on the skins…
Once we hit the snow, we donned skins and it felt nice to get the skis and boots off our backs. We worked our way up the trail and towards the ridge to the west of what’s labeled as the Crescent Glacier on the maps. There was a spicy traverse just before gaining the top of the ridge that required taking the skis off for a short section, but soon we hit the ridge and continued on up.
Soon we started gaining altitude quickly, and followed a bit more traditional path towards the bottom of Suksdorf Ridge rather than following the current climbers path that was quite a ways further east. As we headed up, a solo skier took off with a kite to do some kite skiing, so we had to stop to get a picture of that action…
After a short break, we continued skinning as high as we could, eventually finishing the last thousand feet to the top of Piker’s in crampons with the skis on our backs. As usual, the climb up to the top of Piker’s was a slog. The snow on the last five hundred feet to the top was in really poor shape, and both of us were happy that we wouldn’t be skiing that on our way down…
At the top of Pikers, we took another quick rest break, and enjoyed some food along with the views. Looking down into the SW Chutes, they looked to be in good shape, and we were optimistic about the conditions of the Avy Glacier headwall.
After catching our breath and enjoying the views, we agreed the snow on the summit slope looked worthy of our attention, so we set off on skins and worked our way to the base of the final slope to the true summit. The last few steps above 12,000 feet were a bit of work, but we topped out around 11:30 am or so if memory serves.
As usual, the views off the top of Mt Adams didn’t disappoint, and it was great to see Mt Rainier’s southside staring us in the face. Looking off to the west, there were some spicy lines of the West Pinnacle, and I made mental notes to get back for something on the White Salmon in the next few years.
As we hung out on top, the weather was really nice. I grabbed my beer to take a picture, but given that I was feeling a bit tired, I elected to just take a picture of it and enjoy it later when we were down at a lower altitude. I do have to say, that Crescent Harbor Citra IPA from SeaQuake Brewing was one of the tastiest IPA’s I’d put on my taste buds in quite awhile!
Around noon or so, we readied to take off and head down to check out our line. As we were getting ready to leave, a single skier approached on skins, and as they got closer I could tell it was Amar. It was good to see Amar again, and we chatted for several minutes on the summit. Turns out his party was back at Piker’s waiting while he tagged the summit, and they were going to ski the headwall as well, so we agreed we’d all ski it together. After firming up that plan, we clicked into our bindings and headed down….
The turns off the summit were pretty nice, especially for the summit slope on Mt Adams. I headed down first, and then setup to shoot some shots of Joe and Amar as they came down. After we worked our way down a ways, Joe grabbed the camera from me and returned the favor…
After descending a ways, we regrouped and Amar headed down towards the entrance to the headwall to meet up with the rest of his crew. Partway down, we met up with David, who was also with Amar, and then we continued on down.
Above the headwall proper, we met up with the rest of Amar’s crew, which included Khanh who is a good friend of a friend of mine at work. The entrance to the headwall was looking quite a bit spicier than the last time I was up several years back, but nevertheless it still went, so one by one we dropped in. Once we got through the choke entrance, the steep long slope of the headwall was looking really inviting…
The turns down the upper headwall are always quite exhilarating, and are made even better when the snow is smooth. The turns down on this trip didn’t disappoint, and we worked our way down, enjoying the smooth corn and steep slope angle.
I shot a bunch of photos of the skiers as we descended, and in between taking some shots of the action I enjoyed several big, sweeping turns down the steep pitch, with a few occasional jump turns mixed in. One of the things I love about this line on Adams is the views looking off to the north as well as looking down the line on the from above with the forest sprawling out below.
We continued working our way down the long, steep pitch, which seems to go on forever and is several thousand vertical feet in length. On a few occasions, we had to stop to rest tired legs before continuing on down…
Finally, we made our way to the bottom of the headwall and waited for the rest of the skiers to complete their descent. I snapped a few pictures showing the skiers near the bottom of the line which provides a good perspective for the scale of the lower half of the slope…
Once everyone regrouped at the bottom, we discussed exit options and decided to head further down the slope in hopes of making a lower traverse option work. This was a different exit than I was used to, but I deferred to Amar’s experience given he was fairly confident in being able to link turns on snow for most of the way out.
The turns down the lower portion of the runout were a bit bumpy but still fun, and we slowly worked our way back towards the south side of the mountain, working down as we skied. Eventually we ended up running out of snow, and needed to throw the skins on and work our way back up to the regular exit, which didn’t require that much climbing. From there, it was (what felt like) a long slog back to our uptrack on the south side route. It’s always longer on the way out when you’re tired after climbing over 6,700 feet!
A bit weary from all of the climbing and skiing, we finally linked back up with our uptrack, and after a quick break and putting the skis/boards back into ski mode, Joe and I bid the group farewell and headed down. We were able to link turns way back down towards the trailhead, which was quite a treat, and left us with just a short hike back to the pickup/
We made a quick change back into trail shoes, and a short time later were back at the car enjoying a cold beverage and changing into comfortable clothes. Both Joe and I were pretty stoked on the ski day, and definitely happy with our choice to head north from the valley to gamble on getting some corn on Mt Adams.
We wasted little time loading gear into the truck, and headed down the bumpy road back towards home. After a quick pit stop back in White Salmon to refuel, it was an easy drive back down I-84 and then I-5 home. All things considered, it was the perfect way to spend a couple of days in early June!