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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

July 31, 2021 – Palmer Snowfield

August was quickly approaching, and given the meager snow conditions in central Oregon, Dan, Joe and I opted to bail on our scheduled trip into the Middle Sister and instead head to Mt Hood for a couple of days of riding. Dan arrived at my house at noon, and we loaded up gear and headed out shortly thereafter. Traffic was decent on I5 with only one major slowdown, and we arrived in the climber’s lot a little after 3:00 pm, where Joe was waiting. To all of our surprise, it started to rain as we got out of the car, but it quickly turned to a mist and then stopped a few minutes later.

Hood from the Climber’s Lot
Heading up the trail

We shouldered our packs, carried our skis, and made the short walk up the trail to the snow’s end. Given the hot summer, I was pretty stoked at how far down the snow went in the canyon —- it would only be a couple hundred yard walk to the parking lot.

At the snow’s edge

We started skinning up the Mile Canyon, and made it about half way up before getting hassled by ski patrol who told us we weren’t allowed to skin in the area even though it 4:00 pm and well after they were closed. It looked like they were taking down the last camp, and had quite a few cats running. We agreed to skin to the side and avoid the cats and headed on up, working our way into the Palmer Canyon, then onto the Palmer proper before making our way to the top around 6:00 pm.

Skinning up the Palmer Canyon
The boys up top

Although it was quite a different experience than sitting at the Prouty Saddle on July 31st like we’ve been accustomed to, we all knew the turns would be better here on this day. We put our beer on ice, then set about removing skins and getting ready to ski down. My beer of choice for our run was a tasty Hazy IPA from Full Sail Brewing Co.

A tasty Full Sail Hazy IPA
The standard shot up top

After enjoying our beers and a quick snack, it was time to drop in. I headed down first, and made some pretty sweet turns on the upper Palmer before setting up to shoot some shots of Dan and Joe as they came down…

Dan & Joe ripping the Palmer
Joe all grins harvesting the evening corn

Halfway down the Palmer, Dan grabbed the camera and returned the favor, shooting several shots of me harvesting the evening corn, including the ones below…

July turns on the Palmer
Matt heading down

At the mid-station, we were stoked to see a groomer coming up with his tiller down, laying a nice track of corduroy behind him. We waited for him to pass, and then it was game on!

Joe ripping the fresh groom
Dan and Joe skiing the corduroy

We skied down to the intersection of the Palmer and Mile canyons, and enjoyed the grooming all the way down. Unfortunately, the Mile wasn’t groomed, but it still skied really nicely in the soft snow and cat tracks.

Slaying the corduroy in the Palmer Canyon
The skiers coming down

We waited at the top of the Mile for a few minutes for one of the many cats to pass, then headed down, skiing all the way back to the end of the snow a few hundred yards from the lodge.

One of the many cats
Heading down thru the park

At the bottom of the snow, we made the short walk back to the cars, and celebrated by enjoying a cold beer in the parking lot. My second offering was a Summer Honey seasonal ale from Big Sky Brewing Company.

Heading to the car
Summer Honey Ale

By the time we had the gear loaded in the cars and our beer drank, it was time to think about a spot to camp for the evening. After looking around, we settled on the White River Snowpark, which I like due to the really nice view of the mountain. Once we had our camp setup, we cooked up some tasty brats for dinner, before hitting the sack in anticipation of getting August turns in the morning. After bidding the skiers goodnight, I crawled into my Outback and fell asleep shortly after my head hit the pillow, stoked from a great day of turns on the last day of July.

The view from camp at the White River Snowpark

 

July 2, 2020 – Mt Hood, Zigzag Glacier

After a lackluster June, Dan and I were looking forward to getting our turns in early in July. We agreed that Hood sounded like a good bet, and Dan was game to drive, so we met at my house early and headed up I5 in his Tesla. To ensure we had more than enough power to get back, we stopped off in Sandy for a few minutes to hit the supercharger, and then made our way to the mountain.

Charging the Tesla in Sandy

We pulled into the climbers lot around 8:30 am, and got our gear organized, including loading skis and boots on packs. Around 9:00 am, we set out on foot up the climber’s trail, which later proved to be a mistake due to how dusty and soft the trail was. The wildflowers along the way were a small consolation to the slow trail hiking, and definitely made for a few scenic photos…

Hood from the climbers lot
The view from the trail

It took two hours to get to the White River overlook due to the heat and extremely slow going, but it was nice to get a good view of the glacier again. It was looking pretty small for July, but at least the snow was mostly white and smooth.

The White River Glacier
Cracks in the White River

We took turns snapping a few pictures at the overlook, then finished climbing up the trail to the top of the Palmer. From the top of the Palmer, we traversed over to and under the lifts, then made the hike out to the Zigzag to check out the conditions. I always enjoy setting eyes on the Zigzag for the first time of the summer, and this year was no exception…

Dan at the White River overlook
Looking down the Zigzag

We worked our way down to the snow on the Ziggy, and it felt nice to take the approach shoes off and put the snowboard boots on. We skinned up the Zigzag until the snow became too bumpy for fun skiing, and called it just below the snow finger that comes down from Crater Rock. Once at our high point, we enjoyed a well deserved lunch, as put our beers on ice. My beer of choice for the day was a very tasty hazy King Sunny IPA from Pacifica Brewery. Although I took a few pictures of it, including the one below, I decided to have a couple swigs of Dan’s Ninkasi and save the Pacifica for later in the day at the top of the Palmer….

Dan near our high point
King Sunny IPA

After finishing off Dan’s beer, as well as our lunch, we took a few more photos, including the one below of me, before we stepped into our bindings to enjoy some hard earned turns…

Looking out over Illumination Rock

I dropped in first, and enjoyed some really smooth creamed corn down for several hundred feet before stopping to shoot a few photos of Dan skiing down. As usual, Dan slayed the corn and looked good doing it in front of the camera…

Dan skiing under the West Crater
Headed down the Zigzag

Partway down, the Zigzag, the snowfield split into two lobes. We decided the western lobe looked smoother, and headed that way. Dan grabbed the camera and snapped several shots of me as I came down, including the ones below….

July turns on the west lobe
Matt headed down

Before we got to the bottom of the west lobe, I took the camera back from Dan and skied down towards the bottom on perfect corn, then found a suitable spot to shoot some shots of Dan as he came down….

Dan harvesting some July corn
Turns in front of Illumination Rock

Once we were both at the bottom of the west lobe, we made a short hike across the rocks and dirt and strapped back into our gear and continued on down. The snow remained really smooth, and we enjoyed each and every turn as we descended….

Headed down the Zigzag
Riding the smooth corn

The turns on the middle of the Zigzag were probably the smoothest on the snowfield, and we ripped big sweeping turns down, enjoying each and every turn.

Summer turns on the Ziggy
Dan skiing below Illumination Rock

We continued on down to the lower snowfield, skiing by a very large rock that has served as an gauge for us over the years with respect to snow level on the snowfield. The rock was just becoming totally exposed, and both of us were a bit concerned since it was definitely early for the snow to be at this level…

Dan enjoying turns on the lower snowfield
Heading down towards the bottom

We worked our way down to about 7200 feet or so, then decided to call it since the snow was getting soft, even though we could have skied down a bit further. Our transition to skins was quick, and soon we were headed back up the Ziggy…

Skinning back up the Zigzag

We made it back up to our gear about an hour later or so, and then made a beeline for the top of the Palmer to enjoy some fun skiing on the Palmer snowfield. Our hope was that we might even get lucky and score a groomer on the way down. Once at the top of the Palmer, we put our beers on ice, and I enjoyed my King Sunny IPA while both of us enjoyed the views. A little bit later, it was time to strap into the bindings and enjoy some really nice corn turns….

Dropping in on the Palmer
Dan shredding the upper Palmer

The snow on the Palmer was equally as nice as that on the Zigzag, and we thoroughly enjoyed the fun turns down to the mid-station. Both Dan and I took turns shooting photos of one another, and were pretty stoked by the time we made it to the lower Palmer…

Dan skiing the Palmer
Heading down below the mid-station

We headed on down below the mid-station and were stoked as we saw the cat coming up, laying down a single groomer track behind him. We stood out of the way and let him pass, and then enjoyed some of the best corduroy this side of Deer Valley.

Matt slaying the groomer
All smiles in the Palmer Canyon

The groomer was so good, both of us couldn’t help but have big shit eating grins on our faces as we headed down. As far as July turns go, we both agreed it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this!

Matt heading on down
Dan getting some groomer action

We cruised on down and into the Mile Canyon, and once we got over towards the half pipe the grooming stopped, but we still enjoyed some really nice turns on down the canyon below Silcox Hut…

Turns by the halfpipe
Dan skiing through the Terrain Park

We worked our way through the terrain park, and down below the cats, and skied to within a few feet of the parking lot. Both of us were stoked on skiing back to the lot, as well as the quality of the snow, and decided to celebrate with a beer in the parking lot.

Dan below the cats

We made the short walk to the car, and it felt great to change into shorts and flip flops. I pulled a tasty Kick Step IPA from Ghostfish Brewing out of the cooler, also pulled out some fresh garden salads I made up the night before. Sitting in the sun, enjoying our beer and fresh food, we both agreed it doesn’t get much better.

A cold Kick Step IPA
Apres’ ski in the parking lot

We enjoyed the food and beer until they were gone, and then loaded our gear in the Tesla and headed out, capping off another great day of summer skiing at Mt Hood.

June 6, 2021 – Mt Bachleor

With the calendar showing June already, I was looking forward to getting out and scoring some turns. The problem was, the snow conditions weren’t looking really hot anywhere in the mountains. It hadn’t really precipitated since the first of March across most of Oregon, and reports from others as well as my own observations indicated the snow conditions weren’t really great. Even so, Dan and I made plans to head to Mt Bachelor to see if we could find some smooth snow to slide on. I met at his house early, and we headed up and over highway 58.

Mt Bachelor from Sparks Lake
Parked along Cascade Lake Hwy

Temperatures were pretty cool on the drive over, and we stopped at Sparks Lake for a quick break. The forecast was calling for sun and mild temps, and we were hopeful of getting some good corn. By the time we pulled off at the area however, it looked like the forecast wasn’t going to come to pass. A dark cloud was forming over the mountain, and it remained cold. Nevertheless, we set out on skins and headed up.

Skinning up an icy track

The skin track was firm and icy, and by the time we neared the top of Sunrise, it started to snow. The weather was also moving in around the Sisters, and visibility became limited. If we didn’t know better, I would have though it was April and not June. Once we made it to the top of Sunrise, we decided to call it and head back down, not wanting to ski the upper mountain in firm, icy conditions with little to no visibility.

Dan topping out at Sunrise
Matt before dropping in

We sat around for a bit at the top of Sunrise, waiting to see if weather would give us a window to head down, but it didn’t appear it would. We decided to hit the east facing aspects as much as we could, thinking they would be most likely to be soft. I dropped in first, then snapped a few shots of Dan as we skied down. The first few turns were indeed soft, but after that it was pretty much firm conditions all the way back down.

The only soft turns on Sunrise
Skiing down in the snowstorm

We skied back down to the bottom as the snowfall picked up in intensity. By the time we made it to the parking lot, it was coming down pretty good, and it was staying cold.

Near the bottom of Sunrise
Heading back to the car

We made the short hike across the parking lot, and headed for the warmth of the car. Just before we reached the road, Dan snapped the below shot of me as the snow came down…

Matt at the road

Back at the car, we threw our gear in the back and headed over to the main parking lot, hopeful that we might find some soft snow on the Cone. We took a circuitous route to the top from the north side, which was a little longer than we’d anticipated, but soon we were standing on top of the Cone, enjoying a cold beer. My beer of choice for the day was a Spring IPA from Coldfire Brewing, and it was really tasty.

Skinning the Cone
Spring IPA from Coldfire Brewing

After enjoying a few sips of cold beer, we strapped in for the first of several runs down the Cone. After the first few turns, I knew we were going to be in for some much better conditions, as the snow was soft corn on the perfect eastern exposure…

Headed down the Cone
Dan harvesting corn on the Cone

We harvested the corn down to the treeline, then put in a boot pack back up to do it again. Once back at the top, we enjoyed some more of our beers, then laid some tracks down for our second run….

Matt harvesting lap 2 corn
Dan slashing a second lap turn

The turns on the second lap were as good as the first, so we headed back for a third run. It was nice re-utilizing the boot pack, and once we were back on top we took a few minutes to finish our beers and enjoy the view, such as it was. The visibility improved slightly, and both of us were somewhat in awe at the lack of snow around the base compared to a normal snow year. Before long, it was time to head down, and we enjoyed the turns back down to our packs at treeline on our third lap.

Third lap turns on the Cone
Dan enjoying a final lap on the Cone

Once back at treeline, we shouldered our packs and “skied” back down through the trees on some really heinous snow to the parking lot below. Back at the car, it was pretty cold, so we decided to load up and head out, and delay our grilling session to later in the day. As we departed, I snapped the below shot looking back at the Cone…

Looking back at the Cone

On the way home, we pulled into the Gold Lake snowpark, but it was still cold, so we decided to just grill in Dan’s backyard. Once we got to Dan’s, both of us figured it was time to enjoy a second cold beverage, so I pulled out one of my favorite Pale Ales — a Bone-A-Fide pale ale from Boneyard Beer.

Bone-A-Fide Pale Ale from Boneyard Brewing

A few minutes later, the brats were done, and we enjoyed them with fresh garden onions and chips and salsa. A bit late, with the food and beer gone, the day was over, and that ended what turned out to be a decent day of June turns in the Oregon cascades.