November 24, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

Wednesday looked to be the day, and it looked to be the last good day in quite a few, so I made plans to hit up Mt Hood with Jack, who was visiting from Montana, as well as Joe. For the three of us, this would be our second year in a row to head to Mt Hood for late fall turns, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. We met at the cop shop in Albany at 5:30, and headed up I-5, pulling into the climber’s lot around 7:30. To nobody’s surprise, there were three or four groups of folks already there with similar plans.

Hood from the climber’s lot

We wasted little time getting our gear ready to go, and hit the skin track by 7:50 am. Getting an earlier start would prove to work to our advantage later in the day. The mountain was looking really beautiful in the morning light, and I had to stop a few times to shoot a few pictures of it, as well as Joe and Jack heading up the skin track.

Hood from the skin track
Heading up the skin track

We followed a few other skiers, and worked our way up the road and eventually to Silcox, where we took a few minutes to get a quick snack and a drink of water. From Silcox, the mountain was looking mighty pretty, and we enjoyed the view up the hill as well as to the south towards Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters.

At Silcox

After our quick break, we headed on up towards the Palmer. The mountain was looking quite a bit different than our trip up a few days earlier, and we skinned past some interesting wind sculpted features on our way towards the top of the Palmer.

Jack heading up the Palmer
Heading up the Palmer

We made good time to the top of the Palmer, arriving about an hour and 55 minutes after we left the parking lot. After our quick break, we headed on up. While departing from the top of the Palmer, I ran into Dave Watson, and chatted with him briefly about his thoughts on the day. We both agreed that the upper mountain was looking pretty good, and might really provide some fun turns. The skinning was pretty nice above the Palmer, with the occasional icy patch. We worked our way up, eventually getting to the point on the ridge where Dan, Joe and I had skied from a couple months earlier on the 1st of October.

Skinning up towards the White River Headwall
Above the White River Canyon

Once we reached the traverse below Crater Rock, we had to remove our skis briefly, but soon had them back on our feet and were able to continue skinning. When we got to the Devil’s Kitchen, I was pretty surprised to see how melted down the snow in the Crater was since the last time I had been up a few years ago. We stopped to snap a few pictures, and then skinned up to the Hogsback.

At Devil’s Kitchen
Jack climbing the Hogsback ridge

From the saddle on the Hogsback, we decided it was worth heading up on foot. The climbing was really tedious, and we were wallowing through waist deep powder on the steep pitch. It was made even worse by the fact that the “climbers trail” was just one set of tracks, which turned out to be a down track made by a really light woman from earlier in the morning. The one thing that made it worthwhile however was looking up at the upper mountain and seeing it so beautifully enshrouded in rime ice. After struggling half the way to the bergschrund, I stepped aside and let Joe break trail the rest of the way, and he booted up like a champ…

Joe nearing the bergschrund
Matt arriving at the bergschrund

We contemplated heading on up further, but an icy section caused us to reconsider that notion, especially since we’d elected to leave the ice tools in the car. Oh well, skiing from 10,730 feet wouldn’t be too bad:) My first order of business, besides ensuring we didn’t fall into the bergschrund, was to get my beer on ice and enjoy the views, which were incredible as usual from high up on the mountain. My beer of choice for the day was an excellent Hugs and Flip Flops Hazy IPA from Sunriver Brewing Company. This beer is seriously in contention from my perspective for one of the better hazy IPA’s around.

Jack arriving at the bergschrund
Hugs & Flip Flops from Sunriver Brewing

We sat around for a half hour or so, enjoying our beers, enjoying the views, and taking in the experience of enjoying the tranquility of hanging out high on Mt Hood in the perfect weather. We snapped a few pictures as well, including the two below…

Repping the Amplid Milligram on Mt Hood
Joe and Jack at our high point

Our friend Dave, who we met at the top of the Palmer and also talked with on the Hogsback, was continuing his push up the mountain, and after wallowing in deep snow had switched back to skins. I snapped a few photos of him as he continued his ascent, and then it was time for us to click into our bindings and head down for what we’d come for. Our plan was to ski the inside of the crater on skier’s right, so I headed down first along the ridge, and then set up to snap some photos of the skiers as they came down. The turns definitely did not disappoint!

Dave Watson heading up towards the Old Chute
Jack enjoying a November pow turn on Mt Hood

Jack came down first, and ripped the fresh powder down to me, continuing on down to the Hogsback saddle below. Joe was next, and he also ripped up the fresh snow. I fired off a few photos, and then rode down to them to regroup.

Getting some pow turns high on Mt Hood
Joe coming down from the bergschrund

At the saddle, Joe was game to take the camera and shoot a few photos of me skiing down from the end of the saddle. Before any turns could be made, I had to hike through the nearly waist deep snow to get there. It didn’t take long however, and soon I was standing at the end of the saddle and ready to strap in.

Joe skiing down towards the saddle
At the end of the Hogsback ridge

After a few seconds to catch my breath, I strapped into my bindings, and proceeded to make turns down the steep slope to Devil’s Kitchen below. The turns were really nice, and as Joe captured photos of me I enjoyed pow turn after pow turn, with a few face shots thrown in for good measure…

Heading down from the Hogsback
Turns above Devil’s Kitchen

Jack and Joe came down after me, milking the powder turns for all they were worth, and then we headed on down towards the White River Headwall. We thought about dropping in, and made a few turns past the rollover, but the light was getting flat and there were a few icy sections that helped us decide that a descent along our uptrack would probably be the prudent choice so we traversed over to the ridgeline…

Skiing down below Devil’s Kitchen
Joe ready to rollover the headwall

The clouds continued to move in and the light got even flatter, but the turns remained nice, and Jack and Joe ripped it up on our way down as I shot some more pictures…

Pausing for a quick break
Heading on down

The turns were many as we continued down, and I continued shooting pictures of the skiers as we worked down the slope, with Illumination Rock in the background….

Turns above Illumination Rock
Enjoying the wind sculpted fresh

We continued working our way down, and by the time we reached the top of the Palmer we all agreed to a quick break to rest our legs, which were starting to burn from cranking hundreds of turns on the slopes above.

November turns above the Palmer
Joe skiing above the Palmer

At the top of the Palmer, there were several skiers milling about, and we found a quiet place over by the lift shack to sit down and get a quick snack and some water. While we were hanging out, a few ravens decided to investigate our area to see what was up, and provided me with an opportunity to snap a few pics, including the one below.

Our raven friend at the top of the Palmer

After refueling and giving our legs a break, we stepped back into our bindings and shoved off, finding some fun turns on skiers left of the Palmer. Joe grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos of Jack and I coming down, including the shots below…

 Carving some November turns on the Palmer
Jack getting some Palmer turns

The snow skied quite nicely, and we continued to hug skiers left on the way down, before eventually working our way back over towards Silcox. Once we got over towards the Mile Canyon proper, it was apparent that quite a few folks had already laid their turns down earlier in the day, but the skiing still remained nice.

Heading down the Palmer
Down below Silcox

We worked our way down skiers left of the canyon, and enjoyed the turns right back down to the car, skiing right to the climber’s lot. It sure was pretty nice to be able to ski mostly where we wanted to on the lower mountain without fear of hitting a rock or other obstacle. Once back at the car, the first order of business was to get out of the ski boots and get a few of Jack’s Cold Smoke’s on the snow. The next task was to fire up the grill and start cooking the meat, and before long, we were enjoying some tasty cold brews and hot brats.

Beers and brats post turns

After a bit of chat with the folks parked near us, as well as Dave who we saw strolling back through the climbers lot after skiing from 11,000 feet, the brats were gone and our beers were finished and it was time to hit the road. The three of us agreed that this was probably one of the best November ski days on Mt Hood any of us had seen in recent memory, and it was definitely a great way to start off the ski year. Until next time, here’s a few parting shots from the day….

Jack ripping the pow high on Mt Hood
Joe cranking turns above the Hogsback

 

November 19, 2021 – Mt Hood,

After missing out on a few opportunities to get November turns in earlier in the month due to work and ski patrol obligations, I was game to head to Hood even though the forecast wasn’t looking real nice. Dan and I mulled it over early in the morning, and even thought the mountain was shrouded in a whiteout and Joe text us from the parking lot that it probably wasn’t worth coming up, we decided to take the gamble. After dropping my son off at school a few minutes before 8:00 am, I met Dan in Coburg, and we headed up I-5 in his Tesla. A couple hour later, after stopping in Sandy for a quick charge, we made our way to the Zigzag Ranger Station to get an annual snowpark permit.

The Tesla at the ranger station
National Forest Sign

After that quick pit stop, we headed up Highway 26 in the driving rain, which turned to snow by the time we hit Govy. The drive up the Timberline Road was a little slippery in the heavy snow, and soon we found ourselves in the parking lot. The snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing, and we met Joe who was slow rolling it after spending the night and skiing the day before.

Ready to head out

It didn’t take long to get our boots on and and our gear packed, and we headed up the hill on skins. Hitting the skin track for the first time each fall after a long, dry summer is always refreshing. Our departure time was a few minutes before 12:00 pm, and we skinned up the road in a stiff breeze. About halfway up to Silcox, we elected to drop into the canyon to try and get out of the wind.

Dan on the skin track
Heading up in a whiteout

Our hope was that it might clear up just a little bit so we could make some nice turns in the canyon, but the weather didn’t appear to be cooperating. We worked our way up to the top of the Magic Mile and then up to the mid-station on the Palmer. At that point, our rock handrail in the canyon appeared to run out, and it looked like this would be our high point for the day.

At the mid-station

Then, amazingly, as we sat around and contemplated what to do, the clouds parted to reveal the mountain above us in all her glory! We could barely believe our eyes, and the decision to head on up was an easy one.

Heading up in the sun
The boys skinning up the Palmer

We made decent time up to the top of the Palmer now that we could see the contours of the snow and where we were going, and around 2:30 pm we ripped skins and planted our beers in the snow. Looking out over the sea of clouds to the south, the views were incredible, and it definitely felt like winter.

Nearing the top of the Palmer
Looking out over the clouds

After the obligatory pictures from the top of the Palmer, it was time to enjoy a frosty cold beverage. My beer of choice for this day was a strong but tasty Dead ‘n’ Dead from Rogue Ales & Spirits. A 9.8% alcohol by volume, I was feeling pretty tuned up by the time I finished it and ready to ride the fresh pow!

Dead ‘n’ Dead by Rogue Brewing

Since Dan and Joe had already got their November turns in, Joe was nice enough to grab the camera and shoot a few shots of me enjoying some turns to complete my 16th year and 192nd month of Turns-All-Year. As soon as I dropped in, I could tell we were going to be in for a great run down…

Matt dropping in
A fresh November pow slash

I grabbed the camera back from Joe partway down the Palmer and returned the favor, shooting a few shots of him and Dan as they skied down. When we regrouped a bit further down, we all had the same shit eating grin on our faces.

Dan and Joe skiing the upper Palmer
Joe cranking a November turn

We headed on down, and the snow continued to ski awesome. The temperature was dropping quite a bit too, and must have been around 25 degrees (compared to the 32 degrees on our approach). More turns and pictures followed as we worked our way down…

Riding down the Palmer
Dan getting some of the action

Joe was kind enough to grab the camera again just above the mid-station, and snapped a several shot sequence series of me ripping by him, including the two shots below…

Thumbs up all the way around
Riding the chalky smoothy powder on the Palmer

We worked our way into the Palmer canyon below the mid-station, and what was hardly visible on the way up was glistening in the sunshine on the way down.

Joe popping off a little roller
Working down into the Palmer canyon

We had to stop and wait for a few minutes for Dan, who was above trying to get his hands warm. After a closer inspection, it looked like new, warmer gloves were in order for him. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get too many shots of him descending, but Joe made up the difference by absolutely ripping it up….

Joe slashing through the pow
Heading down the canyon

We worked our way down into the canyon and to the top of the Mile, and regrouped there before heading down into the Mile canyon. As if the conditions couldn’t get any better, the clouds receded all the way down to the lodge, and provided us with good visibility all the way back to the car.

Joe working the Palmer canyon
Dan & Joe near Silcox

We skied the upper Mile pretty fast, and I didn’t get a chance to shoot many photos, but was able to capture the couple of shots below as we skied towards the clouds….

The boys headed down
Looking back up towards Silcox

The runout through the lower canyon skied really nicely, and we didn’t touch a rock the whole way down. Looking back up at the mountain, it was bathing in the late afternoon sunlight, and made for a very pretty backdrop (although difficult to shoot subject to to the high contrast between the skiers and the mountain).

Carving up the lower canyon
Headed down to the car

We were able to ski right down to the parking lot, and a quick skate brought us back to the car for a day that turned out way better than any of us had dreamed of.

Back at the car

 At the car, it was cold. The temperatures were hovering in the mid-20’s, and the first order of business was to get the brats on the grill, as well as to change out of ski boots. Then, it was time to grab another beer and celebrate one of the best November runs on Hood in recent memory. I celebrated the turns with a tasty Updrift IPA from Pelican Brewing Co.

Tending the brats
Updrift IPA from Pelican Brewing Co.

Before too long, the brats were fully cooked and ready to enjoy. Eating a hot brat after an afternoon of cold pow turns is hard to beat. To commemorate the moment, I setup my tripod and snapped a picture of the three of us, with the mountain looming in the background.

Group shot with the beers & brats

As we wrapped up our dinner and readied to hit the road, all three of us agreed that this would be a day we wouldn’t soon forget. With that, we loaded gear into the rigs, and headed home, fully satisfied with a great day of November turns on Mt Hood. Until next time, here’s a parting shot from the day…

Parting shot from the Palmer

 

October 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

After watching the snow patch on the south side of Mt Hood dwindle during the month of September, Dan, Joe and I made plans to ski on the 1st of October to give us the best chance to get our turns in. We met at the cop shop in Albany, and made the drive up I5 to Hood. It has snowed a few days before on the mountain, and there was even a few inches at the lodge, but the warm weather and rain from a day or two ago melted most of the new snow away. Even so, pulling into the climbers lot, it was good to see snow on the mountain again…

Hood from the Climber’s Lot

We went about getting our gear organized, and after a few minutes it was time to shoulder the packs and hit the trail. Hiking up to Silcox afforded some pretty views of the mountain, so we had to stop and snap a few photos along the way…

Headed up towards Silcox
Dan on the approach

As we neared the top of the road below Silcox, we encountered some snow on the road, and it looked like it would have probably been skiable a few days ago, perhaps even down to the parking lot. Continuing on, we arrived at the hut a few minutes later, and took a few minutes to enjoy a rest along with the views….

Joe booting up the road
Ready to depart from Silcox

After enjoying our quick rest, it was time to head on up. We changed into ski boots, started booting up the canyon, and cleared some rocks along the way. It looked like we’d be able to ski most of the way back down to Silcox on the return if we played our cards right…

Hiking up the Mile Canyon
Looking up from the Palmer mid-station

Once we made our way to the mid-station and got a good look at the Palmer, we were all pretty astounded at the lack of residual snow. In fact, beyond one or two really small patches, the Palmer was gone and the only snow was that which had fallen a few days ago. Nevertheless, we worked our way up to the top of the Palmer, and then headed on up above, since the snow up higher looked pretty good…

Dan & Joe above the Palmer
Matt & Dan heading up

As we worked our way up, the views became better and better. Off in the distance, Illumination Rock loomed large, and once we got to a point where we could peer down on the Zigzag, we were pretty amazed to see it looked like it had basically melted out completely, sans a really small patch of smooth snow that was perhaps residual.

Looking out to Illumination Rock
Matt hiking above the Zigzag

We continued up, and every time I thought we might run out of snow, we were able to link another patch and continue hiking. I was pretty stoked to be getting up in elevation even with the minimal coverage, and it was beginning to look like we’d have a pretty good day of turns as the snow started softening…

Heading on up
The skiers high above the Palmer

As we headed up above 9,500 feet, the views back to the south to Mt Jefferson and the Three Sister became better and better, and it was pretty awesome to be able to have visibility without the haze of the summer forest fires clogging our views….

Looking out to Mt Jefferson
Looking down on what’s left of the Zigzag

We climbed up to just over 9,800 feet and decided to call it, and found a nice spot to drop our gear and enjoy a well earned break a few feet away from the climbers trail and the White River Glacier. After getting my beer on ice, we took a little walk over to the ridge to check on the health of the White River after a scorcher of a summer, and as suspected, it was looking pretty bad… 

Looking out to the west
Matt on the climbers trail

We stood there and admired the views, barely believing our eyes with how much ice had melted. Looking up at the headwall, it was melted down to bedrock in the middle, and the gap between the headwall and the rest of the glacier was huge…

Looking up at the headwall

After soaking in the views of the glacier, it was time to head back to our packs and crack open an cold one before doing what we’d come for. I pulled out my now ice cold beer from the snow and cracked it open. This day’s beer of choice was a Cosmic Cold Brew Stout from Block 15 Brewing Co, and it definitely was what the doctor ordered.

Cosmic Cold Brew by Block 15 Brewing

We sat around for about 20 minutes or so, enjoying the views, drinking our beers, and getting stoked on the turns. Finally, when our beers were gone, it was time to drop and enjoy the turns. I headed down first, and set up to shoot some shots of the skiers.

Dan heading down
Turns in front of Illumination Rock

The snow was really nice, having corned perfectly for some pretty sweet turns. We ripped nice turns back down our boot track, linking the patches without having to take the skis with one or two exceptions.

Joe skiing below Crater Rock
Dan sliding down high up on Hood

We continued picking our way down, enjoying the nice sliding as we went, and then Dan grabbed the camera and fired off a few shots of me getting some of the action. I was on my favorite rock board — my DIY Jamie Lynn Lib, and it didn’t disappoint….

Slicing through the corn on Hood
Matt cruising down the southside

A little farther down, I grabbed the camera back from Dan, headed down a few hundred feet below the skiers, and set up to shoot some more shots as they headed down. This time I zoomed in a bit more, and captured the below images of Dan and Joe enjoying the corn harvest…

Dan enjoying the action
Joe ripping it up

The turns above the Palmer seemed to go on forever, I think in part because we climbed a long ways up above the Palmer, but also because the snow was holding in the gullies. Instead of being able to ski a wide open snowfield like would be possible in May, we were a bit more confined, but it made it all the more fun. Instead of skiing a slope, we were skiing the mountain, and all of it’s fun features, like the gully in the first picture below…

Dan & Joe coming down the gully
Dan carving an October turn

We kept making turns and taking pics, working down to above the top of the Palmer. The snow about 500 feet from the top of the Palmer was choice, and we milked the turns for all they were worth….

Matt enjoying the October turns
Dan coming down while Joe looks on

Finally, we made our way to the top of the Palmer, but not before milking the last of the snow above it. I pulled out the camera and snapped one more shot of Dan hopping off a roll over before we made our way down below the top shack…

Dan popping over a small rollover

Once onto the “Palmer,” we started out on skiers right of the lift, and then worked our way down under the lift. As mentioned before, the riding was only on the new snow, and we worked down through the fingers and gullies towards the mid-station below…

Matt heading down
Dan skiing the “Palmer”

We managed to hit one patch of residual snow on the Palmer, and though it was super short, it skied really good. In the second photo below, you can see Dan enjoying what’s left of the Palmer snow patch….

Joe cruising down
Dan skiing the only residual snow on the Palmer

We navigated our way down to just above the mid-station, and decided it was time for another break. Joe and Dan each had another beer, and I’d saved my can from up above, so we put the beers on ice and enjoyed a quick rest. Joe’s offering, which he graciously split with me, was a tasty Battlestar IPA from the Crux Fermentation Project.

Battlestar IPA from Crux Brewing Co

We enjoyed the beers for the next few minutes, and then it was time to head down again. There’ nothing quite like taking off to make turns with minimal snow coverage and a slight beer buzz — it’s really one of the best feelings in skiing.

Joe heading down from the mid-station
October turns below the Palmer

We worked our way down, connecting snow patches to skier’s left of the main gully. We were able to milk the turns quite a ways before having to take the skis off and walk a short bit…

Dan & Joe below the Palmer
Matt at the end of the line

The hike from on patch to the next went pretty quickly, and before we knew it we were back on the sticks and enjoying some more turns…

Hiking down to the next patch
Joe cranking some tight turns

We connected some more patches, then ultimately ended up back in the canyon and were able to ski it out to Silcox below. From there, we picked up our shoes, and made a short walk down to the last patch of snow in the Mile canyon. Our boards went back on one more time, and we made some surprisingly good turns to within 500 vertical feet or so of the lodge, satisfied with an awesome day of turns.

Walking to the last patch below Silcox
At the bottom of the Mile Canyon

The hike down to the car went smoothly, and I even found one last patch of snow to ride — one of the benefits of walking down in snowboard boots while the skiers had already changed over to sneakers. Back at the car, it felt good to change into shorts, and bust out the chips and salsa and get the ‘brats on the grill. They were ready in short order, and we made short work of them, gulfing them down in no time after a big day of turns. Overall, though there wasn’t much snow on the mountain, what there was was in pretty good shape, and this October day will be one not soon forgotten. Below is an apres’ ski picture, as well as a parting shot from the day….

Apres back at the car
A parting show from the day

 

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