Bachelor Degrees

A new lift at Mt. Bachelor makes 360-degree skiing better than ever

Bachelor Degrees

A new lift at Mt. Bachelor makes 360-degree skiing better than ever

Mount Bachelor by the Numbers

Snowfall: 462 inches
Acreage: 4,318
Vert: 3,365 feet
Trails: 96
Lifts: 13
BC Gates: 1
Parks: 5
Slope Aspects: 360º skiing

Stand atop Mt. Bachelor on a crystalline winter day and you enter a world typically reserved for ski mountaineers. The lonesome Oregon Cascades stretch across the horizon from Hood to Diamond, while an endless carpet of hemlock and spruce rages along the bottomlands. Up there above the trees—9,065 feet high on a wild volcano— a full circle of gravity tugs at your tips. North, south, east, west: it’s choose-your-own-adventure time. The only thing better than dropping into that big sphere of stoke is knowing there are plenty of lifts to guide you back up.

That’s never been truer than this season thanks to the installation of a new lift that opens 635 more acres of new terrain on the mountain’s lower southeast face. Indeed, when the $6 million, 6,500-foot-long Cloudchaser quad spins to life in time for the Christmas holiday, Bachelor will boast a whopping 4,318 acres of terrain. Overnight it’ll become the fifth largest ski area in the country. On that day a full 3,365 vertical feet of wide-open bowls, blown-in lava gullies, glades and groomers will await on one of the volcano’s least visited faces. No more cat tracks to get you back.

The name of the lift explains the magic, though “cloud tamer” would have worked, too. Storms typically lash the peak from the northwest with a ferocity that keeps the people skiing through May with 462 inches of annual snowfall and one of the most reliable seasons in the nation. The mayhem then wraps around the mountain in a reluctant hug. By the time the storm hits the chair on the leeward southeast side, its Pacific fueled fury has mellowed into a calmer, drier dump. The storm-cycle skiing back there can be so good it’s almost cheating. A bad year here means “only” an eight-foot base.

Make no mistake, though: This Bachelor can’t be tamed. The mountain sits surrounded by 2,495 square miles of the piney Deschutes National Forest, a Delaware-size swath of raw northwest. You can slash the peak’s wind lips, boost over its pumice drops and blast around old-growth ghosts all thanks to no one but nature. The terrain parks—there are seven—are world class. At the base you’ll fi nd no condos or faux facades in a village pretending to be something it is not. A Bloody Mary on the expanded deck at the Clearing Rock bar goes down well but if you want a cookie in the lift line, sorry, pal, you’ll have to bring your own. Still, good luck shoveling that in through your pow-caked face.

Yeah, that lack of lodging irks some folks, but not the ones who matter. When the day is done you have real people in a real town to mingle amongst. Bend sits 20 miles away with 16 breweries, taco trucks and live music at joints that locals actually like. There’s beer and curling and Thursday night hockey. The next day you can switch it up with backcountry lines in the backside bowl off Tumalo Mountain or glide on cross country skis to warming huts on the free trails at Virginia Meisner Sno-Park. Come spring you can reap the corn on Cow’s Face, then mountain bike 300 miles of singletrack at Phil’s or slay a rainbow with a fly on the Deschutes River. The choice is up to you and
the juice you have left in your legs.

Yet all of that seems to fade when you stand on that summit on a gorgeous Oregon day. Do you rail right under the Summit Chair or pop off the back for the glades of Northwest? Take a picture. Lower your shades. Pick a cardinal point. Dropping in is just the start.

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