Photo from Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort
SNOW has been steadily falling at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort throughout the week, shown above covered in a blanket of the white stuff Friday morning. The snowfall wasn’t as much as anticipated, nor as hoped, but it was enough for the resort to allow a limited opening starting Friday with the Buttercup, Daisy, and Easy Rider lifts, along with the Ballroom Carpet conveyor. For updates on conditions and lift openings, go to Meadows’ website at skihood.com.
Mother Nature teased powder hounds with an early-season snowfall in October, but now that the snow is falling in earnest on Mount Hood, ski resorts are preparing for limited openings this weekend.
That includes Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, which hosted a pre-preview, if you will, last weekend that included a Pray for Snow party and dinner, as well as a rail jam near the base area — beefed up by snow harvested from the Meadows’ parking lot.
Optimistic forecasts called for accumulations over Thanksgiving week through the weekend to reach upwards of five feet, but as of press time Friday morning that remained to be seen, with Meadows recording a year-to-date total of 32 inches at the base area. A massive snowfall that was predicted through Thanksgiving night only dropped three inches at the base.
Dave Tragethon, vice president of marketing, sales, and communication at the resort, has taken to Facebook live every morning this week at 9 to give an update on the situation at Meadows to eager skiers. As of Friday morning, the lifts closest to the base area — Daisy, Buttercup, Easy Rider, as well as the Ballroom Carpet conveyor — were scheduled to run. There is also a jib park near Buttercup that is open.
As for the long-term forecast — for what it’s worth — the 2016-17 winter recreation season is predicted by Portland meteorologists to be a particularly snowy one thanks to the influence of La Niña: a periodically occurring phenomenon of cooling temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. All four Portland news channels are calling for normal or above average amounts of snow, with KGW’s Rod Hill predicting snowfall totals at Meadows to exceed 400 inches this year, which is about average for the resort.
Meadows has, of course, been prepping for this winter long before there was a chill in the air, having a busy offseason and making upgrades to the infrastructure at the resort, as well as other changes guests will notice. Here are some of the things Meadows has been up to since you last hit the slopes (unless you earned your turns by hiking the resort earlier this week; uphill travel is no longer allowed now that Meadows is operational):
A new 10,000 square foot maintenance building
The new facility is more than double the size of the previous maintenance shop near the main lodge. That maintenance area was only built to house five snowcats, and now the resort has 20, not to mention other work vehicles and shuttle busses. The shuttle busses won’t even fit inside the old shop, forcing mechanics to work on them inside the elements. The new shop is located up near the Sunrise parking lot. The resort is still working out plans to see what will be done about the old shop, but the move should help alleviate some congestion in Meadows’ main parking lot.
Expanded beginner terrain
The relocation of the maintenance shop will allow the resort to install a 60-foot “Sunkid Conveyor” this winter. The conveyor is designed as a go-between, in terms of progression, from the Ballroom Carpet to the Buttercup lift.
New high def cameras
The resort has upgraded their cameras positioned at select lifts, as well as outside the lodge that allow visitors to Meadows’ web site to better see the goings on at the resort, particularly to see what the weather is doing. According to a fun fact from their website, Meadows’ cameras are “among the most viewed of any web cam in the Northwest.”
Meadows has added two new PistenBully 400 snowcats to improve grooming, but guests, specifically those who are learning and/or don’t have their own gear, will probably be more interested in the upgrades to the equipment in the rental area. The entire adult ski rental fleet has been replaced with new Rossignol RTL skis. Meadows say the skis are equipped with an auto-turn rocker that “makes it a lot easier for beginners to maneuver the skis and pivot them at slow speeds, but also make it flow a little bit better for intermediate to advanced skiers who are venturing off-piste and exploring more of the mountain.” Meadows has also installed a boot rack and drying system that is supposed to provide faster service in the rental center.
Expanded pass and lift ticket options
Meadows has introduced a seven-hour lift ticket option this season, as opposed to issuing a lift ticket based on a certain start and end time (e.g., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). This, in theory, is designed to reduce congestion so that not everyone is arriving and leaving the mountain at the same time. In a similar vein, Meadows now offers a “Value Season Pass.” On peak days, the pass is not valid from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but outside of those times, it essentially functions as an unlimited pass. According to Meadows, peak days are described as anytime during the holiday period (Dec. 17 to Jan. 1), weekends in January and February, Martin Luther King Day, and Presidents Day. However, the pass can be used for night skiing on those peak days.
For more information on conditions, passes, and other things Meadows has been working on, go to their website at skihood.com.
The snow is flying at Teacup Lake Nordic Club too, but with the lower elevation, it hasn’t been piling up quite as much. According to the group’s Facebook page, the ski area received upwards of four inches earlier this week — enough to test out the grooming equipment, but not much else.