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Mt. Hood Meadows employees came to work Saturday morning to discover a mountain coated with a brutal layer of ice.

The parking lot was a skating rink. Just walking from your car to the lodge was hazardous. Trees and buildings were coated in ice, and so were chairlift cables.

Workers were smashing ice on the Mt. Hood Express by 5 am, but even after four hours of struggle, they still couldn't get the resort's main chair lift working by the 9 am opening. First-chair guests had to settle for Easy Rider instead.

Before long workers got Mt. Hood Express running, but conditions on the mountain were brutal. Cruiser trails were well groomed but hard as rock. Anything ungroomed was boilerplate.

This is what the top of the Blue chair looked like:

The ice softened up slightly in the afternoon, only to freeze over again that night, turning usually mellow cruisers into high-speed danger zones. The Ski Patrol posted large orange SLOW signs in places that are normally safe for cruising and waived down speedsters to warn of the hazards below. I saw collisions and high-speed slides but no extremely serious injuries. Believe me, even the most minor fall was painful on this stuff.

On the other side of the mountain at Timberline, the clouds were thick all day and the snow softened into wet slush. But Meadows got no reprieve. Some fresh snow fell overnight, but there was nothing for it to stick to. The wind blew it straight into the woods.

And the ice was still brutal on Sunday morning.

Teams of employees banged at it with picks and scooped it up with shovels to clear a path from the lodge to the ticket booth. Guests took a few runs and dropped into the repair shop for tune-ups, only to learn that their edges were already sharp. It was just too icy to hold an edge reliably.

Even Powder Pirate/cancer survivor Dan Kneip, an expert skier, found himself skiing with extreme caution after a heart-racing experience Sunday. "Almost died on a double black diamond run," he posted on Facebook. "SOLID ICE. No edge at all, no stopping. Used small pine trees to try to slow down. Awesome!"

Awesome indeed. It has been a year of frustrating weather extremes for Meadows: a balmy inversion followed by nine inches of rain, followed by 10 days of dry, frigid cold, and now this. Mount Hood's largest resort goes into the holiday peak with just 24 inches of snowpack and no chance of opening Hood River Express any time soon, much less Heather Canyon and the Private Reserve.

A storm is moving in today, but it is expected to drop more rain than snow, with very little new accumulation.

One bright sign on the horizon: The forecast is calling for sunshine all week.

Here is a slideshow of the aftermatch of that beautiful, terrible ice storm:

A freezing rain storm Friday night encased Meadows in ice.