Photo: Richard Hallman / Rider: Erika Vikander
A winter storm watch has been issued for the Cascades beginning Thursday, with a series of storms forecast through Saturday that could bring several feet of light, powdery snow to Mt. Hood Meadows. With the freezing level dropping to sea level Thursday morning, and heavy snow forecast by NOAA for between two - four FEET by Saturday, this is a major powder maker.
So prepare yourself for it - think these things through before you just hop in your vehicle and head up.
Do you have your ticket?
Pass holders need no reservations (Value pass holders need to wait until 2 PM each day this holiday weekend). Others will need to purchase your ticket online in advance - don’t leave home until you have your ticket. Lessons and rentals need a 48 hour advance purchase. So think ahead!
Purchase your Ticket
Have you winterized your vehicle?
Your trek to the mountain over snow packed and icy roads may start in Portland and in the Gorge. Prepare yourself for a two hour drive in heavy snow - storm conditions. So leave early. You may need to chain up before Sandy with this forecast. Have your battery checked - Saturday’s forecast high temp at Meadows is five. That’s right - FIVE - and that doesn’t count windchill. So check your battery and fluid levels.
Bring a shovel with you - we could get a foot or more during the day while you’re parked, so you may need some digging to get out.
Be patient! Don’t rush the drive.
Are you dressed appropriately?
This is the coldest snap of the season (perhaps in a few seasons). That’s great for powder conditions, but it is also brutal on exposed skin and for those not dressed for it. Start with a base layers that are breathable and warm - marino wool is a great option. Consider a mid layer - a fleece or puffy coat under a jacket can help trap your body heat even while bracing against a cold wind while riding the chair. We know we don’t have to tell you to wear a mask, but you may want to add balaclava, that marries your goggles without exposing your face.
Advice from our Retail Merchandise Manager Hayley:
We have plenty of hand warmers and toe warmers! We also have lots of layering in store
Breathable base layer (merino wool will keep you warm and dry) + warm mid-layer (waterproof and breathable) + waterproof and breathable jacket.
On the Bottom:
Breathable base layer and/or mid layer + pants
Photos: Ben Mitchell / Model: Courtney
An insulated jacket/pant will eliminate the need for extra layers. Base layers come in different weights.
Example of mid-layer could be a tech hoodie, lightweight down or synthetic vest or jacket), fleece.
Remember to button up your powder skirt! Many brands have interchangeable fastening to lock your jacket to your pants to keep the snow out.
We have some fun layers in the shop. We have some puffy primaloft pants, ¾ pants that fit with ski boots and primaloft shorts which help eliminate cold butts on charlifts.
Your extremities may be the hardest to keep warm in icy cold weather. Wearing knit gloves under mittens may provide the best way to keep your fingers warm, adding hand warmers may even keep them toasty! Avoid the temptation to double up your socks - that tends to lead to sweaty feet (because of less breathability) which freezes - and two socks can bunch up leading to discomfort.
Keep your feet warm
Tips for keeping warm while exercising outdoors
Use your vehicle for warming up
Our COVID protocols are not allowing indoor dining and we are limiting indoor visits to no longer than 10 minutes, for restroom breaks or ordering food. We will be providing outdoor dining space, but it will be cold - so your best plan will be to use your vehicle for warming up between runs.
Deep snow safety
This is the kind of snow system where “cold smoke” and “blower powder” is used to describe the conditions. It also makes deep snow hazards and traps more prevalent - especially tree wells - so avoid them. When you are leaving groomed runs, ALWAYS ride with a buddy and keep them in sight. This is especially important if you are entering gated access terrain in Heather Canyon and Private Reserve. We highly recommend you also bring a shovel and probe, and a beacon (and know how to use it). Of note to our night and Value pass holders, with your 2 PM start the gated access terrain is open for your first hour of access. Enjoy - but be prepared!
Snow suffocation hazard exists in Deep Snow. Be aware of deep snow off groomed trails, tree wells and thinly covered creeks. Avoid tree wells and Keep your partner in sight at all times.
Access to Heather Canyon, Clark Canyon and Private Reserve is through access gates only. These areas are not patrolled on a regular basis and avalanche danger exists at all times. You may be entering tightly wooded and cliffed terrain. Beware of waterfalls, creek holes, cliff bands, avalanche debris and other unmarked obstacles. Skiing/riding with a partner and carrying a beacon, probe and shovel are highly recommended. Closure violators will lose lift privileges and may be criminally trespassed.
Gated Access Terrain
The forecast is shaping up to deliver some truly epic conditions at Mt. Hood Meadows. Be prepared, be smart - make good decisions and let’s look out for one another so we can brag about the powder shots for years to come!