More snow in spring; when will the season end?

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

April 19, 2006

Six months ago, Mount Hood’s loyal riders were hoping, wishing, praying for snow and for a good, ample white winter.

Some were in full swing by the end of October, with their dances to the winter-weather Gods, while others waited skeptically to see if it would be another wash-out year like 2004-05. The dancers gambled and took advantage of early season pass discounts, while the skeptics hesitated, using last year as an excuse for the cliché not to count chickens before they hatched.

But confident or skeptical, the local snow-loving community waited to embrace another Oregon winter, hopeful that the white substance from the sky would fall all winter long.

By the time winter officially ended on March 19, those who frequented Mount Hood’s slopes had perma-pink cheeks and weathered faces, toned thighs, sore backs and enough powder shots to give even the most devout snow addicts their fixes for the season.

It seems, however, winter forgot to check the calendar.

As any Northwest local can attest — skier/snowboarder or not — the joy of spring can be beyond description after a long, cold and wet winter. And, as any skier/snowboarder can attest, after a winter like the one that just passed, some of the best turns of the year are those in a T-shirt and sunglasses, on slushy, sun-softened snow. Spring skiing is payment to the hard-core enthusiasts who endured the coldest, gnarliest and most brutal conditions the 11,239 foot mountain can dish out.

It offers a sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment that says yes, we’ve made it. We’ve made it through another one.

But that sense of relief has, for the most part, been delayed on Mount Hood. Almost another foot of snow fell on the mountain over the weekend, adding to the current annual snowfall total of over 550 inches at about 5,000 feet. Saturday’s conditions were as wickedly nasty as any mid-season storm dished out in the last six months, inspiring many of the same former snow-hopeful locals to beg the question: “When is it going to end?”

With an original closing day of mid-April, and an extended date of April 30 at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, it seemed for a while that spring riding would be the wash-out of the season. But the season has been extended into May, and possibly June, at the local resort with a never-before campaign resort officials have dubbed the May Challenge.

The May Challenge

After a considerable amount of feedback about Meadows extending its season beyond April 30, the resort launched a campaign to challenge users to decide how long the lifts will run into the spring.

Here’s the deal: After Sunday, April 30, Meadows will close for weekdays. They will open the following Saturday with the start of the May Challenge. For each weekend the resort hosts a minimum of 4,000 guests, they will open the following weekend. If the total number of visitors drops below 4,000 on any weekend, that will be the end of the season at Meadows.

Season pass holders will count toward the total. The number of guests will be determined by a car count, with each car multiplied by 2.5 as the average number of guests per vehicle.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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