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February Hot Laps

February Hot Laps

February Hot Laps

        February has been a great month for backcountry skiing on Mt. Hood. We are finally excluded from the High Cascade mountaineering routes, and get to focus on what backcountry skiing is all about; quality powder turns.

On February 5th, Kurt (from the tune shop), Steve-O (Next Adventure family member) and I went out to Newton Canyon in search of the white winter wave. A cornice cut revealed a very unstable layer of windloading on slopes above treeline. So we went to the trees. We were able to shred 5 long runs down through the conifers to the canyon bottom. It was a great day of quintessential backcountry storm skiing.

February 15th was another day for the record books.  Myself, Kurt, Sam (ski department) and Joe (snowboards and rentals) left Portland early in the morning. A short traverse to Zig Zag canyon quickly got us to the goods. Dropping in on the northerly facing slopes that morning was epic. The snow level the night before was 1,500 feet, we were shredding at 7,000 feet. The sun hadn't even shone on the slope yet. The snow was what they call "blower", and "bottomless", similar to the snow they get in more continental climates. A small avalanche scare got our hearts pumping for just a moment and some panicked route finding ensued.

The snow was so good we had to stay until sunset. The long tour up the canyon during sunset will resonate with me for a long time. The sky was an amazing blue above, a deep pink reflecting off the snow, and a golden light shone on the huge rock walls of Mississippi Head. A sea of clouds sat at the bottom of the canyon.

After admiring the sunset, we set off for a twilight ride down the Palmer snowfield and down to Timberline Lodge. We returned to our car at 7:00 pm, tired, sore and satisfied.

Heres to hoping the end of February and the rest of the winter turn out just as good...I think they will.


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