Every year we try to take a snowboarding trip out west. Last year we were determined to use our M.A.X. pass so Mt Bachelor ended up on our radar. We picked out a VRBO, chose our week, checked flight prices, and then we waited. And we waited. And we waited. As November turned to December then January, there was no snow falling in most of the west. New England was looking pretty good, so we decided to spend the week at Sugarloaf instead.
After a couple of early February storms in VT, things came to a screeching halt. The weather warmed up, the rain moved in, and the mountains started to melt. We started to panic. Sugarloaf was looking really weak and there was little hope, short of a miracle, that Brackett Basin would be open by the end of the month. So, we decided to hit VT. We still had days left on our pass for Killington and Okemo. We picked a place in between and planned to spend the week. The day we were supposed to leave there was a snow, rain, ice storm and we decided to hang back one day to see how things played out.
Mark fleetingly said that it wasn’t too late to go west. And it just so happened there was a blizzard occurring at Mt. Bachelor at that very minute. There was a flight to Portland the next afternoon. The VRBO we had our eye on was even still available. We booked it and set to packing. Twenty-four hours after the idea struck, we were on a plane.
After a very long day’s travel, we holed up in a slightly sketchy hotel near the airport where we washed off the filth of the airports and airplanes, closed our eyes for a couple of hours, and then we set off for Mt Bachelor in the morning. In addition to Sunday’s blizzard there was snow in the forecast for the rest of the week. Things were looking really good. We made it there by 10 and set off to get the lay of the land. We rode the lift with a local who gave us an ace tip to check out the freshly opened Northwest Express lift and all of its bowls and trees.
Northwest was closed on Monday so it didn’t get ravaged by the record-setting crowds that came out for the bluebird powder day. Tuesday saw no crowds. So we had the place practically to ourselves. The deep snow, steep-ish terrain, and many large trees proved to be formidable for me. I took my time picking my way through, staying as clear of trees as possible, and falling approximately every 10 feet. With limited cell coverage in the trees I affectionately named Pickle Trees after the pickle I got myself into, Mark was waiting at the lift wondering if he should get Ski Patrol and go search for me.
I made it out exhausted and defeated but also exhilarated because I just did that! We spent the rest of the morning out there, and in the afternoon we went our separate ways, which unbeknownst to us, actually ended up being the same way.
Snowboarding at Mt Bachelor is unique in that you can ride on all sides of it. There is a cat track that runs around much of it so you can’t possibly end up out of bounds accidentally.
Tuesday was the only day of our stay that the summit was open. We didn’t realize what a rare opportunity riding from the summit was, and we missed out. But we got plenty of good stuff. The main trails are fine, but it’s what lies just off the trails that is the most fun. The mountain is wide open and you can go pretty much anywhere. You can pop in and out of trees, take really really long tree runs, stay on groomers, slash up the bowls, ride groomers, or just search for stashes in all of the nooks and crannies. The entire mountain is your canvas. Go paint the town.
With some snow every day except Tuesday, everything was pretty awesome, except for the visibility…that kind of sucked. But you can’t have it all. We spent the first three days over in that NW area and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
On Thursday night Mark watched a video of some guys riding Cloud Chaser- a new lift on the East side of the mountain. The terrain looked uncrowded, roly, and like tons of fun. It’s not very steep so you need to be careful where you go, but that didn’t keep us out of the trees. There was definitely some hiking involved and it was a bit on the exhausting side, but the snow was so amazing, soft, beautiful, and quiet (except for Mark yelling for me which I couldn’t hear over my exhausted heavy breathing).
We did a few laps over there and found plenty of fresh snow, especially in the bowls at the top.
We were both pretty toasted from 3.5 days of nice deep snow, but it was too good to want to leave. We made our way back toward the lodge playing all along the way. There were more great tree runs not far at all from the main base. And there were still plenty of fresh stashes along the way. The runs there are long, not like most of what we have in the east. By the time we got most of the way back to the base our legs were shot and it was all I could do to stand upright. The mind and the heart wanted to continue. The legs wouldn’t allow. So we packed it in for the ride back to Portland for our zero dark thirty flight the next morning.
When you travel to Mt. Bachelor Bend is the place to stay. It’s a great town with plenty of restaurants, shops, breweries, and stuff to keep you busy. It’s easy to get around and it is easy to get to the mountain from the town. I highly recommend snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor if you can get some fresh. This last minute trip turned out to be a top 3 trip for us for sure. Sometimes it pays to be patient…especially when you’re chasing snow. We couldn’t have planned it any better!