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What It’s Really Like to Go to Summer Ski Camp

Mount Hood has had one of its snowiest springs in years. Portland, OR has just recorded its wettest spring ever. For the eager skier, that means a well-above-average snowpack at Mount Hood and excellent summer training opportunities a drive or domestic flight away. If you’re thinking about going to summer ski camp for the first time, you might be wondering what to expect. Read on for the insider’s scoop on a day at summer ski camp. 

6 AM – Alarms go off early when you need to make the most of summer snow! Because temperatures typically rise above freezing by 9 AM, the ski area operates from 7 AM to 2 PM every day. 

7 AM – Once your boots are on, you’ll get in the lift line with hundreds of other ski racers from around the country and even around the world. Two chairlifts, the Magic Mile and Palmer, take you to the top of the Palmer Glacier, where race lanes are organized. Make sure to bring your race pack up with you, stuffed with layers like Arctica Featherlyte Down PackHoodie and Arctica Black Kat Training Shorts – you never know when the wind will make it a cold day up there. It’s just as important to have your lunch, lots of water, and sunscreen to be able to perform at high elevation. 

8 AM – Your camp or team will have its own race lane, with your coach’s gate or drill environment set up. Depending on the snowpack, there will be free ski lanes available for you to warm up and do drills. Of course, all of the skiing leads directly back to the chairlift, so you can get a lot of skiing in a few hours. 

10:30 AM – Lunch time with a view! You’ll eat sitting on the snow at the top of the Palmer Glacier. Look south to Mt. Jefferson. On a clear day, you’ll see all the way to Mt. Shasta in California. 

1 PM – Most teams and camps are done training by 1 PM when it gets too hot and the snow is rutted or too slushy. You can ski down to the parking lot until mid to late July. After that, you’ll down-load the Magic Mile chairlift. 

2 PM – Have an afternoon snack and probably a quick nap! 

3 PM – What’s your afternoon activity today? Depending on the camp, you might play a game of soccer, participate in some structured dryland training, swim in a nearby lake, mountain bike in the Timberline bike park or go whitewater rafting on the nearby Deschutes River. The majority of Oregon summer afternoons are near 80* and sunny. 

Whitewater rafting on the Deschutes River

Tamanawas Waterfall hike

6 PM – Most camps and teams will use a period in the afternoon or evening for video review. Watching video of yourself skiing is a highly effective coaching tool. It allows your coach to use a visual to explain what you’re working on in your skiing and show you how that will help you become a faster and stronger skier. 

10 PM – Early mornings make for early bedtimes. Hopefully, you’re asleep by 10 PM!

Many athletes find summer to be the best time to improve their skiing. It’s easier to make changes without the pressure of an upcoming competition that is so often felt in the winter. The Palmer snowfield on Mount Hood is a consistent slope, which simplifies working on technique and tactics. Timberline’s high-speed chairlifts make for a quick turnaround time, so you can get plenty of runs in. 

When talking to the athletes here at Mount Hood, we found one common piece of advice to would-be-campers: Don’t be afraid to go to summer camp alone! Many of the athletes we talked to came to camp alone and will leave with tons of new ski friends, more confidence in their skiing and some new independence.

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