Class Reunion! Mount Hood Meadows Powder Skiing with a College friend!

16 03 2014

IMG_0933During the recent 80″ powder snow dump on Mount Hood, Oregon, I met with Katy Brown, a college friend I’d not seen in 30 years, and we had an epic day at Mount Hood Meadows!

Back in early February 2014, my good friend from college, Katy Brown, sent word she’d be coming to the Portland, Oregon area checking out colleges for her son, and they’d be staying in Government Camp on Mount Hood to ski for a few days. Wow! I had not seen Katy in 30 years, although we’d kept up via Facebook. This could be great if we could do a reunion on the ski slopes!


This was the easy part. Later on, it was a complete whiteout. Road=sky=side of road.

What would happen was beyond our dreams – almost too much! Let’s just say it made for memories! We made plans to meet February 20th at Mount Hood Meadows for a day on the slopes. Little did we know that a giant storm would blow in, dumping 80″ of dry powder plus some significant wind, making for insane conditions, not only challenging driving!

As February 19th approached, the snow piled up and Katy sent word from Government Camp, where they stayed, that the snow is “out of control up here!” Winds of over 40mph were reported at Mount Hood Meadows. She lives in Boston. She marveled at the giant snow blowing machines we use to clear the highways!

No matter what, I was going up there to meet Katy after 30 years! I have a 2013 Ford Escape with Michelin Ice-X studless snow tires, and I was confident I’d make it no problem. The morning of February 20th I headed up, but I made sure I brought my snow shovel and ice melter with me. Up on Mount Hood, on highway 35, there were super heavy duty snow clearing machines on the road, slowing the traffic to 5mph. It was so slow that a bus following a road grader lost traction and became stuck in a snow bank. Myself and maybe 8 other vehicles got round it, but the next two miles were crazy. With 40mph winds and snow blowing, it became hard to tell where the road was and the snow bank was. I passed 5 or 6 cars stuck before I finally got to the ski area. Success! I got to Mount Hood Meadows. But it was like Antarctica in the parking lot. Opening the car door let loose a maelstrom of violence! 4x4s were spinning their wheels. The cargo box on my roof was frozen, and I had to use de-icer to unfreeze the lock to get at my equipment.

I was the lucky one. Katy was behind, and got stuck in the mess behind the bus/road grader. But theyIMG_0941 eventually made it! Yay! We recognized each other right away. After getting comfy in our ski outfits and Katy’s rental gear we headed out.

It was crazy snowing and blowing! It was blowing over 50mph on the upper slopes at Mount Hood Meadows so I took Katy over to Hood River Meadows, a lower elevation area, and we were rewarded with a mile of uncrowded, powdery runs!

Katy negotiates a secret spot!

Katy negotiates a secret stash spot!

Since I am intimately familiar with the ski area, I encouraged Katy to get into some tree skiing in areas I knew she could handle and she loved it! So all afternoon, we had a treat in store for Katy. Run after run of un-tracked powder. IMG_0937

What a day. Katy’s son Will was out there, too, and he said it was the best riding he has ever done in his life!

For me, living in Portland, it sure was good. But we get these storms several times a year. I think I’m taking them for granted! We gathered back at Government Camp a their rented condominium, at The Grand Lodges.  Very nice place!

I hope Katy’s son Will goes to school around here. That way I get to visit Katy every winter!

Rossignol’s 21st Century Ski Boots, Short on Style…

6 05 2010

I’ve been skiing all my life. One of the golden rules of the sport is get boots that are right for you – boots that have good performance, fit and comfort. Once you’ve got ’em dialed in, you can use them for years, well past skis that wear out.

Such is the case with my past two pairs – Lange Tii and Tecnica Explosion8. Each I loved, each delivered and each I owned for years. The Explosion 8 was still going strong this season. But I’ve learned the newer boots are designed with a new flex pattern specific to the latest generation of shaped skis.

That flex pattern is softer forward but just as stiff as before laterally (side to side). Older straight skis and earlier generation shaped skis were thinner and longer. The skier used forward pressure over the front of the skis to initiate turns. But today’s skis have deeper sidecuts and are all shorter and wider. This requires a different skiing style and therefore different boots have been developed.

Today’s boots are designed for a more upright stance with softer forward flex. Turns are initiated by “rolling” the skis on their edges.

With that knowledge I figured I’d try to take my chances and see what kind of after-season deals I could find at Hillcrest Ski and Sport in Gresham, Oregon. Greg Coulter, who’s been there for years, is a master boot fitter so he’s the man.

Rossi sans style

I tried three boots, one,  Nordica, was too big, and another, a Dalbello, had a strange three-buckle/cable system. The last was a Rossignol, which thanks-a-lot was all white. It’s the SAS Pro 120. This boot’s a freeskier boot. I remember my friend Ed was all embarrassed this spring when the “right” boot was an all-white Salomon! They didn’t have any others in my size. The Dalbello and Rossignol fit pretty much the same. Regardless of part of me trying to say “it’s OK to try new things,” the wise part said, “don’t buy those Dalbellos. You have been preaching for years about sticking with a 4-buckle boot!” So I wound up picking the all-white boots!

Now, the question is, what to do with the blank slate?