Looking for some lift-accessed turns this summer? Not heading to the Southern Hemisphere anytime soon? Then you should head north to Mt. Hood. If you’re driving from Squaw you’ll be there in about 10 hours. With lifts spinning from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., you’ll have plenty of time to rip the Palmer Glacier, which is groomed each night, head for a skin above the Palmer lift for a few extra vertical feet of skiing, or spend time sending it in the meticulously maintained parks and pipes.
Mt. Hood is a summer cornerstone in the North American ski industry. The mountain holds snow year round making it a great place to bag some summer turns. With the lifts in operation for most of the summer, you can bypass the normal scene of hiking, and lock into some easy lift-access skiing that feels pretty good on the odd summer day you end up lapping a lift, and shredding thousands of vertical feet for your morning/afternoon pleasure.
It’s also pretty sweet that you can post up in the parking lot to sleep the night before you ski/ride, or just use the campground south of the parking area if you’re not feeling like setting up on concrete. Don’t be detoured by the concrete though, when we showed up after midnight, there were several van’s, trucks, and even a couple of cars with tents out in the lot.
Mt. Hood is also home to the famous Windell’s summer camps. Last week it was a full-on scene! Seriously. It looked like we were at Squaw on a Saturday mid-season.
There were tons of skiers and riders out lapping the upper lift-accessed terrain,
tons of racers prepping for upcoming events this winter,
and many kids at summer camp sending trick after trick in the epic park Hood sets up each summer.
Our skin above the Palmer lift wasn’t too bad either. From the base area at 5,880′ feet you catch two lifts that eventually drop you off at 8,540′.
While the summit is less than 3k vertical feet away, runnels, a huge bergschrund, rockfall, and sun cups make this not the best time to attempt a ski from the top.
However, a few thousand foot skin above the Palmer lift will take you to Crater Rock at 10,500′, which is still holding decent snow. With this ascent, helped out via the lift service, you can ski almost 5k feet down to the Timberline lodge. It’s August folks, and being able to link up a run like that, with such minimal effort is pretty sweet in the middle of summer.
If you head up to Hood you might even get to rap with the infamous ski-everyday-for-several-years guy, Rainer Hertrich. He frequents the summer slopes of Hood, racking up thousands of vertical feet everyday, just like he has for more than 2,500 hundred consecutive days.
As I mentioned earlier, the park scene is ridiculously vibrant at Hood. Some of the best go there each summer to keep their skills sharp, and learn new tricks for the upcoming North American winter. Others show up with minimal tricks, only to emerge with more tricks to throw than they ever thought was possible. It’s pretty fun to watch these kids tear it up in August!
For the novelty to ride a lift in the middle of summer, and spend a little time in this picturesque corner of the Pacific Northwest, anyway you look at it, you can feel good about heading up for some summer skiing on Mt. Hood.