Friday, November 26, 2010

Back at Work

Great first day of snow reporting on Friday, with fresh snow falling, and the start of night skiing, too. Dreams come true every Friday!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Opening Day at Meadows

The 2010-2011 season is off to a good start, with 30+ inches and counting on Mt. Hood. I enjoyed a low-impact opening day, making a few runs, and relaxing in the lodge, along with a few meetings to get the snow reporting team back on track. This should be an awesome ski season, with the La NiƱa weather pattern promising abundant snow and colder temperatures for the winter.

I'll be resuming my duties at Meadows on a reduced schedule, working on the mountain on Fridays, and taking up early morning snowphone duties every other week on Monday & Tuesday. There is no hope that I will match last season for riding days, but I have set a tentative target of 30 days for myself. I'll keep you posted on my progress...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anthony Lakes

I knew from the drive to La Grande last night that the winds would be an issue today. Unfortunately the chair at Anthony Lakes is very exposed at the summit, and it was impossible to load skiers today, so I was riding the handle tow all morning hoping for the wind to die down. It never did, so I stopped in the lodge for lunch, and then hit the road for Portland. Still, it was not a total waste. I got to try the special burger called a "Meaty Mogul". An all beef patty topped with a slice of roast beef, a slice of turkey, a slice of ham and two strips of bacon. That sure hit the spot!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Summit at Mt. Bachelor

After years of trying to catch a good day for riding the Summit at Bachelor, I finally got my chance today. The snow was a few days old, but holding up well, and the weather was absolutely awesome. I managed to get on the summit early, and enjoyed carving the groomers and exploring stashes of fresh snow as I made my way down. I explored the front side rather extensively, leaving the backside for another day, as riding alone is discouraged on those slopes.

The turns were great, and the wide open groomers provided well-earned relief after a few laps off the trails. The snow was soft and packed powder, with plenty of moguls, and also some fresh tracks left to be made. I carved my share in the bowl, and even down to the cat track, finding stashes of pow and spring conditions depending on the aspect. It was a nice day for photos, too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Skiesta at Mt. Ashland

Conditions today at Mt. Ashland were surprisingly good. Even though the snow was a few days old, there were untracked patches, and the powder remained light and fluffy on upper slopes. It was a fantastic day to be on the mountain, with festivities ongoing, including a dummy downhill. I enjoyed a full day of riding on the steeps and in the trees, and found the snow was soft and very ridable all over. I hit it hard for the morning, doing fast laps on the Ariel and Windsor chairs, and poking around the trees below the bowl.

The dummy downhill was a great diversion in the early afternoon, and after a few more laps, I was done for the day. With more and larger turns on tap for tomorrow, I decided to call it a good day and get on my way.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Skibowl Scraping By

Skibowl has had a challenging season, and today they opened after a period of low snow had forced unplanned closures. Thankfully this weekend looks like it will keep them running for some time to come. Although the low snowpack required that many runs were roped off, there was enough to groom all of the Multorpor side, which was in pretty good shape. I enjoyed cruising for a couple of hours, and sampled all the groomed trails before calling it a day. It was a fun trip to Skibowl, but I do hope they get a good late season to make up for the shortage of snow so far.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hoodoo sans Hodag

Today was a wet and wild day at Hoodoo. Eight inches of heavy, wet, untracked snow covered the off-groom with a tempting but dangerous surface that I could not resist cutting to pieces. It was hard work on the wet, heavy snow, but there was no competition on the hill, in the soaking rain that was falling from top to bottom, which to be fair was slushy higher up.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mystery at Willamette Pass

I belong to the Mountain High Snowsports Club, and so far have enjoyed only one actual club trip (I am also a second year PACRAT), which was a trip to White Pass a couple of years ago.

This year, my unusual job situation has made club trips less attractive for me, so I have gone back to solo travel. Today my plan changed in an unexpected and fun way. The trip to White Pass was one where the trip leaders didn't share the destination with the attendees until the bus was underway. A "Mystery Trip" in the club vernacular.

As I was donning my boots in the lodge this morning, I solved this year's mystery. Mountain High had come in force to Willamette Pass. Of course, with five inches of fresh snow, I would not be waiting for them to catch up. I got ahead of the masses and lapped the backside six times, making the most of a powder day, and carving big arcs in wide open fields of snow. No friends on a powder day is true to a point, but after getting a few laps under my belt, I decided to tag along with the mystery trippers and see where they might lead me.

We had some great runs down the trails and in the trees, and it was interesting to be part of a mass of skiers and riders descending a hill together. The snow was great, and we all managed to find plenty of new lines through the day. I had companions to ride with, to dine with, and later there was even some filming of some human slalom and spins.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snow Reportage

Rather than my usual season of weekend warrior exploits, this year I am spending the entire season on the hill. My job this winter: snow reporter at Mt Hood Meadows, M-F. I will be at the mountain each and every weekday - so as usual, the challenge will be to travel on the weekends, with the additional difficulty of having to ride every weekday as well. Now things are really getting tough! I expect to ride at about ten ski areas in the northwest, and probably more than 120 days for the season. It should be a good one!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meadows Opens Early!

The 2009-2010 season started off with a fantastic day at Meadows. The base of 32" was super solid under about 6 inches of fresh snow. Starting the new year on the mountain with Shooting Star open was a very nice surprise, and those first few turns, floating through the freshies - well, just like I dreamed. Laps on Columbia and I'm in heaven. I spent about 90 minutes tearing up the off-piste on SS before circling back around to middle fork and then over to the parks on easy rider and buttercup. I'm not much for riding rails, but the snow was sparsely tracked and the rollers were good for some gentle airs to start the season.

Not bad for the first half of November.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Willamette Pass

Today I finally returned to the ski area that started this whole grand adventure two years, two months and five days ago. In that time I have gone from a novice toying with the idea of snowboarding to a dedicated powder hunter capable of riding most trails. On this absolutely beautiful spring-like day, I made the rounds at Willamette Pass, exploring all the trails that were beyond my ability on my previous visit (aside from RTS, which remained shaded, and was simply too icy to be worthwhile).

Although the trails were quite icy before ten, once the sun had a chance to get above the ridge, the groomed runs grew smooth and fast. I took it easy to start, re-familiarizing myself with the layout of the blue trails, and waiting for the sun to warm the steeps before hitting the harder and steeper trails. My patience was rewarded, as the snow began to improve, and I found myself enjoying a little spring snow in February.

It was a great pleasure to come back to Willamette, where I first really caught the snowboarding bug. I revisited some of the tree runs I knew from my previous visit, and found many new ones farther up the slope as well. Willamette is quite close to Portland and to Bend, but not competing directly with Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor. Eugene is really the major market for Willamette, and it shows in the relative lack of a crowd. Even with races on the hill, I found the lift line moved so fast that folks rarely filled the six pack. On the back side, there simply was no line.

After trying all the other trails on the hill, I finally decided to celebrate my good fortune in completing a tour of all three states this season by tackling the lift line at Willamette Pass. This run was so daunting when I first saw it in 2005, that I could hardly imagine why I would even want to try it.

My perspective has changed, and today I decided to enjoy the softening snow through the mogul field and along the edge of the trail, and rode all the way down the lift line. I thought it quite fitting that the final trail in my tour was "Success".

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Warner Canyon

It was a beautiful day to be at Warner Canyon. Although the drive from Ashland via Klamath Falls to Lakeview was somewhat harrowing due to blizzard conditions, there was very little traffic, and I made it in good time to get a room for the night. I even had the good fortune to find a parking spot that was covered.

When I rose in the morning, the town was coated in a half foot more snow, but my car was barely dusted. I tossed my bags in the back and made a beeline for Warner, just fifteen minutes away. I arrived to find the lot characteristically empty, and counted no more than 25 cars in the lot all day (including snow plows).

With the slopes essentially empty, and almost a foot of fresh snow on top, I enjoyed the powder hound's dream of a deserted mountain of virgin white slopes under bluebird skies (with light snow flurries!). There were only about a dozen riders making the trek to the ungroomed runs, which left fresh tracks enough to last all day long. Every run was in fantastic shape, and I rode every trail, from one boundary to the other.

Although boasting less than 800 vertical feet, Warner benefits from a complete lack of crowds, and a fairly wide footprint that spreads riders laterally across the hill. The long drive from any significant population centers keeps Warner a private playground for locals most of the season. You could bring a group here (or come by yourself), and it would basically be like having a private mountain.

My "Warner Smile"...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mt. Ashland

I had a great day at Mount Ashland today, although Ariel was shut down for the day due to high winds. This was my second ever visit to Mount Ashland, and on my first it was a bluebird, groomer day. Today's conditions were the polar opposite of my last visit, with extremely high winds and deep snow blanketing the hill. The main chair in service today was the Windsor chair, which provided access to the entire lower mountain, including many runs through extremely well spaced trees which were not in my repertoire when I first came here two years ago.

Although the winds were very strong in the parking lot, the ski runs on the lower part of Mount Ashland are very well shielded from the winds by stands of trees between the trails - and of course the runs in the trees are even more well protected from wind. The powder was deep today, and fluffy enough for rooster tails down the lift line. I had a great time testing conditions all over the available terrain, traversing to the Ariel chair line and the trees beyond, and down each trail across the face to the boundary on the parking lot side above the lodge.

After checking out the hill, I found the powder to be in good shape all over, so I kept going straight through lunch time, enjoying a complete lack of any lines while the majority went in to warm up. I finally decided to take a break at two o'clock, and as the weather began to deteriorate decided to hit the road for the long drive to Lakeview.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I arrived at Hoodoo as a passenger, and very much enjoyed the relaxation of not being the driver. My father was kind enough to volunteer, and we made the trip to Hoodoo together again. Although the initial hope had been to get dad onto a snowboard, and see if he could learn some skills before the trip to Idaho, he was injured, and couldn't snowboard today. Thankfully the tubing hill was open today, so we supplemented my lift ticket by each getting an all-day pass for the tubing hill.

The tubing hill was where we started the day, and we had a very good morning with short lines and fast lanes. After a few laps we were inspired, and grabbed a double-tube to go for a ride - but we were told we could not share a tube, due to my advanced age/size. Instead, we found we could ride the double-tube solo, and it allowed for a much more comfortable ride than the standard round tube. This would be our weapon of choice for the remainder of our tubing all day. Eventually, we decided we should take a break, and headed back to the lodge for lunch.

You might think I was being silly not to be snowboarding, but I was very much enjoying the tubing, and after three straight days of powder turns in Washington, I needed a little rest (I also was developing a cold/flu). Of course, even then I would normally have been working hard to get my dollar worth out of the lift ticket - but in this case, the ticket cost me only $15, thanks to a member of Mt. High snowsports club, so getting my dollar worth meant about ten runs in the afternoon, and then back to tubing until we were beat.

It was a very nice day at Hoodoo, and there was such a small crowd that the powder was in good shape all day, even without the Hodag lift running. I did miss riding the back side of Hoodoo, as it has some great runs for powder days, but I contented myself with the deep powder to skiers right of Ed's chair, where I found many fresh lines even at 2pm. All-in-all, another great day on the slopes - and we even saw Santa at the tubing hill. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


After work, I nabbed the husband of a co-worker, and spirited him to Skibowl for some night boarding. We arrived at the mountain around 6pm, and found the snow coming down, and plenty on the ground. It was lighter and drier snow than Skibowl usually receives, making for an ideal day to visit. After a few laps on the lower bowl, we crossed over to spend the remainder of the evening at Multorpor. Over the course of the evening, I saw him go from tentative turns to confident cruising, and even captured a bit of the action via helmet cam. It was my first chance to try using the helmet cam as a chase cam, and I thought I did okay. I'll make sure to add the video when I have some time for editing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Anthony Lakes

I spent today at beautiful Anthony Lakes, where I found stashes of light, dry powder, as well as a wonderful terrain park for turning - the natural result of small trees buried to hear their tops. I started the day on the groomed runs, cruising the smooth corduroy until I felt comfortable with conditions - once I had established that the snow was in very good shape, I ventured off the sides of the trails, and eventually began to hunt for snow in the trees as well. On either side of the ridge, there are ample fields of powder with your choice of foliage, moguls, steepness and snow depth. I tended toward the deeper snow and along the fringes of the foliage myself. Although I would have liked some fresh powder during the day, the conditions were very good until the afternoon, when high winds began to cause stoppages of the sole chair lift.

Overall, I can highly recommend Anthony Lakes for the lack of lift lines, quality of snow, and variety of terrain. I would say this hill has something for just about everybody.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spout Springs

Today was an adventure, or more correctly, both an adventure and a misadventure. I started the day with a rather silly mistake. After spending the night in the car, upon waking up and removing myself from the vehicle, I promptly locked my keys inside. Needless to say, not how I wanted to greet the morning.

It was just after 7:30am, and although my wallet and keys were securely locked inside the car, I was thankfully wearing my coat, which included gloves and a cell phone in the pockets. I made a call for roadside assistance, but was disconnected due to a low battery. My next call was to mom and dad, knowing they would be able to contact the insurance company for roadside assistance, and would be happy to do so at 7:40am. I was waiting for assistance to arrive, but the call of confirmation did not come, so I walked from the car to the highway (exactly 2 miles), hoping I might find a friendly driver with more battery life than I, and make another call to my insurance company. I sat by the intersection, and soon a friendly passerby offered me the use of their phone. I made the call, and right when I connected to an agent, a state trooper pulled up to offer further help.

He asked me to give the good samaritans their phone back, which I did. He then proceeded to radio dispatch to have another locksmith sent out, since I had been waiting over an hour for the first one. About twenty five minutes later, the first locksmith arrived, and I hopped into his truck to ride back to my car. RIght as the first started to work, the second locksmith arrived, rather annoyed to have been called as a duplicate. Long story made short, I was on the road about 9:15am, and made it in time to start snowboarding Spout Springs at 10:30am.

It was nothing less than an ideal opening day from my perspective - all the trails track-free, and four to ten inches of light dry powder on top. I overheard that the main lift was not running until 10:15, and judging by the lack of tracks on the main run, that was true. I started by doing laps under the chair, just making the happiest powder turns, a great reward for the trials of the earlier morning. Eventually, as the groomed run was becoming tracked, I made my way off piste and enjoyed fresh tracks for the entire remainder of the day.

There is a wonderful gully on the main face that nobody else had attempted, so I made three laps through the area myself, cruising between bushes and trees, before I saw another snowboarder spoon my tracks. After that, I made my way along the ridge, toward the outer runs, where there were only the tracks of the ski patrol. I found entire runs with no evidence of traffic, and carved with wild abandon, on the groomed runs, and then deeper into powder on the sides. It truly was a great day to have first tracks, and they were there to be had for the whole day. I even snapped a photo of a run with only my tracks defacing the otherwise pristine slope.

I finally decided I had better get on my way around 3:30, and packed into the car for the drive back to Pendleton, and on to La Grande. Tomorrow I will need all my energy for Anthony Lakes, another single lift ridge, where I hope to find more powder to poach.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cooper Spur

Thanks to some early season powder, Cooper Spur was my destination of choice for today. I brought along Boringfish, a good friend of mine who is still mastering the basics of snowboarding. It was an amazing powder day, and the snow came down all afternoon. We got a late start, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, and got to the hill a little after noon. From the snowy drive up, we could tell there would be plenty of fresh powder - but I was actually surprised by the accumulation. It made for a somewhat difficult day for Boringfish, as getting up in such deep snow poses challenges, and I found some spots where the drifts were deeper than the length of my arm. Overall, it made for a memorable day of snowboarding, and a nice mellow afternoon after the long drive up and back to Mount Baker.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mt. Bachelor

I woke up early to make the drive to Mt. Bachelor today, and I was rewarded with light, dry snow and partially overcast skies. An absolutely beautiful day to be on the mountain, although the cover is a little thin. Only Pine Marten and the bunny hill were running today, but there was enough to keep me busy all morning. I'm taking a break for lunch and a board tune, and then I will probably be on my way. Three hours straight of turns is a pretty good workout, and the rocks are doing a number on my new board, so I think calling it a day is prudent. I'll post some video from today when I have a chance. I might have to visit Bachelor again before the season is through...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Meadows, Timberline

Today I decided to head around to Mt. Hood Meadows, just to see how they looked for opening day. Not very impressive, but at least they had two lifts turning for the junkies. I did a few laps on Buttercup, but the line for Easy Rider was so long, I just bagged it and drove over to Timberline. Turns out they had a lot of Pucci runs open for business, so I made a fool of myself on the lower mountain for the rest of the morning. There were plenty of rocks to dodge, but the powder was still free of ice, and it was a nice day for riding weather-wise.

When I headed back down, I witnessed an SUV being pulled out of the ditch barely 100yards up the road from Hwy 26. The road was a bit icy, but that's why we drive slow. More adventures tomorrow...

Don't forget to visit my youtube page

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Timberline Alone

Headed to Timberline again today, and took along the helmet cam for a little test. I purchased an ATC2000 (ATC2K) helmet cam, and strapped it on for my first field test snowboarding. So you can see what you get on the first try with a $120 camera. It's a neat little waterproof unit, available at your local REI.

Also, here is a link to the raw video file, in case you have a lot of bandwidth and patience at your disposal. Note the guy who drops in around 3:00

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Northwest Ski Challenge

I have heard through strictly unofficial channels that there will be a Northwest Ski Challenge for the 2007-2008 ski season. This will encompass all three of the State challenges - Ski Oregon, Ski Washington, and now Ski Idaho. Accordingly, I am considering a run at the first trifecta, expanding my initial Idaho project to a full-scale season of insanity. In light of this ambition, I may put off joining a PACRAT team in order to leave my schedule flexible enough to make the 9 or more separate trips that will be required to complete the challenge(s).

I officially kicked off my attempt at the Northwest Ski Challenge today by picking up my Fusion Pass and spending a morning carving turns on the re-opened Palmer Glacier. Conditions were slightly icy in the early morning, but after a few laps things softened up nicely, just enough to make carving comfortable.

I was trying out a new board, and a new stance, on somewhat exposed terrain, and overall it went very well. The new board seems solid so far, and I put my first few scratches into the p-tex with the help of the rocks at the exit from the Palmer lift house (thanks Timberline!). Otherwise my turns were feeling very good - although I think I am about due for a lesson once the coverage makes more terrain available. I need a bit of technical assistance with turns (for racing) and I would love to have a guided tour of how to make the most of the terrain park (and some motivation to practice riding switch).

Word is that the new Jeff Flood lift is almost ready for service, just in time for a little change in the weather scheduled for early November.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Birthday Turns

It is a beautiful morning when I rise from my bed at 5 am. I gather my snowboarding gear, which I inventoried the night before, and pack the car for a trip to the mountain. I have arranged to be absent from work today, and instead I spend the early morning hours driving to Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge, where I lace my boots and don my helmet - and then proceed to the Magic Mile.

This time of year, the lifties instruct folks to carry their gear until they reach the Palmer lift - there is no longer enough snow to maintain a run back to the Mile. The ride up is smooth, and there are only a few skiers and boarders on the hill - this is the calm before the storm of Labor Day weekend. I strap in at the top and enjoy a few hours of the joy of summer snow riding. The conditions are actually very good for late August, and I decide to continue past the midway loading station, down to the bottom of the Palmer run. With such a light turnout today, the grooves of corduroy left by the groomers are still plainly visible across the run to the bottom. I turn laps, do some switch riding and practice my turns, just enjoying the cloud cover and the view - there is a small cloud over the mountain, keeping the sun at bay, while the view is unimpeded across the wide expanse of Oregon.

Eventually I realize that lunchtime is coming soon, so I consider my options, and elect to ride as far as the snow will allow, and then hike to the car. I make the last run count, and carve smooth turns from the top of Palmer, past the midway station, and then past the Palmer loading ramp - I have committed to the hike out at this point, and I continue down the trail. There are only two other sets of tracks on this run - probably ski patrol. The run gets progressively narrower, with more and more rocks poking through, and the canyon walls reaching ever closer together.

Perhaps a quarter mile from the lodge, with the run becoming a mass of rocks with mere patches of melting snow, there stood a lone stop sign in the center of the run. It was hardly necessary, as beyond the sign, the snow quickly gave way to hard, dry rocks. I did as the sign instructed, and removed my board. This is one birthday tradition that I hope to be able to continue for some time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ski Oregon Challenge Retrospective

The posts before today are a chronicle of my adventures in the inaugural Ski Oregon Challenge during 2005-2006. Stay tuned for my diary for the 2007-2008 season. If you have not yet seen my Ski Washington Challenge blog, you may find it here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Anthony Lakes

Anthony Lakes was a great way to end my adventure (not that the adventure is over!). The last resort on my list for the Ski Oregon Challenge, A-Lakes proved to be one of the best. The powder here is dry and deep, and the 8,000 foot summit means plenty of good snow, plus amazing views. I was impressed at the amount and variety of terrain that spread out below the one main lift. From the boardercross course to the ungroomed backside, and all the steeps in between, every run at Anthony Lakes was a dry powder pleasure. It was clear that the secret is out - there were certainly quite a few folks enjoying the supreme conditions - but even with a full lot, there is so much room to spread across the face of the hill that I rarely found anyone in my path. Another beautiful and sunny day on the mountain, and the joy of fresh air and fresh powder. This was a great season to get serious about learning to snowboard.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spout Springs

Spout Springs is a little known ski area in the Blue Mountains. Here I found another resort with plenty of fresh powder, and almost no traffic. Most of my runs were by myself, and for most of the day, the only tracks in the powder were my own. A little traversing away from the groomed runs under the lift, and there were many lines to enjoy through the trees and all across the hill. I kept finding stashes of powder all day long, enjoying the sunshine and hospitality of the friendly folks in the lodge in between. The trip to the lift is a little flat for a beginner snowboarder, but after a few trips I found that a little cut through the trees left me with enough speed to make it all the way around. It was nice to have a whole mountain all to myself - and the powder here was the driest I had found yet.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cooper Spur

Cooper Spur is especially friendly to children, but it also has some charm for adults as well. I made my trip to Cooper Spur in the evening, to take advantage of their incredibly inexpensive night ticket. From four o'clock on, the hill was basically mine, and within a few hours I had made the acquaintance of every run on the hill. It is a small place, no doubt about it, but each of the runs is of high quality, and the crowds are so thin that you can basically imagine that you have the hill to yourself. There is also a sweet little lodge, but after a quick bite, I was right back on the hill. The ride is short, and the hill is just right for making a few turns. I was happy to have the hill to myself and be able to cruise the slopes - and with no lines, there was plenty of cruising occurring. I lost count around 12 runs, and just kept carving until I was ready to head east. At this point, I was on a mission.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Warner Canyon

Warner Canyon is an oasis in the desert. Far off the beaten path, this gem of a ski area is free of crowds, and flush with fine white powder. I made it on a Sunday, and there was plenty of untouched powder to be found. The one lift serves the hill well, providing easy access to everything from gentle groomed runs to powder filled gullies and an ungroomed back area. I was quite impressed to find a nice little lodge with friendly locals serving hot grub at fair prices, and a hill with no lines at all and plenty of the good white stuff. Warner Canyon is run by the local ski club, and it shows - this place is great, and you can feel the love. Everyone is friendly, and they all seem to know each other - and by the end of the day, they will probably know you. I was the sixth car in the lot, and there were never more than twenty five cars all day. The average run here is you all by yourself carving the whole length of the hill. A good mix of terrain, too, although nothing is too extreme. I was heartily impressed, and I can see myself making the trip again in spite of the longer driving time - it is rare to have so much good snow all to one's self!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mt. Ashland

Mount Ashland is a relatively small ski area - less than 300 acres - but it has terrain enough to challenge even expert skiers. Still not an expert myself, I started with a few blue runs, but eventually, the bowl began to call my name. I had never seen terrain so steep - the walls of the bowl are truly vertical, and a quite amazing sight. After looping around the bowl a few times, I finally decided to drop in. Unfortunately for me, it was not a powder day at Ashland, and I found myself scraping along in an icy bowl. One run of that was enough for me, and I headed back to the beautiful groomers. Ashland has a great little lodge, and wonderful terrain, and on this unseasonably warm day I found myself among topless skiers. Ashland is small enough to cover in a day, and that was my project - I made at least one run down every trail before I retired to the lodge for a brew. The runs are very well laid out, and this is a very efficient hill to cover - not much traversing, and plenty of steeps.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


After driving past Skibowl on my trips to TImberline and Mt. Hood Meadows, and being jealous of the folks still skiing after 10pm on my way home, I finally decided to stop in. Starting at Multorpor lodge, I made my way to the lift and noticed that there was snow far above the level of the loading area. This season has been good to Skibowl, it seems, and the snow on this day was nothing short of amazing. I had seen powder before, but nothing really prepared me for the depth and volume I found at Skibowl. I stayed on the groomed trails and made my way down to the lower bowl lift, and then rode up to stop at the Warming Hut. One mocha, coming up. After downing my espresso (yum!) and taking a few moments to admire the classic architecture and photographs of the warming hut, it was time to explore the slopes. Another quick trip down the lower bowl, and then I was off to the summit. I decided to try out Skyline to get my bearings, and was pleased to find that my skills were now refined enough to get me over the hills along the way. Another quick trip to the summit, and a few over the hill, and the outback was open. I made a quick run there, and found the powder to be nothing short of epic. Do I need a bigger board? The sheer volume of powder was overwhelming in the outback, particularly between the trees. One run in that waist deep powder and I was ready for lunch. A quick crossover to Multorpor, a bite to eat, and then back to the bowl. I cruised the upper bowl most of the rest of the day, enjoying the fantastic conditions, with light snow covering my tracks by the time I came around the next run. On into the night I boarded, no longer jealous of the late night crowd. Skibowl has got it all under the lights.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mt. Hood Meadows

Meadows is an amazing resort. I had never seen so many skiers and snowboarders in one place - or so many lifts. I started this sunny day at Hood River Meadows, and decided that the fantastic conditions warranted the open to close lift ticket. After a couple of runs in the sun, I stopped at the Renaissance Cafe mid mountain to grab a mocha and rest my legs. Espresso on the hill is one of the great features of Meadows - aside from absolutely fantastic runs. It took me a while to become familiar with the massive area, but after a few runs I was able to see why so many people enjoy skiing and boarding here. There is terrain enough for all, with great stops along the way, and enough lifts to keep things moving even on the busiest of days. I think I finally hit my stride on the wide open runs at Meadows - I began to carve with confidence, and even took a run through the terrain park (just to take a look). Later in the day, I stopped for another mocha above the terrain park at the Mazot eatery, a cute little bar built on the footing of a former ski lift. This was my first evening of night boarding, and I must admit, I am now hooked: the snow is even more beautiful under the lights.

Sunday, January 8, 2006


I brought my dad along for a trip to explore Hoodoo, as he was interested in the Tubing Hill. While he was happily sliding down the runs there, I was eagerly carving up the powder from summit to base. This was my first visit to Hoodoo, so I began with a few short runs, and stayed off the main lift until I was warmed up. Soon enough the hodag was calling my name, and I took the lift on up to the summit. There was light snow all day, which kept the runs in great shape, and after a few hodag runs, I decided to try out the deep stuff. I made my way down from the summit to Powder Valley, and spent the rest of the day making runs through deep, soft powder. The slopes were in great shape, and I often had a whole run all to myself. It was a dream to have such a great snow day, and I skipped lunch so I could get a few more runs in. By the time the day was over, the smile on my face was fixed in place.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mt. Bachelor

I purchased a snowboard and then drove straight to Bachelor the next weekend, anticipating the thrill of trying out my new board. By the end of December, I had decided that I would like to make it to all the ski areas in the state (who knew there was a Ski Oregon Challenge?), and to that end I had bought my first snowboard. Bachelor was the perfect location to test out my new gear. After a couple of runs down the hill, I was all smiles, and glad to be there for a true powder day. On the drive up, I had been worried about too much snow, but my fears were allayed once I took to the hill. Conditions were great, and there would be fresh dry powder all day long. I met up with my sister, her husband, and a family friend, and we all took our boards up to try out the moguls. Not having any experience on moguls, the first run was a little bumpy, but I started to get the hang of it quickly, and by the end of the day I was actually carving turns with confidence. A full day at Bachelor called for some relaxation, so we all went back to Sunriver to enjoy a soak in the hot tub. Good times!

Saturday, December 24, 2005


My second trip of the season was to Timberline. I had not yet explored the blue runs at Timberline, or even the Magic Mile. Today was the perfect day to expand my horizons. I brought along a friend, and after making a quick stop at the rental shop (we were first in line), we hit the slopes. The snow was great, and the weather was perfect. A couple of runs down Pucci and then Norman, and I was ready to check out the Magic Mile. I enjoyed peeking back over my shoulder as we sped up the chairlift, taking in the amazing views of the cascades. We decided to start with the East Mile, and it was in fantastic shape - soft powder, and no ice. It was such a beautiful day, I had to take off my hat to cool off! After making a couple of runs on the East Mile, we decided to be even more adventurous, and made our way down to the top of Norman. Having followed the ski area boundary down from the top of the mile, we kept going along the west edge of the ski area, and made our way down Paintbrush. It would be my first attempt at a black diamond, and my friend's as well. Deep breath, and then down we go. It was a thrill, and even though I had to unstrap and kick in a few spots, I was ready to go again. My friend was a little slower, so I made my way to the bottom, gave a friendly wave on the ride up Norman, and then caught up on my second run - no kicking involved. Awesome. We spent the rest of the day cruising the Magic Mile, and soaking up the sun and snow. What a beautiful day.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Willamette Pass

This season I finally decided to get serious about snowboarding. I had only been on the slopes three times before this season, but that was enough for me to get the bug. I started my season with a trip to Willamette Pass in December, where I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent conditions. After parking my car in Eugene, I rode the ski bus to the mountain and headed straight to the rental office. The employees were very helpful, and had me on the hill in no time. I checked my bag at the desk, and took to the slopes. Being a relative beginner, I started out with a few passes down the front side, and then made my way to the summit to try out some blue runs. The weather was sunny, and the view from the summit was amazing - I really felt on top of the world. A quick stop to strap in, and the rest of my day was spent exploring the intermediate runs, with an occasional detour to duck through the trees. It was a beautiful day, and by the time I returned my gear, I had decided that this year would be the perfect year for snowboarding.