Snowkite success leaves Gorge residents hungry for next adventure

wind powered exploration on the south side of Mount Adams: Brad Gordon and Bob Riviello logged what could be the first-ever snowkite session on the mountain last weekend.


wind powered exploration on the south side of Mount Adams: Brad Gordon and Bob Riviello logged what could be the first-ever snowkite session on the mountain last weekend.

It’s pretty hard to claim a first these days, and although they can’t be absolutely sure, Brad Gordon and Bob Riviello are confident they beat everyone else to the cookie jar on Mount Adams.

After years of exploring the area and its wind and snow conditions, and several failed attempts, the two Gorge residents logged a successful snowkite session last week on the southern flanks of the mountain — a first, as far as they are aware, in what has proven to be an elusive pastime of harnessing the power of the wind to propel oneself up and down the sides of the Northwest’s jagged volcanic peaks.

“I’ve been trying to snowkite Adams for years,” said Gordon, who travels extensively for the increasingly popular winter sport. “Conditions and access are very difficult on Adams. Like all the volcanic peaks around here, the katabatic (downslope) winds make snowkiting pretty elusive. The conditions really have to line up perfectly, and in the case of Adams it requires the combination of two sports.”

To reach the kitable area at about 7,200 feet elevation, the two had to snowmobile in about 14 miles from the nearest SnoPark, paying special attention to wilderness and tribal boundaries along the way. Conditions lined up perfectly last week, with warm temperatures and a decent west wind. The snowfield the two had scouted, at about 7,200 feet elevation, was softened by the sun and had a decent crosswind that day, so they pumped up, launched their kites — the same kind used for water-based versions of the sport — and explored the snowfield using the power of the wind.

“Snowmobiles open a lot of doors in terms of accessing the backcountry,” Gordon said. “It’s a tradeoff; on the one hand you want to participate in a clean sport that uses the wind, but on the other hand you need a gasoline-powered machine as an access tool to get to some of those places.”

Gordon said the two kited for a couple of hours before packing up and making the long journey back to Snow King SnoPark outside of Trout Lake. Although not “epic” in terms of terrain or conditions, Gordon said the adventure was one he’ll remember for other reasons.

“For snowkiting, you want wind compressing into the slope instead of blowing across it; so gliding was difficult,” he said. “That’s what everybody wants to do with snowkiting; use the wind to pull you up, and then glide back down in the air.

“Adams has been on my list for a long time. There are tons of untapped snowkiting adventures around here, and many are areas where nobody has ever done it before. That sense of adventure and exploration makes the trip well worth the time and energy, even on those days when you don’t succeed.”

Gordon said his next snowkite adventure during the fleeting spring season when snow and wind conditions are just right, will likely be the Plains of Abraham area on Mount Saint Helens, which, he says, is potentially a world-class snowkiting locale when conditions align.

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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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