The snow sports season is upon us, and the weather has been generous. Fresh snows have graced the mountain slopes, and all of the mountain resorts were able to open some areas for the traditional Thanksgiving Day preview.
Looking ahead to another season on Mount Hood, here is what’s new at the resorts this winter.
This iconic mountain resort has another great season in store and will be offering skiers and snow boarders lots of opportunities for fun this year. They are also looking ahead to the future, and planning some very exciting amenities for the years ahead.
John Burton, the Director of Marketing at Timberline Lodge & Ski Resort, is looking forward to another winter, and hoping for snow.
“We are watching the forecast, and thankful for winter,” Burton said. “We are running two lifts right now, and we’ll open up more as conditions allow. Our intention is to operate seven days a week, weather permitting.”
“Last year was great. It started snowing on Dec. 23 and didn’t stop.”
The resort has added another shuttle, and now has three of them running during peak times and days from parking lots at Government Camp.
Timberline has also acquired the Summit Ski Area in Government Camp, a popular family-friendly destination, and this year has added ski and snowboarding lessons there. The Summit area’s gentle slopes are perfect for newcomers to the sport.
Timberline has plans to expand the facility while still preserving the small, family-oriented feel of the resort.
They also have plans to use the Summit area to make it easier to access Timberline Lodge from Government Camp. These plans include a gondola that will take people from the Summit Resort up to the lodge at Timberline. It will travel 12,952 feet with a vertical ascent of 1,890 feet.
The goal is “to develop a long-term and sustainable transportation solution to transport guests and employees to high elevations on Mount Hood” according to the master plan for Summit and Timberline.
Timberline is well-known for its holiday festivities.
“We are highlighting Christmas and New Years at Timberline again,” Burton said. “it’s always pretty special.”
Holiday events will include the annual Christmas tree lighting, and the New Year’s Eve celebration.
For more information: https://www.timberlinelodge.com
Mt Hood Meadows
Snows at Mt Hood Meadows ski resort, located on the southeast flank of Mt Hood, were enough for a preview season on Thanksgiving weekend, and with any new snow the resort will open more options.
According to Dave Tragethon, the vice president of sales and marketing, recent additions mean that Meadows can make the most of any snow they get.
“We built two new dump beds for our snow cats which allows us to harvest snow during the early season to allow us to open terrain earlier than we have in the past,” Tragethon said.
He explained that the new equipment can move snow from the parking lots to the slopes with ease.
Construction of the Sahale Lodge has begun, and the new lodge will house dinning, equipment rentals, additional parking, a bar, coffee shop, and the Meadows Learning Center.
“Right now, we have our learning center in one location, we have our equipment rentals in another location, and it is as far from our beginner lift as you can get,” Tragethon said. “We do want to make it easier and fun.”
Visitors coming from Hood River can take a shuttle to timberline, and avoid what can be difficult winter conditions on Highway 35. Parking at the Hood River Event Site and the shuttle are free.
For more information: https://www.skihood.com/
Mt Hood Skibowl
Mt Hood’s top night skiing area has opened for tubing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Other openings will depend on the weather. Check the website for details.
For more information: http://skibowl.com/
Highway 26 traffic concerns
One aspect that all the resorts are working on are ways to improve access to the mountain. Congestion on Highway 26 has become a serious issue, and in response the resorts are increasing shuttles from Government Camp, and building infrastructure, such as the Summit gondola, that will allow visitors to spend less time on icy roads.
Both Burton and Tragethon were quick to add a word of caution about driving up the mountain.
“I always like to stress winter driving,” said Burton. “It’s no joke. Give yourself some extra time, and be patient.”
“We always advise our guests to be prepared even if when they drive up here there is no snow on the road,” Tragethon said. “it can change quick.”
Mountain driving safety tips
Check road conditions before heading out. Trip Check is a good source of real-time conditions: https://www.tripcheck.com/.
Give yourself extra time, and don’t pass other cars except in the passing zones.
Be prepared with the right vehicle and the right tires, or chains.
If you must stop, do not do so in the road. Find a good place to pull over.
Snow sports are great fun, and the magic of the mountain in winter is truly a wonderful experience. Drive safely, so you can reach your destination without incident, and enjoy it.