Summer skiing on Mt. Hood is a wild and wonderful experience, with the 11,245 ft volcano rising majestically out of the foothills. Glaciers surround the summit of the mountain and dense forest can be seen in every direction. The landscape on the upper mountain is much more like a moonscape- treeless, dusty, and covered in volcanic rock.
The skiing takes place on the Palmer snowfield at Timberline Ski Area, accessed by the Magic Mile and Palmer chairlifts. The Palmer chair reaches 8,540 ft in elevation, making it the central hub for summer skiing. The Palmer lift typically opens in April- the area receives so much snowfall in the winter that the lift remains inaccessible. In the heart of summer, skiers must upload the Magic Mile chair with skis in hand due to lack of snow at the top of the chair, walk across and down to Palmer, put skis on, and ride up to the top!
Timberline Ski Area boasts the longest ski season in the country, usually operating well into September. While the area is popular among civilian skiers and snowboarders, the snowfield is heavily used by race, mogul, and freeride camps throughout the summer. The patch is divided up into lanes, and each team or organization is assigned one, with at least one lane open to public. The terrain park sits just below the main snowfield in one of the many tentacle-like depressions in the rocky landscape. It is best to start early, as the temperatures quickly rise, and by mid-morning you’ll have no issue skiing the slush in a t-shirt.
Government Camp, a town of about 200 people located 6 miles down the hill from Timberline Lodge (filming location of “The Shining”) and Ski Area at 4,416 ft, is a bustling snow and summer sports headquarters. The place has an amazing atmosphere- skiers, snowboarders, racers, freeriders, mountain bikers, and many others all hanging about town, skateboarding, playing basketball or Frisbee, grabbing a shake at Huckleberry Inn, an ice cream at Volcano Cone, or a drink at Charlie’s. Everyone is there for the same reason- because they are passionate about their sport.
Whether you are looking to improve your race skills or would just like to dust off your skis and make a few turns, Mt. Hood is definitely the place to be!