There’s a lot of excitement in the US about the coming solar eclipse this Monday 21st August, the first to cross the entire country in just under as century, and some commentators have been debating whether it’s possible to be skiing or boarding on snow when the eclipse occurs, for the full cosmic experience and a probably once-in-a-life-time on-snow achievement that will give you bragging rights for the rest of your life.
Skiing or boarding in North America in August is always a possibility if you’re prepared to hike up to your snow. There’s even been some fresh snow reported in the past week on northerly high peaks on the continent. There’s only one ski areas on the continent at present that stays open through August with its lifts running.
The good news is that it lies very closed to the start of the 70 mile wide ‘area of totality’ that the eclipse will cut across the US as it moves from the NorthWest of the country when it makes landfall from the Pacific, to the south east when it continues out over the Atlantic.
The other good news is that the total eclipse will begin around 10.15am – perfectly timed to coincide with the best snow conditions of the day in summer.
The third bit of good news is that after two lean years, Mt Hood received a huge snowfall of around 15 metres of snow last winter, so has decided to stay open in to September.
The bad news is that Timberline ski area in Mt Hood in Oregon isn’t quite in the line of totality. The line passes just south of the ski area’s location, which is on an almost horizontal line inland West from Portland on the coast, so you’ll get most of the eclipse but not quite all of it.
So for the full eclipse on snow it will be a case of hiking up.
One writer, compiling an article a few weeks ago on Transworld Snowboarding’s website, has recommended either Jackson Hole or Mt Jefferson.
She decided on Mt Jefferson as her first choice with Jackson Hole being likely to be very busy. Subsequently however a huge forest fire has broken out in the Mt Jefferson area and the police have closed access to the mountain, confirming it will still be closed for the eclipse so it’s no longer an option.
Jackson Hole its running its tram on the day, but tickets to get on it sold out long ago.
And remember your sunglasses or goggles won’t be good enough if you want to look up at the eclipse, you’ll need special eclipse glasses. It would probably be wise to stand still when wearing them whilst the eclipse is happening as your visibility will be severely limited.