Last weekend, February 22-23, turned out to be a well-rewarded weekend on the north side of Mt Hood.
The grand plan was to set up on Saturday, skin up Tilly Jane Trail to Tilly Jane A-Frame, take a left at the old kitchen building and head up towards the mountain with Plaque Rock, which is a little past Tie-In-Rock on Cooper Spur Ridge, as end point. Ski down Cooper Spur from there back down to Cloud Cap Inn to hang out on the deck before making my way back down to the trail head of Tilly Jane Trail. Then change it up a little for Sunday and skin up to the top of Snowdome for a Snowdome and Eliot Glacier ski.
The mountain wasn’t in the greatest mood on Saturday and the skin up ended in 50mph gusts at the Tilly Jane Shelter. Decided to ski back down to Cloud Cap Inn from there.
To my surprise, Cloud Cap was full of Crag Rats on their annual ski weekend. Usually when I stop by Cloud Cap, there’s nobody there. Had a great time hanging out there for a while before doing a short little tour with some Crags and ladies from the Forest Service. Stayed in the trees to avoid the high wind above. Made my way back to the car and a cold beer by 3pm.
Did a repeat on Sunday with the mountain in a much better mood. Sunny, but still windy. As long as you can see where you’re going and where you are, the wind should not be a show stopper, as long as you can stand up.
Nothing like having the north side to yourself. Away from people, lifts and lift lines. Being on your own with only the mountain looking at you and you looking back, with a healthy dose of respect.
Here’s a photo of the north side of Mt. Hood, with Cooper Spur to the left, Eliot Glacier in the middle and Snowdome over to the right.
Made it up to a little past Plaque Rock before making the decision to get my skis on and ski down to Cloud Cap. Clouds started to swirl closer and closer to the mountain: a sign from the mountain telling me to get off. The skiing was awesome in the bowl below Cooper Spur face. Living room floor smooth with a little soft layer on top. After skiing that, I had to hike back up to Cooper Spur Ridge to ski the wide open area below Cooper Spur Peak.
Here’s the view from Cooper Spur Ridge looking up at the summit and the Cooper Spur climbing route. Newton Headwall is over to the left with the Black Spider between Cooper Spur and Newton Headwall.
Below Cooper Spur Peak it was variable surface conditions with everything from super smooth to ice. It’s what the mountain throws at you when there are no groomers in sight. You just have to adapt.
Skied down to Cloud Cap and found two Crags still there. Hung out for a little while before following the cat track back this time. Not the Tilly Jane Trail.
Even though I didn’t get to do a twofer with Cooper Spur one day and Snowdome the next, it was still a great weekend on the mountain.
John Loseth is president of the Cascade Ski Club & Lodge.
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Last modified: February 28, 2014