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TR Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - first look, Timberline Lodge too

marzNC

Angel Diva
#1
Since the weather was sunny, the stay at Sunriver to ski Bachelor in early May also included a day trip to Mt. Hood. There are actually three separate ski areas on Mt. Hood. Mt. Hood Meadows has the most terrain, with more than 4000 acres including the hike-to terrain. Timberline Lodge has over 1500 acres, but the unique feature is that the Palmer lift on the Palmer Glacier is only open during the summer months. Meadows and Timberline are on different sides of Mt. Hood. The Mt. Hood Skibowl is on the flanks of the mountain, topping out around 5000 ft, and is the closest to Portland.

We went to ski at Mt Hood Meadows and drove over to visit the historic Timberline Lodge before heading back towards Bend. The woman at Bachelor who sold us lift tickets said that Timberline Lodge was worth the time. Glad we listened to her.

Mt Hood in the distance driving north on US26, summit is 11,235 ft
Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - 1.jpg

Mt Hood Meadows main lodge is actually at mid-mountain. Only South Lodge open late season.
Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - 6.jpg

Timberline Lodge, built as a WPA project 1936-38, fully restored
Timberline 04May2018 - 3.jpg
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#3
Mt Hood Meadows was slated to be open 9am-4pm on Fri-Mon, May 4-6. But we knew that the snow would probably not be that good much past noon. The drive from Sunriver is about two hours, so we headed out early and made it to the main parking lot at Meadows just about 9:00. A day ticket was $59 for an adult and $49 for a senior over 65 (Bill qualifies for 2017-18). There were a fair number of locals who showed up early to get in late season turns since Meadows had been closed since the previous Sunday. The man who parked next to us noted that a lot of snow melted in the previous two weeks.

With only the South Lodge open, didn't take us too long to figure out where we could leave our boot bags. The top floor had the sit down grill and bar, a small cafeteria grill, and was next to the free ski check outside. The lower floor included large restrooms, demo center, retail shop, ski school desk, lift ticket and season pass desk, and daycare. Heard that the lodge isn't really big enough for the crowds on weekends during the regular season.

South Lodge
Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - 2.jpg

Looking out from front of South Lodge, enclosure on left (behind Ski Check flag) covers stairs that go down to the lower floor where daycare and restrooms are located. Small building on right sells lift tickets.
Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - 5.jpg

There was a gate on the lower floor for testing if an RFID pass was still good. Also had a test gate that could be available next to the lift ticket building outside. Meadows uses SkiData.
Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - 3.jpg

Women's restroom was pretty big. Clearly getting wet is a reality at Meadows. Not only a few coin boot dryers (25¢), also a free hair dryer, and a clothes dryer in the restroom.
Mt Hood Meadows 04May2018 - 4.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
All the people still working in May at Meadows were very nice. The young man who sold us the day tickets turned out to be from the southeast, Georgia. They were selling off the special 50th year stuff (stickers, hats, etc.) at a discount.

A feature of the free Ski Check that was interesting was that they scan the RFID card with a hand scanner. You get a small numbered chip for picking up the skis/board. But I think scanning means that if someone forgets to get their stuff, they can easily figure out who left it.

I started out skiing on my Head Absolut Joys because those are treated with DPS Phantom. The Phantom is really good in warm soft snow conditions as far as sliding goes. But the AJs are on the narrow side at 78 underfoot when the snow has been pushed around. After lunch, I switched to my old Black Pearls (2012) to compare. Was relatively easy because we could move the car to the front row by then since many locals were already gone for the day. Plus I could leave the AJs in the free Ski Check.

Have to climb two flights of stairs to get to the snow level when walking from the parking lot. Allowed to carry skis into the lower level and go up the covered stairs. Or just go up the main stairs between the South and North lodge buildings.

Pretty sure there is a shuttle bus from the other parking lots. Supposedly there are 2700 parking spaces, but when I mentioned that to a local they didn't believe it. Guess the lots get pretty full on mid-winter weekends.

We ate at the bar restaurant since it was pretty empty. Food was pretty good. The little food service counter in the South Lodge didn't have many choices. There was even less choice at the mid-mountain food hut. Pretty clear most Meadows folks bring their own food.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#5
Looking at Google Maps more carefully makes it clear where the three ski areas are located. Only Timberline (Mt. Hood National Forest on the map) and Mt Hood Meadows are actually on Mt. Hood. The Skibowl is in the foothills. Apparently originally two separate small ski areas that were put together as one business in the 1960s. But it was the owner who bought Skibowl in a bankruptcy sale in 1987 who figured out how to turn the property into a successful 4-season recreation area. Unllke the trails of Meadows and Timberline, the Skibowl trails don't show up on Google Maps in map view. But they are clear in the satellite view.

We could see the Palmer lift from the ridge on the Meadows upper mountain trail closest to Timberline.

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 10.38.15 AM.png

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marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
As for the skiing, there was a decent amount of terrain open off two lifts, plus there was a beginner lift, Buttercup, and a double running to serve the terrain parks and two half pipes at about the level of the lodge. For the trails off the Mt Hood Express that starts in front of the lodge, had to time it right to catch softened but not too soft snow. We didn't quite make it for the blacks, which are call 1 Bowl, 1 1/2 Bowl, 2 Bowl, thru 5 Bowl. Saw the tracks though. The trails off Cascade Express to the top stayed good all morning. What became obvious was that dirty snow warms up quicker when the sun is out. Sticking to white snow when not on groomers worked out better after 10:30 or so. There were enough people around who obviously knew the mountain in late season well that is was fairly easy to know where to go as things warmed up.

Most of the open trails are rated blue, including the big wide bowl at the top. The double black terrain at Meadows all requires going through a gate and none of it was still open. My sense of the trail ratings is that they are comparable to Snowbird.

We skied all the blues, plus the one black from the top called Elevator before we quit around 2:00. By then only the snow off Cascade was still fun. We opted to leave early in order to have time to check out the Timberline Lodge before heading back to Sunriver. Most of the locals were long gone by noon.

It was very obvious that the Black Pearls were better in warm soft snow. I may well treat them with Phantom since I planned to keep them as rock skis.

The Meadows trail map is the second one I've picked up that was made of "stone." It's really cool. Doesn't tear, water resistant, and biodegradable.

Top of Mt Hood Express and the parallel Blue Lower Face double (not running)
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 1.jpg

Riding up to the top on Cascade Express
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 2.jpg

Best to stay on white snow when possible, Facesaver works very well for sun protection.
Mt Jefferson visible on the horizon
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 3.jpg

Tracks on one of the Bowl trails (black)
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 5.jpg

View of the North and South lodges on the way to load Mt Hood Express (on right)
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 4.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#7
For people who like cruising, there was plenty of opportunity to have fun in the sun. It was well worth the drive.

Good conditions up top around 11am, can you see the people on the slope?
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 6.jpg

There are people standing on the ridge. From there, possible to see the Palmer lift at Timberline.
Only a narrow section was groomed, the trail called Boulevard
Mt Hood Meadows slopes 04May2018 - 7.jpg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
Driving over to Timberline Lodge from Meadows didn't take long at all. The small parking lot at mid-mountain next to the historic lodge and the relatively new ski lodge had plenty of cars at 3pm. The ski area and Lodge is a family operation on Forest Service land. The man who took over the operation in the mid-1950s spent a lot of money doing a full restoration. There is long term agreement that assures nothing will change for the foreseeable future.

The Timberline Lodge is a luxury hotel year round. Rooms run from $150 to $400 per night and includes rooms with bunk beds that can sleep 4-6 people comfortably for a family or group of friends. Tourists are welcome to walk around the public areas until 11pm. There are museum type displays in the lower lobby, including a short video about the construction process in the 1930s. The building was located deliberately to have a perfect view of Mt. Jefferson to the south. That made access during construction quite a challenge. It was easy to spend over an hour wandering around. The woodwork is amazing!

During the winter, very clear that AWD/4WD is required to drive around Mt. Hood. Sno-Park permits are required in all the parking lots Nov. 1 thru April 31 because they are maintained by the state. Fees from the permits help pay for snow removal. The prices directly from Oregon DMV is $25 for an annual permit, with day permits $4 and a 3-day permit $9. Elsewhere permits can be a bit higher because a service fee may be added. The permits are transferable between vehicles. Apparently Oregon accepts Sno-Park permits from CA and ID, but not WA.

A relatively new 2-story building serves as the ski lodge. It's just below the Timberline Lodge, low enough to not interfere with the view. Going out the top floor puts you on the level of the entrance to the historic Lodge.

Full service ski lodge for Timberline
Timberline 04May2018 - 2.jpg

Winter access to all lifts is below the mid-mountain ski lodge (small brown sign)
Timberline 04May2018 - 1.jpg

Looking up at Palmer lift from the back of Timberline Lodge, the edge of Meadows is just beyond the ridge in the far right corner
Timberline 04May2018 - 4.jpg
 
#9
For years I've meant to stay at Timberline (I love historic lodges, and they apparently have an amazing weekend brunch). Still haven't gotten around to it though.
 
#10
For years I've meant to stay at Timberline (I love historic lodges, and they apparently have an amazing weekend brunch). Still haven't gotten around to it though.
Definitely on my list of places to go again. Perhaps not in mid-winter based on what I'm reading about the roads but maybe in March or April when the crowds have thinned out. Or during the early season in the fall. Timberline closes right after Labor Day but is open again in October.

Have you heard of the book about architecture at American ski resorts? Covers from the 1930s to 1990. Researched and written by a professor at Wake Forest in NC who spent a few years in Vermont skiing at Mount Snow when she was a grad student studying architectural history. The title is "American Ski Resort: Architecture, Style, Experience." As I explore more ski areas that existed before 1950, I'm finding the history of the industry fascinating.

https://www.adventure-journal.com/2014/06/qa-deep-dive-into-american-ski-architecture/
 

alison wong

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
Same question: How was the snow condition, was it "sticky" at Mt Hood?

With these 3 places: 1)Bachelor, 2) Mt Hood Meadows, 3) Timberline - was it enough for a week visit?
 
#12
Yep, the snow got sticky at some point. What time and where depended on elevation, sun exposure, and whether or not a trail was groomed. By mid-morning, I was always happier the second time down a run, assuming it was within 20-30 min of the first time. Of course, these days the snow condition makes very little difference to Bill. So the impact of changing conditions depends somewhat on technique and experience. Also depends on the choice of skis and the status of the bases. Definitely need to wax more often.

Bachelor makes it very clear that there is no beginner terrain. Nick's wife is an intermediate and she was happy on the Skyliner groomers for a couple hours but then relaxed in the lodge. The blue groomers off Northwest and Summit are long and/or a little steep in places.

If we had gone a week or two earlier, skiing in Oregon for a week would've been quite fun. One reason for the timing of the trip was to ski at Bachelor before Northwest Express closed on May 6. Meadows was only open Fri-Sun by early May. Don't know what the schedule was for Timberline that week.

For a late season ski week, I would probably start at Mt Hood Meadows. Mixing in a day at Timberline. Then go to Bachelor. A bit too far to just do day trips from Bend/Sunriver. We would not have made the drive if it hadn't been sunny.

There are enough fun things to do besides ski around Bend so if the weather didn't cooperate, worth considering doing something else for a day if staying 4-5 days near Bachelor. Could even drive down to Crater Lake, which is spectacular.
 
#13
I'll look for that book, thanks.

Much of the reason I haven't been is that it sounds like I'd want to avoid the weekend (crowds), and it's hard to justify leaving WA to ski in the Hood area, which is lower elevation and further south, and doesn't seem to have great conditions a lot of the time. But I like to try different spots, so I will some time.
 
#14
I'll look for that book, thanks.

Much of the reason I haven't been is that it sounds like I'd want to avoid the weekend (crowds), and it's hard to justify leaving WA to ski in the Hood area, which is lower elevation and further south, and doesn't seem to have great conditions a lot of the time. But I like to try different spots, so I will some time.
Not really that much lower than Crystal. There is one lift that starts at 4500 ft but most of the terrain is above 5300 ft. The summit lift goes to 7300 feet, which is higher than Crystal. When does Crystal usually close for the season?

Hmm, just noticed that the trail map is by James Niehues. There is an insert for the three canyons with double black terrain that require going out a gate. Beacon, shovel, and probe are recommended for those canyons so I'm not likely to be skiing there. Also noticed that the beginner lift I rode for the view of the main lodge is new. Buttercup is a quad and has conveyor loading. The note on the 2017-18 trail map says "More than doubles learning terrain."
 
#15
Oh, I thought they were lower. Whenever I check conditions it seems more Snoqualmie-like (more rain or snow at higher temps) so that's probably why I thought they were lower elevation. Crystal has stayed open until July (limited terrain of course) but it seems like they done playing that game. This year they closed April 22 despite the snowpack.
 
#16
Oh, I thought they were lower. Whenever I check conditions it seems more Snoqualmie-like (more rain or snow at higher temps) so that's probably why I thought they were lower elevation. Crystal has stayed open until July (limited terrain of course) but it seems like they done playing that game. This year they closed April 22 despite the snowpack.
I have no doubt that John Kircher knows exactly what he is doing to keep Crystal in business in the long run. In his end-of-season blog entry in March, he talks about expanding snowmaking and the fact that the increase in season pass prices is needed. Closing in April means being able to get to work sooner. Summer season starts June 22. I would think the ideal is to avoid having heavy equipment on the mountain when there are a lot of people around.

At Squaw, they were replacing a roof on High Camp and doing other work to get ready for the summer season even though there were lifts still open for skiing in early May.
 
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