Fluffy Powder Skiing at Mount Hood Ski Bowl Oregon!

10 03 2014

ImageRecently, a cold storm blew through the Mt. Hood Oregon region, dumping 80″ of powder in three days. We don’t usually receive Colorado-dry powder – it happens once or twice each winter. This 2013 – 2014 season has been particularly cruel. A warm, dry December and January left Mount Hood Ski Bowl closed, and Mount Hood Meadows only partially open.

Then a blockbuster storm moved in, with non stop snow for days on end. Mount Hood Ski Bowl is known amongst ski aficionados as having the best terrain on Mount Hood, but unfortunately it lies at a lower elevation, meaning snow conditions are generally not as good as at higher elevation Timberline or Mount Hood Meadows.

I was able to hit Mount Hood Ski Bowl on opening on one of these days. It was so pretty. When I arrived in the base area, there was plenty of snow. Fill in your tracks snow.

I was able to get the first chair up that day. I think it may be the first time in my life I was the first person at a ski area. It was worth it! Run after run of untracked snow all to myself!

On this day, it was perfect for anyone wanting to ski powder snow for the first time.

ImageThe Mount Hood Ski Bowl staff had groomed everything to perfection for powder ski students! So, you are nervous about the steep and deep? Well, they had everything for you. They had a cat track groomed. They had runs groomed with 4″ new on top. They had groomed runs with 8″ new on top. And there were other runs with 14″ untracked, fluffy snow!

ImageThis is not Cascade Concrete. We are talking about the kind of snow that if you pick a handful up, you can blow it right off your palm.

So, you ask, how does one ski in the deep? Let’s say you are proficient on packed snow. There, you put more pressure on your downhill ski when turning. And you pick up momentum even when traversing. In powder, if you ski with uneven balance, one ski will dive to the bottom and the other stay on top! And if you traverse too much you will slow down and can’t turn. New powder skiers can be seen frustrated, in the snow, goggles all fogged up.

But the reality is that powder skiing is actually easier than hard packed snow skiing! But you need to understand how to do it. So, think about it. If the snow is deeper than your boot tops, it’s going to slow you down, right? Well, the slower you go, the harder it is to turn. So you have to do something to counteract this. My suggestion is point your skis straight down the slope to get momentum. Secondly, you don’t want one ski to submarine while the other is on top. So now you have to try skiing with both skis relatively evenly balanced, kind of like a platform to “surf” the deep snow. You do not need to lean back. How to turn? This is the secret. Have you seen porpoises in the ocean? Notice how they surface and turn on the surface? That is what you want to do! Think of the deep snow as a spring. When you go across the snow, you are on the surface, and when you slow down you sink. You turn your skis when you are on the surface, and traverse when they are deeper. So, this is how you ski deep powder.

Point your skis down hill. As you gain momentum, tip your feet up. When your skis are on the top of the snow, turn left! Then you will sink. You will cross the slope again, rise, and when you are on the surface, turn again, right! And sink. And so forth. This is called porpoising. Once you learn how to use the deep snow to slow your momentum, and turn on the surface, you will be golden!


And you can leave tracks like these! Have fun, and remember, it takes a few times to get it right. But you will succeed! You will get it! Believe me, power, deep snow, is easier than hard pack!

April Powder on Mount Hood

8 04 2011

Some late spring snow – and LOTS of it – fell on Mount Hood in early April 2011. Mount Hood Ski Bowl opened unscheduled on Thursday at 3 p.m. for “night” skiing – well, at that hour in April it was blue bird sunny!

Wow! Pictures are really worth 1,000 words.

A telemark skier takes on the fresh



The deep

Sun, Snow and the Best of Fluff in Oregon’s Cascades!

25 02 2011

A weather system out of the Pacific has converted a drought stricken snowpack in Oregon’s Cascades into dry fluff! Depending on elevation, up to two feet fell in the past two days of desperately needed white stuff!

Here’s a nice video of the dumping in action on Wednesday!

I took a gamble Wednesday and headed up to Ski Bowl and found a paradise for skiers! On the trails, snow up to the top of my boots. Off trail calf high.  Run after run of untracked powder could be had for anybody game enough to ignore the weather forecast and head up. Roads were no problem because the snow plows did such a great job.

Up to the boot tops!

If you have ever dreamed of skiing untracked powder run after run, Wednesday was such a day! I arrived late, about 1:30, and was in absolute DISBELIEF that runs, not backcountry, had NO TRACKS! OMG! In fact people were hiking to ski freshies and there was no reason, freshies could be had on some of the front side trails in the Upper Bowl!

As late as 4:00 p.m. I found lots of fresh, untracked snow on the front side of  Upper Bowl!

My ski buddy Alex said he would try to get time off to come up Thursday and today he was able to get out early and we arrived at Ski Bowl about 9:30 a.m. to the lightest, featherlight snow the Cascades offer!

Though there were more people on the trails Thursday, the snow was so marvelous it didn’t matter. Plus the sun peeked out several times, making the entire day complete.

Another bonus both Wednesday and Thursday was that wind was NOT a factor! WOW. Just perfect, run after run of feather light snow!

When the sun poked out of the sky on Thursday it showed in stark relief how beautiful Planet Earth’s wonders are! HOLY COW the entire Cascade Range stood out in clear, pure, fantastic focus from far to near. All on a day when the weathermen predicted all kinds of trouble!

So, without further adieu, here is Alex making his way down Canyon!

I have experienced many day like this in my skiing career. But not always in the Cascades. So one of my goals has been to show Alex how amazing skiing can be when Mother Nature bestows her magic!

Snow Returns to the Cascades!

24 02 2011

This is what I have been waiting for!

Hello everyone! After three weeks of drought and warmth and loss of snow, La Nina has returned, bestowing dry powder upon the Cascades! LET IT SNOW!

Enjoy this video – taken from the Upper Bowl at Mount Hood Ski Bowl!

More to come!


Let the Ski Season Begin at Mount Hood Ski Bowl!

4 12 2010

Alex, excited with his new setup!

The meteorologists say this is a La Nina winter! In the Pacific NW, this means a good snow year! So far it hasn’t disappointed!

I made it through my first day skiing without incident! Actually a couple of days…ha ha. Last year at this time I was down and out with a dislocated shoulder – suffered at the hands of a 13 year old snowboarder when I was pushing off to start my first run!

So Friday Alex and I headed up to Mount Hood Ski Bowl. Alex showed up with a brand new setup of K2 Rictor skis and Tecnica boots! He went to Hillcrest Ski Shop poking around for goggles and wound up going for a whole new ski package.

Alex got himself a new technology ski – with “all terrain rocker,” meaning the tip has more upturn/softer than the tail section. Here is a video with a so-so explanation… Anyway they should be easier in powder!

Friday was a sunny day in the Cascades and we got a number of photos, what a nice view of Mt. Hood! The high school race team showed up in the afternoon and we checked out the girls team running gates. It was exciting and educational watching their technique!

Looking forward to a great 2010-11 ski season!

How to Score Fresh Tracks on Mount Hood: Wednesdays at Ski Bowl

19 04 2010

Mount Hood is a mere 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon. It’s literally in the city’s backyard. It receives hundreds of inches of snowfall in the winter, and has several ski areas. Portland is populated with a lot of powder hounds willing to brave wind, ice and state police to get a chance at enjoying fresh snow. On Mount Hood, where it can be wet snow, the days of sweet dry fluff are in extremely high demand.

At Mount Hood Meadows, the largest ski resort, crowds gather before the lifts open anxiously awaiting. Heather Canyon doesn’t open until 9:30 and similarly there will be dozens standing at the gates waiting for the ski patrol to let them in. The upshot is that around here, the exhilaration of floating in fresh powder doesn’t last long. And you have to get up real early to get it.

Mount Hood viewed from the top of Ski Bowl

But there are some who know they can sleep in. Or work a half day – and still get fresh tracks. Because they know there is a little secret on the other side of the Mountain. The true diehards get fresh tracks at Meadows, then pack up and then do it all over again at this secret spot. When low snow levels bestow powder on Mount Hood Ski Bowl on a Tuesday night/Wednesday, these people head to Mount Hood Ski Bowl to catch the 1:00 Wednesday opening. It’s guaranteed you can get run after run of trackless on these days.

1:00 time for freshies!

I was around for one such day late in winter 2009-2010 and it was super sweet, I took in one trackless run after another!

So if you just happen to notice the right conditions and have some time on a Wednesday, now you know you don’t have to set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. and rush out the door.