Meadows Blog

At the Gates of Heather

Having skied my legs off the past eight days I took a breather Saturday morning to soak the bones and rest the legs. But egged on by my roommate, and pestered by the nagging thought of being the Heather possibly opening, I decided to trudge up the hill mid day anyways. I am glad I did. By time I got on the mountain, word was buzzing of an opening. I had to know so I hussled down to HQ, and there sitting on my desk in big sharpie bold letters was the note I was waiting for. “Heather open 1:08 pm. Call this the handoff. Phones are updated. Get your a** out to the canyon stat. Freshies await.”

Scroll down to see a video on Heather

So here it is December 4th and we’re already dropping fresh lines in Heather! Hard to believe, but there I was caught off guard and without notice that I had better strap up and ship out if I wanted the fresh lines I had been salivating over for the past three weeks. I raced through the lodge skis flailing, gear shaking, nerves pumping, blood racing just itching to get out and ride. But when I got back to the office I remembered I had a meeting to join up the Pac Rats ski league. It was one of those “yeah, uh huh” kind of meetings while strapping into my boots and pulling my under layers on. With confirmation that I was on the team in hand, the fastest 20 minute turned to eight-minute meeting I have ever had, I was out the door and flying up the mountain eager as a kid on Christmas. The snow did not disappoint.

Getting ready to drop to Heather at the Twilight Gate at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort

Already tracked up by the mouth watering, eye ogling riders who like me had been waiting all year for fresh tracks in the canyon, at 1:45pm, I descended in from Twilight hanging skiers right for the steep pow stashes to be found in the trees right of Moon Bowl but somewhere left of AbMag. There stashed away in the wintery wonderland were nice natural features pleading to be hit; steep tree lines that hadn’t been run, nice slot canyons that haven’t been filled in yet by mid winter snows, and tons of powder to be hit if you just knew where to go.

Conditions today were pretty stellar for an early opening. Heavy buttery smooth fresh pow with deep love and forgiveness in the trees, plenty of coverage; just the kind of conditions for a have-at-it fest in the canyon.

Amazing Heather the day the canyon opened at Mt. Hood Meadows

I left the Heather today against my will, but agreeing with my burning legs. It was time to go. The conditions had to be reported, the story had to be told. Duty bound, and eager to rub it in to my roommate who took his ride break at noon before the canyon opened, covered head to toe in white, snow dripping from my goggles and packed into my helmet, I ran out Heather Canyon Run Out for a silent meditation and reflection of the absolute beauty the mountain has to offer. That silence didn’t last.

Back at MComm everyone is abuzz with stories from ride buddies dropping by to share the best hits of the day. “It’s going to be the season of the Witch,” I deem it, and someone yells, “Bring it on La Niña, we love you.”

The boot warmers are buzzing here at MComm. The gear drying out. It’s only December 4th, and I’ve already received my Xmas wish. Do your snow dance Meadows, and I’ll see you in the Canyon.

From the Fall Out Shelter, hunkered deep in the MComm lair. This is Nick @ Nite reminding you that early season conditions exist, now go out and ride them.

And now a video shot by Mt. Communications (MComm) team members Temira Wagonfeld and Pierce Hodges - edited by Pierce. Enjoy!


  1. Jeff Burton

    December 9, 2010

    I love Heather Canyon and Meadows in general, but it's too bad the only people that can afford to go there anymore is the type that can afford two GoPro HD's. During High school I used to spend my work money from the previous summer to get a season pass but now that I'm in college I can only go Christmas break...if I can afford it. It's sad to think that the only kind of people that get to enjoy this great mountain and the snow are the ones who can afford it.

    Meadows: There are affordable alternatives. The 10 Time Pass is $399 (bringing the cost of a ticket down to under $40 / day). The vitaminwater stur-D Night Season Pass is just $99. Our night ticket is $29 and our twilight ticket (after 6 PM) is just $19. You can purchase a student savings card for $10 and save $10 off a weekend and peak time ticket, off a night ticket or $20 off a midweek non-peak time ticket. Check out our deals page for all kinds of discounts and special offers.

  2. air

    December 10, 2010

    Has anyone at meadows thought about doing leveled ticking pricing like Bachelor does, the price changes on the tickets depending on the conditions and amount of the mountain open. Seems like every year you guys up your rates by about 10 bucks.

    Meadows: Thanks for the suggestion. Our price remained the same on weekends ($69) but increased weekdays from $54 to $69 this year. We're offering a midweek pass this year for $399 - and you can also purchase a day / night lift ticket in our online store for $64 ($74 value). When you use that ticket midweek, you'll receive a $10 voucher to use in one of our restaurants that day.
    We've discussed the variable pricing model and at this time feel that sticking to one pricing structure, but offering a variety of discounts or incentives customized to the way you want to spend your days on the mountain is the better way to go.

  3. Garry Koop

    December 11, 2010

    I have to laugh when you talk about the value of the mid-week season pass. The price difference between a mid-week and a full-time season pass Is less than the cost of a daily lift ticket. So why then buy a mid-week pass?

    Meadows: The early season pricing for the unlimited was $449, but regular season pricing is double that. So the $399 midweek pass price is an exceptional value. But your point is well taken that the "early bird" purchasers get the unlimited deal at a great price!

  4. Early Bird

    December 12, 2010

    Why won't you consider opening the Express at 8am on weekends and holidays as you used to do years ago?

    Meadows: Good question. The early openings we used to strive for often led to inconsistent operations, as we were forced to pull all upper mountain groomers off the mountain. There is a sequence of clearances which need to take place before opening the mountain each morning, and at this time we believe opening at a consistent time each day is the priority, as opposed to setting an early opening time that is unrealistic, particularly on the big snow days when everyone wants first tracks. Those are the days that we most likely would not be able to make an 8 AM opening, which would only disappoint and frustrate guests. We will continue to review our opening scenarios and procedures to assess how we can open consistently and reliably at the designated time.

  5. JON BLZ

    December 14, 2010

    Why not stay open till 10pm on Fri-Sat like you used to. It's hard to get out of town after work on Friday's. Why not stay competative at least for the 2 busy nights. Also is there a Safeway night this year???

    Meadows: Thanks for the suggestion regarding night ops. We conduct scan reports at the lifts and most nights the amount of traffic after 8 PM and 9 PM drops off significantly. But we're still monitoring it. We don't have a Safeway night but we do have some great deals - like the 5 time night pass for $75, the vitaminwater stur-D $99 night pass and a twilight ticket that starts at 6 PM for just $19! Meadows After Dark is awesome!

  6. Andre

    December 15, 2010

    Request/suggestion: I know we're a few months away from spring but I have a request for your consideration. Please be thinking of it now for implementation then! As the days warm and the snow softens, please consider openning at 8am versus standard operating hours (9am). The snow in the spring and late season usually doesn't hold up past 12-1pm. Giving the public an extra hour of hard/fast groomers in the AM is the best way to keep us happy.

    Meadows: Thanks for the suggestion and presented with time to give it consideration.

  7. klow5

    July 21, 2013

    dear medows why wont you expand terrain back over to the left side of Clark canyon. i mean i know that from parts of it are bare rocks but further down i notice that theirs perfect expert terrain plus its within your ski area boundre so why not. i believe that if you do this that it will greatly improve expert skiers ans riders satisfaction.

    Meadows reply: This is actually beyond our permit area which runs to the crest of Clark Canyon (unless you mean the left side as looking up the canyon). That is within our permit area and is accessed when the upper gates are open, or for those who hike up to Super Bowl (again through access gates).

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