Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Hood’

Middle of June and thinking about possible turns for the month and July. I had skipped a few occasions on heading to the Presidential due to certain obligations.

Being an abnormal snow year in the East, skiing was getting from pathetic to impossible real fast. From the reports I’ve seen from Tuckerman, mid-June turns looked more like July.

I wasn’t sure that Tuckerman July turns would be possible. I had a few ideas in mind for July snow, but they were more pathetic than the next. Would it really be skiing? As I started thinking outside the box I received an email from Mr. Bestsnow.net mentioning that PNW had another incredible year and looked like Mt. Bachelor might reopen for the June/July 1 weekend. He informed that it was good enough for him to consider flying there. I knew the season had been good and was aware that Crystal was still spinning on weekends as long as it was possible. Then there was Timberline on Mt. Hood and the mountains in the Cascade that would still have snow.

I had mentioned before that a trip only to freeski on timberline wasn’t necessarily worth the expenses, especially that I have skied there a couple of days once back in August / September 2006 as part of our excellent two weeks family vacation exploring the PNW. As I started thinking of the possibility and the fact that my season really sucked, I thought to myself, if I can get an airline ticket, I would go.


June 27:

Getting out of the heat and riding the train to the Ottawa airport with skis; sense of déjà vu from last summer in Europe. Standing next to me at the Air Canada counter is an ex-CEO from a place I worked, he seemed to look at me as if he recognized me, wondering WTF was I going with my skis in June and why I’m not at work? I’m leaving on a trip away from work, what he is going here? As I’m charged 56$ for my regular bag plus my ski bag. I remember not long ago when you would even have to pay and they gave you more than pretzels to eat on the plane. Not on this 5-hour flight to Vancouver.

Another familiar face with ski boots is a local ski coach from another hill which my daughter trained with them one day in 2011. Ryan was now coach with the regional ski team and was heading on an earlier flight than the rest of the team to Mt. Hood. The team, amongst the best local racers, which Morgane competes against, were heading to Mt. Hood for 2 weeks of training. In September the team is going to train in Chile. Pretty much year-round training on and off snow. We had time to chat between flight to Vancouver and Portland, Oregon.

As in 2006, a spectacular view on the Dash 8 flight from Vancouver to Portland which included Seattle, Mts Rainier and St. Helens. As headed down to Portland, we could see Mt. Hood in the distance in the clear blue sky.

Back when I was with the family in 2006, I didn’t get to spend much time in Portland. Once I checked at the downtown Motel 6, which happens to be across the street from the hotel we stayed in 2006, I hope on the light rail system at around 9pm, which is free in the downtown core. Walked around for a few hours, went to biggest new and used Powell Book store I’ve never been to. Back to my room at past midnight which happens to be 3am in the East. It’s going to be a short night, especially that the lifts at Timberline open at 7am. Lift closed at 2pm, but I needed to be back in town at 3pm, so I would have to stop skiing before that.

Flying into Vancouver BC

Mount Rainier

Mounts St. Helens and Adams

Mount Hood

Portland at night

Record store


June 28:

I think the wake-up call was at 5:45am. It took me a while to get out of bed, of the room and on-the-road. No time for breakfast on the road as I’m racing towards the mountain. In the parking lot, I saw some people when skinning and hiking. I was debating what I was going to wear for way too long. It doesn’t matter, the scenery is beautiful. A quick special breakfast bagel at the Wy’ay Lodge cafeteria. Got my $58 liftticket as it was they were making my breakfast. Eat it as I was hiking through the lot in front of the Timberline Lodge and slowly sliding towards to massive line for the Magic Mile chair.

The morning commute

Morning Liftline chaos 1 : Magic Mile

View from Magic Mile

View from Magic Mile with Palmer in-sight. Courses below Palmer instead of snow tongues surrounded by moraines

As I was walking in the lot, buses of kids were still arriving. However these kids were jibbers, not racers. Snow coverage was wall to wall at the bottom slopes above the hotel. As I got on the lift at 9:30 am, I was somewhat surprised as the lower mountain below the Palmer midstation was a series of moraine walled snow tongues the last time I skied here in late Summer 2006. The sun was hot and snow was soft. The lineup at Palmer was slightly better.

Morning Liftline chaos 2 : Palmer. With Mt. Jefferson in the background

Liftline chaos 3 : Palmer Mid-Station

Mt. Hood is definitely summer skiing central. There was a queue also at the midstation, full of race kids and a few bigger racers like Ted Ligety. Each team was assigned a line on the hill, similar as the busy summer ski camp I saw in the Alps last summer. Some teams trained on upper Palmer, left or right of the lift. Some were also on the lower half of Palmer or along the Magic Mile.

Lane distribution – NCO team has lane 17

Courses on Upper Palmer

Ted Ligety is a popular guy

I mixed it up, either by making full runs of Palmer or riding the upper part of the snow field. There were a few lines I could ski, but it was limited within the boundaries. There were 40 lanes reserved on the hill. The snow below Palmer towards was the Magic soft mile, in term of snow and slope. As noon approached, lineups to the lifts disappeared as coaches were unsetting the courses and racers made their last free runs before non-skiing afternoon activities.

Funky clouds on Mt. Hood as seen from Lower Palmer

Notice the dots as across the snowfield

Snowpark served by rope-tows below the midstation on Palmer was still pretty busy. Chatted again with the local coaches as they were packing up for their first day. I was also needed to get ready to leave, I was picking up Tony at the Portland Airport at 3pm. In 3 hours of skiing, I managed 7 runs. The morning started off bluebird with a hanging cloud on the summit of Mt. Hood, however it started to get overcast on my last runs. Weather was moving in for the weekend, forecast called for rain.

Clouds moving in

Timberline Lodge

So to Portland and back pass Mt. Hood on our 3-hour drive to Central Oregon and the town of Bend. Tomorrow is Friday June 29 and Mt. Bachelor is reopening one last weekend. The plan is to come back to Mt. Hood and Timberland Lodge on our last evening in the PNW on the following Monday.

Driving to Bend

MadPat’s Galleries
YOW to PDX / Portland : June 27
Portland, Timberline / Mt. Hood, Bend : June 28

Log: Notice the wait time at the lifts

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Sunday September 03, 2006 2:01 pm

I haven’t skied in the last two days… what a difference temperature wise.

After our day of skiing a few days ago we drove a few hours (waiting in a traffic jam in Portland) to Florence on Central Oregon Coast: beautiful beaches with cold water. Sea Lion in Caves, in the harbour in Newport and at the Aquarium. A beautiful drive North along the Pacific Ocean. Our vacation is finishing where it started: Portland, Oregon. Almost two-weeks since we landed and spent the first week in the State of Washington, we were nearing the end of our trip.

Here are some pictures from the skiing interlude.

Tara running to join her sister and mom on the beach at the Dunes NP

Coast north of Florence

Newport Harbour

Surfers at Neahkalnie Beach

Tourists at Neahkalnie Beach


September 3-4:

On these two September days, I parted with the rest of the family to get my September turns and the last turns lift-serviced turns in North American for the 2005-06 ski season. The family visited the Children’s Museum and the Zoo. I would be back in the late afternoon and did some local sightseeing in the neighbourhood. Very pleasant.


Here is a quick summary of the skiing part; August and September: First Three Days at Timberline

Aug 29 – 48F at 7am and very windy. Bright and sunny until the clouds moved in at around noon. Surfaces softened up at around 10am.

Aug 30 – 33F at 7am. Lifts aren’t running. Rain and snow. There was about a one inch accumulation on our rental car at Timberline Lodge. It never warmed up.

Aug 31 – 40F at 7am. Packed powder (okay, it’s a slight exaggeration), but it wasn’t the hard icy surfaces of the previous ski day. Everything softened up at around 9am. My daughter joined me at 10am for turns until closing. No wind and temps increase fast. Nice sunny day. It was getting pretty sticking at around noon.

Two days off to the coast as mentioned above.

Sept 3 – 61F at 8am. Summer is back, no hard surfaces to be found at 8am. A few Rock Islands are popping out toward the bottom of the Palmer Snowfield. I am toasted. Now I have to drive back to Portland and we’ll do this again tomorrow on Monday; Labour Day. Getting back East on Wednesday.

Sept 4 – Last day of the 2005-06 season.

A few folks were out on this last day of the season. After today Timberline is open only on weekends until Winter returns. After skiing on closing day at Tremblant on April 17, Sugarbush on April 30, Mammoth on July 4…September 4 at Timberline is definitely is the last closing day of the season. Today was the 61th Day since that October opening day at Wildcat, beating my personal best season by over 11 days. It also marked the end of my 12 wonderful month ski season that included 3 trips out West.

Here are some pictures from that last day.

Early morning drive

Mt. Hood in the morning as seen from the road.

Palmer as seen from top of Magic Mile

Most racers are back home or elsewhere

Palmer snowfield and the rock island popping up at the bottom.

Midstation at the bottom of the snowfield. Rock island to negotiate.

Above lift turns

This is the end…of the snow and the season.

Goodbye Mt. Hood. The picture is hazy because of the forest fires on the east side of the mountain.

End of our last day on vacation. Goodbye Portland, Oregon, it’s been fun two weeks in the PNW 🙂


Response to questions answered on Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:03 pm

ChrisC wrote:

The Palmer Lift is about 1500 vert (7000 to 8500 according trail map).

I would estimate the midstation is at about 7500 – 7600 giving the snowfield almost 1000

I checked back at the data from my watch.

Here is what I found:

Palmer top-half: 713 vertical ft (snowfield and steeper part)
Palmer bottom-half: 726 vft (snowfield tongue(?) in gully – flatter)
Ski run pass Palmer during the last week of the season: 792vft
Hike from end of snow to bottom of Magic Mile: 162vft

ChrisC wrote:

The snowfield is definitely the steepest and most interesting part of the mountain. Maybe similar in pitch to the Chair 3/FaceLift (?) at Mammoth. Possibly less so. It’s not a steep place. More like high intermediate than low expert pitch in my opinion.

I totally agree with Chris, I even think that Chair 3 is probably slightly steeper at it’s steepest place than Palmer. Pitch grade from Palmer snowfield is very constant. As I mentioned in one of my report, Morgane was laughing when I told her that was a black run…she answered back that it’s should be a green one. Mind you, she’s was only 8 and has a hard time noticing how steep runs are.

Tony Crocker wrote:

Second to last pic is bottom of Palmer, right? With Magic Mile chair overhead and its unloading station just out of the picture to the upper right?

My impression is that quite a bit more variety was there during Frank’s trip a month earlier.

No, picture is the Palmer midstation. The picture that you posted in the FTO thread (and my third picture) is bottom of the Palmer lift.

Rock island look bigger than they were (the one with midstation). It was the worst area on the snowfield, it was really the last few turns on skier’s right that had rock island issues. 95% of the rest of the snowfield was more or less intact.

Tony Crocker wrote:

My impression is that quite a bit more variety was there during Frank’s trip a month earlier.

It was my understanding that not much of the coverage changed in one month, however I’m sure that the rocks were probably not popping out at the bottom of the snowfield (mid). That only really started in the last week of August. Frank could probably answer this more than I can, but it was my understanding that he had a skier right option on the left side of the lift. The bottom of the run was skiable and wide open, however it was sheltered from view and I couldn’t see where it started. There might have been only a small walk required at the top to make to the snow and ski all the way down to the bottom of the Palmer lift.

MadPat’s Gallery :
September 4, 2006 : Timberline – Mt.Hood

Originally posted on Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:01pm on firsttracksonline

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Tuesday August 29, 2006 9:16 pm

Oh well, who said that Summer skiing was suppose to feel like Summer? 🙄

After a few days of hot weather, the cold air moved in. As I got out of the Lodge at 6:30am this morning for breakfast (no breakfast in the Timberline Lodge until 7:30). Brrr. Definitely not a T-shirt and sandals weather for a quick walk to the Day Lodge (the only place to find breakfast before the lifts started turning) as temperature was in the low 40s. I can’t believe I even debated what to wear to go skiing this morning. Eventually got my winter stuff (pants and jacket). Got ride of the sun glasses and tiny gloves after a few runs because the temps weren’t rising that much. I don’t know what the boarder that bought his ticket before me was thinking. He had a T-SHIRT. After seeing him at top, I never saw him again.

Besides the cool weather that stayed in the mid 40 all day, it was very windy and the clouds eventually covered the area at around noon.

How was the skiing?

Snow softened up at around 10am, prior to that…I could feel the hard surfaces vibrating all the way to the fillings in my teeth. Upper Palmer had only one course set up for ski training for adults (people like me – ie. Masters, etc.). I guess all the kids are about to start school. Skiing was also possible all the way to the bottom of Palmer via one canyon and beyond. The snowpark was open into other canyon, however people had to hike across into the other canyon to reach the lift.

Skiing beyond the bottom of Palmer is still possible with excellent coverage. The snow ends at about 180 vertical feet above the bottom of the Magic Mile chair which is more or less a 10 minute walk.

Here is the forecast for tomorrow…Who said that summer felts like summer. 🙄 I’m here for the next two days then back for Sunday and Labour Day. I was solo today, however my daughter Morgane is probably going to join me tomorrow (not at 7am, but later in the morning).

Tonight: Mostly cloudy with sprinkles in the evening…then a slight chance of showers after midnight. Breezy. Snow level 6500 feet. Pass winds west 10 to 25 mph becoming light after midnight.

Wednesday: Showers likely in the morning…then partly cloudy with a chance of showers in the afternoon. In the north…snow level 6500 feet. In the south…free air freezing level 8000 feet. Light wind becoming northwest 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon.

Mt. Hood from Magic Mile in the early morning.

Getting closer. Skiable terrain as seen from the top of Magic Mile.

Palmer Lift and glacier

The ski-streak guy : 1000+ days in a row and counting

Timberline at the end of the snow

Snowfield from the end of the snow

Timberline Lodge

The snowpark into other canyon.

Silcox Hut at 7,000 feet

People hiking across into the other canyon to reach the lift (Palmer and top of Magic Mile). Clouds moving in.


Wednesday August 30, 2006 6:44 am

Today: Showers likely north in the morning…then a chance of showers in the afternoon. Morning clouds south…then partly sunny. Snow level 6000 feet rising to 7000 feet in the afternoon. Light wind becoming northwest 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy north in the evening…then partly cloudy. Mostly clear south. Free air freezing level rising to 10000 feet. Pass winds northwest 10 to 15 mph shifting to the northeast after midnight.

Thursday: Mostly sunny. Free air freezing level 12000 feet. Pass winds east 5 to 15 mph.

It’s 33F right now and pretty humid. I just heard that Timberline was closed today, back to bed.

I won’t have to debate much longer.

Late August snow at Timberline

Wednesday August 30, 2006 10:55 pm

Frankontour wrote:

I hope you will have a few good ski days later this week

Yesterday was good, today also. We did a tour along the Columbia Gorge and Multnomah Falls.

We actually got some snow today. The whole family was interviewed by a news crew from Portland who came to do a story about the snow fall.

Skiing tomorrow with Morgane then off to the coast for 2 days. I’ll back for the last two days.

It feels like Winter outside almost here. It was 37c and snowing at noon. (oops, 37F)

Columbia River looking West

Columbia River looking East

Vista House

Multnomah Falls

Wind and Kite Surfers on the Columbia


August 31

It was 40F at 7am. Packed powder (okay, it’s a slight exageration), but it wasn’t the hard icy surfaces of the previous ski day. Everything softened up at around 9am. My daughter joined me at 10am for turns until closing. No wind and temps increase fast. Nice sunny day. It was getting pretty sticking at around noon.

Then off to the Pacific Ocean for 2 days. Back to Mt. Hood for September close out the 2005-2006 season and MadPat’s month #12.

Fresh tracks on packed powder. 🙂

Tara and Caroline waiting at the top of the Magic Mile chair. Mountain still a bit white from the previous day’s snow

Snack time

From the top with Jefferson in the background

Morgane at the near the bottom of the Palmer lift. Vertical definately better than the local hills in winter.

Morgane past the Palmer Mid-station. Note on-ramp at bottom of Palmer

Timberline Lodge. Classic ski hotel. Family is waiting on the steps. Morgane and myself resting after our day of skiing while Tara is looking through the binoculars

Ski Map in post from Monday Mad Addict’s Attic : Timberline


MadPat’s Galleries :
August 29, 2006 : Timberline – Mt.Hood
August 30, 2006 – Hood and Columbia River
August 31, 2006 : Timberline – Mt.Hood

Originally posted starting Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:16 pm on firsttracksonline

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