December 2, 2022 – Tombstone Pass

Fresh snow had been falling, and the weather forecast was looking favorable, so I made plans to head to Tombstone Pass with Joe to get out for some early in the month touring with Joe. I hit the road early, and made my way to the snowpark where I found Joe, who’d put in a few hours touring the day before and was camping overnight. Temps were in the upper 20’s as we geared up, and soon we were heading down the highway making our way towards the skin track…

My Outback in the snowpark
Joe skiing down the road

A few minutes later, we crossed the highway and donned skins to start the climb. About 4-6 inches of snow had fallen overnight, and the Cone Peak trail sign had a perfect cone of fresh snow on it, which was begging for a picture…

Cone Peak trail sign
Joe pulling the skins from the pack

We started up the skin track, and made our way through the lower meadow and up through the thicker trees. Every time I tour at Tombstone, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy the landscape and terrain in the area. We worked our way up to the bench, and then started up Cone…

Skinning through the meadow
Heading up Cone

As we continued up, the wind, which was pretty much non-existent lower down, started to pick up. We worked our way to the summit, and transitioned from skins to boards and took a few shots from the top.

Looking off to South and Echo Peaks
Summit view from Cone

We contemplated dropping in off the top, but the thin snowpack and underlying rocks had us thinking otherwise. I cut a couple of cornices with no results, and we elected to ski off the southeast side and work our way over to the north face from lower down.

Summit shot
Joe skiing the southeast side

We worked our way over the ridge to our typical drop in site, and had to negotiate quite a few rocks to work our way in. The snow was loaded up along the ridge that was to our left, but we headed right towards the middle of the bowl and worked our way down. The turns were really nice, and I snapped several pictures of Joe as he dropped in and again from halfway down…

Joe dropping in to the north side
Skiing the lower half of the bowl

At the bottom, we were pretty stoked on the snow, and quickly transitioned to skins to head back up. As usual, the first time up is a bit of a grunt, but we made our way back to our drop-in point and it was nice to have a track in. For the second lap, we decided to ski a similar line right next to our existing tracks. I dropped in first and set up to snap a few more pics of Joe…

Joe on lap number 2

On this lap, we were in for a bit of a surprise. In the back of my mind I was still keeping an eye on the loaded ridge on skiers left, but we ended up skiing a bit to close to it, and when Joe made his second or third turn, it released and headed down towards me. Fortunately, the slab was mostly to my right and Joe’s left, and only a small amount of snow headed down towards me. I held my position in front of the tree and watched it pass, and then took a few pictures.

Looking up after the slide
Looking down at the debris

Joe skied down to me and we discussed the events, and we both agreed we skied a bit to close to the localized wind loading along the ridge. Fortunately, the rest of the bowl wasn’t loaded in the same manner, so we made the decision to head on down and make another assessment once back on top.

Matt enjoying some early December pow
Turns in the lower bowl

At the bottom, we donned skins once more and headed back up the skin track. We made it to the top in relatively short order, and assessed the bowl again from the top. The wind was still blowing in the same pattern, but the loading was occurring below us and to skier’s left, so we elected to traverse into the bowl and out further to skier’s right, past our first set of tracks and to where there wasn’t any loading or wind affected snow. It turned out to be a good choice, and provide us with some of the best turns of the day…

Getting pitted on the north side of Cone
Enjoying a toeside powder turn

For this run, Joe had the camera, and snapped several shots of me enjoying the powder. The quality of the snow was really choice, and we thoroughly enjoyed the skiing down to the bottom of the bowl, where it was time for a well deserved break.

More powder turns
Joe enjoying a quick break with a view

It was nice to sit back for a few minutes and enjoy some food and the view. Hanging on the north side of Cone always reminds me of my first visit there so many years ago with Todd, and it’s definitely one of my favorite places in the Oregon cascades.

Joe on the skin track up
Looking out over Highway 20 country

A bit later, we hit the skin track once more and headed up again. We decided the snow was too good and that we wanted to do a fourth lap, so we left our beers and a few other items down below and worked our way back to the top.

Working up Cone with the range in the background
Nearing our drop-in point

Once back to our drop-in point, we put one more line down the bowl, this time again traversing out to skier’s right just beyond our existing tracks. No pictures on this lap, but it was damn fine and we enjoyed each and every turn to the bottom, where our beers were waiting. We decide to split Joe’s beer there, and then enjoy mine over on the ski out on the front side. Joe’s offering was a tasty Pilsner from 10 Barrell Brewing, and it was super cold and definitely hit the spot! After finishing his beer, we donned skins and made one final trek out from the northside, this time heading all the way back to the top of Cone.

A tasty Pilsner from 10 Barrel
Working up to the top of Cone

Back at the top of Cone, we de-skinned and spent a few minutes on top, enjoying the views and trying to stay warm. One thing about Cone, it may not be a big mountain but it always has the “feel” of a big mountain. And the views from the top never disappoint…

Looking off the north side of Cone
The view north to Jeff

After sending a text to my wife to let her know we were heading down, we shoved off, in search of the best snow on the sunny southeast side. I dropped in first, then setup to snap some picture of Joe as he came down. The snow quality wasn’t as nice as the north side, but it was still pretty good, and we enjoyed the  turns.

Turns down the southeast face
Skiing in front of South and Echo Peaks

We skied down as far as we could until it was time to traverse, and then headed south to link back up with our skin track and make our way back down to the bench below. The turns down to the bench were fun, and we stopped there to enjoy my beer and a last break before heading to the car. My offering was an excellent tasting Black Widow Porter from McMenamin’s, and it hit the spot.

Working down Cone’s southeast slope
Black Widow Porter

As we were sitting there enjoying our break and the beer, I snapped a few pictures of the surrounding area, including a pretty winter scene of the sun bursting over the trees with Iron Mountain in the background. Moments later, we stepped back into our bindings, and made turns down through the trees and into the Farm below. We spooned Joe’s tracks the previous day, and worked our way on down towards the trailhead….

Sunburst and Iron Mtn
Our turns in the farm

Making turns right down to the highway is always a treat, and from there it was a short hike back to the cars at the snow park.

Heading back to the cars

Both of us were looking forward to cooking some brats, but after several failed attempts to get Joe’s stove working due to a leaking hose, it was apparent it was not to be, so we had to settle for just being happy with the hefty serving of fresh powder we’d already enjoyed. All in all, it was a great day in the mountain, with a few lessons learned as always. Here’s a parting shot from the day…

Parting shot of Matt

November 2, 2022 – Willamette Pass Dusk Patrol

With a trip to Hawaii starting on the 4th of November, I wanted to take advantage of the early weather window to get out and get a few turns in. I knew the timing would be difficult since I had to work, but I found a way to leave the office around noon and head to the Pass to see what was up. I wasn’t overly optimistic about the conditions, with the webcams showing about 6-8inches of snow, but figured it was worth giving it a go.

The Outback at the Gold Lake Snowpark
At the Pass

I made good time heading up Highway 58, and was greeted by a 4-5 inches of fresh snow at the Gold Lake snowpark, where I geared up before heading up to the Pass. The snow where I normally park was pretty gloppy from the snowplow, but after shoveling out a spot I was able to park without issue. A few moments later I headed out.

Looking up at George and the Race Shack

The lower mountain had about 6 inches of snow covering the grass, rocks and dirt, but it felt good to be on the skintrack at the Pass. I headed up KP, and followed a single skin track up. Just before Eagle’s, the skin track stopped and whoever made it had turned around to ski back down. I headed on up, and worked my way up Eagle’s and up towards upper KP and the tree farm.

A fall scene at the Pass
Looking out over the Tree Farm

Once at the top, I stopped off at the bump shack for a quick rest, and to enjoy a break before the turns back down. It was nice to get out of the weather for a little bit, and I took a few moments to eat a snack before locking up and heading to the top of EPA for the ride down.

The view from the Bump Shack
Enjoying a break at the Bump Shack

At the top of EPA, I popped open my beer, a tasty Operation Vacation from Hop Valley Brewing, and setup the tripod to snap a few shots. The beer hit the spot, and once it was finished I stepped into my bindings and shoved off.

At the top of EPA
Operation Vacation from Hop Valley

The snow coverage was pretty marginal, but I was able to make turns down KP without smashing any rocks. At the top of Eagle’s I contemplated heading on down KP, but decided the hell with it and turned right. The riding on Eagle’s was a bit sketch, but I made it down without falling or injury, and even managed a couple of fun turns…

Looking back up at my tracks on Upper KP
Tracks on Eagle’s

The rest of my run down KP was fun, hopping in and out of my skin track and making turns in the fresh, albeit minimal, snow. I only hit a couple of rocks, and soon I was back down at the patrol room looking back up at the mountain, which was looking a bit better than when I arrived.

Back at the base
The Pass truck parked at the patrol room

I made the short hike to the car, and loaded up and headed down to Gold Lake. Although I wasn’t cooking brats on this evening, it was a nice spot to change out of my boots and enjoy a snack. After snapping a quick pic, I hit the road, happy to have my November turns in the books and looking forward to a sun filled vacation in Hawaii with the family.

The lodge from the parking lot
Enjoying a snack at the snowpark

October 27, 2022 – Mt Hood, Southside

The weather window for the end of October appeared to be shaping up really nicely to get some turns in on Mt Hood, and with my usual partners tied up with other obligations, I decided to head up solo to check out the conditions. My alarm went off early, and I almost hit the snooze button so I could sleep in, but I ended up dragging myself out of bed to hit the road early. Turns out I was glad I did. I made good time heading up the freeway, and pulled into Timberline a bit before daylight.

Timberline in the early morning
Hood from Timberline in the pre-dawn light

There was about two and a half feet of snow on the mountain, and the climber’s lot wasn’t plowed yet so I ended up pulling into the main lot and parked without issue. A few minutes later, I had my gear out, skins on, and was ready to head out. It felt good to skin right from the parking lot, and soon I was well on my way, skinning up the road I’d hiked up just a few weeks earlier.

The view from the skin track
Looking back to the south

There were one or two other folks around, but give the early hour I had the mountain mostly to myself. I worked my way up towards Silcox and a couple of snowcats joined me as I arrived. They headed on up towards the Palmer, working their way a bit to the east, and I headed on up as well.

Getting closer to Silcox
Snowcat activity at Silcox

As usual, I did stop at Silcox to snap a couple of pictures of the iconic structure. One of these days I suppose I’ll have to figure out a way to rent it for an evening….

Looking up from Silcox

I continued skinning up the Palmer, and was pretty happy when I made it to the top with a total time of 1 hour and 38 minutes from the parking lot. I met up with a fellow splitboarder there and we chatted for a few minutes about heading on up. Ultimately he decided to head down from the Palmer, while I decided to continue on up.

Ice and Rime on the Palmer
Looking back at the top of the Palmer

 I followed my nose up above the Palmer, working with the terrain to find the best spot for skinning. After a bit of traveling, I came to (what we’ve come to call) the Vietnam Couloir. The snow here was looking prime, and I was really looking forward to shredding it on the way down. I took 10-15 minutes at the couloir and pulled out my tripod to snap a few selfies….

Looking up from above the Palmer
Looking up towards the Vietnam Couloir

Once I had a few pictures on the camera, I put the tripod away and continued on up. The skinning was a bit tedious at times, but I worked my way up to a great vantage point overlooking Illumination Rock and Saddle, and then on up towards the Devil’s Kitchen.

Illumination Rock from near 10,000 feet
Devil’s Kitchen and Mt Hood

The traverse across the snow above the White River Headwall went smoothly, and I was able to skin all the way to the Hogsback, where I was greeted with some excellent views as well as cold and windy conditions.

The view from the Hogsback
Self portrait at 10,500 feet

My total time to the Hogsback was just over 4 hours, which wasn’t bad considering my brief stop to shoot a few pictures with the tripod. It’s amazing how fast the travel is on wind buffed snow and when you can keep skins on for the entire climb. I put my beer on ice, even though it was already cold, and enjoyed the views from one of my favorite vantage points in the Oregon cascades. A few moments later, it was time to enjoy a tasty Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter from Oakshire Brewing. Sitting there at 10,500 feet with absolutely nobody around, it occurred to me that I may have been the first person to ski from the Hogsback this season, which was pretty special. Regardless, it was definitely special to have the place to myself.

Big Black Jack from Oakshire Brewing

The beer hit the spot, and once it was finished it was time to do what I’d come to the mountain for. Stepping into my bindings with the wind in my face, I shoved off and headed down from the ridge, enjoying smooth wind buffed turns down towards the White River. The ride was super enjoyable, and soon I made my way to the perfectly smooth snow in the Vietnam Couloir. I ripped the couloir from top to bottom, and stopped near the bottom to snap a few shots of my tracks before heading down onto the Zigzag to make some more turns on the smooth snowfield.

Looking back at my tracks in the “Vietnam Couloir”
Looking back up from midway down the Zigzag

For a moment I debated stopping part way down the Zigzag, but the snow was too smooth and the lure of continuing down got the better of me. Ultimately, I made my way all the way down to approximately 7,200 feet, where the snow and terrain indicated it would be a good place to stop. I also ran into a couple of other skiers there that had made their way over from the top of the Palmer. We visited briefly while donning our skins, and then headed back up. Halfway up I needed a break to refuel and regain some energy, and they continued on up so I bid them farewell…

My skier friends skinning back up the Zigzag
A solo rider enjoying turns on the Zigzag

Back on the skin track after a nice break, I decided to head up to around 9,400 feet to circumvent the usual traverse back to the top of the Palmer, which was pretty rimed up and didn’t look inviting at all for crossing. This meant an additional 1,000 feet of climbing however, and I was pretty spent by the time I made it to the point where I stepped back into my bindings for the ride down.

An early afternoon shot on Mt Hood
The view from my skin back to 9,400 feet

The ride down to the Palmer was nice, and I was able find smooth snow by working the areas in between the rimed up rocks. The turns from the Palmer down were fun as well, and my legs grew tired from the seemingly endless turns. I had to stop once or twice, but eventually made my way back to the parking lot, and was pretty happy two have scored around 6,700 feet of skiing on the day.

Back at the truck

Happy to be back down at the base, I threw my gear in the truck and drove over to the now plowed climber’s lot to enjoy some chips and salsa as well as a cold Pilsner Lager from Good Life Brewing Co. Although it would have been nice to have enjoyed the beer along with brats and my regular ski partners, it was pretty nice to just sit in the sun and bask in the glow of having enjoyed one of my best days on Mt Hood in recent memory.

Pilsner Lager from Good Life Brewing Co
Enjoying the sun, beer and chips after a great day

A short time later, I headed out, thoroughly satisfied with the day. I stopped briefly on the way down to shoot a few pictures of Mt Hood from the highway vantage point, before ultimately heading down highway 26 and Interstate 5 to get home. All in all it was another excellent day of October turns on Mt Hood, and one I won’t soon forget. Below is a shot of the Mountain from the drive home, as well as a parting shot from the day…

Looking back at Hood on the drive home
Parting show of the best snow on the hill

 

October 2, 2022 – Mt Hood, Zigzag Snowfield +

Even though I almost couldn’t believe it, October was already here, and with it was the warm weather of an Indian summer that showed no signs of letting up. Regardless, Joe, Dan and I made plans to head to Mt Hood to get some October turns in, with hopes of finding some remaining snow on the south side of the mountain. We met early at the cop shop in Albany, piled gear into my Suby, and headed up the freeway. We made good time getting to the mountain, and soon were greeted with the familiar view from the Climber’s lot.

Hood from the climber’s lot

We were happy to see some remaining snow on the Palmer, but it was looking pretty bumpy and dirty in the morning lot. Nevertheless, we organized our gear, donned hiking shoes, shouldered our packs and headed up the road towards the Silcox.

Heading up the road towards Silcox
Hood from Silcox

The hike up the road went quickly, and we were happy to see a decent amount of snow still remaining in the Palmer Canyon. In fact, it looked like it had been cat tracked recently, which smoothed it out, so we put on the skins and started up. Near the mid-station, there were a couple of spots that were about 200 feet long where the snow had melted out completely, but overall we were pretty happy with the coverage and condition of the snow in the canyon.

The Palmer Canyon
Skinning up the snow road

When we reached the mid-station, we were surprised to see they had done a little grooming the day prior. None of us were sure what was going on, but it sure didn’t hurt our feelings at all. We worked our way from the mid-station out onto the Palmer snowfield proper, and skinned the remaining way up to the top. The snow on the snowfield itself was definitely on the bumpy side, but it was plenty fine for early October turns.

The view from the top of the Palmer

Once at the top of the Palmer, we felt like it was worth heading over to check out the Zigzag snowfield, which had looked good from the road below on the drive up. The skiers changed back into hiking shoes, and we worked our way over to the snowfield, which indeed was looking smoother than the Palmer. We began skinning up, with the goal of heading up a finger of snow on climber’s left to get to our high point. On the skin up, we heard a big rumble, and a major chunk of the Steel Cliff fell to the ground. Although we’ve see this happen several times, this was probably the biggest rockfall we’ve ever witnessed on the mountain, as evidenced by the dust cloud in the below photo.

Rockfall dust on Hood
The Zigzag Snowfield

A little more skinning brought us up to our high point around 9400 feet, where we settled in for a nice view, a snack, and a refreshing beverage. My beverage of choice for the moment was a tasty Knuckle Dragger IPA from Rogue Nation.

Joe and Illumination Rock
A cold IPA from Rogue Brewing

Both the views and the beers were pretty great, and while we enjoyed them both Dan grabbed the camera and took a few shots of me with what has become my standard “sponsor” shot as Joe calls it, with my board over my head.

The view from our high point on the Zigzag

A bit later, it was time to drop in and sample the snow. Our plan was to ski the first narrow section, then make a short hike over to the smoothest looking snow on the west side of the snowfield, and that’s exactly what we did. I snapped some shots of the skiers as they came down on the upper section of the snowfield, and the turns were really fine.

Dan on the upper section
Joe skiing the first pitch

The upper section was good, but the main snowfield held really nice corn. It’s definitely hard to beat good corn in October, and we harvested a lot of it on this day!

Contemplating the best line down
Enjoying the corn near Illumination Rock

We snapped quite a few photos as we worked our way down, and the good snow continued as we descended. As usual, the Zigzag didn’t disappoint…

Matt enjoying the October corn
October turns on the Zigzag

At the halfway point, I stopped and fired off several more shots of Joe and Dan as they came down, and from there on down we didn’t stop. The snow was too good, and we harvested the corn for all it was worth, down to the very bottom.

High altitude cruising on the Hood
Fall turns on Mt Hood
Dan skiing the Ziggy

At the bottom, the snow was pretty dirty and we skied over a few thin spots with running water below, but I’d say we definitely milked it for all it was worth. After our joyful ski, the looming climb back out became a reality, but it went quickly with the skins, and soon we were nearing our traverse point to head back over to the Palmer.

At the end of the snow
Joe skinning back up

Back at our traverse point, the skiers changed back into hiking shoes, and we took a well earned rest for a few minutes, which afforded an opportunity to capture a few more photos. I snapped a pic of Dan and Joe, and then turned my attention to some interesting slurpee formations on the snowfield.

Dan and Joe
A slurpee on the Zigzag snowfield

A few minutes later, we were all ready to head back to the Palmer, and after a short hike over scree and sand, we were back at our familiar summer hangout. After all this work, it was definitely time for another cold beer, so I pulled out my second offering of the day, a west coast pale ale from Claim 52 Brewing and put it on ice. A few minutes later, it was time to enjoy it!

Heading down to the Palmer
A west coast IPA from Claim 52 Brewing

We sat at the top of the Palmer for awhile, enjoying the views and beverages, before stepping into our bindings and shoving off for some more October turns. I dropped in first, and setup to shoot a few pictures of Dan and Joe as they came down. The snow was bumpy but decent, and we all agreed it was nowhere near as nice as the Zigzag, but still fun for October.

First turns down the Palmer
Dan enjoying October turns on the Palmer snowfield

We worked our way down the snowfield, and as we neared the mid-station we hit the groomer from earlier in the morning. To our surprise and amazement, the cat had come up in the afternoon and pushed snow across the two areas that were bare rock earlier in the morning and had groomed the whole Palmer Canyon nicely. It made absolutely no sense, but we were so stoked to be able to ski the whole run without taking our skis off. Plus, the snow quality was absolutely perfect!

Dan and Joe coming down the mid-station road
Skiing the “new” snow

We worked our way into the Palmer Canyon from the mid-station above, and were absolutely stoked beyond belief with our luck. I’m 100% certain that we were the only people in the United States, and most likely North America, that skied a groomer on this day. It was pure bliss!

Ripping an October groomer!
Joe ripping the Palmer Canyon

I snapped dozens of shots as we worked our way down, and the snow quality remained superb. I don’t know if we’ve ever experienced anything quite like this before, or if it will ever happen again!

Slaying the fresh groomer
Joe all smiles in the Palmer Canyon

Near the bottom of the canyon, Dan grabbed the camera and fired off several shots of me enjoying the fresh corduroy, including the two shots below…

Matt getting in on the action
Turns on the beautiful October groomer

We skied right down to Silcox, and waiting there for us was the cat that made it all possible, still dripping with snow. We figured they must have laid the corduroy down only an hour or so at most before we headed down…

Joe and the cat

From the road at Silcox, we made the short hike to “ski” the snow in the Mile Canyon. The snow in the Mile Canyon was short, and for that we were happy. The snow in the Mile Canyon was the complete opposite of the snow in the Palmer Canyon. It was survival skiing at best — filled with sand and bumps. We slid down to the takeout near the road, and were pretty happy to be done with the turns when we made it!

Joe watching Dan ski some excellent snow
Looking back at the quality snow in the Mile Canyon

Once we made it out to the road, it was an easy hike back to the parking lot, where it felt really good to change into shorts and flip flops and enjoy some garden fresh chips and salsa. In what has become a post-ski tradition, we also got the brats going on the grill, and enjoyed them with all the fixings shortly thereafter.

Brats in the parking lot

When it was all said and done and time to go home, we loaded our gear in the car and hit the road. As we pulled out of the climber’s lot, we all agreed that this October would definitely be one we’d remember for a long, long time! Here’s a couple parting shots from the day…

Turns in front of Illumination Rock
Dan enjoying smooth corn on the Zigzag snowfield

September 2, 2022 – Mt Hood, Zigzag + Palmer Snowfields

As it somehow always does, summer was passing by rather quickly and it was hard to believe it was already September. Wanting to get out early in the month, Dan, Joe and I made plans to head to Mt Hood over Labor Day weekend to get our turns in. As usual, we met at early at the cop shop in Albany, piled our gear into Dan’s Tesla, and headed up the freeway. After a quick stop to charge in Sandy, we may our way up highway 26 to Govy, and pulled into the climber’s lot a few minutes after 8:00 am.

Hood from the climber’s lot

It didn’t take long to get our gear in order, and soon we were hiking up the road towards Silcox. Two-thirds of the way up or so we peered into the Mile Canyon to check out the conditions, and to our surprise there was a lot of snow still remaining – much more so than most of the previous September’s in recent memory. Happy to see the snow, we headed down and donned skins to make the climb up quite a bit easier.

Joe donning skins in the canyon
Skinning up the canyon

We worked our way up to the bottom of the Palmer lift, and then on up towards the mid-station, where a couple of cat drivers were farming snow to keep an access lane open for later in the month for maintenance purposes.

Dan heading up the Palmer Canyon
Pushing snow at the mid-station

Once to the top of the Palmer, we took a quick break, then headed off to the west to check out conditions on the Zigzag. The hike over across the rock and scree went quickly. Looking off towards Mt Jefferson to the south, there was a thick layer of smoke that kept the mountain hidden for most of the morning, but as reached the Zigzag, we finally got a view of the peak above the smoke.

Mt Jefferson rising above the smoke
A mini-moraine on the Zigzag

On the Zigzag, we switched back to skis and started the skin up. As we climbed higher, the haze lessened and the views improved. The snow surface was looking pretty smooth, and it seemed we were going to be in for some fun a little later on when it was time for the turns.

Heading up the Zigzag
Enjoying a quick break near our high point

We climbed up to about 9300 feet or so, and elected to call it and not work our way up the snow finger above us which was looking pretty rough. The first order of business was to get a beer on ice, and then enjoy lunch and the views. My beer for the turns on the Zigzag was a very refreshing Easy Day Hazy POG IPA from Worth Brewing Company.

A tasty Worthy Easy Day Kolsch
Looking out from 9300 feet

The relative solitude of the Zigzag is one of the main things I enjoy about the summer turns on Mt Hood. Sitting high on the mountain, enjoying a cold beer and getting ready to drop in — there isn’t a whole lot that can compare.

First turns of September
The skiers an Illumination Rock

I dropped in first and snapped a few shots of the skiers as they came down, and then I handed the camera off to Dan and he skied down to take some photos of me. The snow surface was really smooth, and we were pretty stoked on the skiing.

September on the Zigzag
Cranking September turns on Mt Hood

We worked our way down the snowfield, stopping every so often to catch our breath and discuss options. Mostly, we hugged skiers right, which proved to have the smoothest snow. A few more shots are below…

Dan enjoying the smooth snow of the Zigzag
Matt heading down

As we continued descending the corn continued to not disappoint. I fired off several pics of Dan and Joe as they headed down, and then put the camera away to rip the lower half of the snowfield myself…

Dan working the lower Zigzag
Working down the snowfield

As we usually do, we skied down to the end of the snow, enjoying our turns right to the very bottom. We were able to ski down to about 7200 feet before the snow gave way to the canyon — not too shabby for September.

Dan near the bottom of the Ziggy

We donned skins at the bottom of the snowfield and began the long, steady climb back out of the Zigzag under the heat of the sun. The skin out is always a warm one in the summer, but soon we reached the elevation to begin traversing back over to the Palmer. Dan decided it was time to have another beer, while I saved mine for later before the Palmer descent. His beer, a hazy IPA from Kulshan Brewing Co. was in a beautiful can, so I snapped a picture of it.

Ready to head back up
Into the Haze

After the Dan and Joe changed back into hiking shoes, we made the trudge back across the rocks to the top of the Palmer. I snapped a few shots of my beer, a tasty Another IPA from Buoy Beer Co., before burying it in the snow to get cold. A bit later, it was ready to drink and was quite refreshing as we readied to drop in for some more turns. I drank about half of it, and left it up top since we were planning on coming back for another lap…

Another IPA from Buoy Brewing
September turns on the Palmer

Just before we dropped in, I switched over to my telephoto lens, and managed to capture several shots of Joe and Dan as they came down the Palmer. The snow was excellent, and I could tell they were enjoying the turns as they came down towards me…

Joe shredding the corn
Dan skiing the upper Palmer

We continued working our way down the Palmer, and stopped a few feet above the mid-station to regroup, drop packs, and head back up for another lap.

September turns on the Palmer
Making turns on the Palmer

Our second lap was equally as good as our first, and this time I headed down with beer in hand. The upper portion of the Palmer held good corn, and then we dropped into the canyon, which had been tracked up a bit by the cats, but still held enjoyable snow.

Dan enjoying a turn
Enjoying the beer and the turns

We worked our way down through the Palmer Canyon and towards past Silcox and the Mile Canyon. We were all stoked on how great the snow was in the Palmer Canyon as well as how deep and wide it was. Expectations were high for skiable snow in October given the good coverage.

Skiing the Mile Canyon
Dan skiing by a big erratic

Once down to Silcox, we worked into the Mile Canyon, which also held great snow with excellent coverage. All told, we were able to ski to within a few hundred vertical of the car, which made for a short hike back to the parking lot. Needless to say, everyone was pretty happy with the riding…

Ripping the Canyon
At the bottom of the Mile Canyon

It felt good to get back to the car, change out of our boots, and get some well deserved dinner. Dan started the grill, Joe pulled out the brats, and I got out the fixings, as well as some garden fresh chips and salsa.

Making the short hike to the car
Enjoying beers and brats at the car

As usual, the food hit the spot, and we enjoyed it with a great view from 6,000 feet. All in all, it was a pretty special day, and I’m definitely looking forward to what October has in store. Here’s a parting shot of Joe from the day skiing high on the Palmer…

A parting shot of Joe enjoying some fine September Corn