Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

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Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu May 03, 2018 3:08 pm

Icelandair does not fly to California so the western options are Seattle, Portland and Denver. In early April 2015 we opted for Seattle and Whistler. This time Portland was an easy call for Mt. Bachelor’s last weekend of full operating hours and 90+% of terrain. That would be weather permitting of course, which it never did completely over these 4 days. Larry Schick was much luckier the prior weekend: http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/northwest/post/11620 . He had the same ideal 360 degree corn that we enjoyed when I skied 96K vertical over the last 3 days of the NASJA 2000 meeting.

The middle of the ensuing week was hot, 85F in Bend and Portland with no overnight freeze on the mountain. We landed from Iceland in balmy Portland 6PM, got to bed a bit after 9PM. To no surprise we woke up early Friday, got on the road at 6:30 and made it to Mt. Bachelor about 10AM. It was still warm, 45F or so, but it was partly cloudy and obvious that the predicted weather would arrive soon, as we had seen driving through fog and drizzle near Mt. Hood.

So we headed immediately for Summit, first taking a warmup groomer on Healy Heights. Next run I pushed farther east that I had ever gone from Summit due to the new Cloudchaser chair (built 2 years ago) providing a new exit trail from that side. View east overlooking a cinder cone:
IMG_5525.JPG


Skiing the alpine and subalpine bowls:
IMG_5526.JPG

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Snow despite no overnight freeze was decent up high but progressively heavier as we got lower. We crossed the Sunrise Getback, but with snow getting heavier decided to follow some traverse tracks skier’s left. This was a good idea as we eventually emerged on to the East Catchline at Sign 25 with half of that trail still to go. The East Catchline is much flatter than the West Catchline to the Northwest chair. Thus there were several sections where we had to skate or sidestep up before we reached Cloudchaser. In spring conditions it’s probably best to bail out at the better graded Sunrise Getback when skiing east off the Summit. On powder days the Low East would provide vast acreage of mellow untracked snow, so in that scenario it might be worth it to continue on to the East Catchline.

By the time we got back to Summit it had closed for wind and visibility. We moved on to Skyliner, viewed here with Summit rising into the cloud in the background.
IMG_5531.JPG


While riding Skyliner it began to rain. We moved to Northwest as I knew we would not be skiing much longer. The Kangaroo and Sparks Lake groomers had decent corn in their midsections and only got sticky near the bottom. After one lap our gloves were getting saturated, so I changed gloves but Liz had to quit as she didn’t have an extra pair on her. After one more run I too bailed at 1:30PM after 16,200 vertical.

On Saturday driving up from Bend the east side of the mountain was in sun while the west side remained cloudy. Only the snow at the top of Pine Marten was hard frozen, so we skied 4 runs there, some not where I intended due to thick fog at the top of the lift. About 11:30 we moved into the sun on Cloudchaser.
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Everything was soft there, and a couple of runs had just enough skier traffic to generate snow clumps. We explored some and found quiet trails with smoother corn.
IMG_5536.JPG


Around 1PM we moved through Skyliner and went into the West Village for lunch. By the time we were done it was snowing and blowing hard. We decided to pass on the likely dust on crust conditions and save our energy for the next two days, having skied 17,200 vertical.

We drove into Bend and visited a couple of ski shops to research Liz replacing her powder skis. This time she will get plate touring bindings since that’s what some of the Euro guides want you to have for off piste skiing. It rained intermittently in Bend Saturday afternoon and hard during dinner, so we thought we might get some powder the next day.

We were surprised that Mt. Bachelor reported less than an inch new snow Sunday despite the rain in Bend Saturday. Driving to the mountain here’s the view Sunday morning:
IMG_5537.JPG


Wind and the new snow had smoothed surfaces some, so we tested Shorty’s, an ungroomed run near the Red chair.
IMG_5542.JPG

The upper part was decent but you could feel a lot of hard subsurface lower down.

So we moved to Cloudchaser, already soft in the morning sun. With new snow mixed in and arriving earlier than Saturday the corn was excellent. We skied 7 runs there including a couple of upper ungroomed sections.

As on Saturday we skied a couple of runs on Skyliner, then went into lunch about 1:15. We came out at 2PM and headed for Northwest. I decided to try ungroomed Boomerang on the way and was pleasantly surprised to find it smooth with few new tracks.
IMG_5550.JPG


After riding the lift we got a break in the clouds and could see all the way down the 2,400 vertical Northwest lift.
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I pushed skier’s left into the West Bowls to find less tracked snow.
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Liz skiing alpine and subalpine bowls lower down.
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You’re in the trees completely about 1,000 vertical down Northwest but they are well spaced. Skier packed openings skied well for another 500 vertical and then we traversed right, eventually reaching the Sparks Lake trail, which had excellent corn to the base.

We offloaded Northwest at 3:20 so only had one more run. We skied Sparks Lake Bowl near the lift.
IMG_5561.JPG

IMG_5563.JPG

This flows into the top of the trail with smooth corn where we had just skied the lower part. On our only full day of skiing we skied 26,000 vertical.

On Monday we were flying out of Portland at 5:25PM so the obvious choice was to ski Mt. Hood to be closer to the airport. But the unsettled weather continued and Timberline’s Palmer lift (which I have tried to ski but has not been open on 3 prior trips) was listed on weather hold. To our surprise the weather cams at Bachelor showed chairs loaded and in motion on Summit, so we drove up there for a 4th day.

We saw the Summit chairs moving on the drive too, but when we unloaded Pine Marten it was completely overcast and the fog was right above us. So we skied a few groomers on Pine Marten and Skyliner. These were well groomed but hard packed as there had been a firmer overnight freeze.

With a cloud layer rising slightly, we checked out Summit about 10:45 and were pleasantly surprised to see it open. The top was still in fog so we tested groomed Beverley Hills, which skied better than the lower groomers due to mixed in new snow and windsift. On the second Summit run I pushed east into East Healy, good visibility but most of the snow was windswept coral with small patches of windsift.

My final two runs skier’s left of the lift found better snow despite more challenging visibility. The Tube was well defined by shrubbery poking above the snow, and the lower liftline of Summit was tilted east and smooth windsift. I directed Liz there for her last run. Meanwhile I traversed into the Pinnacles where snow was firm but smooth and dropped into Cirque, where it was all windsift. Fog was thick in there but fortunately there were scattered volcanic rock outcroppings to provide some orientation.

By now it was past noon, so we had to get on the road for the drive to PDX after 15,500 vertical. We flew Southwest home to Burbank via Oakland. Our ski bags did not make the transfer, but by the time we determined that, the next flight was about to land and it had our bags.

Mt. Bachelor has improved many aspects of spring skiing that were rolled back in the early days of Powdr Corp a decade ago.
1) The new Cloudchaser lift and full operating hours now extend through last weekend of April.
2) Northwest runs a couple of weekends in May, allowing the backside access that Larry got a week before us
3) According to our friends Kirk and Nanci in Bend, Powdr Corp sold off 5 of its 7 groomers when they took over. But now they have 4 or 5 groomers and both Larry and I think the spring grooming this year was very good.

What still needs improvement:
1) The closing hour was cut back to 1:30PM on April 30. We had to leave anyway, but since groomers didn’t soften until 11:30 that wasn’t great for the skiers who remained. The late afternoon is often the best skiing on Northwest, and this is not the first time I’ve been at Bachelor in spring and had winter weather. Mammoth adjusts spring operating hours by the state of the snow not the calendar and Bachelor should do likewise.
2) Bachelor should have camps in June and run to July 4 in most seasons, as demonstrated in this graph for the years between Summit’s construction in 1983 and Powdr’s purchase in 2001.
mtbachelor_closings.jpg

In 2012 there were camps in June but the public was not allowed to ski during the camps, only for the closing weekend when Patrick and I were there. Mammoth does not have a problem with camps and public coexistence, even though its snow usually melts out faster than Bachelor’s.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat May 05, 2018 11:38 am

2017-18 is probably a season when Mt. Bachelor might not be able to schedule camps and run all the way through June. Their season had only 67% of normal snowfall as of February 14 and is at 81% now. Current coverage with a 65-95 inch base is fine, and it looks like Bachelor is back in corn mode this weekend. Nonetheless I've been up there in several other springs and usually the base is much deeper. The lower base this season probably helped me on those last foggy Summit runs, as I've been up there many times when nearly all of the rock spines and shrubbery have been completely buried.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby tseeb » Wed May 09, 2018 9:06 am

Larry Schick was very lucky if 4/22 was the only day he skied. "Larry Schick was much luckier the prior weekend: http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/northwest/post/11620 ." Summit was down on Sat 4/21 (when I skied there), ran on Sun 4/22, then was down again on Mon 4/23.

I'll have to keep trying to catch it open, either by attending TGR movie this fall where they have been giving out a buy one day, get next day free or by getting a Spring Pass next year and hanging out in the RV lot for a few days which looked (and smelled) like a fun place.

It sounds like you appreciated Cloudchaser more than I have as I thought a lot of it is too flat and also not as out of the wind as they hoped. I never got to ski into it from Summit, but did get far enough out skiing untracked to find the "sections where we had to skate or sidestep up before we reached Cloudchaser." See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12326 for details.
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed May 09, 2018 11:55 am

Yes Cloudchaser is mostly low intermediate pitch, but it had the best corn morning and midday on Saturday/Sunday, so that's why we spent so much time there. On corn days with Summit open, morning laps to the Sunrise Getback should be excellent and will have longer fall lines than before when you had to bail out above tree line to return to Summit directly.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby sierra_cement » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:53 pm

Tony, I re-read some of the content on Mount Bachelor, and I think that might be an even better area for my family for Xmas (if we don't go to Europe this Xmas).

You have noted that there are plenty of groomers at Bachelor with a consistent slope. That would be perfect for me. BTW, I was able to do a groomed black run at Northstar this weekend without being nervous. They have a high-speed lift for beginners as well.

The lower elevation in Bend means no trouble sleeping or exercising. Bend is an 8-hour drive from Bay Area. It's more than I'd like but doable. I could fly to PDX on Southwest but it's still a 3-hour drive from PDX so we won't be saving much time by flying. Do you need AWD? We would like to drive our Model 3 there. Find some charging in town. We might not drive if there is a lot of snow on the roads. It's nice they have a shuttle.

Mt.B is not on any multi-mountain or reciprocal season passes. Their own season pass is not cheap ($959) so I think the crowd risk is low. They do sell 30-day pass for $609 throughout the year so we don't even have to commit in advance.

Their lessons are pricier but you can't get everything. Overall Bachelor seems like a great fit for beginner-intermediate Xmas family trip.
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:30 pm

Yes Bachelor is a good Christmas fit for sierra_cement and family. Early season track record is good and Bend is not as busy or expensive as most destination resorts over the holidays.

Bend has a Tesla Supercharger so that’s good for your Model 3. If it takes 8 hours of continuous driving in a gas car it will take about 10 in a Tesla with 3 Supercharger stops along the way. Most people (I know, not Tseeb) would take a break on a drive that long anyway.

Most of the time you would not need AWD. Is your Model 3 RWD?
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby sierra_cement » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:31 am

Yes. My Model 3 is RWD. We will probably split the drive to Bend in two days. My winter driving experience is fairly limited. I found the drive from DIA to Beaver Creek quite tough when it was snowing.

It looks like the beginner terrain is plentiful similar to Beaver Creek, though not at top of mountain. Sunrise Accelerator, Rainbow, Sunrise express have good progression in vertical (257, 597, 808). I think the Haymeadow express at Beaver Creek is around 1000', gondola is 300', and another slow chair is around 200'.
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby sierra_cement » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:51 am

For whatever reason (maybe lodging), Mt. Bachelor does not show up on Zrankings beginner or family list.

https://www.zrankings.com/best-ski-resorts-for-families
https://www.zrankings.com/articles/best ... ers-top-10

I have now visited the top four on the family list and I'm afraid to say, only Beaver Creek was good for families. Other locations are so crowded that they are in fact terrible for beginners/families IMHO.
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:43 pm

Zranking’s creator as far as I know is single and in his 30’s. I don’t think he has much direct experience with what families want in a ski resort.

His original top 5 family list was awful and I persuaded him to take it down. The new one is better but glaringly omits two outstanding areas that meet all of his criteria: Big White and Sun Peaks. Perhaps sierra_cement should look into those sometime. But probably neither he or any of his close associates have been to those areas. I’m sure the reason Bachelor is not on the family list is that there is no lodging at the mountain so a 45 minute round trip commute from Bend or Sunriver is necessary each ski day.

I think it’s a tough job to rate family ski areas. If you want the convenience and amenities Zrankings values it tends to be expensive. But it stands to reason that many families with small children have constrained budgets. Bachelor is a good example where by giving up the onsite convenience, the cost is attractive and most other attributes of a good family area are present.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby sierra_cement » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:43 pm

yeah, Zrankings content is not written for people who are budget constrained. Only the 1% can afford to stay in ski in ski out lodging at the list of places on the Zrankings list. I had to take a shuttle at Beaver Creek as well so I wouldn't mind taking the shuttle at Bachelor. People like me are probably not their customer segment since it looks like they make money by planning ski vacations. I think their family list should be described as a list of ski areas that rich, expert skiers can tolerate if going with a family.

I found your website after reading a few things on Zrankings. While they have some interesting write ups, I was able to connect the dots regarding snow and geographical variables only after reading your SNOW18 document. It was really informative for a beginner compared to all the top 10 type articles, which sound like they are written by the marketing departments of the resorts themselves. I have bought a couple of books regarding skiing and they hardly have any insightful content about choosing ski areas. Your first hand experiences and analytical thinking and willingness to share it with others is a great gift to this sport. Otherwise people like me would keep making the mistake of going to the wrong place over and over by taking advice of people who either are not acting my best interest or don't have the knowledge. I think you have posted enough content here and on your website that can be compiled into a nice book.

Vail and Zrankings have fooled me once. I won't be fooled again. Vail has left a bad taste in my mouth like when you fly a low cost airline and pay a lot for other things.
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:00 pm

Zrankings creator is an IT guy and avid skier. He probably created Zankings as a labor of love as I did with bestsnow.net, but he has programming and web design skills. I have no idea if Zrankings is profitable. I do know that his annual Forbes Top 10 feature has huge readership though.

I know the criteria that influence his PAF rating, but nothing about the actual algorithm other the snow part I did for him. I believe the components of PAF are well thought out. The problem with any ski area rating system is that the relative importance of specific factors varies from person to person. The SKI Magazine ratings are conspicuously flawed in this regard and in an opposite manner to Zrankings. Zrankings is oriented first toward expert skiers and secondarily to convenience and amenities. The SKI Magazine rankings equal weight about 15 factors, at least half of which have nothing to do with actual skiing.

I have my own prejudices about what's important in skiing, and anyone who has been on ski forums over the past decade knows that I get into heated controversies from time to time.

I do remember what it's like as a beginner because I did not start until age 23 or become competent until age 26. I also had a stretch between ages 31 and 43 where my skiing was constrained by limited vacation time and family obligations, so averaged only 24 days/season. I'm aware that my current retirement lifestyle is far from the norm in terms of both cost and quantity of skiing.

I thought Vail's pricing model of cheap season passes and expensive everything else was well known. What were the costs that were unexpected?
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
 
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:11 am

Tony Crocker wrote:The problem with any ski area rating system is that the relative importance of specific factors varies from person to person. (...) I have my own prejudices about what's important in skiing, and anyone who has been on ski forums over the past decade knows that I get into heated controversies from time to time.

Really? I hadn't noticed. :-#
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Re: Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 27-30, 2018

Postby sierra_cement » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:27 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Zrankings creator is an IT guy and avid skier. He probably created Zankings as a labor of love as I did with bestsnow.net, but he has programming and web design skills. I have no idea if Zrankings is profitable. I do know that his annual Forbes Top 10 feature has huge readership though.


Zrankings content was free for me. Sorry, I should not be complaining about it. I do love some of the write ups he has. It's good to know what perspective he has.

Tony Crocker wrote:I know the criteria that influence his PAF rating, but nothing about the actual algorithm other the snow part I did for him. I believe the components of PAF are well thought out. The problem with any ski area rating system is that the relative importance of specific factors varies from person to person. The SKI Magazine ratings are conspicuously flawed in this regard and in an opposite manner to Zrankings. Zrankings is oriented first toward expert skiers and secondarily to convenience and amenities. The SKI Magazine rankings equal weight about 15 factors, at least half of which have nothing to do with actual skiing.

I have my own prejudices about what's important in skiing, and anyone who has been on ski forums over the past decade knows that I get into heated controversies from time to time.


Yes. I think it would help if areas were tagged. Good for these type of people (beginners, intermediates, experts) and not good for these types of people (budget conscious, avoiding weekend crowds, seeking lessons).

Tony Crocker wrote:
I do remember what it's like as a beginner because I did not start until age 23 or become competent until age 26. I also had a stretch between ages 31 and 43 where my skiing was constrained by limited vacation time and family obligations, so averaged only 24 days/season. I'm aware that my current retirement lifestyle is far from the norm in terms of both cost and quantity of skiing.


You have so many ski days at different areas. That experience helps you compare and contrast. Not many people can do that.
Even 24 days would be a pretty big season for me if I can do that for next 10 years. The weekend drive to Tahoe is long. One year I'm going to check out Bear Valley and Dodge Ridge and see if those places are good for weekend trips.


Tony Crocker wrote:
I thought Vail's pricing model of cheap season passes and expensive everything else was well known. What were the costs that were unexpected?

It is well known to people who ski regularly. I wasn't in that category last year. I know it now but didn't know it last year when I bought the pass in March. It was a hasty decision as they were offering to roll the cost of 1 day ticket into season pass. I think Heavenly ticket was $130 something. It was not a very crowded April day. I had been to Sierra at Tahoe earlier in that season on a $75 ticket and it was very crowded. Their pass is $300 something vs. 900 for Epic. So I through low cost -> high crowds. I understand that causal relationship does not hold. It's a combo of a lot of things, many of which I don't understand yet. Certainly being away from a population center helps but is not necessary. E.g. Beaver Creek crowds during holidays were significantly lower than a regular weekend at Northstar and Park City. Only the full epic pass allows skiing at these places during holidays, so you are not really paying anything extra to ski at Beaver Creek.
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