Private Reserve: Mt. Hood Meadows’s Secret Spot

Bevan Waite |

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A glimpse of some sweet terrain across the gorge.

Private Reserve (PR) is the closest thing Mt. Hood Meadows will ever have to a side country, and it holds the most impressive, challenging, lift accessed terrain in Oregon period.  A relatively recent addition to the resort, accessed by the Hood River Meadows (HRM) chair, Private Reserve is a wooded glen on the northeastern border of the ski area.

God’s Wall entrance gate sign.

It is completely roped off with the exception of specific gated entrances marked with signs that strongly advise carrying necessary avalanche equipment.

Looking up at a potential pillow line.

The terrain is stunning once you actually explore the area.  There are steeps up to about 50 degrees, cliffs, chutes, and stunning lines everywhere you look.  Although still part of the resort, ski patrol does minimal sweeps through the area largely because the vast majority of PR is rarely skied, especially on days without new snow.

Taking flight over my sluff.

A couple widely known routes through the terrain are usually tracked out before lunch like Yota and Elk bowl.  There are, however, copious lines found in more obscure areas of PR that hold untouched fluff until close on a pow day (that is if I don’t get to ‘em first).

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The steeps of God’s Wall. This particular line is a fleeting 55 degrees before dropping down to a manageable 45.

The two factors that make this place dead-man’s-land for the average skier are 1) it is steep, rocky and technical; 2) it is densely blanketed with trees on even the steepest slopes (with the exception of God’s Wall).  These two factors make exploring unknown terrain in PR just a bit unnerving.

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Noah and I looking smug at the top of an untouched pow run through the PR glades.

While my trustworthy ski buddy and I matured as skiers and began our exploration of the place, we often had no idea what we were about to ski through because the trees obscured our vision and made it hard to confidently pick lines.  Google earth was no help for the same reason.

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An aerial view of the densely forested Private Reserve area.

There were a number of instances where we found ourselves surrounded by cliffs facing mandatory airs into open bowls or sometimes more trees.  The interesting thing about PR is that while it is on the northeastern spine of the resort, some of the more technical slopes face near south and thus receive ample amounts of sunlight.

Potential drop into some sparse saplings. Maybe next year.

Sunlight combined with a comparably lower elevation than the rest of the resort often increases snow melt on these slopes thus being subject to variable change throughout the season.  Skiable lines found after one snowstorm may not be skiable after the next, and vice-versa.

Noah taking a beating.

In fact, we found this out the hard way after Noah ripped four core shots in his skis from a line seen in the video.  Private Reserve is a majestic spot within Mt. Hood Meadows’ boundary, and true, in depth knowledge of the terrain is only achieved by exploration of the unknown.  No one is going to willingly share with you where these spots actually are within the Reserve.  Especially not me.  Have fun exploring!

Enjoying the view at the top of God's Wall.
Enjoying the view at the top of God’s Wall.


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9 thoughts on “Private Reserve: Mt. Hood Meadows’s Secret Spot

  1. I hadno idea meadows had anything like this.. I’ve only been down the right side, although I’m still kind of new, I’llNe working my skills up for this and the Super Bowl. I love exploring!

  2. “Recent addition”?? Right…… You know, it’s always been there. Some things are better left closed.

    1. Hm, I actually wasn’t aware of that. Thanks for the update! I couldn’t find any concrete information online of when it was annexed to the resort. Pretty cool addition all the same.

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