Pros: Palmer snowfield (and snowcat!)
Cons: Lower mountain just ordinary
So, my sons and I took the plunge and drove the extra hour or so to ski Timberline a little over a year ago. Yes, it was the epic snow year. No, it wasn't quite epic conditions. Unfortunatley (and this isn't the resort's fault!) we had had a thaw-freeze cycle with no fresh snow, so the lower mountain was strictly groomers-only. I mean hurt-yourself kind of stuff between runs. So having to stay on the groomers with everyone else made for a trying day given it was Christmas break. After lunch we ventured higher to see if the stuff up there had avoided the thaw. Nope. We did, however, get to ride in the Palmer snowcat. (The snow gets so deep on Hood it buries the Palmer chair up to the cable wheels. Once it gets too deep to keep plowing out, it closes, and your ticket gets you on the 'cat, if you're willing to wait!) It carries something like 16 skiers, it's a 30-ish minute round trip for the 'cat, so if there's anyone at all waiting, well, do the math. We just got into the 2nd group waiting, so it was something like 45 minutes, as the 'cat was almost to the top when we showed up. You have to put your skis in your group's area in the queue, so no catching an extra run or three while a buddy holds your spot. The view from the base of Palmer is already cool -- the view from the top is spectacular, both of the peak of Hood and the rest of the world spread out below. Contrary to popular belief, we get some sunny days in Oregon in winter, and we could easily see to the Three Sisters / Mt Bachelor area about 100 miles away... The route down was - again - groomed only, with death-ice boulders and crust everywhere else. Groomed refrozen granular ice. It was an amazing, quad-testing, white-knuckle trip down, as we built up scary speed almost immediately. But the groomed area was wide (40m?) and obviously a max of 15 other skiers, so you can push yourself to your limits, whatever they may be. I was happy to have a helmet on...
To top off the disappointing part of things, the single main highway back to Portland / I-205 was bumper-to-bumper for over an hour, even though we left a bit early. I would go again, but I would carefully monitor for conditions -- fresh pow with the Palmer chair still operating would be amazing. Otherwise, I much prefer Mt Bachelor's variety and snow quality, or Hoodoo's proximity.