Julia Mayfield, Gary Bakkala, Julie Noble Bakkala and Lance Christian kick off the festivities for Ski to Defeat ALS 2015. Photos by Randy Boverman

Organizers, volunteers and Mount Hood skiers have rallied to raise more than $75,000 and counting for the ALS Association in spite of tough snow conditions and the loss of charismatic front-man Fred Noble.

Ski to Defeat ALS, the annual fundraiser to help people suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease and search for a cure, nearly didn't happen this season due to the poor snow year on Mount Hood.

“When things were a little iffy, we wondered, should we cancel?" said Lance Christian, executive director of  the ALS Association Oregon and SW Washington. "But then I asked myself, What would Fred Noble do? And Fred Noble would find the snow and make it happen. Fred Noble was the spirit that drove us, and this snow that we got this past week was Fred’s spirit in action."

Skier, philanthropist and Mount Hood legend Fred Noble died on May 1, 2014 after a long battle with ALS, a brutal neurodegenerative disease with no cure. Right up to the end Fred was a tireless fundraiser and cheerleader for Ski to Defeat ALS, and it was a challenge to continue the event without him. But organizers and volunteers stuck with it, and some timely April snow came through in the end. Some 165 people traveled from as far away as Louisiana and Maine to participate.

Here is a photo by Randy Boverman of Cindi and Dan Becker of Team No White Flags, which won the Spirit Award:

Each participant raised at least $150 for the ALS Association, and the amount raised has grown to over $76,000 and counting, thanks largely to the support of the Fundraising Champs at Franklin Control Systems, pictured below. You can still donate through June 1 here.

Normally Ski to Defeat ALS features a lively vertical challenge, with the opportunity to rip it hard from first to last chair. But Mt. Hood Meadows nixed the idea the week before the event, worried that large volumes of super-fast skiers converging on narrow trails could create hazards on the slopes, with limited terrain open due to lack of snow. That understandable decision was good news for defending vertical champ Dale Parshall, who gets to hold onto the title for another year in spite of his recent, rather spectatular crash and injury.

My buddy Mike Heffernan was well on his way to taking the vertical title when he found out the tracking was off. With the pressure off to pile up vertical, we took it easy and had a great time shredding some vintage April snow just for the fun of it. Here we are at the top of Shooting Star with Cindi and Dan Becker:

And here we are doing our version of the Austrian Ski Instructors thing:

A fun day of skiing was followed by a lively afternoon of socializing, and it was all for a good cause.

Huge thanks to Randy Boverman for all of the above and below photographs. See you out there for Ski to Defeat ALS 2016!

Lance Christian, Julia Mayfield and Rebecca Pace. Photo by Randy Boverman