Bluebird days deserve words and raves.
August ski day
5 posts from 3 users
Updated 9 months ago
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Denis - DCSki Supporter
9 months ago

The quest for a 12 month ski year continues.  My August day is in the books. 

September - January remain to be done before skiing in every month for 12 continuous months.  A madman’s quest?  Perhaps.  I can’t say it was that good, but it’s August.  Timberline closes for September for lift maintenance.  As the only U.S. lift served summer ski area it has a different business model.  The model is summer race camps and other specialty camps, mostly for youth.  Operating hours are 7 - 2.  The magic mile lift serves skiers from 7-9:30 and sightseers from 9-2.  The upper lift serves the Palmer snowfield.  On August 1, skiers had to walk to lift loading and carry skis and poles.  It is surprisingly tricky to load and unload a slow moving chair while in cumbersome ski boots while carrying equipment in both hands.  I almost came to grief on both ends of the ride which would be a very sad ending to a ski season that began with a spectacular rehab from 2 knee replacement surgeries.  You unload the magic mile and carry your skis 100 yards down a steep nasty slope of volcanic rocks and dust to onload the Palmer lift. There, standing on a rug, you finally put on your skis since you will unload at the top - ON SNOW.  The Palmer has a midstation where skiers could onload in order to ski laps on the upper half of the snowfield.  The deal is to get up to the top at 8500 ft., ski the top half of the snowfield, which is about 750 vertical feet, and repeat.  At the end of your day you ski the full Palmer snowfield, take off the skis, walk up the steep lava field and download on the magic mile lift.  

Now, is when I have a problem with the mountain’s business model for the summer.  There were about 500 summer race camp kids ages ~ 6 - 20 assigned to a dozen or so roped off lanes for race training.  Their teams pay for the privilege of setting up those groomed race lanes.  There is one lane, about 50 feet wide, ungroomed and chunked up, left for the public, who are forbidden to use the race lanes.  Fair enough.  I knew that in advance.  The problem is that for some mysterious reason dozens of the race kids at a time will poach the one public lane skiing at warp speed and coming within inches of us members of the skiing public.  I discussed this at length with a patroller and a course official.  “why can’t I duck this rope and ski in the race lanes?”  “It’s not allowed.”  “We’ll then, why are they all over here”.  Silence, then a sheepish admission that this issue has been brought up repeatedly with higher management who turn a deaf ear.  I understand, but don’t like it.  They have made a clear eyed decision to pursue the money to be made in race camps and ignore the admittedly small numbers of the public.  

It ended on a high note.  What snow remained on the lower Palmer snowfield was groomed, with nobody on it and skied beautifully for my last run of the day.  I’m glad I did it, but to be honest it was mostly about pursuit of an obsession to get an August ski day.

9 months ago

I went to High Cascades Snowboard Camp (adult camp) in June/July 3 summers ago.  It was superb then.  Chilly in the morning (30s) and up to about 65 degrees around 11.  Denis was right the skiers were very protective of their runs.  The only thing High Cascades protected was the upper part of the terrain park and the olympic sized pipe.  Skiers left off of Palmer and Kips and Gordo’s runs off of the Magic Mile were wide open and fun. That whole week we could ski top of Palmer to the lift line on Magic Mile, but by 3 July it was getting dicey :-) While not consecutive, I have skied in Nov thru April and June/July.  Hoping to get to Tuckermans and pick off May one of these years.  If anyone is planning on that in 2020, let me know :-)

Great experience/great instruction at High Cascades.  We stayed in government camp and the only thing that was combined with the kids was breakfast and the bus ride down after skiing, that worked well.  Chatting with budding pro’s about what we did that day was really neat.  

 If anyone is on the fence about high cascades, I am happy to push you over as I loved it, made some nice friends, rubbed elbows with some pro’s and advanced my skills.  They take all levels; never evers to pro’s.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
9 months ago

I was a bit curmudgeonly in that first post.  I’ve been to Mt Hood many times over the last 30 years and skied there in every month May through November.  I have been there for 2 alpine race camps, one tele camp, and 18 stays in the backcountry Silcox Hut to climb and ski.  I’ve seen both sides of the racer - public equation.  I love that mountain; it has cast a spell on me.  It is vast and open, with treeline at about 6500 feet and summit at 11,200.  It’s size and scale is a big part of its ability to cast that spell.  I have never seen it with so little snow as last week.  To see for yourself scroll to the bottom of this page, 

and check the Palmer/Silcox webcam during daylight hours.  Looks small?  Still, it’s size will amaze once you get off at the top of the Palmer and start skiing.  It seems like you can start skiing, make 100 turns, stop, turn, and look up at the summit and it appears undiminished from when you started down.  

That said, the true greatness of Hood is in the 2700vertical feet above the top of the highest lift.  You must climb for it.  I’ve done it many times in the past but did not on this trip.  

9 months ago

Wojo - would love to hear more about the adult camp at High Cascades. Is it good for riders of all abilities or geared more toward beginners/intermediates (or alternatively, more toward experts)? Worth the money?

9 months ago

I went a few summers ago, it was about 2000 and worth every penny.  Only other real expense is air fare and beer.  

I was a confident rider on most slopes, but no terrain park other than riding straight over bumps.  I would board pretty much anything on the east coast and lots on the west, but not lots of tricks.  I left doing 180’s, ollies, and nollies both directions on reasonable runs, and worked out the jump techniques and learned how to do a box.  There were about 200-250 kids and about 40-50 adults.  The adults were from college to 65 years old. Adults ranged from never evers to weak boarders all the way to semi pro’s. You are grouped based on a questionaire, but on the first day people shifted groups and later in the week they moved some folks up.  General flow is AM with a small group, lunch on the hill, PM there were clinics and free boarding.  They have some floating “signature pro’s” were exceptional boarders and happy to hang out with the masses.  

After boarding all day, we took buses back to camp, there was time to goof off, but every day there was an optional adult actiivity (go to lake, hike, soccer golf . .  .), evenings were dinners out and hang out time in your lodge.  My lodge had the 30+ to 50s with good jobs who could afford beer, so our place tended to have alot of other adults and instructors hanging out.  Dinners ranged from restuarants to brew pubs, to the Kitchen Crew making nice grilled dinners at our place.  

There were (not sure if they still have it) options for all inclusive (school/lodging/meals) to school only.  I did the inclusive, there were several who did school only, but they might have missed out on some of the fun and games.  They rented places in goverment camp (which is totally walkable).  There may have been some shifting of lodging (at least for the kids) as SKI and SNOWBOARD camp management was combining, don’t know the outcome, but I am sure they would tell you if you called.

Hope you can tell I LOVED IT.  Had tons of fun and plan to do it again at some point.  Drop me a line if you are really thinking about it.  HOOD is a really great place.  I would recommend that you go to an earlier session so you can board top to bottom.

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