Saturday, April 3, 2010

Late Season at Mt. Hood’s Ski Bowl: Plenty of Snow, Cheap Tickets

Hey Northwest skiers and riders, what are you doing today? There’s tons of fresh snow in the Cascades. Lift tickets are a mere $25/day at Ski Bowl.

What are you waiting for? Go on and get up there.

Let’s face it—it hasn’t been the best ski season here in the Northwest. Whether climate change in general or simply El Nino is to blame, we’ve endured some marginal, icy days on the slopes.

But true to form with El Nino years, late season storms have blown in, dumping several feet of fluffy stuff in the Cascades. The result: Great skiing without the crowds.

Ski Bowl isn’t flashy. But the Upper Bowl has some great terrain (steeps, glades, chutes, tree skiing) worth a trip any time of the year. Plus when it’s clear, you can’t beat the view of Mt. Hood not much more than a (long) snowball’s throw away.

Call it a scrappy little resort, but Ski Bowl has the most expert runs in Oregon. I learned to ski at Mt. Hood Meadows, but I really became a skier at Multorpor-Ski Bowl. Local Northwest ski areas like Ski Bowl, Hoodoo, and Alpental breed great skiers at a fraction of the cost of high-end resorts like Whistler and Sun Valley.

When we arrive today, it’s 28 degrees and snowing like crazy (and has been all night). We head straight up to the Upper Bowl to catch whatever snow is left untracked.

It doesn’t matter that the slopes are fairly cut up by the time we arrive. We’re not disappointed. With all this fresh, cold new snow (over a foot), we slice ‘n dice and float down the slopes like a dream.

James charges off through the trees like a madman always on the verge of wiping out, but he beats us to the bottom most of the time. Sporting a polyester leisure suit jacket and disco-era polyester shirt, he sets the fashion tone and seems to stay drier than the rest of us in Gore-Tex and rain gear.

For a couple hours in the morning, we have run after great run across the bowl.

Lift lines? Nada.

Okay, so this is Mt. Hood. We are getting a tad wet by late morning. “I’m ready for a break,” I say to the guys.

We ski down to the historic Warming Hut that lies between the Upper and Lower Bowls. When I was a kid, this charming little hut was neglected and used for storage. Fortunately the owners restored it in 2005 as a perfect spot to grab a bite or beer and warm up by the rustic stone fireplace.

(Foodies take note: The sausages served here hot dog-style are excellent and locally made.)

By early afternoon it warms up and the snow is more Mt. Hood mashed potatoes than powder. But that’s okay. In the Northwest we ski it all. You think good skiers are born on always-perfect snow?

Think again.

Matt and Richard slither through the crud effortlessly as if the conditions haven’t changed. Me, not so much. I’m getting tired and call it a day around 1:30.

But with cheap tickets and a not-very-long drive from Portland, I more than got my money’s worth.

Go on now! Get going!

When You Go
Check Ski Bowl’s website for deals. On Friday, April 2, we skied for free by donating several cans of food for a food drive.


Carla said...

I love your blog ... great to be skiing in April! Really got a kick out of the guy skiing in the polyester leisure suit. Just the other day I told John that I needed some adventure in my life. Your blog gives me a vicarious thrill!

Karen said...

Jill, your blog is great! I got on downhill skis this year for the first time in 5 years (after several months of physical therapy for my knee!) and it has been REALLY fun!

Jennifer said...

GREAT blog - got me out of my funk - wish I could go! Thanks for the inspiration, and good for you for getting out there on the late-season pow!

jill said...

Hey Carla,
Glad to give you a vicarious thrill, but hope you get some real adventure in your life soon!

Karen, Thanks, that's cool you're back on downhill skis and the knee is better.

Jennifer, I hope you can get out in the late-season pow too!