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.
Mt. Hood Meadows will operate daily through May 1, and then offer two bonus weekends in May. The resort has already had one of the longest seasons in its 43 year history – operating daily since an early opening on November 20. In total Meadows will operate 167 days this season, including the four bonus days in May.
The resort has received extended winter weather through March and April fortifying its snowpack which is now at a season high twelve-and-a-half feet (150 inches). Long-awaited spring weather is expected, as clear days are in the forecast. The resort has not seen consecutive days of sunshine since before January. The sunshine and epic snowpack should create perfect spring skiing conditions.
Temira Photo M-Comm 4.17.11 Randy Boverman Photo 4.15.11
Spring can provide varied conditions such as the blue sky promise of a beautiful sunny day (Sunday) or the wintry powder we enjoyed Friday. Visit our Facebook page to vote on which conditions you prefer!
Meadows Operating Daily 9 AM – 4 PM through May 1
With the favorable conditions, the resort will continue lift operations from 9 AM – 4 PM daily through May 1, a full week longer than last season. All five high speed quads are scheduled daily (as weather conditions allow) providing access to its entire 2,777 vertical feet. The resort is committed to running terrain parks
including the popular Forest Park and Park Place serviced by the Hood River Express, as well as Rose City Park, the SuperPipe, the Zoo and Shipyard serviced by its Easy Rider lift. The resort is offering its unlimited spring pass for $139 – good through April as well as the bonus days in May.
Bonus Days May 7-8 and May 14-15
Mt. Hood Meadows will offer bonus days for two weekends into May, May 7-8 and May 14-15. The resort plans operating three lifts – Cascade Express, Mt. Hood Express and its Buttercup beginner lift, from 9 AM – 2 PM daily. The lift ticket will be discounted to $49. Ski and snowboard adult lessons, children’s lessons, day care, equipment rentals, retail and demo center are scheduled, as well as two restaurants including the resort’s popular Paradise Sun Deck
which comes alive with BBQ, refreshment and entertainment during the warm sunny days of spring.
Late April and May operations can be affected by weather and are subject to change so the resort advises always checking the conditions page
for current conditions and operational updates.
April has roared in like a lion – a powerful storm has delivered four feet of new snow to Mt. Hood Meadows this week. The resort has received three feet in the past three days, increasing the snowpack to a season high 152 inches.
The April storm has been delivering “awesome” powder conditions –
especially the last three days of the storm. Skiers and snowboarders
have been riding “bottomless” powder in wind favored areas, and the
upper mountain terrain serviced by the resort’s Vista and Cascade lifts
remains untouched as of this morning. Lift and snowcat crews are working
hard to open the upper lifts. Vista looks good for Thursday morning
with a slight chance of Cascade opening later Thursday, but more likely
Meadows other high speed quads – Mt. Hood Express, Shooting Star Express and Hood River Express – are all scheduled to operate.
It's more than just powder - the groom is pretty sweet as well!
Meadows is operating daily from 9 AM – 4 PM. The resort is scheduled to
operate until May 1, and will most likely extend the season on weekends
in May, as it has the past several seasons, depending on conditions,
weather and turn out.
Wednesday morning was windy enough to effect lift operations with only the Ballroom Carpet and Buttercup able to run due to high winds . Winds backed off enough to allow for Mt. Hood Express to open at 12:16 p.m., all other lifts remained on wind standby for the day. Cascade weather station registered sustained 70mph winds with guests to 120mph. That morning, like every morning, Heather Canyon was evaluated and no debris was found. At 3:30 the Canyon was checked again by patrol staff who noted that a large event had occurred. An observation team went through the lower canyon to assess the extent and damage of the slide by skirting around the toe of the debris. No damage to the lift had occurred, but a pair of cross country skis was visible near the debris on the surface of the snow. A short time later the lone skier came walking out of the debris, but reported no one missing. The skier acknowledged traveling uphill past two closed signs, during high avalanche danger, in the rain and high winds. Please observe all posted signs and closures. Consider not only your safety but the safety of the rescue personal conducting a search. No other tracks where visible leading uphill to the debris and no one was reported missing, no search was initiated. It was undetermined at that time exactly where the avalanche had initiated, although it was obvious it traveled down the Clark drainage, not Heather.
This first picture is looking down at the Heather Chairlift from the breakover. Avalanche debris was deposited near the bottom of the Heather Chairlift, several feet high. The debris buried the trail from The Canyon to the bottom of the Heather Lift.
Even more impressive is the height of the avalanche opposite the lift.
Thursday started out similar with the weather effecting lifts and the possibility of safely getting more information higher in Clark. High winds affected lift operations through out the day. Patrollers leaving the locker room after the Resort had closed observed a fortunate clearing and were able to snap a few pictures. Pictures show a number of different fracture lines ranging from small to quite large. Rain to mid slope Super Bowl, with rapid snow loading above, combined with strong winds were all likely triggers for this event.
Friday weather and avalanche conditions had improved enough to get more information higher in the Clark drainage. These photos illustrate the magnitude of this event, removing trees and scouring the snow down to dirt and rock. The debris came within 70 feet of the Heather Canyon Chairlift and left a couple of unique debris formations.
We will continue to evaluate this terrain and work towards an opening when conditions allow.