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The Oregon Skiers Bucket List

By Michael Hibbs on

Anyone who’s spent any time skiing in Oregon knows the state has no shortage of great skiing. There’s really something for everyone there, from nearly year-round skiing on Mount Hood, to the playful terrain of Mount Bachelor, to the big backcountry tours on the Three Sisters and Broken Top. But, with so much to ski, it can be hard to narrow down your options. That’s why we’ve put together this bucket list for Oregon skiers. These are our highlights in Oregon, the essential experiences to chase in the state. We’ll start out with some resort based adventures, and then highlight some of the most impressive backcountry objectives in the state.

Part of the magic of skiing in Oregon is its diversity, and to complete this bucket list, you’ll need to be a well-rounded skier. But the nature of skiing in Oregon makes it easy to progress quickly, and learn new skills, enabling you to go after more complex objectives. So start small and work your way up.

Inbounds Items

If you’re primarily a resort skier, this is the place to start. These three resorts have some of the best snow, and terrain in Oregon.

Ski Timberline Lodge in the Summer

Most ski bucket lists are winter based. However, Oregon’s Timberline Lodge has nearly year-round skiing. Located high on Mount Hood, Timberline accesses the Palmer Glacier, and runs lifts on it through August most summers. Ski racers, and park skiers come to Timberline for summer training from all over the world every year, working to stay sharp for the next winter. The terrain on Palmer is pretty straightforward, and can be a little icy in the morning, but there’s something magical about ripping slushy laps in July. 

Photo by: Matt Sklar

If you like sliding on two planks in Oregon, you owe it to yourself to get out there and ski at Timberline in the summer at least once. The Portland ski experience isn’t quite complete, without a quick trip to Timberline to get a nice break from the summer heat.

Ski Mount Hood Meadows

If winter skiing is more your cup of tea, Mount Hood Meadows has some of the best inbounds terrain in Oregon. Meadows is also located on Mount Hood, but it’s lower down on the mountain, in steeper, more featured terrain. Meadows is the sort of resort that just begs to be skied playfully. There are side hits everywhere, with smooth gaps and transitions littering the mountain. Meadows rewards the creative skier who’s willing to look at things a little differently, and try something new. Combine that with its consistently good snow, and you’ve got some of the best skiing in the state.

Ski Mount Bachelor

Located just outside of Bend, Oregon, Bachelor is one of the state’s most iconic resorts. It’s a dormant volcano, with three hundred and sixty degrees of skiing from the summit. Bachelor has some really diverse terrain options, with big, steep, wide open runs from the summit that transition into perfectly spaced trees and hundreds of wind lips on the lower mountain. On powder days there are hundreds of acres of wooded terrain that hold snow and are full of interesting lips and jibs. Bachelor often stays open late into the spring and summer, with great slushy skiing all over the hill. Combine that with its incredible terrain parks, and you’ve got a don’t-miss ski destination.

Photo by: Cameron Munn

Backcountry Objectives

For those who like to earn their turns, Oregon has plenty of worthy objectives. Much of the state’s ski touring takes place on volcanoes, which often hold snow later into the spring, making for more consistent conditions.

Ski Tour Mount Hood

Yes, Mount Hood has multiple resorts scattered around its flanks, but none of them reach the top. Hood is an incredible ski tour thanks to a few factors. On a clear day, the view from the summit of the rest of the Pacific Northwest is unbeatable, and you can ride the lifts at Timberline to save you from having to walk a few thousand extra feet.  However, Hood is still a serious ski touring objective, with some technical route-finding close to the summit, and many hazards like rockfall, bergschrunds, and fumaroles.

It’s a good idea to ask around to figure out conditions, before you try to climb and ski hood. Any ski repair shop in Portland should have someone who’s familiar with the route and can give you up-to-date information.

Tour the Three Sisters

The Three Sisters area might just offer the most concentrated and diverse ski touring and mountaineering opportunities in Oregon. The Three Sisters is (you guessed it) a group of three volcanoes, the North, Middle, and South Sisters. Between the three of them, there’s a backcountry mission for everyone. The most popular backcountry ski day is the South Ridge of the South Sister. It’s a pretty straightforward route, with about 5000 feet of elevation gain. However, if you’re looking for a longer day, there are several linkups and traverses throughout the Sisters that require camping overnight. And the views from the Sisters of Bachelor, and the rest of the state are incredible.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake might not be the first thing on your list when you think of backcountry skiing in Oregon, but it offers a unique experience that’s impossible to find anywhere else. Located inside a National Park, Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful sites in Oregon, and while most people visit in the summer, there’s plenty of skiing to do in the winter. There’s a lot of nordic skiing in the park, but for backcountry skiers, there are a few descents as well. Crater Lake is a bucket list ski destination not for the quality, or quantity of the turns to be made there, but for the unique setting. How many other places can you make turns above a massive volcanic lake? Half the fun of ski touring is experiencing nature in all its beauty after all, and Crater Lake provides that in spades.

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