Skiing Anthony Lakes, Oregon on Super Bowl Sunday

8 02 2020
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Mike, Lisa and Myself. Fluffy snow!

I have a friend, Lisa, who lives a 4-hour drive east in La Grande. La Grande is blessed to be a 40-minute drive from Oregon’s best powder ski resort, Anthony Lakes. I try to make a pilgrimage out there from my home in Portland, OR, at least once a winter. The Grande Ronde Valley surrounds La Grande, and the mountains which ring the area have plenty of year round opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

In winter, the Elkhorn Mountains, which rise above 9,000ft, offer Alpine skiing at Anthony Lakes as well as countless Nordic trails. You won’t find Portland area crowds. In fact this past weekend, which was Super Bowl Sunday, we did not have a line at the ski area. We pretty much had the slopes to ourselves.

Anthony Lakes is like skiing way back when. When fixed-grip chairlifts rules the resorts. When a $40 lift pass was the norm. And there was no hyper rush to get the best parking spot. Today, Anthony Lakes is still like that. Only you can get a weekend pass cheaper if you buy online early. And, tickets are $20 on Thursdays. It’s mostly advanced terrain. But, there are green-rated slopes from the top. BTW, there is excellent Nordic skiing from the lodge around the lakes, and your alpine pass is valid for the Nordic runs, too.

The plan was to start skiing early and then host a Super Bowl party at Lisa’s house. It was to be a perfect day! While it was stormy and icy Saturday, it snowed 6″ of dry fluff overnight. The weather on the hill was blizzard–>sun–>blizzard–>repeat. So we had filled-in tracks snow most of the time we were there.

Well, I didn’t bring my GoPro. So, in this video, I was holding ski poles, gloves, and bare-handing the cell phone. At least you can see how nice the snow was!

We departed in time to get back to town and make preparations for the Super Bowl. Friends arrived, we munched, and watched the best Super Bowl in years. Both teams, the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs were peaking in the weeks prior. I like both teams, but the Chiefs had a 50 year drought and I favored them. The 4th quarter did not disappoint. The chiefs came from behind with a spectacular defensive effort and three touchdowns!





Skiing Anthony Lakes, Oregon

25 01 2011

Lunch in the lodge

MLK Weekend 2011 was spent out in La Grande, OR, and we planned to ski and enjoy the outdoors around Anthony Lakes Ski area. Our friends Craig and Lisa moved out there in 2010 and had bought a house downtown.

My friends Kent, Alex and Stacy all planned on heading out with me for the weekend. Craig & Lisa were very excited to have us in town and show off their place! They had a nice one-story place – real cute with a new metal roof. Craig had just bought a new 55″ LED 3D TV…holy cow it took up half the back room! We’d spend a lot of time hooking it up for Blu-Ray and Netflix streaming movies.

Ready to head out...

Situated in the Elkhorn Mountains about 45 minutes from La Grande, Anthony Lakes is a combined alpine and Nordic ski area. The alpine area only has one triple lift. Small, but it’s known for dry powder. Its base is about 6,000ft and the summit 8,000ft. The lakes themselves make for nice cross country skiing. And one can park at the alpine lodge and do an XC ski from there. Very pretty area!

It’s very low key, something I love. The lift tickets are sold out of a little shack, and are only $35, good for both XC and alpine. If you only want to do XC, it’s $13. Better yet, you can get $5 off if you bring a season pass from another ski area! The lodge is 1970’s retro. And I got a sharpen and wax in 20 minutes for $15.

Just before we left for La Grande, the weather forecast was gloomy and I was afraid everyone would cancel. A massive “pineapple express” – a warm front, was coming and rain predicted even up to 8,000ft. Winter in recreation in the Cascades would be ruined, and maybe as far as Anthony Lakes. Because we wanted to visit Craig & Lisa we rallied and still headed out. We were rewarded Saturday because instead a wintry mix, it snowed all afternoon! Even though the downhill skiing conditions weren’t ideal we felt really fortunate!

Kent, Alex, Craig and I did lots of the groomed runs. The non-groomed runs were passable, but not worth bothering that day. Craig showed us some of the views and I could definitely see that on a powder day Anthony Lakes offered some sweet terrain.

I got a nice shot of Alex at a craggy tree at the summit. It was fast snow and I was tempted to tuck all the way to the bottom!

By noon, I had my fill of the alpine terrain. If the snow were typical powder, I’d have done more downhill.

Lisa and Stacy skied the Nordic area in the morning. By now it had started snowing in earnest! I decided to check out the cross country ski trails for the afternoon…

Cross country skiing at Anthony Lakes is a treat. Trails follow routes around small lakes and these lakes lie below some craggy peaks of the Elkhorn Mountains.

I headed out with Kent, Stacy and Lisa, and we all split up because we had different XC goals for the afternoon. The trails had some twisting downhill sections, and I fell three times! I rarely fell in downhill skiing. In fact the ONLY time I have ever come out of my current ski bindings is when I was hit by a snowboarder, dislocating my shoulder, in 2009! But not so in Nordic. There, I am more of a novice I guess!

Saturday night we had a relaxed dinner in La Grande at Ten Depot Street. It’s one of the nicest restaurants in town, kind of Western grande style, but you don’t have to go for the $26 entree. You can still get something for $12.

Then we headed back to the house for a night of fiddling with the new Samsung 55″ LED TV and the Blu-ray player. Blu-ray is very nice! But these streaming and 3D systems can be problematic …I won’t go into a lot of details, but it was a wireless system, 3D, capable of streaming movies over Netflix, etc. To get this to work you have to get yourself the right accounts set up, your passwords handy, have your manuals ready, have your wireless router signal strong, have your Internet connection fast, etc. etc. etc. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t up to the task (and that includes the human techies) it can get problematic. In our case it took Internet research to find out the TV had a software bug and couldn’t connect to the Internet – so we used the Blu-ray for that. In the end, it was the bandwidth. We needed a faster Internet connection. But the time spent gave a window to make a marionberry cobbler, which was a good reward.

The 3D was interesting, especially amusing to look at people wearing the 3D glasses…

I’m not ready to say that 3D for HD TV is ready for prime time. But it is a fun toy I guess! Those glasses cost $129…

Sunday broke with heavy rain courtesy of the warm front – dousing any winter recreation plans. We spent the morning reading the paper at a La Grande coffee shop and then decided it was time to make our way back to Portland…we got Kent some new windshield wiper blades for the monsoon-soaked drive back…see you next time Anthony Lakes…when the powder returns!