Sunday, February 19, 2006
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 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 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 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
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.