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The Joy of the Known

By Chris Pew on

Contemplations from Chris. 

We love backcountry skiing, where every step brings you closer to something new, unfamiliar, and exciting. There are always so many factors - the snowpack, the weather, the route - that can vary in small or large degrees from your expectations. This makes backcountry skiing exciting, stimulating, and endlessly fun. 

Lapping your home resort is a different type of fun. Like your Mom’s cooking or watching Tommy Boy for the 100th time, you basically know what’s coming but it still feels so good. Every repetitive lap you can peel back the layers of the whole experience: finding new terrain features, experimenting with techniques, or just letting your mind enter the flow of it. 

When it’s on at our home mountain, Mt Hood Meadows, I know exactly where I need to go. Like an invisible force guiding me, I can’t even help it. I’ll start at the frontside, at Mt Hood Express, and work my way down the bowls. Probably 2 Bowl, the longest sustained steep fall line of the bowls. Then I’ll work my way down to 3, 3 ½, or 4 Bowls, shorter pitches with more interesting terrain features that will keep fresh snow longer.

Every lap I’m keeping my eye on the rope drops for Heather Canyon and Private Reserve, the true home to my desires. It’s something special to get a rope drop, but the urgency of scoring Upper Heather is less than the frontside, the terrain being so vast. I know I’ll score surfy pow turns somewhere. 

Somewhere on Mt Hood Surfing

Lower Heather, Private Reserve, God’s Wall, that’s the cherry. Yes, it might get tracked out, but probably not exactly where I want to go. The necessary traverse, short climb up, and tricky entrance being largely hidden and effort too great. But again, there’s plenty of room back there and the leeward face of God’s Wall will yield 2x-3x the depth of the frontside. The ride is short, laughably short for riders from bigger mountains. But it’s sweet. And the ride is all mine. It’s the joy of the known. 

Backside Private Reserve

Everyone has their own maps in their head. Different from a trail map, these maps detail out your personal route on any given day, depending on the snow and the weather and the company. In one minute, you can run the entire day through your head. As an ode to the known and the familiar, we started the Minute Magic series on our TREW TV channel. The first two episodes: Minute Magic: Alpental | Summit at Snoqualmie, WA and Timberline Lodge | Mount Hood. They might just look like regular old turns to you, but each little hidden jump or powstash is cataloged by some local that has the whole mountain mapped out, ready to extract every ounce of joy out of every known and familiar turn.

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