Skiing, Riding In Oregon Means Plenty Of Snow, Lots To Choose From

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Blessed with some of the nation's heaviest snowfall, Oregon's 11 ski and snowboard offerings range from volunteer-run quirky to corporate huge -- and a bunch of duct-tape "ski areas," fixed-grip chairlifts and local rope tow bumps in between.

Less than a 100 miles from the Pacific Coast, the volcano-stuffed Cascades produce an "orographic lift" off the ocean whereby air rises quickly and freezes into predominately heavy snow. U.S. record snowfall for a season, 1,140 feet, was set at Washington's Mt. Baker.

The treeline ranges as low as 7,000 feet, meaning tons of wide-open lines. As for conditions, base depths trend above 100 inches. Deep and heavy snowfall prevails -- bring your fatties for legendary "Cascade concrete" -- although light powder can be found on the highest slopes. Expect high winds and frequent trail closures.

Extinct volcanoes Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor rise to the top of Cascade Range skiing and snowboard. Mt. Hood has four resorts on its flanks. Mt. Hood Meadows dwarfs them all with 2,150 acres and 2,777 vertical feet. Mt. Hood SkiBowl (weekends and weekday nights only), Cooper Spur and the recently joined Timberline Lodge and Summit round out the Mt. Hood roster.

About 150 miles to the south, Mt. Bachelor is even bigger: 4,600 acres, 3,365-foot vertical. So big that it wraps around the 9,600-foot-high peak. An angle of repose consistent with volcanic cones produces about 75% similarly pitched blue runs on the mountain. Snow conditions vary widely because of 360-degree aspect.

Across the southern tier of the Oregon Cascades, you can check out four smaller, community mountains that are close enough to be road trip material: mellow Hoodoo Ski Area (800 acres); newly purchased Willamette Pass (555 acres inbounds,1,300 sidecountry); classic Mt. Ashland (240) -- what skibum.net calls the "Mad River Glen of the Pacific Northwest"; and, county-owned Warner Canyon (300), which opened in 1938.

Moving up to the northeast corner of Oregon you will find the westernmost outlier of Rocky Mountains in the glacier-carved Wallowa Mountains, and a pair of outlier ski and snowboard hills nestle among peaks that poke above treeline. 

Surprisingly big, Anthony Lakes has 1,100 acres, 900 vertical feet, one triple chair -- and no black-rated runs. It operates Thursday-Sunday, and has snowcat tours.

You want quirky? Volunteer-run Ferguson Ridge, aka Fergi, operates Friday-Sunday, doesn't take credit cards, and has neither food service nor running water at the hill. A T-bar ticket costs $20, and rope tow is free. Volunteer four days and get $50 season pass. Trail map doesn't rate its runs.

 

 

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SnoCast: March Continues To Provide ❄️❄️❄️

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As of this past Monday, it's officially spring, but winter-vibes are going strong across many U.S. and Canadian ski areas. Prolonging this "winter-to-remember", this week's forecast features more storminess and big snow to keep ski season going, particularly out West but also the East at times. 

A strong spring storm will churn through the Great Lakes, Northeast, and eastern Canada this weekend, while the Western U.S. and Canada peaks capture multiple waves of Pacific moisture right into next week. 

Let's step through the forecast details in SnoCast for March 23-29, 2023.  

 

East

While spring is certainly in the air across the East, there's still plenty of winter hanging on at ski areas. With sunshine and softening, buttery turns, this is a great time to get out and enjoy the remaining days of the season. The image at the top of this article highlights the beauty earlier this week at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, who will host its spring luau beach party on Saturday the 25th. 

In the forecast, Thursday features wet weather, but eyes are already on the weekend when a new storm system is set to move through, delivering all forms of precipitation.

The storm center travels northward through eastern Michigan, delivering 3-6" of  snow to northern Michigan Saturday. "Ahead"/East of the storm center, we'll see a burst of snow across upstate New York and New England, followed by a changeover sleet or wet mix Saturday evening. Northern Maine and norther New Hampshire will stay coldest, longest, with the best shot for more than 4" of snow--good news around Bretton Woods, Sunday River, Saddleback, and Sugarloaf.  Here's a snap shot of what to expect on Saturday night. 

On the backside of the system, colder air filters in once again, which may allow a quick 1-3" of snow to fall on the western "upslope"/windward mountain sides. Watch around the tallest New England points, like Killington, Jay Peak, Whiteface, and Stowe for snow by Sunday.  Here's a look at the snow forecast through early Sunday, March 26.

 

West

A quick perspective and stat check before we delve into the forecast. There are now several ski areas with 700" of snow on the season (shout out Alta, Brighton, and Sugar Bowl). This is 150% to nearly 200% compared to an average season. Not to overshadow, there are also several resorts throughout California and Utah that have blown past their season averages, many over 400-500"+ on the season. 

And it ain't over yet. 

This week, general "troughiness" persists across the Western U.S. with more mountain snow on the way. While lingering snow hangs at the highest peaks of CA, UT, CO, and WY Thursday before a new cold front marches in from the Pacific Thursday night, triggering renewed snow up and down the Cascades and B.C.'s Coast Range. Snow spreads inland Friday through the weekend for the Northwest, northern Sierra, and northern Rockies.

Highest snow amounts will fall in the southern Washington and Oregon Cascades with 1-2+ feet at the higher passes, and 6-12" down lower. Great news for places like Willamette Pass, Mt. Bachelor, northward to Timberline

Elsewhere around the West, a general 3-8" will add up through the weekend, with higher amounts near a foot at the peaks of the high Sierra, Utah, and Western Wyoming

A bit of a lull comes Monday before the next storm plows into the West Coast Tuesday-Wednesday of next week.  

Looking Ahead

The temperature and precipitation outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center showed a continued colder and stormier than average pattern for nearly the entire country, particularly (you guessed it) for the Southwest, including California. 

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Longest Vertical, Night Skiing/Riding Highlight Seasons At Mt. Hood Resorts

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The Pacific Northwest has gotten pummeled by early-season storms, especially on the ramparts of Mt. Hood -- Oregon's highest point and home to four ski and snowboard areas.

Snow stays all year on the extinct volcano that tops out at 11,245 feet. So, as usual, skiers and riders got to carve turns at Timberline well into September this season because the resort keeps its high-altitude Palmer Snowfields open all summer, ideal for racing camps.

As this winter snows arrived, the most dramatic development has been the completion of the nation's longest trail that connects Timberline snowfields to Summit Pass ski area by way of 4,540 vertical feet and 4-1/4 trail miles, ending near the town of Government Camp. A shuttle returns to the Timberline base.

Aside from the new trail, Timberline has added a covered magic carpet at Summit Pass, and expanded its night skiing options with lights added to a dozen trails and two terrain parks under the Pucci chairlift.

Big news at Mt. Hood Meadows -- a circuitous 40-minute drive from Timberline -- is it's now in the Indy Pass network. Hoodoo and Mt. Ashland are fellow Indy Oregonian mountains that can be had for two days free with the national pass.

The 2,150-acre layout goes in all directions, fed from two distinct parking lots. There's ample jibbing space on a half-dozen terrain parks, and the mountain boasts an off-piste selection in Heather Canyon off the mountain's north shoulder. Night skiing runs on selected Saturdays and Sundays.

Just west of Government Camp sits Mt. Hood Skibowl. Touted as having the nation's largest night skiing acreage with 36 runs, Skibowl now has a night season pass good for seven days a week. During the day, the chutes and bowls below Skibowl and Tom Dick peaks can stand up to any.

This season, the resort has joined with neighbor Timberline in the Mt. Hood Fusion Pass that also includes Powder Alliance mountains.

Take a half-hour drive northeast from Government Camp to Cooper Spur, one of the West's coziest -- and oldest -- family slopes. Opened in 1927 (a year before Mt. Hood Skibowl), Cooper Spur retains its original vibe on 50 acres and 400 feet of drop. The sole double chairlift is open Friday-Sunday all season, with night skiing on Fridays.

 

 

 

 

 

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No Surprises Among Western Resorts Staying Open Late

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The usual suspects will extend the 2021-2022 ski and snowboard season through May and beyond, as a flurry of late-season storms has reinforced the snowpack throughout the West.

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Another New Chairlift at Sundance; Timberline Gets OK For Gondola

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New lifts often open up new terrain, but at Utah's Sundance Mountain and Oregon's Timberline Lodge, the plans for new lifts are to make it easier to move around their mountains.

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Still Plenty Of Turns As Season Extends Into May ... And Beyond

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The vast majority of U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have shuttered operations for the season -- many of them extending past announced closing dates -- but a hearty dozen will spin their lifts deep into the spring.

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Early Season Snow Means Strong Start To Oregon Resorts

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Right from the git-go, the Pacific Northwest has gotten the lion's share on snowfall this season, and Oregon's nine mountains and resorts have opened with plenty of depth.

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SnoCast: Active Pattern with Multiple Storms Ahead for the West

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This week, snow activity really begins to pick up. As more and more ski areas open, we'll have multiple storms out West and fast movers in the East to build up the bases.

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Oregon Resorts Lay Out Covid-19 Mixed Bag For 2020-2021 Season

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Oregon's ski and snowboard resorts have unveiled how they plan to deal with COVID-related concerns this winter, and the options are all over the lot -- depending upon seasonal variables and local habits.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Loving The Forecast For Presidents’ Day Weekend

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With Valentine’s Day Friday and (hopefully) an extended holiday weekend for you, there’s a lot to love about the forecast!

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SnoCast: Busy Forecast Keeps Snow in the Cards

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We’re turning into mid-January with a busy and changeable weather pattern across North America. Two fast-moving (albeit mild) storms graze the East, while cold and snowy conditions persist for the West.

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A Wave Of Openings: Preview In Northwest, Mt. Rose Debuts, Three More In Colorado

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With high-country temperatures prime for snowmaking help from Mother Nature, the West's ski and snowboard season is upon, as a quartet of ski and snowboard resorts are making noise about opening soon.

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All On The Same Day: Bike And Ski At Timberline

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Summer mountain biking mimics many of the motions, techniques, thrills, and spills of skiing and snowboarding during the winter. Now they can be enjoyed on the same day.

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Where The Locals Go When Day Is Done

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Most resorts have a bunch of bars to choose from when it comes to apres-ski, but if you want to find the down-home, braggin' rights kind of bar, just follow a local.

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Half-Dozen Pacific Northwest Resorts Ready To Drop The Ropes

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The first snow storms of the 2018-2019 season have coursed across the Pacific Northwest, and a number of resorts are gearing up for November openings.

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Endless Winter: Where To Ski This Summer

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If skiing and riding in the summer is on your bucket list, make it happen this year with options from California to the Southern Hemisphere to the European Alps.

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Early Freshies Propel Northwest, Idaho To Put Upgrades On Display

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More pow' in the trees at Tamarack. (Tamarack Resort/Facebook)

Early season snow storms are tracking right over the Cascades and Northern Rockies, and many resorts have already opened – some with improvements made over the summer.

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Timberline To Open On Weekends

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Ready to carve the first turns of the season at Timberline. (Timberline Lodge/Facebook)

The ski and snowboard season is officially underway as Timberline on the slopes of Mt. Baker will crank up a chairlift on weekends.

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New Chair At Mount Bachelor Leads Oregon Upgrades

New Chair At Mount Bachelor Leads Oregon Upgrades

More powder to carve up at Bachelor with new chair lift. (Mount Bachelor/Facebook)

The new chairlift at Mount Bachelor will bring skiers and snowboarders into gladed steeps that previously required a long hike out.


 

The high-speed quad named Cloudcatcher opens up what is known as Low East – a below-treeline area of 635 acres on the volcano’s southeast side. The four-seat detachable lift will rise some 1,400 vertical feet and carry up to 2,400 an hour, and provide lift-access to some six miles of trails and assorted glades on that side of the mountain.

Cloudcatcher’s top terminal will be high enough so that folks can ski or ride over to the Rainbow or Sunrise Express – or get to the Summit Express loading area. It will also eliminate the 15-20 minute hike out of Low East.



Also this summer, crews shortened the Rainbow triple chair to keep its top terminal below treeline.

The new Cloudcatcher chair opens up Low East area on southeast side of the mountain

“The new lift and shorter Rainbow lift will alleviate capacity on the Sunrise Express and spread people over the mountain more quickly,” Mount Bachelor’s Stirling Cobb told SnoCountry.com, noting that a busy day at Bachelor can bring 8,000 skiers and riders onto the slopes. “The new lift also is protected more from the prevailing (northwest) winds that sometimes force us to close the northwest side of the mountain.”

Mount Bachelor is scheduled to open Nov. 25, weather and snow permitting, Cobb told us.

A helicopter places lift tower this summer at Mount Bachelor

Previously, the last lift to go up on the Oregon mountain was a replacement for the Pine Marten chair; before that, the Northwest Express debuted in 1996.

Elsewhere in Oregon, there will be new conveyor lifts at Mount Hood Meadows and Mount Hood Skibowl. At Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood, the second phase of an interior remodel is done in the Wy’East Day Lodge.


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There’s Spring Skiing/Riding In Six States This Weekend

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No need to hang ‘em up quite yet, but the list is indeed getting shorter. There’s skiing and riding in six states. Several resorts have stayed open continuously, while some others have closed during the week, but plan to re-open for the weekend. Here’s the rundown:

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