Summer Skiing, Summer Skiing, Summer + Skiing? What? You might be thinking, No, NW Skibum, there’s no such thing. The heat would melt the snow! However, just read this, and discover how Summer Skiing in the Pacific Northwest is possible.

First of all, I’m not talking about indoor skiing. Sure, there’s that, but no indoor ski area is going to give you the real skiing experience of wind in your face or sun beating down on you, or best yet, the breathtaking views. No, I’m talking about the Palmer Quad, at Timberline Lodge.

Palmer lift is a high speed quad lift, built in 1996 and designed to be buried under snow throughout the winter and survive over the over 100 mph winds that we occasionally see at the top of Mt. Hood. The base is 6,940 feet up, and the top at 8,470 feet. It rises about 1,530 feet total, and is just over a mile in length at 5,468 feet.

The lift accesses Palmer Glacier, which helps keep the snow cold enough to ski on and slows the rate of snowmelt during the summer. The glacier gets around 70-feet of snowfall annually (that’s like a seven story building), but that’s not enough to last through the summer.  Watch Timberline’s video on how they snow farm during the winter. The process is very fascinating.

There are many independent companies who offer excellent jumping and aerial camps at the top of the glacier throughout the summer. These classes are not part of the lodge itself, but operated by separate companies paying a fee to use the hill and lift. I have not, at time of writing, taken a class during the summer, however I do hope to someday.

Now, as you may imagine, summer skiing is expensive. Individual tickets run from $70 to $80, and season’s passes are about $800. However, there is another way to get a summer pass. If you work as a Timberline ski instructor during the winter and teach at least 30 days, you get a free summer pass for the whole family! Now that’s a deal.

What else about summer skiing? I do have a few more facts in store. This article isn’t just going to be me bragging about my home lodge (although I would, given the chance ).

There are some traditional ski lessons during the summer, although for beginners summer skiing is probably not a good idea, seeing as skiing on the glacier is fairly steep and fast and summer snow is harder to ski on.

There is a major difference in the types of snow in summer compared to winter. Summer snow could start off as hardpack, and then by noon be mushy (like skiing on peanut butter) and dirty, as compared to winter snow where there is powder or corduroy (nicely groomed run). Summer snow is like spring snow, but more mushy and mushy is much harder to ski on.

Some positives of summer skiing are the views (trust me, they are SPECTACULAR!), the sunny weather for those fair weather skiers, and the warmth. You don’t have to bundle up so much, and I have even seen some skiers in shorts and t-shirts! (Note: this is not advised as falling on summer snow is kind of like getting a rug burn.) The best thing about summer skiing is that you don’t have to lose your edge and muscle tone over summer break, and that you can keep skiing all year long!

Although I hate to even mention negatives of skiing, I do feel obliged to mention the cons of summer skiing. First, the cost. It is very expensive, and you can lose dough quickly on a multi-day trip, with the tickets, lodging, and food. Another bad thing about summer skiing is that snow is reflective. Sun reflecting off the snow can give you major burns. Last season, (16-17), I forgot sunscreen. I came home with bloodshot eyes and skin that looked like I had run a marathon without water! This can be avoided, but you must watch out for it.

I really hope that my article today has encouraged you to get out and summer ski on Mt. Hood.  Thank you for reading this all the way through! See you next time on!!!


Lead Kid Editor and Co-Founder

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