To buy a Fusion pass or a Meadows Pass is a question debated every year by Portland residents new and old alike. And there’s no right answer. With three resorts to choose from, and a list of pass options a mile long, the only thing we can definitively say is you definitely should by a pass. With Portland’s dark and gloomy winter looming, this $500ish dollar investment is guaranteed to make your life in the Rose City better, while incentiveizing you to actually go snowboarding. Just trust us on this one – when the snow flies the mountain gets further away (in time, not distance) and all of a sudden getting drunk every night at Reel Em In, skateboarding, going to art shows, watching netflix, etc – sounds way more fun than doing dawn patrol with every other asshole who has their schedule set so they can skip out of work on powder days.
If you’re trying to get max days without splitting/hiking/snowmobiling, there are two main options and we’re tossing a third, more complicated, but comparably priced option, because we’re nice like that.
In bounds at Meadows, lift accessible and every bit as amazing as it looks.
Summary: For the powder hound who’s concerned with logging vertical and getting wicked extreme, Meadows is preferable. There’s more trees, more steeps, and a network of lifts that move people around fairly quickly, even on the most crowded days.
-Steeper steeps and deeper deeps – and with several high speed quads that take you off in every direction, it’s possible to find something worth riding any day of the week, any time of the day.
-Sweet pros, young and old. Wanna see the best freeriding go down infront of your eyes? Post up at the bottom of Rock Gardens on Shooting Star on a deep pow day and watch guys like Colin Langlois, Johnnie Paxson, Ahmon Stamps, Nick Dirks and more send it off features that are at least worthy of a web edit clip!
-Sick trees – Meadows has the monopoly on wide open old growth forests that are easily accessible from the chairlifts with almost no insider knowledge.
-Exchange deals: Get five day tickets at Mt. Baker, three at Steamboat and 25% off at Big White FULL DETAILS
-Legit night riding – There’s a ton of terrain that you can access under the lights (or next to them.)
An average pow day at Meadows.
-Cool guys/Pow Hounds. Don’t be surprised if you get elbowed in the lines or yelled at for scraping the snow off the landing. The Meadows crowd tends to be a bit more aggro when it comes to “getting some.”
–It’s further from Portland. Depending on if the state of Oregon can figure out how to fix the recently burned out gorge to prevent the inevitable mudslides in time, there’s a good chance I-84 will be closed for some of the winter. If this happens, the traffic on route 26 will increase and with no other way around, you’re stuck sitting in it for longer to get to Meadows than Timberline. However, if you live in Hood River/East of Mt. Hood, this isn’t an issue and you should disregard this statement.
The view from Ski Bowl is the stuff Mastercard ads are made of.
This pass will get you full access to Timberline and Ski Bowl and for the casual enthusiast living in Portland (or anywhere west of Mt. Hood) this means shorter drive times and the potential for double pow days by hitting Timberline in the morning, Charlie’s Mountain View in the afternoon, and Ski Bowl at night.
This view when you come around the last corner on the Timberline road never gets old – and it’s WAY more impressive IRL.
Pros: Way mellower. Rumor has it, on a busy day Timberline sells 1/4 of the tickets of Mt. Hood Meadows because of an agreement with the US Forest Service. Even if the parking lot is full, the trails won’t be.
Amazing parks. The Timberline Parks stuff does a great job keeping multiple parks in solid riding shape – a serious feat given the amount of snow that falls through the season on Mt. Hood.
Access to the best terrain not actually on Mt. Hood. Ski bowl lies in the foothills and the lower elevation.
Fewer ag-bros. Yeah, there’s a bit of the park kid vibe if you’re trying to lap the mega booters in the Timberline park, but for the most part, Timberline and Ski Bowl attract more casuals, and the people who ride there are mostly concerned about having fun, not showing off their sick gear. In fact, if you’ve got a boner for vintage gear you’ll probably run into some real gems in the lines at either of these two resorts that people are riding them totally non-ironically.
-Ski Bowl has a rope tow park. Many a mitten has been destroyed and many a movie has been filmed on this short stretch of terrain.
-Awesome mid-mountain bars. Timberline has a hut serving tacos and tall boys and Ski Bowl has a midmountain lodge that’s steeped in history. Or if you’d rather, the Beer stube at the base serves a minty booze hot chocolate that’ll knock you on your ass and the nachos that were the inspiration for Airblaster’s Nacho Mountain.
-Part of the Powder Alliance. This means your Fusion pass not only enables you to not only ride all of its amazing terrain, but also gets four days at places like Mt. Baker, Bogus Basin and more. See the full list here.
Forget to wax or lift up your nose when it dumps at Timberline – this could be you.
-Timberline is “flat.” The topograpy of the resort means you will be traversing from lift to lift. When there’s more than 4 inches of snow, you’ll spend as much time digging out as riding. And while there are steep sections if you know where you’re going – your chances of happening across them by pure dumb luck are much slimmer.
-Just because it’s snowing at Timberline, doesn’t mean it is at Ski Bowl. It might be rain, rain and more rain. Hell, there have been years Ski Bowl has barely opened at all. But NOAA and all the other predictors are saying the 2017/18 season is gonna be a good one, so cross those fingers, fools!
Joey Carnera, on a rare sunny day on the Magic Mile.
If you’re an “average boarder” with a 9-5 job, this is the combo that will guarantee you the most riding and the best combo of all of the above. It’s totally doable to work a full day, go home, get your gear and hit Ski Bowl post rush hour for three solid hours of riding. Adding the Meadows 10x pass gives you the option to ditch work any time there’s a day worth ditching for – which let’s be real, if you do more than 10 times, you’re probably gonna get fired anyway. And finally the spring pass gives ya access to Timberline parks when they’re the best. And the best part – you get the spread out the cost throughout the entire season.
Anyway you go, you’re going to be glad you bought a pass – maybe not when your alarm goes off at 5 am on a pow day, but definitely when you’re exploring the nooks and crannies of Mt. Hood with epic pow hitting you in the face with every other turn. And you have until November 5th to decide. Whatever you go for, don’t forget to buy your annual snow park permit – it’s required to park in either lot and the $25 one-time investment will pay for itself the first time you don’t get a citation from the man.