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


August 5, 2022 – Mt Hood, Zigzag & Palmer Snowfields

After our plans of making turns on Middle Sister fell through a few days earlier in the week due to inclement weather, Dan, Joe and I were anxious to get out and find some snow to get our August turns in. The plan was to head to Hood and check things out on the Palmer and possibly beyond. We met early at the cop shop in Albany, and loaded gear into Dan’s Tesla, and made good time up the freeway, pulling into Sandy around 7:00 am to charge. After about 20 minutes, we were back on the road again.

Charging the Tesla in Sandy

 A short time later, we made our way to Timberline, and were pleasantly surprised by how good the coverage looked, especially compared to the last few years. It looked like the White River snowfield connected to the Palmer, and that the snow in the Mile Canyon went way down. After loading our skis and boots on the packs, we started out.

The Climber’s lot shot
Checking out the canyon

The hike to Silcox went quickly, and after passing by a fashion shoot at the top of the Mile, we headed west and worked our way up. After we were about halfway up the Palmer, we headed climber’s left and were abke to get on snow and start skinning towards the Zigzag…

Hiking west of the Palmer lift
Working towards the Zigzag

Once we worked our way over to the Zigzag proper, we were pretty stoked on the snow coverage and conditions. Not only was it filled in fat, but it was really smooth as well. We continued skinning on up to somewhere around 9500 feet, then switched to booting for the final section below Crater Rock which would be our high point for the day at a few feet shy of 10,000.

Looking south to Mt Jefferson
A tasty Pilsner from Terminal Gravity Brewing

The first order of business, as it usually is, was to snap a picture of the beer and then put it on ice. My beer was a great tasting Pilsner from Terminal Gravity Brewing out of Enterprise, Oregon. Joe had picked up a 6-pack earlier in the morning during our stop in Sandy, and was kind enough to offer me one in the parking lot before we headed out.

The view from our high point

We sat around up high for a little bit, enjoying the views and a bite of food, but eventually it was time to drop in. Everyone stepped into their bindings to get ready for a corn harvest, and I headed down first to shoot a few shots of the skiers as they descended.

Dan’s first turns from below Crater Rock
August turns on the Zigzag snowfield

Dan dropped in after me, and I snapped several shots of him coming down, and then it was Joe’s turn for some action. I fired away as he came down towards me, and was happy to get a few good shots as he skied by me, including the two below…

Joe’s turn for some action
Skiing above Illumination Rock

We made a brief pit stop after about 400 feet so Dan could pick up his pack (he’d left it where we started booting knowing we weren’t going much higher) and then we continued on.

Dan and Illumination

The snow was choice, and everyone was pretty stoked on the quality as we worked our way down the snowfield below Crater Rock. I fired off several more shots, and Dan (or Joe – I can’t remember) grabbed the camera and returned the favor by taking a few pictures of me enjoying the action.

Turns below Crater Rock
Matt getting in on the action

We worked our way down the upper snowfield, and continued down towards the connector patch between the main Ziggy and the little Ziggy. The skiing seemed to go on forever, and I snapped more pics as we headed down to document the action.

Joe harvesting some really nice corn
Joe ripping in front of Illumination Rock

It really was a treat to be back on the Zigzag after it completely melted down to nothing last year in September. Seeing it pretty fat in August this year made us all very happy, and getting to ski it in such good corn was icing on the cake.

More Ziggy turns
The skiers heading down the snowfield

We made hundreds of turns down the gut of the snowfield, and switched back and forth with the camera to grab some pictures as we descended. The quality of the snow remained near perfect as we headed down, and was probably some of best August corn we’d ever encountered.

August corn harvesting on Mt Hood
Feeling small on a big mountain

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we made our way to the connecting snow patch between the big and little Zigzag, and stopped to take a break.

Matt enjoying the turns
Cruising down the Zigzag snowfield

This seemed like the perfect place to crack open the Pilsner’s from Terminal Gravity, and they hit the spot — cold, crisp and refreshing. I caught a pic of Joe enjoying his with Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters in the background.

Enjoying a cold one after some great turns

After our brief break, it was time to continue on and we shoved off again. Rather than continue down the big Ziggy, we opted to try the Little Ziggy since it looked really smooth on the way up. The turns were pretty nice, and we worked our way down.

Joe on the little Ziggy
Dan heading down

We worked our way towards the 7,000 foot mark, stopping a few hundred feet above as the slope started to mellow, before donning skins and heading back up to reconnect with the Palmer.

Skiing down the Little Zigzag

Skinning back up to the Palmer was a bit tiring, but eventually we made it and found a suitable spot about a hundred vertical feet above the top shack to catch a rest before heading down. It was also time for another tasty beverage, and this time I pulled out a Falling Sunshine IPA from Block 15 Brewing. I had planned on getting a picture of it on a trip to Middle Sister as the sun set over the McKenzie River Valley, but since our Middle trip didn’t happen, this afternoon on Hood would have to do. Nevertheless, it tasted great as we sat up above the Palmer enjoyed the views.

Falling Sunshine by Block 15 Brewing

Before long, we were ready to make some more turns, and were looking forward to shredding the Palmer. After clicking into the skis and board, it was time to shove off. The turns were awesome, as demonstrated by the two pictures below…

Heading down the Palmer
Joe cranking turns on the Palmer snowfield

The snow was fabulous — soft, perfect corn. Secretly, we were hoping that we might get lucky and catch one of the cats laying down a groomer track that we could track up, but even though that wasn’t the case, it didn’t much matter — the snow was just that good.

Cruising down the Palmer
The skier’s coming down

We worked our way down the main section of the Palmer, passing by the the mid-station several hundred vertical feet below. Then it was into the Palmer Canyon, which was holding a lot of snow and in great shape.

Dan heading down
Taking a break to rest the legs

We finished up with a great ski down the Mile Canyon. The snow stayed good almost all the way to the bottom, I snapped a few pictures of the skiers heading down…

Joe skiing below Silcox
Skiing out the Canyon

When it was all said and done, we were able to slide to within about a hundred vertical feet of the lodge. All three of us were stoked on the day, and with how good the snow conditions were.

Matt at the bottom of the Mile Canyon snow
Headed back to the car

The walk back to the car was a quick one, and once we arrived it felt great to take off our boots and change into shorts and flip flops. I busted out the chips and salsa, and we got the brats cooking on the grill, and soon we were enjoying a great meal after some of the best August turns in recent memory.

Dan and Timberline Lodge
Apres ski at the car

As usual, the brats hit the spot, and put an exclamation point on a great day of skiing and riding. Once finished, we loaded the gear in to the Tesla and hit the road, looking forward to a return in September with hopes that the fat snowpack would hang in until our return!

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