Mt. Bachelor - A Pictorial
By Jim Kenney, aka JamesJ
EpicSki Travel Correspondent
I would like to offer a series of ski area pictorials for the perusal of the EpicSki community during the late summer/early fall doldrums. This is when all good snowriders begin planning next season’s trips. My pictures were taken with a low-end point and shoot camera that I've had for a few years. It’s survived some harsh treatment, but after dropping it on a hard floor in February a gooey strip of duct tape is the only thing holding it together at this point. I received a camera upgrade in June for Father's Day. Maybe next year the resolution of my ski photos will improve?
The subject of my first pictorial is Mt. Bachelor, OR. My son and I were fortunate to ski this awesome mountain in late December 2012 when the entire layout was open from the summit with outstanding conditions. The great snow pack was not all luck. The date of our trip coincided with the Christmas holidays and was planned well in advance. This resort was on our itinerary due to its reputation for consistently good early season skiing.
The whole Mt. Bachelor/Bend experience was very cool and as an Easterner I found the backside off-piste skiing on a huge dormant volcano to be uncommonly fun and otherworldly in its beauty. I will caption each photo to provide some context, but I think the pictures are the best way to tell the story of our excellent first ever adventure at this bastion of central Oregon skiing.
Please click on the photos to see expanded views. All photos are by Jim Kenney
The 9,065’ summit of Mt. Bachelor provided 360 degrees of snowy goodness during our visit on the last three days of 2012. Much of the front side depicted here skis like a conventional resort with 12 lifts (7 express chairs) and 1,600 acres of groomed runs.
This area near the Rainbow Chairlift includes some of Bachelor’s renowned below treeline intermediate terrain on the looker’s left flank of the mountain. Newly approved expansion plans include a future east-side lift for this section of the mountain. In the upper background the Summit Express chair rises the final 1,725’ vertical to the top of the mountain.
A snowboarder and a skier triangulate their way down the front side of the mountain from the Summit Express chair. The view to the southeast is dotted with small volcanic cones.
The Skyliner Express climbs 1,316 vertical feet serving friendly groomers across the front of the mountain. The December 2012 holiday crowds weren’t too bad. Only a few key lifts out of the base lodges backed up and we were able to bypass them with singles lines in a couple of minutes.
The back side of the mountain is accessed from the Summit Express HSQ and raises the total skiable acreage to nearly 3,700 adding exciting ungroomed slopes and mind blowing scenery. Even during the Christmas holidays it can be just you and the snow ghosts back here for long descents in remote sections like Deadwood Canyon. On this particular run we used the back side catch line to connect with a trail all the way to the base of the Northwest Chair travelling about four miles and 3,300 vertical feet.
This is either Larry or Moe Valley also on the back of the mountain (them and Curly Bowl all look the same to a tourist). We experienced outstanding conditions at Mt. Bachelor due to a five foot snowfall five days before our visit. The back side was a blast with mostly soft, forgiving crud, but also ice chunks, wind slab, and fluffy old powder. Mt. Bachelor’s steep chutes, tight glades, and narrow gullies require every skill in a snowrider’s bag of tricks.
The large Pine Marten Lodge was our choice for a convenient and scenic lunch break each day. It’s located mid-mountain at an elevation of 7,775’ at the crossroads of the front and northwest sections of the trail layout.
This view of Broken Top (el 9,177’) to the right and the Sisters Mountains (el 10,000’+) to the left was taken in the northwest section of the mountain. Here the runs steepen and grow longer and wilder. Two tremendous express quads in this area (Outback and Northwest, 1,780 and 2,365 vertical feet respectively) serve steep groomers, bumps, ungroomed bowls, and seemingly endless glades.
We made a continuous glade run to the skiers left of the Northwest Express Quad at about 1:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. Initially the glades start steep and tight, but then lessen to an intermediate pitch with wider tree spacing. In the beauty and silence of those Hemlock and Lodgepole evergreens we didn’t see another soul for 2,000 vertical feet on one of the busiest ski days of the year.
Mt. Bachelor is at the latitude of about 44 degrees and is further north than Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, or Killington. It’s far enough from the Pacific Ocean to catch a little dryer variety of snow than the rest of the Cascade Range. The elevation of the ski terrain ranges from 5,700 to 9,000 feet. These geographic characteristics make it a snowy, yet hospitable location for vacationing flatlanders.
We stayed in the nearby city of Bend (population 80,000) during our visit to Mt. Bachelor. Purportedly, it has about 20 craft breweries offering a veritable après ski beerfest. Anyone for a brewski?
Mt. Bachelor Website: http://www.mtbachelor.com/summer/index.html
About the Author
- Husband, father and civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a Washington D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim’s ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism’s Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article. To read other articles by Jim, click here.