Not sick as in sweet jumps or killer powder, but sick as in shut down due to the coronavirus.
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.
It’s been a Christmas or two since I’ve updated this list of great Mount Hood gifts for mountain enthusiasts out there, but here’s the 2019 iteration, complete with some old favorites and some new additions:
- On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak — Shameless, I know, but sometimes that’s just the way the world works. You can find it at Powell’s, Annie Bloom’s, Broadway Books and most other local bookstores. Here’s a list of stores outside of Portland, and you can always find it online at Powell’s, Abe Books, Biblio and Amazon.
- Code 1244: The 1986 Mount Hood Tragedy — Speaking of great Mount Hood books, this one from Portland-area author Ric Conrad recounts the tragic climb of the mountain by a group of students from the Oregon Episcopal School. You can read more about the book and see some great photos in this post, and buy it on Amazon.
- A Mount Hood pint glass — One of the coolest Mount Hood gifts in recent years is the Oregon Pint, a hand-blown pint glass from North Drinkware that has Mount Hood molded into its base. At $48, they’re not cheap, but they sure are cool.
A former Portland Tribune colleague of mine, Ben Jacklet, co-founded Shred Hood in 2013 as a community news and information site to cover the skiing, snowboarding and backcountry on Mount Hood.
Subscriptions come in a couple different options, including one-time and ongoing. Each has its privileges, including a sweet T-shirt and bottle opener depending on your subscription.
Find out more at Shred Hood.
Feeling a little more philanthropic this holiday season? Consider making a donation to some of the environmental groups that have worked — and are always working — to protect the region’s wild places, including, of course, Mount Hood. (Bark’s mission is more Mount Hood-centric, while Oregon Wild covers the entire state; both have played major roles in protecting Mount Hood and the Mount Hood National Forest.)
- Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Lidar Map of Mount Hood — DOGAMI released this double-sided, water-resistant map a couple years ago. It includes 75 trails around Mount Hood, wilderness areas, roads, campgrounds, information for climbers and hikers, and a geologic overview. Just $6 at Nature of the Northwest.
- Timberline Lodge Ram’s Head Fire Poker — Fashioned after the larger fireplace tools used at the storied Timberline Lodge, this hand-forged wrought iron poker is classic Timberline through and through. I met Darryl Nelson, the blacksmith behind much of the ironwork that’s been installed at Timberline over the past 30 years or so, and he told me guests regularly try to heist these out of the rooms. Not good. Instead, find them at the Timberline gift shop for $80. The shop also has a nice array of vintage-looking posters and artwork, books, souvenirs and more. Check it out.
For the most part, we’re fair-weather skiers. Springtime. Blue sky. Sunshine.
Softer snow, sure, but we’re largely OK with that.
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.
It was a great way to start our 2019 ski season on Hood.
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.
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.
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.
We’ll see what the rest of spring brings to Mount Hood.
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.
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.
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.
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) . . .