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Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Tue Aug 28, 2018 5:00 pm

I knew a week or so ago that I would be driving within 6 miles of Timberline between family event in Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR and personal business in Central OR so last Friday I did some tuning and waxing on a pair of skis and brought them with me along with my mountain bike. I didn't have much hope for conditions as I saw a lot of early PM temps in high 60s reported by Timberline last week. I was very lucky to ski today after one of the coolest overnight temps all summer vs. yesterday when it was warmer, rained and lifts closed @10:30 AM due to poor visibility. Current hours (until Labor Day) are 7:30-1:30 with Magic Mile open 30 min. later for downloading.

After attending service for her sister and brother-in-law who both passed away in the last 20 months, I dropped my Mother at PDX on Mon. for her 6 pm flight home. I got to the Skyway bar between Zigzag and Rhododendron before live music started outside at 7. I spent night in my SUV near rest area at Government Camp and drove up to Timberline about 6:30. I had a couple of cups of coffee in lobby (for lodge guests only), used the facilities and bought $49 day ticket in Day Lodge.
Found this one in day lodge. Bruno or Heidi?
It's a long walk from parking below lodge to Magic Mile lift where you have to carry your skis and poles onto lift. Then it's a couple of minutes downhill walk to 1500+' vertical Palmer lift that I rode at least 23 times. Most of my runs were to mid-station, about 750 vertical with 600 of that on smooth snowfields. I also skied to the base of Palmer 5 times, once via late opening terrain park that had good snow but a long walk to base of lift. You could easily ski to mid-station loading although ramp was ugly. Skiing to bottom of Palmer required removing skis for a 2-3 min walk across a small gully, then putting skis on on carpet at top of ramp before loading.

I was at top of Palmer about 8 AM and found firm, but very skiable snow for the first hour. Thermometer inside unloading station showed ~40 all morning. They told me the lanes on skiers right, closest to lift, were for public so I stayed over that way for a while. It is so late in the season that camps were only using 1-2 lanes so there were about 10 lanes open to public and when campers were reviewing video after taking down gates, most of the 1000'? wide snowfield was available. By 10 AM there was hero corn across most of the snowfields until almost the end above exit road where it was a little firmer as it narrowed and was heavily salted.

The lower 1/2 of Palmer was 10-20' wide and had some dirty snow and chokes that deteriorated quickly. I quit a little before noon with 21K. I thought about another run or two, but with to hike to the top of the Mile to download and then past lodge to my SUV, I was glad I quit when I did. Will post more pictures from camera when I get home. Much smokier to W of Hood than to E even though they were burning some fields near Madras.
Mid-station is at Orange fence to left

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:13 am

Looks good fun.
Perhaps you can answer a question for a dummy like me?
Why has the glacier on that hill remained and others in the surrounding area disappeared? It doesn't appear to have higher elevation compared to surrounding mountains. Or are there other glaciers that remain in the area that I don't know about?

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:47 am

I'm not an expert on Mt Hood glaciers or climate change, but generally it looks like glaciers there are in retreat but have not disappeared and even in retreat, new glaciers are being formed. See ... ount-hood/

Will try to post more, but running into iPad posting limitations. A lot of info is available by googling "Mt Hood glaciers" and "Mt Hood glacier retreat".

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:45 pm

Palmer is a snowfield not a glacier as it is not moving or creating crevasses.

The glaciers on the north side of Mt. Hood are probably bigger than the Palmer snowfield. ... Oregon.pdf
Local weather can often deviate with overall world climate trends. The reference above claimed that the warmest year on Mt. Hood was 1940. I have also read that the Palmer snowfield disappeared in 1924 but then came back.

I have to say tseeb's report looks sketchy for what was an average snow year on Mt. Hood. But the summer has been much warmer than average. Borderline locations like this will add snow in some years and lose snow in others. But there are more years losing snow.

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:04 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Palmer is a snowfield not a glacier as it is not moving or creating crevasses.

The glaciers on the north side of Mt. Hood are probably bigger than the Palmer snowfield.

The first statement is probably not true (or was not in 1924).
The second statement is true although the largest in area glacier on Mt Hood may face S. includes the following:
name aspect acres volume (acre/ft)
Newton Clark SE 491 32,000 - note that 345 acres estimated in 2004
Eliot NE 415 73,000 -" says 395 acres in 2004
+8 more that I have not included
Palmer S 32 1,600
Coleman S 20 900

Article at ... r-glacier/" includes "...Timberline operators make a point of never calling the Palmer Glacier by its true name. Instead, they use the term “Palmer Snowfield” in their marketing, apparently to downplay the fact that their summertime skiing is putting one of Mount Hood’s most vulnerable glaciers at risk."

According to" and ... r-glacier/" a study in 1924, after a low snow winter determined it was a glacier and found crevasses. Also my iPhone tagged some of pictures as taken at Palmer Glacier.

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:26 pm

As promised, more pictures...
Sunrise hitting Mt Jefferson from Timberline Lodge
Palmer from Miracle Mile at 7:45 AM.
Newton Clark Glacier at center.
A racer at a little after 9
The terrain park on my one trip down it. The walk from where the snow ran out to where I re-joined the run that went farther was about 200 vertical feet.
Mt Jefferson, with the Three Sisters barely visible in the smoke. On my way N, I could hardly see the outline of Shasta after passing it. Smoke was better on the return as Shasta was visible from the N and W. But smoke was still thick from Dunsmuir 50 miles N of Redding almost to a rest stop about 25 mi S.
Smoke looked worse to the W of the Cascades than to E
Me, Palmer and Hood
Beer I had after skiing was bought at brewpub that was within walking distance of Portland motel where we stayed, even for my 88 year-old Mom.
Some of the parking was reserved for an Oregon Porsche club that was going to have lunch at Timberline

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:11 pm

I eyeballed a map and could tell that Eliot and Newton Clark were bigger than Palmer.

It's odd Timberline Lodge doesn't want to call Palmer a glacier. Come to think of it, when Palmer opened in the late 1970's the conventional lift towers were bent by snow movement and had to be replaced by the braced towers shown in tseeb's pictures.

Whistler and numerous Euro areas are not bashful about their glacier skiing.

wyeastblog strikes me as the Oregon counterpart to Utah's Save Our Canyons. With no salt, summer skiing is not viable on that south facing terrain at Timberline. I'm not buying that the salt concentration far downstream on the Salmon River is enough to harm anything. They explicitly say they want to stop the summer skiing.

Will the salt melt Palmer faster? Yes, and we can expect that its operation will become more intermittent. It has been marketed as year round skiing, but the reality is that Labor Day is usually the end. Timberline had to close before Labor Day in the lean 2005 and 2015 seasons. As noted above, I'm surprised it's this low after an average winter. More skiers will have to earn their August/September turns in some future summers.

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:23 am

The condition of Palmer for late-August looks very good this year. Much better than photos from 2015.

To me it seems like Timberline could farm snow from surrounding areas in an exceptional year and move it onto Palmer to increase the depth. It would be costly, but possibly for the long term it further restore the snowfield. Obviously the surrounding areas where the snow was moved from would have less snow cover that year and less run off in that area.

I really enjoyed reading your report.

Re: Timberline, OR 8/28/18

Wed Oct 03, 2018 12:46 am

egieszl wrote:Much better than photos from 2015

2014-15 was the second worst season in the PNW on record, so not saying that much.

Some places in the Alps have put tarps over their glaciers to slow down the melting.
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