Ski season is upon us!
A foot of fresh, heavy snow fell on the upper mountain Monday, and hundreds of people were forced to call in sick Tuesday.
The line for the first chair at Mt. Hood Meadows started building up an hour before the lifts opened, and snow-deprived skiers and snowboarders spent the day shredding it up from Shooting Star to Marmot to Vista.
Layers were shed early, as the sun warmed the snow into mashed potatoes with yet another warm inversion. The light was exquisite on Vista Ridge, and the natural features on Marmot Ridge were a blast.
The snow covered a lot of rocks, but there are still plenty exposed, especially on the lower mountain. It has been a rough snow year to say the least for anything below the 5500-foot level, including Hood River Meadows, Private Reserve, Jeff Flood, and unfortunately all of Skibowl. Plenty of ski areas in Oregon have struggled to open at all in 2014-215, including Skibowl, Hoodoo, Mt. Ashland and Willamette Pass. A lot of money is being lost in the Oregon ski industry.
Fortunately on Mount Hood, we have Cascade, Vista Ridge, the Magic Mile and Palmer. Even in a low-snow year it is hard to beat the feeling of having the ridge to yourself, with perfect visibility:
The base of Skibowl at 4,000 feet is down to bare grass, which does not bode well for Masters Mania Weekend, the Snow Beach Festival and Hope on the Slopes.
The forecast calls for bright sun and more unseasonably warm temperatures over the weekend and well into next week.
Pack sunblock and shades, and enjoy it while you can!
With luck another winter storm will hit the Cascades soon. In the meantime, Meadows and Timberline have enough snow to keep squeaking by, and the rumors of early closures are not true. Meadows spokesman Dave Tragethon sent out a press release Thursday that stated: "Meadows will continue daily operations per our original schedule with an extension into May weekends if conditions allow, as we have the last several seasons. This week’s storm dumped a substantial amount of snow at Meadows - providing great coverage, supplemented by our snow harvesting efforts. We have no intention of closing the ski area when we have such ample snowpack, especially on the upper mountain, to continue daily operations."