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TR Mt. Bachelor May 2018 first impressions

marzNC

Angel Diva
#1
Skied Mt. Bachelor for the first time ever today. Pure spring skiing where finding the softened, but not too soft, snow was the name of the game. Bottom line is that Bachelor is a HUGE mountain. It's not a just matter of total acreage but the fact that it's one mountain that's skiable 360 degrees when it's all open. Half the terrain is above treeline. With only high speed lifts open, we got in a lot of skiing from 9:00-1:15. Lifts are open 8:30-1:30 this week.

My ski buddy, Bill, and I will ski Bachelor a couple more days this weekend with friends who live in southern Oregon. Hopefully conditions will be as good.

Not many cars in the parking lot at 9am. Most locals with kids parked near the base of the Skyliner Express.
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View from near the top of Pine Marten Express, which starts at Village West base. Could see Summit Express in the distance although it's hard to spot in the picture.
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Looking down at the West Village lodge from The Cirque, about 1500 ft higher
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#2
It was hard to decide which skis to bring for this trip. In the end, I decided to bring the Absolut Joys that have bases treated with DPS Phantom and my old Black Pearls (2012) since they are good in warm soft snow. Today I only skied the AJs. Bottom line is that I kept sliding even in the few sticky spots. The AJs are a bit narrow at 78 underfoot when the snow is really soft but it was good practice.

Bill had put on the Dakine paste wax we got at Powder Mountain last year before the trip. He had to add more when we took a mid-morning break. He's using his 90 underfoot Nordica skis.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#3
We didn't get on the lift until shortly after 9:00. Lifts started at 8:30am and there were locals ready to go. By 10:30 a lot of the seniors who left their boot bags in the lodge were already gone. Only the West Village lodge was open. The off-piste at the top was still on the frozen side so we cruised the blues off Skyliner Express for a bit. Soft in the sun, hard in the shade on the sides that was easy to go around. The lower mountain lifts on the southeast were closed for the season (Cloudchaser, Sunrise Express). By 11:00 the upper mountain was entirely open. We only had time to check out The Cirque, and Cow's Face to the East Bowls to Sunrise Getback before the snow on that side was too soft except at the very top.

It took a lot of concentration to have the patience to wait for my skis to turn in the super soft snow lower down. Especially turning left, which is my bad side. Felt pretty good to be able to keep going on the black terrain without stopping too often for a break. Kept thinking about a few key ideas I learned from instructors this season. Got plenty of practice given how long the runs are. Very glad the Phantom works because Sunrise Getback is a long cat track that has a few sections that go up instead of down. Didn't have to herringbone too much but did end up polling for a while.

Helps that Bachelor is relatively low. I flew into Boise yesterday and Bill picked me up for the drive to Oregon. We are staying in Sunriver about 20 miles away, which is around 4000 ft. The summit is about 9000 ft. and West Village Lodge is at 6300 ft.

A few more pics . . .

Riding up Summit Express, 1725' vertical in 5 minutes
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Bill going over to The Cirque, can you spot him?
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Northwest Express was great after noon, 2365' vertical for 8377' in 8 minutes
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Looking back at the base of the Northwest Express. Sparks Lake and Mt. Jefferson in the distance.
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#9
Skied again at Bachelor today. Cloudy all day but the rain forecasted a few days ago turned out to be a non-issue. We were skiing almost non-stop from 8:30 to 12:30, then called it a day. Explored terrain on the upper mountain that we didn't have a chance to reach the first day. Will post a few pics later.

Since it was a Saturday, there were more local families around. Probably also some who drove an hour or two for some turns. First thing in the morning, a few of the groomers felt crowded because it was still to frozen off-piste. But that only lasted until 9am or so. By then the entire upper mountain was open.

Temps at the base stayed pretty warm overnight. Ranged from 43 to 54 while the lifts were running 8:30-1:30. Most people were off the mountain by noon.

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#11
Bachelor mountain facilities were a lot nicer than I expected. Didn't realize that Powdr is the majority shareholder. Powdr owns Killington/Pico, Copper, and a few other small mountains. Sunday, May 6 was the last day for the Northwest Express. Lifts were running 8:30-1:30 but there were few people left on the slopes by 12:30.

Most of the lifts are high-speed detachable quads that cover a lot of distance. There is even a high-speed lift that only serves green terrain. At the end of the season when only three lifts are running, two on the lower mountain and Summit, it's possible for advanced skiers to access 2000 acres when the weather allows all the accessible areas of the upper mountain to be open. That's the advantage of one big mountain with 360 degrees of slopes.

Women's restroom in Pine Marten Lodge, a multi-story mid-mountain lodge with more than one food service option. Restrooms are on the ground level and there is an elevator.
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The Summit Express has an unusual feature. Have to herringbone UP a fairly steep ramp after going through the RFID gates. Don't know the reason for sure, but it's one way to discourage intermediates who probably shouldn't be riding up the lift because even the groomers from the top are pretty steep. Of course, mid-season the gates would be much higher.
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Plenty of blue groomers lead to the West Village base. Retail and ski rentals in building on the left. Food service, childcare, restrooms (on two levels), in the building on the right. The other full service base was closed for the season. There was BBQ and beer at lunch time on May 5.
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#12
The skiing off the backside was very good. But only for confident advanced skiers who have a ski buddy. Or in my case, two because my North Country School classmate, Nick, joined me and Bill for the weekend. His wife is an intermediate who stayed on the blues on the frontside off Skyliner. They live a few hours from Bachelor. Nick had never skied the backside because he hadn't been with other adventurous advanced skiers before. Their home mountain is Mt. Ashland.

What became obvious is that most of the backside is double-black is because the lower part of the mountain is relatively steep and there are trees. The pitch above treeline was steep but not intimidating. The trees are big and not particularly tight. Was a bit tricky to figure out where to go for the first time. Eventually we worked our way over and found the closest groomer to get down to the base of Northwest Express. It was warm enough that we knew staying on the ungroomed until the runout trail that goes all the way around the base of the mountain wasn't a good idea.

Plenty of warning signs after unloading Summit. The far red sign says "DO NOT SKI THIS AREA ALONE." This photo is from Sunday morning when there were clouds rolling in. But an hour later the top of the mountain was clear. The ski patrol supervisor was in the midst of starting to close the upper mountain when he realized the clouds were gone. He was happy to change the plan in order to keep as much open as possible for the last day for Northwest Express. He told me the story when I bought an avalanche dog shirt. Everything stayed open until 1:00 or so.
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Looking back at the start of the High Traverse on Saturday morning
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Nick looking over the backside towards Mt. Jefferson
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There was a lot of terrain to explore on the frontside off Summit. The lift was closed but could ski down from the top and take the collector runout. The better choice on a warm day was to take the cat track above Cloudchaser instead of the one that goes all the way around to Skyliner. Going the other way by cutting back under Summit, it's possible to hike a bit to the very top and ski down the backside towards Northwest. But we opted to traverse and ski down the frontside.

Took the photo while resting on the West Wall. I was sitting down because it got steeper the farther out I went! Bill is below. On the traverse I stayed high instead of following Bill. Then followed the young woman who passed me and seemed to know where she was going. She stopped to rest before continuing straight over the next ridge.
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Nick followed me. We were rewarded because the West Ridge above Pine Marten is black, not double black. The snow was really good. Softened but not too soft. The entire adventure took about 15 minutes but it felt longer.
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Looking back up West Ridge
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#13
The first hour it made far more sense to stay low and enjoy the groomers. By 10:00 it was time to head to the top. Couldn't wait too long if the idea was to ski from the top to the bottom. If only skiing to mid-mountain, the snow stayed good all morning.

Great three days of skiing at Bachelor. Plenty of coverage and lots of terrain to choose from. A Spring Pass was $199 when bought in April. I'll keep that in mind for future reference.

Wider skis were better for the soft snow. Nick used his ON3P powder skis. He switched from his all-mountain skis after the first run. My old BPs worked very well. Was useful to have the Dakine Afterburner paste wax. That stuff lasts for half a day.
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Three Sisters and Broken Top behind Pine Marten Lodge at noon on May 6
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#14
A few random comments below about travel, lodging, and food that stood out. I pay close attention when it becomes obvious I want to return in the near future.

The closest airport when flying Southwest is Portland, which is about 3.5 hours drive away. I opted to fly into Boise because it’s on the way for Bill from Albuquerque. I landed at 2:30 after changing planes in Denver. The drive took about 6 hours on US20, but we gained an hour since Boise is MT and Bend is PT. So we got to Bend at a good time to have dinner at one of the brew pubs. Immersion Brewery is relatively new and was pretty good. The bonus was that it was near a Market of Choice, an Oregon grocery chain where we could stock up for the condo. Bend is clearly a city on the upswing.

There isn’t any lodging at the base of Mt. Bachelor. The choice is between Sunriver Resort and Bend. Both are about 30 minutes from Bachelor. There are lots of condos and houses for rent at Sunriver. It’s a 4-season resort with over 3000 acres that’s been around for quite a while but is more popular during the warm months. Bend is a small city with a variety of types of lodging choices. Bend is about 20 minutes from Sunriver so driving there to eat dinner or go shopping is a reasonable option, although there are a few places to eat out at Sunriver as well.

The Sunriver Lodge is pretty impressive. The restaurant is upscale with pretty good food and wine at resort prices. Our friends said the lodging units are nice.

We ate a couple of late lunches at the Base Camp Grill, which is just outside Sunriver on the way to Bachelor. The soup and fried fish was really good!

Since the afternoons were available for other fun, we went to Lava Butte and Pilot Butte one afternoon. Great views from the top and can easily drive up and park in May when it’s not so busy. The Lava Lands Visitor Center is close to Sunriver and closes at 4pm during the off-season. It’s part of the Deschutes National Forest, which includes the Newberry Volcanic National Monument.

On the weekend, we did the mile long hike inside the Lava River Cave with our friends who live in Oregon. It was in the 60s but we needed our jackets in the cave because the temperature is 42 degrees year round. No entrance fee but need a U.S. Park Service parking pass of some kind. There are no lights in the cave. We opted to rent a couple big lanterns since we didn’t have flashlights. We made it out just before they closed at 5pm. I've been in caves before but never a lava tube. Brought to mind the sci-fi series Dune.

Sunset view from the Sunriver Lodge restaurant
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#16
How was the snow condition? Was it "sticky"?
When temps get up into the 40s and 50s, conditions are changing all the time. Also makes a difference if the sun is out or not. On Saturday, it was cloudy all day. Even though the air temperature was about the same as on Thursday, the snow stayed good longer. On Sunday, it was clear but just a little cooler. My last run to the West Village lodge was easier than on Thursday. In general, we quit after 12:30. Stayed the latest on the first day. But after noon, I was mostly exploring new terrain relatively slowly if we were on the lower mountain. On a mountain with as much vertical as Bachelor, it's possible for advanced skiers to stay on the upper mountain and avoid sticky snow until they are ready to stop for the day. Remember that the lifts closed at 1:30 that week.

When skiing over on the Northwest side, the groomers were great until just before reaching the run out trail that goes around the perimeter of the skiable terrain. Took some concentration to keep moving on NW Connection. Helped to ski in the shade when available.

Like any less-than-optimal snow conditions, it takes practice to get more comfortable. Having done spring break trips to Alta on a regular basis, as well as skiing during the late Jan or Feb thaw at Massanutten, I'm less worried than I used to be. Back in 2013, I went to Brighton with Bill on a very warm day, in the high 50s. The sticky snow on the runouts before the base of lifts was scary to me then.
 


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