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rope-tow-terrain

Skibowl has made the most of a low-snow year by cranking up its Rope Tow Terrain Park.

With rain looming in the forecast to wipe out snow gains yet again, resorts are scrambling to make the most of less-than-ideal conditions for the holiday Mount Hood rush.

The prevailing weather pattern of 2013-14 so far has been snow warming all too quickly to rain, followed by long, cold stretches with zero precipitation. Conditions have been surprisingly good at times, especially on the upper mountain, but the snow base is about half of average for this time of year.

Unless the current storm hits hard and big in the form of snow and NOT rain, it is looking like Skibowl will be largely shut out of the holiday shred scene, with just a rope tow terrain park at Skibowl West and a tubing hill at Skibowl East. A snow base of 6-12 inches as of 7 am December 20 means no Lower Bowl, no Upper Bowl, no Multorpor. The resort is working hard to compensate with a full line-up of holiday events including an appearance by Santa Claus, music, and adventure park activities like zip-lining and Cosmic Tubing at Skibowl East. To learn more about what Skibowl has planned for the holidays, click here.

The thin snowpack at Skibowl is bad news for Fusion Pass holders who signed up in droves to get in on the Powder Alliance deal. That crowd will likely be heading for Timberline, so expect Timberline to get busy and stay busy. If you want real-time info on the parking and traffic situation on the mountain during the holidays, you can follow Shred Hood on Twitter here.

There will be shuttles and Mt. Hood Express buses running from Skibowl and Government Camp up to Timberline during the holidays, and that may be a good option for avoiding parking nightmares. You can find the Mt. Hood Express schedule here. I will update with details about additional shuttles once I learn more.

Timberline is looking festive for the holidays with a 35-foot Christmas tree in the main lodge and its huge fireplaces crackling away. The lifts are scheduled to run through 9 pm for the holidays, and the upper mountain should be open during the day, weather permitting. The snow on Palmer has been consistently good for the past two months, but the Mile is still riddled with bare spots and nasty volcanic rocks, and the narrow trails can get crowded.

Things are expected to get even busier at Mt. Hood Meadows, where the resort is hosting all sorts of events over the holidays, including a Rail Jam December 21, a Holiday Kids Camp December 21-23, and all sorts of clinics for steeps, telemarking, freestyle and about anything else you can think of. You can get the details here.

With too little snow for the Hood River Express to run from the Hood River Meadows parking lot, there will be a lot of pressure on the main parking lot at Meadows. It will probably fill early and often, spilling late-comers into the Sunrise Lot and possibly filling up entirely. Meadows has organized park and ride buses from the Portland area with pick-ups at three locations. To ride the park and ride buses you need to buy tickets in advance for $25 here.

The Meadows Nordic Center will be open daily for cross country skiers, as will the Teacup Lake cross country trails. For more info on cross country skiing options on Mount Hood, including races and trips, click here.

Unfortunately for families with kids, Cooper Spur and Summit Ski Area are looking too thin to open for the holidays unless they get some snow soon.

Meadows, Timberline and Skibowl are all planning parties for New Years Eve. The “BRRRRRRing in the New Year” party sponsored by Widmer Brothers Brewing at Meadows will have fireworks, a dinner buffet, a futuristic-themed costume contest, skiing and snowboarding until midnight and music by Keegan Smith & The Fam.

At Timberline Bob Voll and the Too Loose Band will play classic rock inside the lodge for a New Year’s adult dinner-dance. Lifts are scheduled to run until midnight, with fireworks at 10:30.

Skibowl's New Years plans include Cosmic Tubing until midnight, two fireworks shows, live DJs, a torchlight parade, champagne toasts and skiing and riding until 2 am. If the snow gods cooperate, that is.