Spot Check: Mt. Hood Meadows

Spot Check

Mt. Hood Meadows

In a state most commonly known for dismal weather, spotted owls (or lack of), rednecks, and slugs the size of small elephants, exists Mt. Hood Meadows. You do have to be a bit patient, but if your achy bones can hold out long enough for the gallons of rain Oregon's climate produces every month to eventually turn to snow, you're bound to hit the jackpot with Mt. Hood Meadows. Similar to last season, the snow is predicted to fall in record amounts this year.

Meadows has been on the shred map for quite some time. Tucked away in the northwest corner of the United States, it's one of the best places to snowboard in the nation: diverse terrain, nice amenities, and some Northwest pride. Meadows has big resort characteristics without all the hotels and movie stars. Located 67 miles east of Portland and 35 miles from Hood River, it's easily accessible from almost any area of Oregon or Washington.

From the base of the mountain, where the main lodge is located, you can take the Mt. Hood Express speed-quad up to access tons of gullies, chutes, logs, and a short trek to the halfpipe. The halfpipe is cut on a regular basis, and stays open during the resort's normal operating hours. Cascade Express runs from the midway point to the top of the resort and is above the tree line, thus offering big, wide-open powder fields with a variety of cornices and windlips. If you want to get to the super-deep powder and steeps, Heather Canyon is the place to go. Easily accessible from the Cascade Express, Heather's on the far east side of the resort, which also happens to be the sunny side of the mountain.

If parks are your thing, you've got it made. There are three parks–one for every level of riding. The Zoo is for beginners, with mellow lips and trannys. Easy Rider is an intermediate course with some easy but fun rollers and tabletops. But if you da man when it comes to park jumpin', head on over to Park Place. This is where you will find technical wizardry at its very best. Park Place is one of the greatest parks around with a full-time crew keeping it in tip-top condition. The park is set on a fairly steep slope, making it easy to keep your speed through the tables and hips. With jump after jump, you can switch up your run every time.

It's common to see some of today's hot pros kickin' it at Meadows, such as Peter Line or J.P. Walker, and they're usually very approachable and easy to talk to. It seems that more than half of Mack Dawg's movie Technical Difficulties was filmed at Meadows. But, if you think you can just roll up and hit one of Kurt Heines kickers, you've got another thing coming! Kurt will probably smack you in the face with one of his Heine Tools.

There's no on-hill lodging at the resort. Government Camp is the closest town nine miles due west where there are a couple of hotels and the famous Huckleberry Inn–known for the best milk shakes this side of the Nantucket. Staying in Government Camp can get a little spendy, though. If you want to save a few bucks, you can head down the hill a few more miles to the town of Welches. Tim Windell (Windell's Snowboard Camp) owns two hotels, and offers discounted lift tickets if you stay the night. Tim also offers some winter snowboard camps at Meadows throughout the regular season.

Mt. Hood Meadows is open from mid-November through early May. The lifts run Monday and Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For more

information and the daily snow report, call Mt. Hood Meadows at (503) 227-SNOW or log on to their Web site at–Cory Grove