MT. BACHELOR, OREGON

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Published March 1998. This article does not reflect any lift upgrades or terrain expansions since then.

Terrain Ability

Yellow

Black

Red

Blue

Green

Mt. Bachelor

3%

18%

44%

26%

9%

Mt. Bachelor is a 3,365 vertical volcanic cone, about 60% above timberline, with a consistent fall line. It should be at the top of any skierís list who must schedule a trip in advance at a less than ideal time. No other large ski area is as likely to have as much terrain open in early December. You can ski 30,000 vertical foot days during Christmas and other holidays on high speed lifts when you would spend much of your time standing in lines elsewhere. Mt. Bachelorís greatest relative advantage over virtually any other ski area in North America comes in the spring, when the full vertical is skiable well into June and the Summit lift is less likely to be closed for weather.

Lift Serviced

 

Season

Percent

Percent

Average

       

SNOW CONDITIONS

Altitude

Season

Standard

High Mths

Low Mths

Maximum

Direction of Exposure

 

Range

Average

Deviation

GE 90 in.

LT 30 in.

Base Depth

North

East

West

South

Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350

5,700-9,065

365

87

22%

16%

145

50%

20%

29%

1%

Mt. Bachelor has the same relationship to the Pacific Northwest that Mammoth does to the Sierra Nevada. Its base and peak elevations are 2,000 feet higher than most Northwest areas, making rain occasional at the base and rare at the top. The 368 inch annual average at the base is somewhat lower than some other areas because it lies east of the crest of the Cascades. However, snow preservation is so much better that Mt. Bachelor's base depths are exceeded only at a handful of sites with at least 500 inches of snowfall. The 1,700 vertical Summit chair servicing over half the terrain operates through the end of June most seasons, and the full 3,100 vertical was open until Memorial Day in 1992 despite the second lowest snowfall (223 inches) in 24 years of measurement. While most of the area faces north, there is 360 degree skiing off the Summit cone. Therefore spring skiers can follow the corn conditions from east facing Cowís Face in the early morning to the western aspect above Pine Marten lodge, Outback, and Northwest Territory later in the day. The groomed runs on the lower mountain are salted with ammonium nitrate in the spring to keep the snow from becoming slushy.

Mt. Bachelorís early season reliability is also impressive. As a predominantly intermediate area, about 90% of the mountain is well covered by a 4 foot base. In the last 25 years, the January 1 base depth has been less than 4 feet 3 times and the December 1 base depth has been less than 40 inches 7 times. The average maximum base depth for November is 54 inches and for December is 77 inches. Keep in mind that all of these depth measurements are taken near the base of the ski area.

The Summit lift is closed for wind, visibility or avalanche danger at least 30% of the time before April. This makes Mt. Bachelor somewhat risky in midwinter, as close to half the terrain, including many of the expert runs and most of the above timberline skiing, is accessible only from the Summit. The west side of the Summit is often wind scoured, although it is a prime area for either powder or corn under the right conditions. Wind is very common on the Summit chair, but itís bearable since the chair is a new high speed quad.

 

Terrain Type:

Cruising: Mt. Bachelor is an outstanding area for cruising runs. The lower mountain groomed terrain is mostly blue in the Sunrise and Skyliner areas and more red near the Pine Marten, Outback and Northwest chairs. The two groomed runs off the Summit lift, Beverly Hills and Healy Heights, are 1,700 vertical of consistent 3 to 1 length to vertical ratio. With all of these areas serviced by high speed lifts, you can rack up vertical feet at a pace exceeded only by Sun Valley in North America.

Moguls: Mt. Bachelor usually doesnít have much mogul skiing. The lower mountain is intensively groomed. There will be a few 500-700 vertical mogul sections near the Pine Marten chair, and sometimes a couple of the Outback and Northwest runs, such as Boomerang, will be left to grow moguls. Skier density is low in the steeper areas off the Summit, so moguls are not that common up there either.

Steeps: The major steeps are in the Cirque Bowl, which is a 5 minute hike from the top of the Summit chair. You can then traverse to the widest entry to the bowl or ski directly through the Pinnacles, the steepest line. Intermediates should also take the short hike from the Summit chair for the true 360 degree, 200 mile radius view. Take your camera for one of the finest photo-ops in North American skiing.

Wide Open Spaces: The Summit lift provides some of the best open skiing in North America. East of the lift is Cowís face plus the two groomed runs. The Cirque Bowl mentioned above is comparable in both length and expanse to one of Whistlerís bowls. A long cornice usually builds up on its western border. Beyond that cornice, you can ski a little over a 1,000 vertical of open ungroomed terrain, dropping into either the top of the Northwest Territory or the Outback area. Check with the patrol first, however, because the upper west side of the mountain is well known for its windblown slab.

Trees: The Outback and Northwest Territories contain the most skiable trees. The Northwest Territories high speed quad (2,365 vertical, new in 1996-97) adds a significant amount of steep, west facing terrain previously accessed only by a long traverse from Summit. The top half of its runs will challenge most skiers; however, the lower part of this area is relatively flat since the bottom of the lift is located quite low on the mountain. Much of the new terrain is reminiscent of Eastern ski areas in that the runs are quite narrow, with undulating pitches. After a good powder dump, the Northwest Territories arguably offers the best glade and tree skiing on the mountain. There are also spaced trees near the eastern border of Mt. Bachelor, but the terrain is a little flatter there.

Powder: During storms the Summit will be closed, so powder skiing will be in the trees. The lower mountain snow usually sets up pretty quickly after a storm as it is high in water content and the Outback and Northwest Territory, facing west, are subject to wind during storms and afternoon sun otherwise. When the Summit chair opens, the Cirque Bowl will usually have good powder, including blown in snow from the west side.

Hiking and Backcountry: The ski area has marked a catchline to show the maximum skiable area from which one can traverse back to the Rainbow (east) or Northwest Territory (west) chairs. Looking west from the Main Lodge you can see a 500-foot cinder cone. On powder days, some skiers will take a running start up its south side and hike the rest of it to get some quality first tracks. For serious backcountry skiers, the Three Sisters and Broken Top are a few miles northwest of the Main Lodge. These are four permanently covered volcanic peaks, all close to 10,000 feet.

Crowds: Only Sun Valley can rival Mt. Bachelor with the combination of so many high speed lifts with minimal lift lines. Holidays can produce 10-minute lines at the lodges, but even then you can generally find a quad with little wait at all. On sunny days, the Summit and Outback can get intermittently busy, but again just ski elsewhere for a while and the lines disappear. Skier density is not a problem anywhere, and it is very low in the Cirque Bowl and western side of the Summit because of the short hike required to reach these areas.

Bachelor offers "point" tickets of 200 or 400 points (@ $40 or $80 respectively, good 4 years from the date of purchase), with deductions of 20 points for each high speed quad use, less for the other chairs. These can be useful on a day with limited time or nasty weather. However, with Bachelorís lack of crowds, youíll spend the cost of a full day ticket in points in about 3 hours.

 

Intermediates: Mt. Bachelor is an outstanding area for intermediates. Lower intermediates will fatigue quickly on the sustained fall lines of Summit, Outback, and Northwest Territory, but the other lower chairs have numerous blue runs.

Novices: At the West Village Lodge, beginners have several short runs serviced by a dedicated high speed quad. Several longer green and easy blue runs are accessed from the 2 base quads located at the Sunrise Lodge. There are connecting traverses and catwalks between these two base areas, but terrain is somewhat limited until one can handle blue runs.

Children: Mt. Bachelor is a family friendly area. There are day care centers in both lodges and 3 year olds are accepted for ski lessons. The detachable lifts and lack of crowds are also positives.

All lodging is in Bend or Sunriver, about 20 miles away. While shuttles do exist, having a car is desirable. The access roads are straight and climb very gradually, so they are almost always open even though Mt. Bachelor is a high snowfall area. The distance from town to mountain has resulted in a clientele mainly of Oregon locals plus West Coast long weekenders. In the spring, the distance to Bend and Sunriver becomes a real asset, because their summer resort facilities are open (altitude is only 3,000 to 4,000 feet). Fishing, golf, river rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking are all available while Mt. Bachelor still provides some of the continentís finest spring skiing.