Meadows Blog

Heather Canyon Update

April 20 update: Heather Canyon opened at 11:31 AM from A-Zone to 1/2 Moon Bowl Wednesday. We'll continue to evaluate and control daily, and open when conditions allow.

Those that frequent this blog know that Heather hasn't been open much this wintery spring – due to continued avalanche potential from outside of our permit area. That potential displayed with large avalanches on March 10 and on March 30, both of which deposited debris next to the bottom terminal of the Heather lift, burying the run out to the bottom of the lift. The later one on the 30th started well above our permit area similar to last year’s event just much larger (see 1.21.10 blog posting "Anatomy of an Avalanche).


With the unusual wintery weather we've received this spring, including more than four feet of snow the first week of April, the snow continues to reload and the avalanche hazard continues to be a concern. Similar weather and snow conditions exist and it is above the permit area that we have the most concerns.  All of that must be taken into consideration when determining whether the canyon should be opened.

Our Pro Patrol continues to use artillery, throw explosives by hand and dig pits in an effort to reopen the canyon. There's a lot of snowcat work to make the lift accessible, including needing to dig the bottom of the lift out to be able to even load the chair. Due to the conditions snowcats have had very limited access time to conduct the work needed.
 
As we look forward to this week's forecast, we see some sunny days. That's promising as this weather may create a freeze / thaw pattern which could help to improve avalanche conditions above our permit area.
 
We haven't given up on the canyon – we will continue to evaluate conditions in and above, perform avalanche hazard reduction operations within our permit area and open it when conditions allow. We thank you for your patience, and for abiding by the closed rope boundaries. We want to open the canyon as much as our most passionate Heather enthusiasts, but only when we feel the conditions are appropriate to do so.
 
--Meadows Team

16 Comments

  1. Holly

    April 18, 2011

    I hope it opens by April 30, as I said this was the year I'd brave Heather. Fingers crossed.

  2. Matt

    April 18, 2011

    It's not hard to find the telemetry and forecast if you know what you're looking for, but please update your NWAC links.

    Meadows: Thanks for the reminder. There are actually three different links to the NWAC telemetry on the conditions page - and they all have been updated to the new URL address now.

  3. Juan

    April 18, 2011

    Thanks for doing the work to get Heather open, I'm really hoping to get some soft snow days in Heather over the next couple weeks... if it doesn't open that will probably mean no more skiing for me this year (unless we get more powder days).
    J

    Meadows: We hope the conditions allow us to open the canyon as well.

  4. Dave

    April 18, 2011

    So because the avalanche danger is outside the permit area, the Forrest Service is not allowing Meadows to do what's necessary to make the canyon safe for skiing? It that's the case, it's sure frustrating thinking of all the joy they've robbed people of this spring.

    Meadows: It's a complex issue which unfortunately can't be swiftly addressed. Two large events that run past the chair in one season are highly unusual for our history with Heather and Clark Canyons. If you look beyond our 40 year history with this area, avalanches of this magnitude are not uncommon. We're hopeful the conditions will improve and we'll be able to open the canyon before the season ends.

  5. pdxmeier

    April 18, 2011

    Thanks for the update, and for putting in the effort. Hope we can get back in the Canyon this spring, as I'm sure you'll have a bumper corn crop this year.

    Meadows: With the sun and warming the corn will grow!

  6. Heather Canyon Pow Hound

    April 19, 2011

    How has the scouring effect of the avalanches affected the base in Heather? If it gets warm will there be enough snow left in the main run-outs to ride down on? It sounds like it's plenty deep in the debris field down by the lift.

    I've ridden Killington in Vermont in April/May a bunch. Sometimes there's a 5 foot wide, hundreds of foot long strip of snow to get you back to the lift. And lots of mud.

    Meadows: Certainly there is a lot of debris particularly at the bottom of the canyon. Saturday's rain and then this cold weather is having a bigger affect on surface conditions in the canyon currently, which is why it continues to be under evaluation. FYI: Heather opened from A-Zone to ½ Moon today at 11:31 am as things corned up!

  7. Tree

    April 21, 2011

    Fresh tracks on heather for 420

    Awesome hopping the wind rills on half moon

    Thanks ya'll

  8. Jaime

    April 21, 2011

    Will Heather be open for some fun tomorrow (Friday)?

    Meadows: It is day-to-day based on the surface conditions right now. It's likely, considering Friday's forecast for sunshine, but check our conditions page or twitter for updates (twitter.com/mthoodmeadows)

  9. Rich

    April 21, 2011

    Any pictures of the March 10th and March 30th slides available anywhere?

    Meadows: Slides of both are available on this blog posted in early April and in March. You can scroll down to see the April blog or select "March" on the sidebar to find the March posting. Very impressive pictures displaying the awesome power of nature!

  10. k2skier

    April 24, 2011

    Thank you Ullr, and Ski Patrol, for getting Heather open Saturday, awesome spring day, and perfect corn.

    Enough already Ullr, you can stop blessing us any time now...

    I'll never forget the entrance to Heather's bottom station from this years bizarre snow pack avalanche results. Dropping down and not climbing the hill, WOW!

  11. jim lamb

    April 28, 2011

    A Big thanks to meadows for putting in the effort/money to get heather open. Heather is really what seperates meadows from all the other oregon ski areas. How about keeping it open for the 2 weeks in may? Thanks.

    Meadows: It was great getting Heather going. Our bonus days in May will offer Mt. Hood Express, Cascade Express and Buttercup.

  12. Juan

    April 29, 2011

    Will the heather chair be open for the bonus days in May, or is this weekend the last chance to get into Heather? I'm guessing upper won't be open this weekend, but could open the following weekends with warm weather inbetween to settle the avy danger. Please?
    J

    Meadows: The bonus days lift schedule is Mt. Hood Express, Cascade and Buttercup. The canyon was open from A-Zone down Saturday, and that's likely for Sunday as well.

  13. k2skier

    April 30, 2011

    The fact that Heather opened Friday 4-29 seems a lttle odd considering the recent slide activity.

    http://www.nwac.us/forecast/avalanche/current/zone/13/

    •Mt Hood Meadows--Thursday-ski patrol noted another recent large natural slab avalanche on the Wy'east face above the ski area, likely releasing late Tuesday or Tuesday night from this higher elevation E-NE exposure slope. Control results from hand charges and artillery Wednesday morning saw extensive slab avalanches up to 1.5 ft with good propagation and firm to hard slab characteristics above about 6K. Control on Thursday morning indicated smaller 6-12 inch slabs at higher elevations but increasing wet slabs below about 5000 ft where several 1-2 ft wet slides were triggered by skiers and boarders. Control on Friday morning resulted in pretty good avalanche activity as well, with explosive releases on E-NE exposures producing 2-2.5 ft slabs above 6-7000 ft, ski cut releases to 6 to 10 inches, and increasingly weak and moist snow developing on lower elevation terrain (both sun and shaded)

    Meadows: The NWAC site offers some great insight and information. Thursday's opening of the canyon was due in part to that recent slide activity.

  14. k2skier

    May 2, 2011

    Epic day to say goodbye to Heather on Sunday, just a perfect day!

    I finally had to ask the top op at Heather what the excavation and tree removal was for, he siad the new HSQ is going in this summer. I've known it was in the master plan, but no official word from MHM yet; why?

    Meadows: We will be announcing the new lift this fall as the focus (and excitement) returns to the mountain. It's not a secret, but we feel more people will want to hear about the details as the season approaches.

  15. Rod

    May 4, 2011

    Can you give some details on the new lift now?

    Meadows: We'll provide in depth information later this summer, but briefly, it's similar to our other Poma high speed quads. The base will be much closer to the North lodge and the top will extend a little higher than the current stadium lift providing direct access to HRM, Shooting Star, and the Heather lift. More to come!

  16. Larry

    May 8, 2011

    Newton Creek had allot of avalanche debris last Wednesday, not sure when it came down, it has been about a month since I was last there.
    This was bigger than last year (which is the first year I had seen any here)

    Pictures:

    http://www.pbase.com/photos123/image/134451558/original

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