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Author Topic: May 16, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (closed)  (Read 4482 times)
Jeff Huber
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May 16, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (closed)
« on: 05/17/04, 10:28 AM »

Earlier this week the extended forecast called for good weather Saturday and Sunday. Dreams of skiing thousands of vertical feet of perfect corn on a large volcano filled my mind but alas, this is the PNW, and on Tuesday evening the Portland NWS Forecast Discussion (which I happen to read compulsively) reported, "FOR THE WEEKEND...NEWER MODELS INDICATE UNSETTLED WEATHER IS POSSIBLE SUNDAY...OR EVEN AS SOON AS SATURDAY". Another Forecast office called the unsettled weather a, "POTENT LITTLE UPPER DISTURBANCE", which sounds more profane then useful.

Sure enough Sat and Sun brought inclement weather. I was still foolishly set on skiing though given the unsettled conditions I restricted my choices to sites that are close and low-elevation. I decided on Mt Hood Meadows, a controversially ski resort on the east side of Mt. Hood that closed for the season on May 2nd. Due to the low-elevation and time of year I planned on the snow being suboptimal however it turned out to be a bit worse then expected.

After driving through a brief downpour I arrived at the locked gate in front of the main Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot. The west side of the mtn was obscured by clouds but the east side was mostly sunny. I decided on the destination of "Superbowl" which is a large drainage (that was in the sun) between the WyEast face and Heather Canyon. My plan was to follow the lifts to the top of Cascade Express, ascend the slopes above it, descend east into Superbowl, then ascend lwr Heather back to the resort and my car. During the resort's operation "Superbowl" is accessed by resort-riders when Meadows decides to operate a snowcat above the lifts.

I left my car at the locked gate which I assume is legal as there were no signs stating it is not. At the top of Cascade Express @ 7400ft, the highest lift at Hood Meadows, I was in a whiteout. Snow conditions were abysmal, the snow was extremely contaminated, very rutted and heavily saturated. The ruts and mushiness I expected, the contamination I did not.

I decided to forgo the of Superbowl and descend towards middle Heather Canyon in hopes of getting below the clouds. Sure enough at mid Heather I was below the clouds. I then took a run into Heather Canyon which served the best skiing of the day, though it still wasn't very good. I hiked out of Heather then skied to my car on the most contaminated and slow snow I've ever skied.

Here's looking from the top of mid Heather towards where Superbowl would be if it wasn't obscured by clouds:



There's still a lot of great skiing on Mt Hood, it's just not at the lower elevations. Also, there is no snow at the White River snowpark. I did not drive to Hood River Meadows but I would expect their to be either no or very little snow. At this point probably the best way to ski the WyEast face is from Timberline and crossing the White River drainage. YMMV.

PS to PCX-XCD and any OR lurkers: Next year I think we should have an OR Hood Meadows TAY Ski fest akin to the WA'ers Crystal Ski fest at the base of upper/mid Heather Canyon on the first weekend after the resort closes :-). From Hood River Meadows it should be possible to drag a ponykeg in and there is terrain for all ablities there.
« Last Edit: 10/25/04, 06:47 PM by admin » Logged

wolfs
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Re: May 16th, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (it was closed
« Reply #1 on: 05/17/04, 01:16 PM »

Could you define "contaminated"? Volcanic ash? Sun effects? (Or, heaven forbid: Henry's bottles, prophylactics, used needles etc. left behind or hurled off the lifts by the lowly knuckledragging tribes?) Is this what you tell the Seattle people to keep them off your snow?
« Last Edit: 05/18/04, 04:44 AM by wolfs » Logged
Zap
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Re: May 16th, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (it was closed
« Reply #2 on: 05/17/04, 02:24 PM »

Gaper, Great tour plan.  Superbowl is certainly a screamer in good corn.  We like to tour up to the WyEast Face the last day of resort skiing and cruise down after the lifts close and the area is deserted.  I would definitely drive down from Seattle if you plan to drag a pony up to Middle Heather. Smiley  Zap
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TW
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Re: May 16th, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (it was closed
« Reply #3 on: 05/21/04, 08:22 AM »

Gaper, I am a Portland resident and have explored up into that Superbowl tour a few times.  It was much nicer this time last year.  Good idea about the Mid Heather gathering.  You bring the pony and I'll slog in the keg cups!
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PDX-XCD
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Re: May 16th, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (it was closed
« Reply #4 on: 05/21/04, 11:21 AM »

Quote

There's still a lot of great skiing on Mt Hood, it's just not at the lower elevations...At this point probably the best way to ski the WyEast face is from Timberline and crossing the White River drainage. YMMV.

PS to PCX-XCD and any OR lurkers: Next year I think we should have an OR Hood Meadows TAY Ski fest akin to the WA'ers Crystal Ski fest at the base of upper/mid Heather Canyon on the first weekend after the resort closes :-).


Count me in for a Spring Festival!

In the meantime, it is distressing how rapidly the snow is vanishing from low elevations. For example, I skied Mt St Helens on May 14. Snow was far too intermittent anywhere below treeline to allow skinning. Above treeline the snow in gullies was either absent or too rutted for good skinning for at least 1000 vft. So we walked a ridge up to 6200' and then started skinning. On top by 10 am, we waited perhaps 30 minutes too long before descending at noon. Skied down to 5200' before too slushy to continue.

Jaffey, let me know if you want company on a day trip on Hood. I'll do likewise, though I've no plans for skiing in the next week.
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Jeff Huber
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Re: May 16th, 2004, Mt Hood Meadows (it was closed
« Reply #5 on: 05/22/04, 09:15 PM »

Quote

Jeffey, let me know if you want company on a day trip on Hood. I'll do likewise

Will do. For the immediate future though I think I'm out of hall passes :-(


Quote
Could you define "contaminated"? <snip> (Or, heaven forbid: Henry's bottles, prophylactics, used needles etc.

On the lwr mtn there was a large volume of treebark and dirt in the snow, and the snow was just bizarrely slow. On the upper mtn the snow wasn't as contaminated but there was a lot of volcanic dirt, as evident in above the photo. I guess it wasn't that bad it just seemed more like August then mid May.
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