Writings

Thoughts, ideas, comments, diatribes, and rambles. A subjective take.

Spring Is Here, So We Ski It

Figure 1: The illusion of winter.

Figure 1: The illusion of winter.

I’m now resigned to the fact that true winter may never actually arrive in the Pacific Northwest. Though global warming appears to have nothing to do with this unfortunate situation, it sure looks like the sunshine and warm temperatures are here to stay for months to come. It’s not what we had hoped or expected from this season, but frankly, there’s nothing to be done about it.

Fun is where you make it, right? Well, recently, fun has been at and above treeline on warm days. With the exception of one storm about a week ago that left ten inches of 20% density snow, it’s spring skiing out there. Though we tried our best to make it look like winter (figure 1), it’s now Spring.

Sure, as the temperatures warm up, that means more days on the mountain bike, and more miles on the trail running shoes, but I think that the devoted will agree with me that now begins the longest spring-skiing season of them all.

In celebration of the new spring weather, Peter Innes and I decided to pull out all the heavy metal things and go climbing on Mt Hood. Photos follow. We climbed via the Pearly Gates variation of the dog route, with a short but still engaging bulge of 80-degree ice guarding the summit. The ski down was stiff, but we found additional amusements climbing (us) and skiing (me) crater rock, and then by skiing out the White River Glacier from the top with feeling.

The "Hogsback" feature on Mt Hood, which leads to the "Pearly Gates".

The “Hogsback” feature on Mt Hood, which leads to the “Pearly Gates”.

Skinning upwards in the dawn light, featuring an elusive ski crampon sighting.

Skinning upwards in the dawn light, featuring an elusive ski crampon sighting. (Photo by Peter)

Peter climbing into the Pearly Gates. With a single tool and whippet, he managed to stem, haul, and mantle his way up. I was glad to have two tools.

Peter climbing into the Pearly Gates. With a single tool and whippet, he managed to stem, haul, and mantle his way up. I was glad to have two tools.

Descending from the crater rim. After topping out we hunted around for any skiable snow off the top. We ended up down climbing a hundred feet or so before dulling our edges  on the normal climbing route.

Descending from the crater rim. After topping out we hunted around for any skiable snow off the top. We ended up down climbing a hundred feet or so before dulling our edges on the normal climbing route. (This is overexposed, I know. I’m trying to make friends with this camera).

The author, once again caught practicing the elusive hoverski technique.

The author, once again caught practicing the elusive hoverski technique. Photo: (Peter).

With one mountain in the bag, I got the idea to do another and tag the top of crater rock which is right in the middle of...the crater. Only a hundred feet tall or so, I still had never detoured to its top. Here, Peter discovers, as I did, that the wall is quite steep, but the snow is good.

With one mountain in the bag, I got the idea to do another and tag the top of crater rock which is right in the middle of…the crater. Only a hundred feet tall or so, I still had never detoured to its top. Here, Peter discovers, as I did, that the wall is quite steep, but the snow is good.

Peter on top of crater rock. It was a fine day for tromping about in the mountains.

Peter on top of crater rock. It was a fine day for tromping about in the mountains.

When the snow is good and steep, perhaps it should be skied? I took a second lap up to throw some jump turns over fumaroles in the best snow that we'd seen all day.

When the snow is good and steep, perhaps it should be skied? I took a second lap up to throw some jump turns over fumaroles in the best snow that we’d seen all day. (Photo: Peter).

Crater Rock from the North (uphill) side, with bootpack and ski tracks.

Crater Rock from the North (uphill) side, with bootpack and ski tracks.

Skiing towards the impressive Steele Cliffs and a daunting roll-over at the head of the White River Glacier

Skiing towards the impressive Steele Cliffs and a daunting roll-over at the head of the White River Glacier. (Photo: Peter.)

And finally, finishing out some good corn. The spring has arrived and I'm going to ski it.

And finally, finishing out some good corn. The spring has arrived and I’m going to ski it. (Photo: Peter)


 

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