Mt Bachelor is a really excellent ski hill, but strangely we only seem to go there in April. This is not a bad thing, as the spring skiing here is the best in the Pacific Northwest south of Whistler. The snowpack is always deep – a mere 150 inches this year – the weather generally better than mid-winter, and you have most runs to yourself, especially over in the vast Northwest Territories area.
Over 2 weekends and 5 ski days in mid April, we ran the full gamut of conditions, bar a blizzard. A cold, clear day with 5 inches of super-light, air-dried, wind blown pow. Dense fog, a little drizzle and a heavy wet snow storm. Wind and blowing cloud, giving variable visibility. And two days of primo sunny, spring skiing, where you move around this vast volcano, timing descents on runs after the sun has taken away the firmness wrought by the cold overnight air (pics here).
Ripping the groomers off the Northwest chair was superb fun (under 4 minutes for the 780m vertical descent is a fairly hair-raising experience!). Dropping off the back of the Summit, picking untracked lines down the creamy sun-blasted snow, is as good as spring skiing gets. Do it early though, as the (up to) 5km road back to the lift can get a bit gluey by lunchtime. And the short hike from the Summit chair takes you to the seriously steep drops into the crater that always seem to hold excellent snow.
With ‘lift lines’ not a term known to the locals here, it’s easy to rack up plenty of vert without really trying very hard. This is highly effective for working up a thirst and appetite that can sustain you through a night out in Bend’s excellent restaurants and watering holes.
It all makes a rather compelling combination. If the weather holds, we might just get a couple more days at Bachelor this season before it closes mid-May. That would make the $129 Spring Season Pass we bought even more of bargain than it is now!!
Saturday 9400m, Sunday 9200m
Friday 8700m Saturday 11700 Sunday 10500 vert
Season Totals: 51 days, 416,300 vertical metres, 13 powder days