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Vista Express deicing in progress possible opening Wednesday

Categories: Guest Connection Inside Meadows Weather Blog Safety

We have had an active storm system since we opened on December 12. During the past two weeks, we’ve received over 160 inches of snow - which is a great way to jump start the season. With such huge snow accumulations, stormy weather and virtually no visibility, we haven’t been able to access the upper mountain Vista or Cascade lifts - until Monday.

We brought in a lift deicing specialist - former Mountain Ops Director Tom Scully - to begin clearing the upper terminal and top three towers of Vista. Following the careful climb up an ice encrusted ladder (being careful not to release the tons of overburden above him), Tom skillfully removed ice from the cross arms, taking special care around the shiv assemblies so as not to damage any of the numerous sensors on each tower. Note that this work began while there was still stormy weather on the upper mountain to get a much-needed head start. Each tower takes about 40 minutes - and it is incredibly cold, with the temperature in the single digits and windchill in the -20s.

Vista Express top tower gets deiced at Mt. Hood Meadows

Back to the towers - our lift maintenance crew checks every lift assembly, searching for damaged shivs (the wheels that the haul line rolls over) and any mechanical or electrical component damage that could prevent the lift from operating. And while it’s always exciting to see the chairs moving up the line, there is still a lot of work to be done before the lift will actually be launched. The initial bumping of chairs is to check out the mechanics and find any problems. Then, once repairs are made, there’s the launching of the chairs from the horseshoe, which sounds easy, but requires precision in getting the spacing perfect between chairs, otherwise sensors will stop the lift and adjustments have to be made. It can take a good half hour or more of running the lift to work out the “kinks” and get the spacing perfect. As we post this (at 2 PM Tuesday), our crews continue to work on getting Vista launched - if not for today, then hopefully for Wednesday (weather and conditions permitting.) Check the snow report Wednesday morning for the probability of the lift operating in the “What to Expect” section.

Vista Express chairs are buried under three feet of snow following a storm at Mt. Hood Meadows

Our lifties also tackled the big dig - freeing the stored chairs from the horseshoe at the bottom of the lift. We clear the chairs off the upper line of Vista during storm cycles to reduce the likelihood of damage and to recover quicker after storms.

This isn’t just a lift issue, though. Keep in mind that well over 15 FEET of snow has fallen at our upper elevation since we opened - and that terrain has yet to be accessed. There’s grooming and snow safety efforts to prepare the terrain for opening. And that’s during a time frame that our crews have been trying to open gated access terrain and operate as many lifts as possible during a major holiday period.

So hats off to the teamwork to push through these formidable challenges to get access to more terrain for our guests.

And to answer the question, “When will Cascade open?” - There’s even more work to do digging out the upper terminal and deicing that lift. Over and above, and storm damage that needs to be repaired - we know of a mechanical issue that will need to be addressed, but required over-the-snow access to repair it. So we need a good weather window to deice and access Cascade, and time to affect repairs. It will be several days - but as quickly as we can possibly make it happen.

An iced up Cascade Express sees the sun shine after a two week snow storm.

The Cascade Express haul rope is weighted down with tons of ice following a two week snow storm at Mt. Hood Meadows

Cascade Express towers, cross bars and shiv assemblies are encased in ice following a two week snowstorm that pummelled Mt. Hood Meadows