Saturday December 9, 2006: Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area
Snow Quality: 10, because there was fresh snow on Opening Day!!!

Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area is located on the SE side of Mt. Hood; from Government Camp, go east on 26 / north on Hwy 35 for 10 miles; 35 miles on Hwy 35, from I-84 (Exit 64) in Hood River, OR. (Pssssst…did you know we’re giving away ski weekend to Meadows this month?!)

Opening Day at a ski area is something special. The lodge is bustling with smiles and energy. Everyone is eager to get loaded on a lift and start sliding and gliding down the mountain. Season Pass holders get to realize their fall investment and can start their expectations of what is to come. Employees realize their roles and how fun everything is going to be, including meeting new people and getting to enjoy the excitement and energy flowing throughout the entire ski area.

I was fortunate enough to ride early in the day and observe throughout the evening. First and foremost the riding: It’s back! Your favorite run at Meadows has probably already been skied/snowboarded, minus the upper mountain, as I am not sure that Cascade opened Saturday or Sunday (Dec. 9 & 10).

I showed up at Mt. Hood Express for the first load of the season. The maze was filled with skiers and riders, waiting for the call! The video (above) shows the lift operations department setting the rules and getting the crowd ready to load. A fun chant of “Meadows – Rocks” from the two sides decided which side would load first. Dave Riley was on hand to call out the first chair riders. It was an awesome moment, everyone coming together to get the season started at Meadows!!

I headed to Shooting Star, and dropped down in some trees near ‘O Ring.’ I like to spot my entire line before dropping, so I have a good idea of what is in store for me on the ride down and what features might be fun to play with.

From my viewpoint there was one track in a small set of nicely-spaced trees. Coming out of the trees was an untouched field of Meadows Powder (well, one track to hop over). The snow was soft and buttery, probably 5-6″ in places, and fast. A great first run, an intro as to what the day would hold.

Overall, the snow was fantastic, perfect 10 for Opening Day!! The trees were fun! I found a couple of places where the trees opened to a powder field, and I realized how much I appreciate ski areas.

All opinions aside, I am speaking about ski areas in general. Not just your favorite area, but a place where we, as humans, are lifted uphill by a large, man-made-mechanism and are allowed to discover the true definition of FREEDOM, sliding, carving, floating and slashing down a mountain. It is a beautiful concept and is truly one of the strongest passions in my life (as it probably is with many of you).

I stopped on a couple of runs and just filmed random skiers and boarders coming down the mountain. To the left are a few of the good shots, one showing a group of snow sliders enjoying the conditions and another showing a snowboarder dropping a small cliff near the rock formations at Middle Fork.

The day continued to be amazing. Everyone I saw or rode the chair lift with was just excited to be on the Meadows hill. From Vista to Shooting Star, the vibe was positive and flowing. I passed the excitement on to everyone I came in contact with. I am very happy I made the drive.

The crowds were not as bad as I was expecting. I imagined that all 3 lots would fill by noon, but Dave’s Blog said that all three were never full! Either way, skiers and snowboarders were sliding and gliding at Meadows.

Congratulations Meadows!!

And thank you to ODOT and the U.S. Forest Service!

Jerry K.

Editor’s Note: Win a Ski Weekend Getaway to Hood River and Mt. Hood Meadows…check Travel Oregon for details and how to win.

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