Let’s talk about parks. As you all know, we’re on the back side of a huge storm cycle that buried our parks under 115” of new snow. We had to start from scratch, right? Actually, we were at less-than-scratch: before we could rebuild, we had to dig out all the buried features and groom the runs flat again.
That took a few days. Then park crew built the banked slalom for comps last weekend. OISA (Oregon High School Snowboarding) teams train at Meadows and hold their league competitions here, and the banked slalom discipline is their current focus.
Once we were back to square one, with flat-groomed park runs, we started with the Zoo. Why? Our philosophy is to always have something for everyone in our parks, so we start with the smallest and work up to the biggest. First we build the Zoo, then we build Forest and Shipyard, and then we work on Rose City and Park Place. Last place on the building list goes to the pipe, because once we start building it, most of our resources are there, and we’re limited in what we can do with the other parks.
So, where are we now? The Zoo is done. Shipyard is finished. The banked slalom is done. We’re adding features to Forest Park, including some jumps for our jump-starved Facebook fans. We've begun construction on Rose City, and next up, we’ll be starting work on Park Place. Watch for the progress in those areas over the next couple of weeks. It takes a lot of man-hours and cat time to push snow into jump foundations, so it will take some time, but that’s where we’ll be throwing our resources next.
We’re listening to you. We know you want jumps, and they are the next thing on the list. Now… Mother Natures just needs to keep the new snowfall in reasonable amounts, so we don’t have to start over from less-than-scratch again!
Heather Canyon opened up from Moon Bowl down Friday at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. Following avalanche reduction efforts and a final lift maintenance check, patrol opened the access gates to lower Heather for the first time this season. Also opened was the steep cliffed terrain of S&R Cliffs.
Pierce Hodges was on hand to video the first day in the Canyon.
And photographers Grant Myrdal and Richard Hallman were captured the rapture of fresh, untouched in the Canyon.
See more of Grant Myrdal's pictures here.
With the opening of Private Reserve Sunday, and getting Vista Express and Cascade Express lifts running Monday, there is now a lot of attention on Heather Canyon. Prior to last week's storm, Heather was not able to open because there wasn't enough snowpack to build the essential snow bridges, which provides the exit from the Canyon. Well, 9 days and 10 feet of new later, we have enough snow.
But with that storm also came an increased risk of avalanche, particularly when there wasn't much of a base upon which this new snow fell. We won't go into snow dynamics here, but everyone knows the heavy wet snow and 2.5" of rain we received during the storm created slope instability. We just finished a huge storm cycle which left us with weak layers in the snow pack. Our lead groomer was able to get a cat into the Heather run-out to build snow bridges up to "the Narrows" Saturday night - that's why we were able to open Private Reserve Sunday. That terrain is naturally protected from the avalanche danger looming above in Heather, Clark, Super Bowl and higher.
Sunday evening the storm stopped and for the first time in nine days we were able to actually get a visual in the Canyon. During the last several days there was evidence of large slide activity both natural and caused by our avalanche reduction efforts. We had been unable to proceed with bridge building all the way to the lift because of the avalanche exposure until we could get in there and test the stability. This also barred access to the lift for maintenance to get it turning. We put over 300 pounds of explosives in there Monday as part of our avalanche reduction efforts.
The deposit zone from this slide last March reached the bottom of Heather which is why we needed to assess slope stability before placing a snowcat in this area for snow bridge, trail access and ramp building. Read about the 3.30.11 Avalanche.
Last evening Ski Patrol felt that avalanche danger was reduced enough to allow our lead groomer to access the bottom of the Canyon, build the snow bridges and cut the access trail to the lift. The ramps at the lift are almost built, and some lift maintenance was performed, however, those efforts have been interrupted due to rapid warming/loading above. We believe some natural releases will occur due to the increased loading (another warning for extreme avalanche danger has been issued for Mt. Hood today by NOAA.) This is a good thing, as hopefully some of the unstable areas will release naturally. Following the current storm we will continue with the steps necessary to open Heather.
Bottom line - we'll open Heather as soon as possible, but only after we have performed and completed the required steps. We know how popular Heather is, and how important it is to you. But even more important is the safety of our crews and our guests. Thank you for your patience - it will be rewarded with some awesome powder plunges into the steeps of Heather - soon.
P.S. Tighe Stoyanoff from Snow Safety wanted to add that we have been shooting that area every time it snows, and we are throwing shots by hand where we can safely get to throughout this last storm. He sent some pictures of fractures in Absolute Magnitude and Silver Bowl (evidence of large slide activity noted above.) Click any image for a slide show.
The advanced gated access terrain in Private Reserve was opened for the first time this season Sunday. Elk and Yoda bowls and God's Wall were open and enjoyed by powder hounds. Private Reserve is part of our daily operational schedule, pending avalanche control work and conditions. We strongly recommend riding with a friend and carrying a beacon, shovel and probe. Pierce from mComm caught the action in PR Sunday.
The access gates to Heather Canyon and S&R Cliffs have not been opened, pending continued snow bridge building at the bottom of the canyon and assessment. Efforts continue and we'll provide updates here on the blog but for now please respect the boundaries - DO NOT duck a rope or pass through a closed gate. It only delays getting this terrain open.
Vista and Cascade are both on storm recovery. Our lift maintenance crews face major deicing - Vista was started Sunday and crews faced ladders totally encased in ice frozen to the tower itself. The break in the weather today will help and we'll get these lifts open as quickly as possible. Vista is much more likely than Cascade - since Cascade last opened we've had 115" of snow, 2.3" of rain, and 100mph wind gusts. It's going to be a huge undertaking to open it.
All the snow has also affected our park operations. They were buried so we're basically starting from scratch with rebuilds of The Zoo, Shipyard and Forest Park. The good news is we now have enough snow for constructing Rose City and Park Place, our more advanced parks which will have larger features and jumps.
A powerful La Nina storm has dropped 90” of snow on Mt. Hood Meadows this week, bringing the resort’s settled base depth up to 87 inches. Mt. Hood Meadows now has one of the deepest snow packs of any ski resort in the country. At the height of the storm the resort received 31 inches of snow in 24 hours.
The storm provided some primo powder the first three days, and then turned wet and wild delivering a mixture of snow, sleet and rain. Over the six days the water equivalent deposited by at Mt. Hood Meadows is almost 13 inches – quite the moisture pump. The temperature remained cold enough for the majority of the moisture to fall as snow and build the snowpack.
Telemetry: NWAC data station at bottom of Mt. Hood Express. Click to enlarge.
Resort officials and guests are delighted by the storm, which has more than doubled the snow pack, upon which the resort will build the rest of the season. Once the storm passes freestyle grooming and parks crews will construct the Rose City and Park Place intermediate and advanced terrain parks, featuring medium and large sized jumps. The resort will also be rebuilding The Zoo, Shipyard and Forest Park – small to medium parks which had been operating but were buried by the storm this past week. Work will also begin on the in ground Super Pipe.
The new snow will also allow for bridges to be built at the bottom of Heather Canyon, the first step towards the eventual opening of advanced gated access to Heather, Clark Canyon and Private Reserve.
Apparently all those snow dances are working - and the prayers are being answered all at once. The first major storm of this season is blasting Mt. Hood with an abundance of snow - more than five feet from Saturday through Wednesday. The powder skiing and riding was wonderful through Tuesday, and even Wednesday morning - but now the nastiness of the storm is upon us.
High winds and warming temperatures are wreaking havoc on the mountain. The winds affect our lift operations and the rising temperatures increase the the avalanche hazard. It's pretty simple physics - take four feet of really light powder, and then place a heavier layer of more densely saturated snow on top of it and you have the makings for some sliding.
We also want to alert you to the danger of deep snow tree wells. Ride with a buddy - and avoid these powdery traps.
Needless to say we will be affected during the height of this storm, but we'll take it. Looking forward the freezing levels and winds drop, and we'll more than double our base setting us up for some terrific conditions for riding! Keep an eye on our conditions page and if you haven't already you really should subscribe to our daily snow report. It gives you great information on what to expect each day.
For now, enjoy the video Pierce from mComm shot Tuesday - the day we received 31 inches of powder. Storm riding at its best!
The Vista Halfpipe opened today (Thursday). It's 200 feet long and has 18 foot walls. We cut it with the Zaugg. An extraordinary effort was made to farm the snow and then patiently cut the walls - kudos to Freestyle Grooming Manager Jason Stankevich. The Vista pipe is the only halfpipe in the Northwest. It's accessed by the Vista Express high speed quad. It's located higher up on the mountain which has more snow than the 4 feet we have in the base area. It's in a natural gulch which helps collect the snow and shape the walls, and is often the earliest opening halfpipe in the Northwest. Enjoy!
The Burton Mountain Festival includes an activity for kids as young as 3 years old - the Riglet Park. This is an area set aside for kids to demo small sized Burton boots strap on a Burton board with a Riglet Reel - a leash that allows for smooth pulling. The area has small snow features for fun sliding, which also helps build balance and technique.
The Riglet Park is scheduled to operate Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 9 AM - 3 PM. There is no charge, although parents will need to sign a liability release for their kids. No preregistration is needed, but equipment is limited to 15 sets, so there may be a wait depending on the turn out. Riglet sessions will be about 15 minutes in length (longer if there isn't a wait.) Helmets are strongly suggested. Our instructors will pull the kids through the park - parents provide support (and take pictures!)
If the slideshow below doesn't work CLICK HERE.
For the first time ever, Burton is launching the Burton Mountain Festival tour, a completely new experience that offers riders a full day of FREE on-snow activities, including Burton 2012 product demos, music, sponsor giveaways, mini parks for the smallest snowboarders and an amateur snowboard contest. The Burton Mountain Festival will be presented at Mt. Hood Meadows January 14 – 16 over Martin Luther King weekend.
Burton Mountain Festival includes four key elements: Burton Test Ride, Riglet Parks, Pro-Test and an après ski party for an entire day of good times. And while each festival stop is unique, the foundation of the festival is the Burton Test Ride program - where virtually the entire 2012 Burton hardgoods line will be on tap for riders to test at absolutely no charge. Riders can try out a variety of boards, boots and bindings to get a feel for their ultimate set-up.
In addition to Test Ride, the Mt. Hood Meadows stop will have a Pro-Test Rail Jam event, Sunday, January 15 and a Pro-Test Half Pipe competition Monday, January 16. These are amateur snowboard competitions for men and women. Riders can also win wildcard spots to compete in the US Open pre-qualifiers, and all Pro-Test events are 4Star TTR World Snowboard Tour events. For complete Pro-Test dates, details and formats, head to http://www.burton.com/pro-test
For the youngest riders, every Burton Mountain Festival stop will also feature a Burton Riglet Park where kids as young as three can try out snowboarding for FREE. Burton will provide snowboards, boots and bindings sized for the smallest kids to borrow at no charge. Kids will also be able to try out Burton’s revolutionary Riglet Reel, a specially designed reel attached to the nose of youth snowboards that makes learning easier than ever. And certified snowboard instructors will help kids learn to ride on mini features like boxes, ramps and rails.
Finally, all Burton Mountain Festival stops will feature special après events and live music. Stay tuned to www.burton.com/bmf for updates on live music acts and party details as they’re announced.
And thanks to presenting partner MINI and partners Kodak, Mountain Dew, Mitch by Paul Mitchell and Snowboarder Magazine for their support of the all new Burton Mountain Festival.
Fred Noble skied Mt. Hood Wednesday - for what was probably his 2000th time. He's been skiing for more than five decades. He was a featured skier in some early Warren Miller films. He's traveled around the world and escaped death a number of times. Now he's taking on his next big adventure - ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.
The disease is advancing, and is affecting his legs. Last year Fred skied as a "four tracker" using two "outriggers" - poles with skis on the bottom of them as crutches, along with his skis. This season, Fred will use a bi-ski - a seat mounted on skis that can be maneuvered by leaning.
Fred donated his outriggers to the Meadows adaptive sports program, for other four trackers to use. And Fred took several runs Wednesday.
Fred is the honorary chairman of the "Ski to Defeat ALS" coming up April 14. It's a vertical challenge event at Meadows - you can register online, get some pledges, take some runs and meet Fred. And raise money for the Oregon and SW Washington Chapter of ALS. For more information on the event, to make a pledge or to organize a team, visit the Ski to Defeat ALS website.
Fred was also featured at the Make A Hero movie premier of "The Movement" which appeared in Portland in November. Meadows is supporting the Make A Hero foundation with a special lift ticket offer. You can purchase the discount lift ticket from Make a Hero - and they receive the proceeds, which are designated to be donated back to Oregon adaptive sports organizations, and the local ALS chapter. You can purchase the lift ticket from MakeAHero.org.
Check out the coverage on KATU of Fred's day on the slopes.
January has been proclaimed Learn A Snow Sport Month and Mt. Hood Meadows is offering many affordable packages for new adventurers trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time. The offer is part of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, a national effort organized by the snow sports industry to get family and friends outside in the winter.
Meadows has the largest ski school in Oregon, with certified professionals and a vast amount of experience in introducing New Adventurers to skiing and snowboarding. The resort’s “Buttercup” beginner chairlift services the gradual terrain where first time lessons are conducted. Meadows also has Mt. Hood’s only enclosed over the conveyer called “The Ballroom Carpet” which gives new adventurers a fun uphill experience. Most ski areas rely on the traditional “rope tow” which tend to wear out beginners being pulled up the hill.
Governor Kitzhaber has declared January as Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in Oregon, proclaiming, “This initiative encourages children and adults to take lessons from professional instructors during the month of January. Skiing and snowboarding are both lifestyle and life-long sports and are great wintertime activities for exercise, entertainment and satisfaction. Anyone can discover the dynamic world of skiing and snowboarding by getting out of the house, escaping from the city, and being energized by spectacular alpine scenery and mountain fresh air.”
"Snow sports are fun and easier to learn than many people think," said Dave Tragethon, Meadows Executive Director of Communications. "You can burn a lot of calories, meet some terrific people and have an experience that can be shared among friends and family.”
3 Time Passport - $139 (age 13 and older)
Includes three days – lift ticket, 2 hour lesson and equipment rentals each day. First two days include Buttercup beginner lift ticket, third day is an all mountain lift. Any three days, no reservations required.
3 Time Night Passport - $79 (age 13 and older)
Includes three evenings – 3 – 9 PM lift tickets, 2 hour lesson and equipment rentals each day. First two evenings include Buttercup beginner lift ticket, third evening is an all night operating lift. Any three nights (Wednesday – Sunday evenings), no reservations required.
One Day Beginner Package - $70 at the ski resort (age 13 and older)
Includes a Buttercup beginner lift ticket, 2 hour lesson and equipment rentals.
A second two hour lesson can be added for just $20 more.
Night Beginner Package - $35 (age 13 and older, offered Wednesday – Sunday Evenings)
Includes a Buttercup 3 – 9 PM beginner lift ticket, 2 hour lesson and equipment rentals.
Twilight Kids Club is offered Saturdays and Sundays. Parents receive 1 free adult 3pm – close lift ticket for each child enrolled in Twilight Club. Kids are supervised from 3 PM – 7 PM with a two hour on snow lesson offered in between. Dinner is included for the kids. Equipment rentals are just $10 for kids in the Club.
Mt. Hood Meadows offers kids lessons every day - presented in 2 hour (half day) or 4 hour (full day) formats. Kids are grouped together by age and ability and coached by our best PSIA Certified Instructors.
LEARN A SNOW SPORT MONTH
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is an industry initiative organized by Mt. Hood Meadows, the National Ski Areas Association, the Professional Ski Instructors of America-American/Association of Snowboard Instructors, the National Ski Patrol, SnowSports Industries America, numerous state and regional resort associations, industry partners and the snow sports media.
Children and adults are encouraged to learn from a professional instructor. General information about getting ready for a snow sports experience is available at www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org