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Another COVID-19 blow to Mt. Hood: Timberline lays off 471

Born as a project to create jobs and stimulate the economy during the Great Depression, Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood has found itself again in the throes of a worldwide crisis.

This time, however, the crisis has brought Timberline to a halt.

The Oregonian reported this week that Timberline has laid off 471 employees as a result of the statewide stay-at-home order prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

RLK and Company, which operates the lodge and ski area, filed a notice with the state about the layoffs. The cuts encompass all areas of the operation, from servers and dishwashers to lift operators, groomers and even the hosts at Silcox Hut.

Images from the lodge’s webcams on Saturday depict a ghost town of a resort. (Someone asked on Twitter if the lodge might need a caretaker for the season, a lighthearted reference to “The Shining,” part of which was filmed at the lodge.)

Here are a couple pictures of the lodge from sunnier times — and here’s to those sunnier times returning to everyone at Timberline and elsewhere as soon as possible.

From the 2019 Timberline Mountain Music Festival

Spring skiing on Mt. Hood gets sick

Not sick as in sweet jumps or killer powder, but sick as in shut down due to the coronavirus.

Today, even as we were in the car on the way up to the mountain, both Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline announced they were suspending operations for a least a week.

Mt. Hood, pre-COVID-19.

The ski areas are just the latest in a growing string of business closures as the COVID-19 pandemic grows. (Soon after hearing about Meadows and Timberline, I saw that the famous Powell’s Books has decided to close all five of its Portland locations until March 31.)

Summit Ski Area on Mt. Hood is also closed, as is the ski area at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort on the mountain’s north side. That latter closure isn’t related to COVID-19; it’s a lack of adequate snow.

As of Sunday March 15, at 12:45 p.m., Mt. Hood Skibowl remained open and is the only ski area on the mountain to do so.

With the way things are going, that probably won’t be the case much longer.


Timberline’s sweet Cyber Monday deal for 2019

Buy one, get one? Nope.

Try buy one, get two.

That’s the smokin’ deal that Timberline Lodge has offered on Cyber Monday for the past few years, and it’s hard to beat. For the price of just one single mid-week lift pass, you get the pass you paid for, plus two free mid-week passes that are good almost anytime Monday through Friday  between December 2 and May 25, 2020, though not during winter break between Dec. 20 and Jan 1.

Even with those restrictions, there’s little complaining here. We’ve taken advantage of the deal in the past, and plan to again this year.

The sale runs through midnight Monday, Dec. 2.

You can also get the same deal in person on Black Friday, when Timberline will be at evo Portland from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What’s more, Timberline announced that, thanks to some recent new snow, it will open for business on Thursday, Nov. 28. None of the other resorts on Hood have announced plans to open this week, but Meadows is harvesting snow and may have a few preview days this weekend. 

Update 11/27/19: Meadows has made it official: It will open a few runs over the Thanksgiving weekend starting on Friday. In addition, Skibowl plans to open its tubing hill on Friday, Nov. 29, as does the Summit Ski Area in Government Camp. 

 

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The 2019 ski season starts on Mount Hood

For the most part, we’re fair-weather skiers. Springtime. Blue sky. Sunshine.

Softer snow, sure, but we’re largely OK with that. img_0223

But every year, we do get a couple winter runs in, usually thanks to Timberline’s Cyber Monday deal, which is a buy-one-get-two free pass deal they run every year the Monday after Thanksgiving. You have to use them midweek and not during the winter break, but otherwise they’re fair game.

We cashed in a few of those freebies on a cold Presidents’ Day this year — a day that shifted from bluebird skies to eerie whiteout conditions depending on where you were on the mountain and when.

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It was a great way to start our 2019 ski season on Hood.


The 2018 Ski Season on Mount Hood (so far . . .)

It’s been an up and down year for snow on Mount Hood thus far.

Back in February, some parts of the mountain had just 50 to 60 percent of their normal snow. We were skiing then, and you could tell. Even high up on the Magic Mile, rocks were exposed in a way that usually doesn’t come until late April or so.

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February

Since then, however, the snow has piled up. The snowpack is still below annual averages, but there’s plenty more of it now than there was earlier this year.

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March

And this past weekend, on Sunday, it was coming down like January. All day long it fell, creating amazing conditions for skiing all afternoon long.

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April

We’ll see what the rest of spring brings to Mount Hood.

 


Spring Skiing on Mount Hood 2017

I suppose this is the season we should have bought spring passes for Timberline Lodge & Ski Area, seeing as how it’s still flush with snow in June while all the other resorts have long since closed.

But there’s no complaining. We spent a snowy, snowy weekend at Timberline back in March for Spencer’s birthday, stayed for a week in Government Camp for spring break and skied at Mt. Hood Meadows five of seven days, and made the most of an epic spring ski season that went strong until Meadows closed for the year on May 6.

It was a great season. On Mount Hood, they all are.

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The snow piled up at Timberline Lodge in early March for Spencer’s birthday weekend.

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Tons of snow made for deep powder skiing at Timberline in early March.

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Spring break at Mt. Hood Meadows was largely socked in, but the sun broke through every now and then.

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Madeline cruising down Vista at Mt. Hood Meadows, a favorite run on the mountain.

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Another great ski season on Mount Hood.

 


Timberline’s sweet Cyber Monday deal

Buy one, get one? Nope.

Try buy one, get two.

That’s the smokin’ deal that Timberline Lodge has offered on Cyber Monday for the past few years, and it’s hard to beat. For the price of just one single mid-week lift pass, you get the pass you paid for, plus two free mid-week passes that are good almost anytime Monday through Friday  between December 1 and May 29, 2017, though not during winter break between Dec. 19 and Jan 2.

Even with those restrictions, there’s little complaining here. We’ve taken advantage of the deal in the past, and plan to again this year.

The sale runs through midnight tonight.

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Scenes from a Ski Season on Mount Hood

Sure, it’s been over for us for just about a month now, but it was a good one this year, the ski season on Mount Hood.

For us, not hardcore skiers by any means, it didn’t even start until early March, when Amy and I took a day on the slopes to ourselves to mark our 20 years together while the kids learned away. We sampled Timberline’s new Phlox Cabin and just got our ski legs on for the season.

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While we’ve done Timberline’s spring pass in the past, we decided to branch out this year and check out just what Mt. Hood Meadows had to offer. Lame, I know, that in our nearly two decades here in Oregon, we’ve never skied at Meadows, even though we’ve hiked through it and sledded just down the road at White River.

From the first go at it, though, we were hooked.

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Wow. We’d heard some rumors about Meadows compared to Timberline: that it was overcrowded, full of attitude, expensive. None of that came to light for us.

Instead, what we found  all spring season long was a flood of new terrain and vistas that we’d never taken in before, friendly folks all around and just a fun, mountain atmosphere. Some scenes from this season as we look forward to next (but head into a sunny summer first) . . .

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Timberline’s new Phlox Point Cabin

It’s not like Timberline needed anything to make it even more enjoyable, even more charming, even more appealing than it already is.

But this year, the lodge upped its attraction for the winter crowd with the addition of the Phlox Point Cabin.

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A former Boy Scout cabin that Timberline renovated last year, Phlox Point Cabin is the perfect place for a midday lunch, a warming spell on a chilly ski day or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

Amy and I made ourselves comfortable inside Phlox Point a few weeks ago when we marked the day we’d met 20 years ago in Clearwater Beach, Fla., with a ski day on a mountain thousands of miles away from those sandy shores.We’d skied for most of the morning, sans kiddos, and decided to break at the cabin for lunch. It was the right call, and the cabin and its offerings — tacos, IPAs, wine by the glass, a roasting fire inside and seating areas inside and out — are just about all you could ask for a mid-mountain hideaway.

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The best Mount Hood sledding for 2016

Last year, it was all we could do to find a little snow for sledding. This year, thankfully, that’s not the case.

According to state hydrologists, we’ve already exceeded last year’s snowpack, and it’s only January.

That’s good news for skiers, snowboarders and sledders, who’ve been flocking to Mount Hood to partake. We did as much last weekend on an annual sledding foray to White River.

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While there was plenty of traffic, there was also plenty of snow, and that’s really all that mattered.

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Here’s a list of some of the best sledding spots on Mount Hood for 2016.

  • White River Sno-Park — About 4 miles north of US 26 on Oregon 35 just south of Mt. Hood Meadows, the White River Sno-Park is great for easy, fun and free sledding on Mount Hood with little ones. The closest hill is just a five-minute walk up the snowy road from the parking lot; bigger and better hills are just a little farther along. Because it’s also a popular skiing and snowshoeing spot, White River can be a touch crowded, but it’s expansive enough that there’s room enough for everyone. And with an incredible view of the mountain as backdrop, there’s little to complain about. (It doesn’t cost anything to sled here other than a Sno-Park permit. If you buy a permit from a DMV, they’re $3; most vendors that sell them jack them up to $5.)
  • Little John Sno-Park — At 3,700 feet just 30 miles south of Hood River on Oregon 35, this free Sno-Park (free sledding on Mount Hood except for the Sno-Park permit) is fairly low in elevation, so if it’s a low snow year the pickings can be slim. But when there is snow, the sledding looks like good fun. There’s also an old log warming hut. The Forest Service only allows plastic sleds and tubes.
  • Summit Ski Area — Mount Hood’s oldest ski area is also home to a tubing area. You can’t bring your own sled, but for $20, you get a tube from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. For weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it’s $15. frM-F; kids 48″ and under are $10. Summit is just east of Government Camp. Summit also operates Snow Bunny, a little Sno-Park next door, where you can tube (not sled) for $15 all day.
  • Cooper Spur Mountain Resort — A sleepy but quaint little resort on the beautiful north side of Mount Hood, Cooper Spur is home to a tubing park with a rope tow. Ten bucks for the morning or afternoon, which includes some great views of the north side of Mount Hood on the drive up from Hood River.
  • Mt. Hood Skibowl — The closest ski area to Portland is also home to a snow tubing area. Cost is $25 for adults for three hours, $19 for juniors; an all-day tube ticket is $50. The area includes a tube conveyor for heading back up the hill. In addition to regular tubing, Skibowl also offers Cosmic Tubing on weekend nights with laser lights, black lights, music and more.
  • Other Sno Parks and Areas — The Forest Service also lists Sledding and Tubing as activities at these other Mount Hood Sno Parks: Government Camp Summit Sno Park and Multorpor Sno Park. I’ve also seen reports of sledding opportunities at Trillium Lake, near the Hemlock Trail in Government Camp and elsewhere.

Two views from the top of Mount Hood’s Magic Mile

Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, was a great day for spring skiing: two feet of new snow, warm temps and, up high anyway, blue, sunny skies. 20140515-122727.jpgI took the above picture just after I got off the chairlift at the top of the Magic Mile. It was a gorgeous view, the kind that made you stop and soak it in and be grateful for where you were right then. Then I turned around, pointed my skis down the mountain and skied right into this: 20140515-122716.jpgNo complaints, by the way. Just a big difference depending on which way you’re looking…


On Mount Hood at the Mazamas — on Mount Hood

Last week, Sonia Buist invited me to give a little real-world look at the Timberline Trail at a Mazamas presentation for her book, “Around & About Mount Hood: Exploring the Timberline Trail, Access Trails, and Day Hikes.” I’d say about 70 people or so, including quite a few folks interested in taking on the 41-mile trail themselves, turned out for the event at the Mazamas Mountaineering Center in southeast Portland.

This weekend, I’ll be back with the Mazamas, but not in Portland. This time, it’ll actually be up on Mount Hood at Mazama Lodge, the club’s rustic abode up in the trees above Government Camp and on the way up to Timberline.

The presentation starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, and will hopefully be preceded and followed by some stellar spring skiing like we enjoyed earlier this week.

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Finally skiing on Mount Hood

We’ve tried this winter to ski, we have. But conditions have not been all that conducive, at least not for us and the time we can commit. Rain soaked us out the day after a book event in Hood River and, earlier, the morning after a fun night at Timberline Lodge after we’d gotten in some good runs at Summit.

But finally this past Sunday, the mountain shined on us in full.

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palmerWe rose Sunday morning early with one main goal: skiing. No lingering in bed, no Joe’s Donuts, no nothing not related to the goal.

And it worked out. The day was an incredible one on Mount Hood: absolute bluebird sky, nice spring conditions at Timberline, and just a sense of gratitude for being up there on the beautiful mountain.

Madeline — and Amy and I too —skied the Magic Mile for the very first time. Pretty impressive for a seven-year-old who just started skiing last year.

 

On top of all that, Spence, who’s been dying to get on a chairlift and skim down a slope, had his wishes granted, too.

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Spence on lift

 

UPDATE:  Because it’s spring break, and because today was another gorgeous day, Amy and Madeline headed back to the mountain for another session. Deadlines kept me and Spence at home working, but the ladies enjoyed a day on the hill. And though I was super impressed by Madeline’s skiing yesterday on Hood, today she apparently cranked it up another level — to the 8,500-foot level on Hood to be exact, otherwise known as the Palmer.

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Rain, rain, go away

Twice in the past two weeks now, we’ve had grand plans to spend the day skiing on Mount Hood, only to have those plans flooded out by unending rain. It’s been a pretty bad snow year so far, but still, we never counted on two outings to be so thoroughly saturated that we wouldn’t even be able to set foot or ski on the slopes. (Nor did we find any humor in the fact that the days immediately after each of our rainouts were sunny, bluebird days on the mountain.)

While those days may have taken an unexpected course, we still made what we could of them, which was hardly anything to complain about.

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Sneaking in a day’s worth of runs at Summit before the evening rains set in.

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Late-night around the fire at Timberline Lodge, eager for an early ski morning.

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Thwarted by rain, we opted for the lodge’s storied Timber Toast instead.

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Celebrating Spencer’s 4th birthday in Hood River after giving an On Mount Hood presentation to around 100 folks for Gorge Owned’s Sense of Place lecture series.

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Sunrise from our room at the Hood River Hotel was promising.

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But the rains returned in full force, leaving us to stroll the streets of Hood River and hope for another, snowier day to head back to the mountain.