Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 7-8, 2012

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Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 7-8, 2012

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:06 pm

Andrew got a few days break from his California Conservation Corps job in Fortuna near Eureka. I dropped by in January at the start of my 5 week road trip, and my next stop was Mt. Bachelor Jan. 13-14. I never posted a report from that as it was still low tide and mostly groomer skiing, and by the time I had a break to post reports it had snowed 90 inches so the report would have been irrelevant. At any rate Andrew really progressed with snowboarding last spring at Mammoth and expressed interest in a weekend at Bachelor if he got some time in April. That worked out for this weekend. Furthermore Becky won a Burton snowboard at a raffle in Mammoth, so we decided to bring that up for the weekend and get bindings for it at Skjersaa's in Bend (recommended by both Schubwa and my local friend Kirk).

The hope for Bachelor in April as exemplified during the NASJA 2000 meeting is 360 degree corn skiing from the Summit. But as on my April 2007 trip winter was not over yet. Kirk reported powder during the week, and since it was mostly overcast and never got over 20 degrees on Friday it rated to be all winter snow Saturday morning. With clearing weather Saturday getting into the mid-30's I was prepared for a potentially very big day. We did not first load Pine Marten until 9:25, but Becky gave me some trail mix and an energy bar so I would not have to stop for lunch. After 2 warmup cruisers on Pine Marten and Skyliner I headed for the Summit chair. I started with Healy Heights, which is often groomed but was mostly windpacked powder. Cow's Face was a slightly deeper variation, more cream cheese lower down as it gets direct morning sun but easy skiing as there were few tracks yet. Going that far out I ended up at Sunrise, then back up to the only Summit groomer Beverley Hills. Next run was the short bootpack to the Pinnacles.
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While January was the lowest snowpack I've seen at Bachelor, this was the most. There are usually several rock formations below the Pinnacles but nearly all of them were buried this time. Snow was very soft for the several steep turns near the big rocks up high, then more packed in the bowl below.

From the bowl I skied up onto a ridge above the top of Skyliner. View back up at the Cirque Bowl:
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The pitch below me looked like smooth untracked.
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But I got a rude surprise as it was blue ice under maybe an inch of new snow. This area is in the face of Bachelor's NW wind and almost none of March's 12 feet of snow stuck to it after the ice had been formed by a rain/freeze in late February. More evidence of the wind is here at the rime-encrusted top station of the Summit chair.
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Most of the Cirque Bowl is accessible via a short traverse from Summit. The ridge at the skier's right edge of the Cirque Bowl had smooth wind sift. Next time up I checked out the Backside. View SE here:
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There were a few people skiing in that direction, but that's the highest point of the catchline about 800 vertical feet down. This is where the catchline will be lowered considerably when the new chair Schubwa and admin told us about is built. I traversed a bit farther and skied a longer fall line ~1,600 directly south.
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As usual this vast area was deserted despite skiing quite easily in the dense new snow. View up from the same spot.
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The snow got heavier in the direct sun around treeline, in this area about 200-300 feet above the west catchline which runs nearly 3 miles to the base of Northwest.

I checked in with Becky and Andrew at Pine Marten Lodge but did not stay as it was before noon and I was already close to 20K. I skied 3 runs on Northwest, all starting with upper windbuffed bowls that fed into groomed runs about a third of the way down the 2,365 vertical. On the traverse to the farthest West Bowl a dead tree branch snagged my daypack and tore a 4 inch hole in it.

I returned to Summit about 1:30, skied Beverley Hills, the Cirque Bowl windsift and one more hike to a different slot in the Pinnacles. It clouded over some around 2PM but cleared again by 2:30. 4th run off the Summit this time I went farther out Backside. By now it was more cream cheese mode but still good skiing with only a few tracks. The farther west you go you have more trees before the catchline, in this case about 300 vertical lower than my earlier run back there.

I managed 4 more runs on Northwest before it closed at 3:30, upper bowls feeding Spark's Lake, Osprey, Atkeson's Zoom and Kangaroo. The groomers were now sun softened on the lower half of Northwest's vertical but skied beautifully with minimal skier traffic, getting sticky where it flattens near the bottom of the lift. I ended up back at Pine Marten at 3:35, needing 3 runs there to meet my objective. In the interest of speed these were first groomed Thunderbird and Tippytoe. I got on my last Pine Marten at 3:55, stopped for this pic of the Sisters a little after 4PM.
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Mission accomplished!
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This is about my limit unless I confine myself to groomers, which I will rarely do when the snow is as good as this. About 2K of that 50K total was untracked, mostly on the backside runs.

Needless to say my legs were none too lively on Sunday. We met Kirk, his wife Nanci and friends Marliss and Dean shortly after 9AM. Though slightly warmer than Saturday it was thick overcast and quite windy in the morning. Thus we mostly confined ourselves to Pine Marten and Skyliner groomers. One foray to Northwest was still hardpacked on the lower half. Just one pic of our group skiing Thunderbird.
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Before lunch I went up Summit once, despite warnings of high winds. At least it was open, enhancing my lucky track record of being open 17 of the 21 days I've skied Mt. Bachelor. The Summit lift could not run at full speed but the wind was strong only on about the top 1/4 of the lift. Exiting the building took some work with wind in the face and an icy unloading surface. I hiked to the Pinnacles, mostly sheltered except the top. Wind was coming from the east, so I put my skis on farther back than usual as I didn't want them blown over the edge.

We had lunch at the base; then Kirk and Nanci went home and dropped Becky at the hotel. Andrew's conditioning has improved a lot so he was still up for the afternoon. By 1PM Northwest had softened nicely so Andrew spent the whole afternoon there. Andrew in the bowl at the top of Spark's Lake:
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Lower down there were occasional "hidden bowls" in the trees.
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Snow was still good here but Andrew had to work harder in the narrower run. Just below this the trees get closer and snow more sun affected, so we traversed back to the groomer.

I took a short break for 2 Summit runs. The windsift right side of Cirque Bowl was even softer than Saturday with the increased wind. View up to the windsift area, not great with the overcast.
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Next time I traversed around the Backside and skied a windpacked bowl down to the top of Northwest. Then 2 more Northwest groomers; it was good spring snow but my legs were really shot by 3PM. We called it a day when Northwest closed at 3:30. 32,200 vertical for me. Andrew was just over 30K both days, his prior record was 27K way back in 1999 on skis. The new gear helped a lot too. Burton exchanged the raffle prize board for a 162cm Honcho wide, much appreciated since Andrew is 6'3", 220lb and wears a size 13 boot.
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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 7-8, 2012

Postby schubwa » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:07 am

Sorry I missed you, I am in the middle of renovating a rental house that I'm selling soon. My partner in the house lives in Mammoth (we taught on Ski School together) and he came up to help me out.
I heard it was good up there this weekend and your pics prove it. That was some March!
Catch you next time.
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