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private-reserve

Powder piling up in PR.

Sometimes the snow is so sweet in the Private Reserve and Heather Canyon that you just have to get a taste of the Upper Bowl on the way home.

A wild storm dumped a foot of fresh, light snow on Mount Hood last Sunday, convincing me that a mental and spiritual wellness day was in order. I cranked through my work in an hour and headed up to Mt. Hood Meadows to find the fresh.

The powderhounds were out shredding it up, but there was still plenty of silky goodness left in Private Reserve. I took a moment to admire the frozen lichen and breathe in the silence before diving in.

frozen lichen

Bliss. I love everything about powder skiing, always have: the crazy crashes that do not hurt, the muted sounds, the smooth feel underfoot, the silent speed. I even like the long, flat run-outs, following the water flow downhill.

clark creek

Two laps down PR and back up to Shooting Star, where I lucked into perfect timing just minutes after patrol opened Heather Canyon. Deep in the Canyon, and so light. When you spend your winters shredding heavy Pacific Northwest crud and Cascade Concrete, you savor these blasts of cold smoke. Every turn is bliss.

Of course, within 45 minutes every skier and snowboarder on the mountain quickly converged on the newly opened canyon, so I dropped back down into PR to avoid the lift lines. There was still plenty of delightful snow piled up in there, plenty of delightful people out enjoying that snow, everyone in a great mood and feeling fortunate to be in this place at this time.

pr pow

The wind started ripping hard at around 1:30, so I stopped in at the Mazot for a sausage and beer break. No sunning on the deck today; the blizzard was growing stronger and it was starting to look like a whiteout. But it was nice and toasty where I was sitting. In the course of the usual joking and bullshitting that occurs in that fine mountainside establishment, I made the decision to hit Skibowl on the way home.

Like a lot of Mount Hood skiers, I have a love/hate relationship with Skibowl. I mean, are they ever going to get with it and install a modern lift? They can't open any earlier than 3 pm at the peak of the season? At the same time, that late opening carries benefits. There's nothing like the Upper Bowl at 3 pm on a powder day.

upper bowl powderhounds

My first run down I found a tree line to the right of Accelerator, and the snow was perfect. It was as good as that first run down PR all those hours earlier.

By this point I had accumulated sufficient positive vibes to get me through another two weeks of daily life in Portland. Every run beyond that was a bonus.

I ran into my friend Garrett and his crew and made a few runs with them before my legs started to complain. Also, the Historic Warming Hut is an perpetual temptation, and another reason to love Skibowl in spite of everything.

garrett

I was tempted to grab a beer with all the powderhounds in there toasting life, but I had promised to make the kids spaghetti, so I hopped in my car and an hour and 15 minutes later, there I was, serving up dinner in my ski pants with a large grin on my face, still soaring from all those runs, all that lovely snow.

What a snow year!