She’s in the background of every snowboard scene.
Looming large. Impassive in the face of natural adversity. White and beautiful when the light hits her just right. Formidable. Impenetrable. Volcanic. Her curves undulating, driving men¿and women¿wild!
I’m talking about Mt. Hood.
The only June-August snowboarding destination in the lower 48. Snow-capped, (mostly) sunny and open year-round, Hood is simply where snowboarding summers, every summer, without fail.
Why? Because it’s Wy’East. That’s the native name for what’s known as 11,239-foot Mt. Hood; Oregon’s highest point and one of the globe’s most climbed peaks, next to Japan’s Mt. Fuji. Look deep into all those SUV commercials and on-snow catalog shots and see her tell-tale red crater towering in a cobalt-blue sky like a Himalayan sister. Witness her many moods.
At the end of the Twentieth Century (which just happened to have been one of the best, if not the best snow seasons in snow-sliding history) what better way to look back? To get a sense of the riding lifestyle fully realized here, consider the singular summer that was, when snowboarding came to party on Mt. Hood like it was 1999. May our sport be forever in the next, on the wondrous snowy rolls of Wy’East, just like it was in the last: Going downhill fast.
Kellie Wright, pro
“This summer was my third as a coach at High Cascades Snowboard Camp, but I’ve been going June-August since 1993. The most impressive thing this year was obviously the snowpack. You didn’t have to hike anywhere, just ride right to the parking lot.”
Greg Johnson, pro halfpipe judge, first Olympic head judge
“I was only on snow one day at the IJC clinic, so for riding it was the conditions. There was so much snow! The positive vibe of having the IJC clinic at Windell’s Snowboard Camp was incredible. I think some campers were interested in judging. Just to see snowboard community riding together and doing things for each other¿it’s important. The judging is becoming less insulated and built for what’s really going on in freestyle.”
Mike Basich, pro
“I was there the least I have been in twelve or thirteen years, but you just have certain days at Hood where everything comes together: I’d been looking for a kicker to do a double-backflip and finally found one on a last-day-of-camp photo session. I jet-skied out of the landing, but I made it.”
Kevin Zacher, photographer
“I wasn’t at Hood much but I do have a least-favorite moment. Justin Hostynek and I were wrasslin’ around the Ratskeller notorious Government Camp dive super drunk. He came after me to put me in a head lock and we broke the glass that was in my hand. I was bleeding profusely so I went to the bathroom and wrapped it up, but then I had to sit there the whole night with Justin and Kurt Wastell making fun of me.”
Andrew Crawford, pro
“I had a hurt ankle so I just burned rubber in the parking lot at High Cascade.”
Stacey Burke, pro
“I was coaching at High Cascades for three and a half months, and one of the coolest things I saw was B.J. Leines doing a one-footer seven feet out on a fourteen-foot quarterpipe we had. It took him a few times to stick it but he did. Then Rio, one of the Japanese Forum guys, did a huge one-footer off a super kicker¿I’m thinking it was a solid fifty feet, twenty-five feet up. He’s crazy.”
Todd Richards, pro
“Did I have a highlight? It was hiking this really rad jump with Jeremy Jones, Nate Bozung and Josh Dirksen. Some Ross Steffy kicker in the backcountry.”
Barrett Christy, pro
“I was trying to learn a new trick for the X-Games so you don’t have to see the same ones and I whiplashed on a kicker. I hadn’t done that in so long. It used to be a common occurrence but usually you’re cauutious enough you know your limits. I was trying to lean that flippy 540 trick, went too fast, cleared the landing and had nowhere to go but on my head. I was fine, I just got whipped. Spent the day in Gresham at the hospital. It reminded me¿you can get hurt if you’re not careful. You’re not as good as you think you are.”
Shaun White, pro thirteen years old, seven years riding
“All the skate ramps at Windell’s, that was fun. The bowl was huge, all different lines. When you’re pumping the walls and corners it’s totally like snowboarding. The pipes up there are rad. I’ve been going to Hood for two weeks for the last four years. I snowboard for two hours and skate for two.”
Shannon Melhuse, freerider
“The lanes were wide open, you could ride to the bottom in August, it was amazing. Best snow in ten or eleven years.”
Frank Wells, employed digging halfpipes for seven years
“The golf course. The camp buys me a membership and I average eighteen holes a day. Some days I’ll play 54 holes, all day. I go straight from the hill. I shoot in the upper 70s with a six handicap.”
Chris Brunkhart, photographer
“I went up one day. The best day in June. Six runs in Zig Zag Canyon. Usually people connect Hood with the jumps and pipes, but back there it’s the way Mt. Hood is meant to be. It’s what snowboarding is all about¿not sculpted stuff, just going out and seeing what happens.”
Jake Hauswirth, sideways media mogul
“I saw Keir Dillon doing what must’ve been a super-high 900. Something crazy. And Jason Brown doing the double-pipe transfer on the rainbow handrail that bridged two halfpipes. Actually, he hit three pipes in a row.”
Rob Kingwill, pro
“I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t do it. I changed my ticket coming back from New Zealand straight to Hood. I got to film with Kurt Heine for the first time¿FS 900 flips¿I’m usually never in the right place at the right time. Halfpipe is nothing. I’m not afraid!”
Dave England, for President
“Andy Wolf had his Premier Snow Skates course next to Windell’s. They’re these little plastic skateboards without trucks so you can do kickflips and shove-its on the snow. Jeremy Jones and J.P. Walker are all into them. One of my campers hung his bare ass out the window and we drove by High Cascades. They weren’t laughing, they were bummed. I got banned for driving the buses for Windell’s, but not for that.”
“Tom Nordwall, Coach Supervisor at Windell’s
Two things: Working with Cameron Martin, five years old, rides regular and fakie without knowing which is which. Does half-Cabs, 180s, he rides fast and leads the pack. He rides at Mt. Baker¿jumps off cliffs and they dig him out. Then I was ordained as a minister in the Unity Church so I could perform the ceremony where my World Industries team manager Wallace Hargraves married his fiancée Ruth Ann. They met at camp four years ago and they ordained me in the Unity Church so I could marry them. I introduced them.”
Matt Donahue, pro
“I was coaching for USSTC and the second week of camp in July I had this good group, six to eight guys in their twenties. There was a lot of camaraderie. It snowed six inches and we rode from the top of Palmer to the bottom in six inches of wind-blown powder. Big puffy gray clouds, blue sky, riding powder with guys who don’t get to that often, knowing I provided it for them. Two miles down the face of Hood to the bottom of the Miracle Mile. Powder in the summer, it’s incredible.”