October 1, 2023 – Mt Hood, Palmer “Snowfield”

October finally arrived, and with it came a dusting of fresh snow, and thank the Lord for that! Dan and I had been watching the remaining snow on Mt Hood’s south side dwindle away on the Timberline webcam during the month of September, and by the middle of the month it was basically gone. Needless to say, we were pretty happy to see some moisture move through at the end of the month which gave us a fighting chance to score some early turns on the 1st of October.

Mt Hood with a dusting of fresh snow

We met at Harrisburg interstate exit early where my wife dropped me off, and after loading gear into Dan’s Tesla we made the drive up to the mountain, arriving a little after 8:00 am. There wasn’t a lot of snow, but it looked like it would go and mountain sure was looking good in a fresh coat of white.

The road to Silcox

We shouldered packs and hiked up the road to Silcox, stopping briefly when we arrived. Shortly thereafter, we continued on and worked our way into the Palmer canyon. We had to hike a few hundred vertical before we were able to don the skins and continue up without the weight of the skis on our backs, and it looked like we’d be able to negotiate some turns in the canyon on the way down as well.

Dan on the approach
Heading up the Palmer Canyon

It felt good to be skiing in fresh snow again, and soon we worked our way up to the top of the Palmer. The clouds had been rolling in and out all morning, and we decided the best odds at the moment were to ski now while we had visibility and then maybe head up above the Palmer later if the weather allowed it. The first order of business was to get the beer on ice before changing over to ride mode, so I did just that after snapping a picture of my tasty Blonde Ale from Chief’s Brew House.

Yeti Blonde Ale from Chief’s Brewing
At the top of the Palmer

After getting the board put together, it was time to enjoy a few swigs of our beers. I was pretty stoked on mine, especially given that it is brewed literally a few miles down the road from my house. I drank about half of it and then we slipped it behind some snow near the Palmer top shack, clicked into our bindings, and headed down.

First turns of October
Dan enjoying smooth turns through the clouds

I dropped in first and setup to shoot some photos of Dan, and the snow was remarkably good, resembling some pretty smooth corn. The fog gave way after we descended a few hundred feet and then some creamy, sunny turns were to be had.

Dan working his way down
Pausing for a moment on the descent

Both of us were amazed at how smooth the snow was, as well as the fact that there basically wasn’t any residual snow left on the Palmer and we that were only skiing on 4-6 inches of fresh snow over glacial till. If it hadn’t been for the glacial till (as opposed to rocks elsewhere on the mountain), I don’t think we would have been able to link turns.

Weaving through the rocks
Enjoying some smooth October turns

We worked our way down to within a hundred vertical or so of the mid-station and called it good at that point, not wanting to head down any further for fear of breaking ourselves off in the epic conditions. The decision to skin back up for another lap was an easy one, so we kicked off and headed up.

Looking down after our first run
The view back up the “Palmer”

The skin back to the top of the Palmer didn’t take too long, and soon we were enjoying a quick swig of beer before making the decision to head up even higher since the weather was looking a bit better. We worked our way up to about 9,000 before the clouds and snow conditions made the decision to turn around and easy one and readied to head down. This time, Dan grabbed the camera and shot a few pictures of me as we headed down. Part way down I returned the favor and took a few pictures of him as well.

Turns above the Palmer
Enjoying the new snow
Carving a turn above the Palmer
Dan skiing above the Palmer

We worked our way back down to the top of the Palmer, thoroughly enjoying the turns along the way, and made a quick stop to grab our beers, finish them, and then head down. Our second lap turns below the top of the Palmer were equally as good as the first lap, and we threaded our way through quilt-work patches of snow and rocks.

Linking turns on lap 2
Dan carving a turn on the Palmer

We worked our way down to where we’d turned around earlier, and decided that we saw a path that would work to continue descending with the skis on, so we took it. For the most part it worked fine, and we found some really good turns as well as a few new scratches and dings on our bases.

Dan negotiating a line while descending below the Palmer
Matt enjoying a break on the second lap

Once down to the mid-station, we contemplated trying to ski a line outside of the canyon, but it didn’t seem like the best idea so we went with the safe alternative and hiked the skis for 50 vertical or so to where we could continue making turns.

Ready to make the short hike to the canyon
Ready to drop into the canyon

The turns in the upper canyon were quite good, and we only hit one or two rocks as we worked our way down. After a couple of hundred vertical, we had to walk a short patch but were then able to resume skiing.

Working down the canyon
Hiking an unskiable section

The last section of skiable snow in the canyon above Silcox skied quite nicely, and we milked it for all it was worth before putting the skis on our backs and traversing out and making the short walk to Silcox to enjoy a second beer. All told, we figured we’d only missed out on skiing about 100 feet between the top of the Palmer and the Silcox — not too bad given the conditions.

Skiing the last patch in the canyon

At the Silcox, we changed out of ski boots and into approach shoes, got our beers on ice, and enjoyed a well-deserved rest. My beer of choice for the afternoon was a smooth Cast Out IPA from the Crux, and it hit the spot.

Cast Out IPA

A bit later, it was time to shoulder the packs and make the long walk back to the car, but it was made a bit easier knowing we made some pretty sweet turns. The views looking back at the mountain behind us as well as Timberline Lodge below us weren’t too bad either…

Looking back at the mountain from below Silcox
Looking out over Timberline Lodge

Eventually we made our way back to the car, and it felt good to get  the packs off our backs. We fired up the grill and enjoyed some chips and salsa as well as a good view of the mountain. A bit later we were enjoying some tasty brats to top off what was already a great day.

Apres in the parking lot

Although the permanent snow of the Palmer was sadly gone, the mountain still provided some great early-season October turns, and both Dan and I agreed that this wouldn’t be a day that we’d soon forget. Until next time, here’s a parting shot from the day…

Parting shot from high on the Palmer

September 2, 2023 – Mt Hood, Palmer Snowfield

The summer was flying by and the calendar said it was September, so Dan, Joe and I made plans to head to Mt Hood to get some summer turns in. As usual, we met early and carpooled up to the mountain in Dan’s Tesla, and after a stop in Sandy to supercharge we pulled into the climber’s lot. Looking at the mountain, all three of us were amazed at how the snow had melted in the last couple of weeks, but it looked like the Palmer patch was barely holding on to allow us to find a few turns.

Mt Hood from the Climber’s Lot
Gearing up to head out

After a few minutes of sorting gear and donning approach shoes, we shouldered the packs and headed up the road towards Silcox. Partway up we were able to peer into the Mile Canyon and it didn’t look very good at all. Nevertheless, we worked our way up and I snapped a couple of pictures along the way.

Looking back to Timberline Lodge
Heading up to Silcox

We reached Silcox in good time, and headed up towards the Palmer canyon. Part way up, we found some skiable snow for a few hundred yards, but it gave way to grout before we reached the mid-station. Continuing on up, we worked past the mid-station and eventually were able to get on skis and skins for the final section of climbing.

Hiking dirt to the mid-station
Joe skinning the Palmer

We skinned to within a hundred feet or so of the top of the Palmer, and it was time to take the packs off, grab a bite of lunch, and put the beer on ice. My offering for the day was a tasty Redwood Highway Hazy IPA from SeaQuake Brewing, which I picked up earlier while on the northern California coast vacationing with the family. It definitely hit the spot!

A Redwood Highway Hazy IPA from SeaQuake Brewing
Matt up top

We hung out for a few minutes chatting with a couple of TAY aficionado’s while enjoying our beers, and then it was time to step into the bindings and head down.

Dan enjoying a swig of my IPA
First turns on the Palmer snowfield

I headed down first and set up to shoot a few pictures of Dan and Joe as they headed down. The turns were pretty nice even though the snow had some grit on it. In fact, the surface was remarkably smooth and we carved some sweet turns down to where it ended in grit a few hundred feet below…

September turns on the Palmer snowfield
Joe skiing some Palmer corn
September splitboard turns
At the end of the snowfield

At the bottom of the snowfield, it was an easy decision to head back up for another lap. Dan ditched his pack, we stowed a couple of beers in the snow, and donned skins for another ski back up to the top. A few minutes later we were clicked into our bindings and staring down the snowfield, ready to drop in for a second lap.

Dan heading down for a 2nd lap
September smiles on the Palmer
Joe loving the smooth snow
Dan near the bottom

Back at the end of the snow, it was time to enjoy a swig of beer before heading back up for one last lap. The second offering of the day was from Ninkasi Brewing and was a tasty Pale Ale in a new-look can.

Pale Ale from Ninkasi Brewing

This time, we all left packs at the bottom and made the short climb back to the top. Our third run was as enjoyable as the first two, and I shot a few more pictures as we headed down. Dan took a couple of me as well…

Third lap turns
Matt enjoying the third run of the day

With three runs in the books, it was time to load the skis on the packs and head down for a bit more skiing. None of us were sure how well the Palmer canyon would ski, but we didn’t want to walk it, so we worked our way over the rocks, grit and sand and finally came to a point where we were able to click-in to bindings again below the mid-station.

Ready to head down
Dan pounding one at the bottom of the Palmer
Hiking the lunar landscape to the Palmer Canyon
Looking up at the mid-station

The snow in the Palmer canyon wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad and turns were quite a bit better than walking, the same which could not be said for the snow in the Mile canyon (more on that later). We milked the snow for all it was worth, and then it was time for more walking out to the Silcox below.

Dan ready to step into skis
Joe skiing the Palmer canyon
Dan enjoying the snow below the mid-station
At the end of the snow in the canyon

After booting down to the Silcox, we worked our way into the Mile canyon to ski what little snow was left there, which wasn’t much. We worked our way past a ton of sand, rocks and grit, and eventually clicked into skis to make turns on a few hundred feet of “snow.” The sliding was quite slow, definitely rough, but preferable to walking and we slid down until it ended.

Joe skiing through the “crux”
Walking across a slurpee in the Mile canyon
At the bottom of the snow in the Mile

At the bottom of the snow in the Mile, we changed into approach shoes, climbed out of the canyon, and started the walk down the road to the climber’s lot. A half hour later, we were sitting at the car enjoying some freshly grilled brats and looking back up at the mountain and admiring our work from the day.

Looking back at the mountain from the hike out
Enjoying brats & brews after skiing

A bit later, with the brats devoured, it was time to hit the road home. I think all of us agreed that even though the snow quantity was quite a bit less this year than last, this September more than made up for it in quality. Until next month, here’s a parting shot from the day…

September turns on Mt Hood

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