My son’s spring break was late this year which opened up the option of a family western ski trip as it was after the end of his race season for a change. When I was researching the trip I considered Mammoth and Snowbird but the accessibility issue was a killer for Mammoth and we had been to Utah on our last couple trips. That Mt Bachelor was part of the Maxx pass was a deciding factor for me to order the MP. I also was able to book a room for the week at the Bend Doubletree using HH points and we booked cheap flights on SW. Bachelor offers a super cheap spring season pass for $199 and $169 for teens so that sealed the deal. The other plus is I have had issues with sleeping at altitude and Bend is at 3500 feet and the base of the ski area at 5700 and summit at around 9000. I had no issues what so ever this trip and you are just about as acclimated as the locals. This season was one of their best in pretty much forever with 570” at 7000 feet where they measure and over 700” at the summit.
We flew out Friday and arrived in Portland at our hotel at about 1 am local time. Instead of skiing that first day we decided to do some sightseeing and hit a winery on the way to Bend in the Wilmette Valley which was really a pretty section of the state and has awesome Pinot Noirs. It was snowing in the pass on the route from Salem and was a bit dicey of a drive but not too long at 4 hours including our detour into wine country. It’s a bit faster at 3 hours going past Mt Hood which we did on the way back to Portland.
Bend is a very cool big ski town. I visited 20 years ago and it was about population 25k and has grown to over 80k now. There are a number of Cali tech startups that are moving there for the cheap real estate and quality of life. There are also over 30 breweries in the country and every restaurant has awesome cheap happy hour food and drink deals which we took advantage of almost every day. The Doubletree is in an awesome location just off the main downtown restaurant district and I highly recommend it. You definitely need a 4WD SUV for the drive from Portland and for the 20 miles straight uphill to the ski area which can get pretty darn slippery. There is no lodging at or near the ski area so you have to stay in Bend. In that way its kind of like Whiteface where its never going to be developed – its just about the skiing.
Bachelor is a huge strata volcano and offers 360 degree skiing off the summit. On a volcano when you traverse out a couple hundred yards from the lift at the top that equates to over a half mile at the bottom back to the lift. With small spring crowds especially mid week the daily 2-6 inches of snow we got translated to almost unlimited powder turns for my son and I. Only waited in one lift line of more than a minute all week. There always seemed to be another gully or bowl just over the to the outside away from the lift regardless of which side of the volcano you were on. The best storm skiing is off two of the outer most lower lifts the Northwest Quad and the new for this season Cloudchaser. The NW was a bit higher and stepper with great access to a seemingly endless series of bowls and a steeper return cat track that did not require any hiking. We spend almost all our mornings on the NW chair lapping endless powder and awesome trees. The snow pack at the top of the chair is over 40 feet on this aspect so there was not a rock in sight and the small trees were the tops of big trees buried. The Outback Quad was closed except for one day it was too windy to run the NW but you can ski all of its terrain from the NW just with a bit longer run out.
The Cloudchaser section is on the south and east and we hit it typically earlier afternoon for some lower angle trees when our legs were getting tired. Even at 2 in the afternoon you can traverse out a bit and find untracked trees to ski. This is brand new HSQ but its return cat track is a bit uphill of the last quarter mile so it would have been hell for boarders. There are 4 more blue and green lift pods in the middle of the mountain that we usually ignored except to get out or back but they had some nice cruising groomers as well as parks and race training areas.
The Summit is open only when it is not snowing as its above tree line and tends to be windy as well. We got two days with it open during our visit. Its only open on average 25% of the time so that was considered good. The signature run is the bowl that funnels into the crater of the volcano and out a lava flow and it’s a couple thousand feet of sublime pow and wind bluff when its open. They had to blast it every day and it had quite a bit of Avy debris in it to avoid as well. The most memorable runs for me off the summit were when we went out the back gate to the back side. The wind was howling sideways on the line going out and we top usually was wind rime ice but once you found a good gully or bowl you had incredible untouched powder and wind buff. We also encountered some death crust down lower in the trees where it had warned up in the late afternoon western exposure sun one day. It was adventure skiing at its finest. Not perfect snow but a bit of everything and required all of your skills. We loved that experience. My son is now such a strong skier that he was waiting for me instead of the other way around and he was looking for the toughest lines to ski.
Vent holes in snow remind you it's a volcano. Need to look out for these they are all over the lower Mt in the woods.
Bachelor is not the steepest western ski area aka Jackson but it serves up endless terrain with enough black pitch due to its unique lay out particularly when its snowing. We didn’t get any corn but we heard from locals that its round 360 degree aspect make it great for corn skiing as well. If you are looking for a great and low cost spring trip especially if you have a Max pass this is the place to try – bring your powder skis!
"It is better to go skiing and think of God, than go to church and think of sport."
Artic Explorer Fridtjof Nansen
Was hoping for more video! We have talked about going to Bend to ski Bachelor. The snow looks amazing too. Crazy that the summit is only open 25% of the time. Is it more wind or snow that derails the summit opening?