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Aahh....Mountains of Northwest Powder!

I am an addict; addicted to skiing and more recently, addicted to POWDER skiing! This 1996-97 ski year Mount Hood, Oregon has been blessed with record snowfall -- of the POWDER variety. There has been no need to go to Colorado or Utah to get the light, white stuff. Mount Hood has had mountains of it! Over three feet of snow fell in two days on November 18 and 19. As of December 14, I'd already skied a dozen powder days! During the first two weeks of March, over eight new feet of fresh powder graced the slopes -- and it continues to fall! The snow depth is over 140% of normal, with more than a 250 inch base at Timberline Ski Area!

Why I Like It!

Powder skiing gives me the sensation of floating and flying; of being one with the terrain about me. It "feels" quiet; I'm off in the woods, close to nature. It's freedom. There is a great joy at stopping at the bottom of a slope, looking up at my tracks and savoring the feeling until my next powder run.

How to Ski It! Ben Blankenburg

Fat Skis! These new additions to a ski wardrobe slide through the thickest powder and even the heaviest crud with ease! Fat skis are easier to ski than the traditional slalom or giant slalom ski. They have extra surface area which keeps you higher in the powder. It is nearly impossible to sink below knee-deep level, where a lot of those falls take place. You might not get those face shots, but you won't have to work so hard either. Your confidence will soar and you'll be back for more!

Fat skis come in a variety of widths, side cuts, and stiffness. Some are especially well suited for the experienced powder skier and some for the more intermediate to advanced skier. You should demo before you buy to get the ski that's right for your skiing style.

Of course you can enjoy powder days on traditional skis and experts have been doing that for years. Fat skis have made the off-piste accessible to more recreational skiers. Here are a few tips to "Make Your Day."

Ben Blankenburg
Where to Find It!

You have to get up with the chickens and be early on the lifts if you want to earn the day's most powder tracks. Off the groomed and into the trees can just about guarantee a full day of untracked bliss. Grab a trail map and follow along.

Mt. Hood SkiBowl has some of the steepest terrain on Mt. Hood. The upper bowl leads to impressive terrain. Try the "Outback 1, 2, or 3" runs into "Cutoff" then ski to "Fistful of Willows."

I have found great powder at Timberline on "Phlox" and "Wingle's Wiggle," to the left of the Pucci Chairlift and off the groomed parts of the "Magic Mile" lift.

Opening Day of Mt. Hood Meadow's "Heather Canyon" lift had powder hounds tearing up "1/2 Moon Bowl" and the ridges above "Shooting Star." The "Bowls" and "Waterfall" off the "Mt. Hood Express" chair have lots of powder in the early morning.

You won't find the names of many "powder" runs listed on an area map. Stick to the wide-open trees and maybe a local will let you in on some secret stash.

Happy Hunting!

Click here for details to plan your own trip to Oregon's Mt. Hood.

                             Rita Furnanz

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