Reed Outing Club

SKIING: nordic, cross-country, lift-serviced

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x-country | backcountry | lift-service

CROSS COUNTRY (touring, skating)


The big Gray Fund destination for Spring Break 2000 was Crater Lake National Park, where each winter up to twenty feet of snow bury the road on the crater's rim and skis replace cars as the prime mode of transport.

This is a backcountry trip: at some points you will be a full day's ski from any kind of help, and so prior touring and winter camping experience is important if you plan on doing the full circuit of the lake. That was our plan for our spring break trip, and we brought with us sleds to carry extra food and gear (such as spare snowshoes). A counter-clockwise loop provides a net elevation loss of 500 feet or so (consult your USGS Crater Lake East & West 7.5 minute series maps to see what I mean), whereas a clockwise loop will make you climb more often than you glide. Our group never made it all the way around (unlucky placement of avalanche slopes, plus the inertia of twelve people making/breaking camp slowed us down) but we still got great views, sunshine, and an epic four days of skiing.

by Christian McNeil
Spring Break 2000




America's most famous volcano is also an excellent summit-to-base ski descent. Starting from the Climber's Bivouac, Andrew Campbell and I started climbing around 4:30 am so we'd have good snow conditions when we carved our way down. The climb ascends Monitor Ridge, which is a clear route straight up the south side of the mountain. With a good base, a 3000+ foot descent is possible. May and later, a Cascades volcano pass is required- without one, you'll face steep fines from the forest service rangers who regularly patrol.

by Christian McNeil
June 2001


Wy-east face descends from nearly 11000 feet just under the summit of Hood, with a steep and sunny descent down a glacier with a 40 degree average slope. Situated on the east side of the mountain, it gets soft fast, so an early start is necessary. The route is also prone to many crevasses and avalanches if the conditions aren't right: go with someone who really knows what they're doing. That said, there's also a 5000 foot descent down to the base of Heather Canyon at Mt. Hood Meadows, which is pretty good.

by Christian McNeil
May 2002

LIFT-SERVICED (alpine skiing, snowboarding)


Mt. Hood Meadows is where the West Hills glitteratti like to spend their weekends. It's expensive and crowded, yet it remains the most popular destination in the area. It does have good terrain comparable to that of Ski Bowl, and its higher elevation on the east side tends to grant it better snow conditions if the weather is marginal elsewhere. Whether that's worth $20 more and potential three hour traffic jams on the way back to Government Camp is up to you.

Another good reason not to ski Meadows is their reported ambition "to encircle the mountain with ski development," an anecdotally reported quote from their owner. Towards this end, Meadows is planning a new ski and golf development for Cooper Spur, with a retail village, hotel, golf course, up to 450 vacation homes, and seven new chairlifts extending up to the edge of the Mt. Hood Wilderness area and the historic Cloud Cap Inn. Besides trashing the alpine environment as the current Meadows ski area has done, the new development would threaten the public water supply of Hood River, encourage sprawl among the orchards of Hood River Valley, and severely restrict backcountry recreation on Mt. Hood.

The $50 lift tickets to Meadows finance this bad idea. So don't ski there.

by Chris McNeil
Spring 2002


Ski Bowl is sometimes the best ski area in the Mt. Hood area. It's steep, uncrowded, cheap, and on powder days you can ski the untracked until late in the afternoon. However, Ski Bowl can be less outstanding if the snow level is above it's low-lying summit (5000 feet high). Snow quality is the one weakness of Ski Bowl- the lower elevation means less base and thicker snow than would be found at Timberline or Meadows. Some might say that the old double chairlifts are another weakness- but a high speed quad there would pack the slopes with goofers and leave me burned out by three. Appreciate the relaxed pace of these dignified old lifts and use the time to discuss the abundance of sick lines with your companion.

Ski Bowl is located across highway 26 from Government Camp and the ski cabin (so it's an easy commute if you're at the cabin and there's been a big overnight dump). Traverse into the trees on the eastern side of the upper bowl or slog along the ridge towards the "Outback" for under-appreciated pow-pow. "Surprise" is a fast cruiser along the ridge down to the east base area. The Snowboard Park isn't- but the canyons and cliffs in the Outback and upper bowl are better than any sculpted pile of snow.

by Chris McNeil
Spring 2001