By Shralper McShredenstein
Of all the reasons to love riding after hours on Mount Hood, the rando’s you encounter have gotta be near the top.
For instance, last week on Mt. Hood Express Chair we ran into The World’s Raddest Snow Bro while we were joyously mopping up last tracks after a modest storm. “I’d really rather be ridin’ Cascade!” he explained, his stereotypical stoner-tone resonating through his mercifully masked nose as he threw up the requisite shaka: “Cahs-caid, yew neh?!”
We politely told him, “We neh.”
“Lo’er mountain’s jus’ kinda pidd-lee?” he concluded, twisting his thumb down and blowing a slobbery raspberry into his mask as the chair bumped over the mid-line ridge below Jacob’s Ladder. An evening breeze blew across the bowls and we were hyped to be seated upwind as we scoped the scene for leftover lines.
Just then a skier slipped out of the trees up by the Blue Top Shack and launched the rock under Seven Towers, sticking the landing clean. We heard a few hoots from higher up the hill as this alpine-assassin proceeded to tuck the steep center-section of The Face, skis chattering on the low bumps in an increasingly alarming tempo. Much like everyone else on the lift, we turned to watch as she rocketed toward the tree-topped rise we’d just crossed. And right when a serious speed-check seemed imminent, she casually carved up a hefty wall of untracked wind-load and lofted 15 feet off the lip, uncorking an epic 360° between the tops of two big firs.
“Goal!” yelled a dude in a soccer jersey on the chair behind us, as the whole lift came unglued with hooting and hollering, your Shreditors included. We didn’t see her re-entry, but from the stoke echoing through the air we assume she nailed it.
“Fawk, pretty sick fer lower-r-r!” Snow Bro haw-hawed, turning back to his phone. We all unloaded shortly thereafter, and he warmly bid us, “Hahve a keller shre-e-e-e-d…!” as he started down Lower Arena, the phone in his hand catching his slow, stiff-legged slide-turns for all the Insta’ to see.
That’s what’s so rad about riding when the sun goes down! From novice to gnarler and poser to pro, there’s room for everyone to be themselves once they’re free of day’s scrutiny. You wanna assume an identity from a ‘90s Action Sports Comedy and star in your own social media biopic? Go for it! You wanna send Seven Towers, straight-line The Face and float a Cork 360° through the infamous Goalposts? Definitely go for it! You wanna blow off some midweek steam and score some mountain time with your squad? You can assuredly go for that, too!
Nights are pure freedom on the uncrowded slopes. And as is always the case with Mt. Hood, a little effort goes a long way. So follow along for a few tips on fulfilling your dark fantasies.
Two Techniques For Getting Off Work Early
Depending on which Mt. Hood resort you prefer, night operations commence at 3 or 4 PM, and last ‘til 9 or 10. So unless you’re living locally, (or you have the day off), load your rig in the morning, leave work around 2, and enjoy a traffic-free excursion to the hill. Most reasonable employers understand the reciprocal value of flexible scheduling and the increased productivity of a properly satiated skier or snowboarder. If your workload is in the way, cool companies often allow you come in early so you can leave early.
However, should your supervisor lack sympathy for your sesh’, start limping around work after lunch while clutching your stomach. Maybe reference jalapeño poppers from the local minimart’s beige buffet. Should this fail to elicit an immediate invitation to punch out early, escalate directly to Crayola colors: Whether spoken or typed, the descriptors Burnt Umber or Raw Sienna are guaranteed to quash any questions around why you need to leave. Pro-tip: Snap a pic of that big bottle of Pepto in your medicine cabinet and post it on social media while you’re up schussing the night away. Your co-workers will scroll right by and won’t say a thing when you roll in late the following morning—and you can use the extra time to update your résumé. Obviously, you need a new job if you gotta claim explosive indigestion in order to go night skiing. And beware: Weekly references to Hot Magenta could result in someone summoning an ambulance.
Dress For Success, Not To Impress
When the sun goes down, the temps can drop as fast as the riding surface gets hard, so liberally layer up in your fav’ fibers and forget what you look like. It’s dark and you’re here to ride, yo! Bring extra and be prepared to head to the parking lot for some wardrobe tweaking. Stratovolcanoes get even moodier at night, and the weather can swing back and forth quicker than Snow Bro can upload that see-ock Reel, bru-u-u-h…!
Don’t forget to grab low-light goggles, either. You can’t shred what you can’t see. Those big-dollar blast-shields you’ve been rocking when its bluebird aren’t worth much when you’re bombing Upper Bowl and trying to find your line in the gathering gloom. And yes, everyone still needs to mask up. It’s generally cold at night, so you really don’t have any excuse! But you knew that already.
Hey! Use The Buddy System, Buddy!
Let us guess: You overheard some crusty loc’ in the lot spraying about the fresh he slashed in Vicky’s Trees 36-hours after a storm dumped a foot of new? And now you wanna get creative and start slipping into the shadows and searching out some stashes yourself. We’re backing that 100%! But remember everything’s faster at night, including how quickly things go from too rad to so bad. As a rule, just because a run looks open doesn’t mean it’s lit. And similarly, ducking ropes and ignoring closures comes with a steep price in the PM. Expect all the same hazards you’d encounter during daylight, only now you can’t see ‘em and Ski Patrol can’t see you. Always ride with friends while you learn your way around. The darkness is another dimension.
Finding new friends for night shredding shouldn’t be hard. The night crew are always the coolest on the hill (no pun intended) and the welcoming vibe that makes Mt. Hood our home feels even stronger in the dark. As for your fellow skiers and snowboarders, it takes an extra level of dedication to follow up a bust-ass workday with a solid session—and it usually shows in their shredding and almost always in their attitudes. For all we know, Snow Bro spent eight hours squirming through a Corporate Marketing Seminar, while the Assassin ran an excavator ‘til her hands went numb. No matter what they do for a living, hell yeah to both of them for getting out, doing what they love, and spreading the stoke!
And regardless of their abilities, adversity breeds skill and everyone improves when the surface gets sketchy. You might start out linking lines under the lights as you learn the lay of the land. But you’ll end up with the ability and agility that comes from learning to incorporate feel and sound into your shredding. Sure, you’ll pay your dues lapping the groom and slapping the ground, but you’ll also play in empty parks, score moonlit glades full of fresh fluff, blast through epic blizzards, and share the kind of smiles you can see through a mask.
So beat the crowds and ditch the day. And if you’re still on the fence about playing your version of the Crayola Card, night tickets are at least a third cheaper, the lights stay on for almost another month, and Oregon Unemployment Benefits last up to 26 weeks!
Life is only getting shorter. We’ll see ya tonight!
With apologies to Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen:
Because the night belongs to shredders
Because the snow is smooth as dust
Because the night belongs to shredders
Because the night belongs to us
Last modified: February 13, 2021