By Frank Hoffman
Sunday Dave Dietrich and I headed out from Potato Hill snopark so I could make another attempt to reach the top of the Red Cinder cones just north of Sand Mountain, a destination that has been on my list for a number of years. There was about 1/2″ of new snow on a very solid base and very few people headed that way. We took the lower half of the Hash Brown loop to the road that drops into snowmobile territory and took their tracks out to the old Santiam Wagon Road. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. My suspicion that the south facing slopes of the cinder cones had lost a lot of snow were confirmed but there was still enough to find a path around brush and stick mainly to clear areas to make our way to the top of the east and middle cones. The views were fantastic but the stiff cold wind at the top quickly drove us off after getting some nice photos and panoramics. The crater was cool to look down into but too many trees to ski into. I also confirmed that a circumnavigation of the cones would get into some densely trees areas. I got in a few good turns on the way down but it was tricky due to the angle and obstacles. With more snow it would be a blast. I think the effort for the climb and descent were well worth it. We retraced our tracks and other than the shady areas being fast and the sunny spot causing face plant stops it was a pretty easy return.