Mt. Bachelor, OR, April 17-18, 2021

Tony Crocker

Staff member
I’ve taken Liz twice before to Mt. Bachelor in spring, Mother’s Day weekend 2014 and end of April 2018. Those were both bad Sierra seasons and booked by air well in advance. In both cases weather was more winter than spring with Summit open only 3 out of 7 days. Mother’s Day 2014 was a decent powder day with Summit open but Northwest was closed for a mechanical failure.

This time I drove, watching OpenSnow weather forecasts for clear and calm weather. With a clear week forecast ahead on Monday, Liz booked to fly in from Florida Friday afternoon. While OpenSnow has forecast Mammoth wind decently over the past couple of weeks, it consistently underestimated Bachelor’s wind last week. Wind closed Summit all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Fortunately the wind abated Saturday morning as both the ski area and OpenSnow predicted. The Friday overnight freeze was hard, so we got on the mountain about 9:45 with this view from the top of Pine Marten.

I found this topo map of Mt. Bachelor which also has more named routes than the standard trail map.

We immediately took a warmup run east to Sunrise, then rode Summit and skied the most east facing groomer Wanoga Way all 3,000 vertical feet to Cloudchaser. We took two laps near the Cloudchaser lift as everything down there was already soft. Returning to Summit we skied Healy Heights and tested the ungroomed between there and Wanoga. At 11AM we still needed an East tilt similar to Wanoga for corn snow.

Summit’s lift line built up some so we skied The Point and the Skyliner liftline before returning to Summit.

Exiting the lift we looked over the backside.

Mt. Bailey (where Adam and I snowcat skied in April 2000) and pointy Mt. Thielsen were identifiable on the horizon. Farther left on the horizon is a hazy white blob that is likely Mt. Shasta 180 miles distant.

When we saw a couple of people drop in smoothly we knew the backside was ready to rip. We skied directly south, probably Curly to Surfer Bowl.


The extreme low skier density back here is what allows the smooth corn to set up so nicely, unique in my lift served experience. With the hard overnight freeze the 3.5 mile exit trail to Northwest skied easily all day, never getting sticky or even requiring poles to maintain momentum on the uphill side of rollers.

View up from top of Northwest:

This area takes the full force of direct wind, forms a lot of sastrugi and takes sustained warm weather to soften and smooth out. Patrick and I skied that a couple of times in late June 2012.

We returned to Summit and started our second backside lap at 1:15. We traversed a short distance west to Upper Plains and skied due south from there into Smokey Bowl.




Coming back up Liz took a break at Pine Marten Lodge while I rode Summit again and took the 5 minute bootpack to the Pinnacles.

That hike is much easier in my new lighter Lange XT3 boots with a walk mode.

Only the top 300 feet or so in the Pinnacles are steep enough to have some chalky winter snow.

However it wasn’t entirely smooth due to wind effect and once I hit some hard snow and rocketed across that slope, Hourglass, above where the group of 5 skiers is in the picture above.

My 2:30 timing was just right for corn in the Cirque Bowl below.

All morning riding Summit we could see skiers hugging the skier’s left wall which has an east tilt, obviously avoiding then hard snow below. Through that notch in the picture is Moraine, which had heavy snow due to skier traffic funneling there.

Liz and I regrouped and headed up Summit for our last backside run close to 3PM. So now we needed to traverse farther west for optimal corn. High on the traverse we encountered some sastrugi but dropping in we soon cruising the corn again.

On this run I noticed patches of silver snow.

It looks like ice or puddles but it’s not. I read of this rare phenomenon in April 1982, coincidentally within weeks of the other time I saw this snow on chair 9 at Mammoth. A Google search was not successful in finding a reference to silver snow, so perhaps the term is obsolete now.

I skied one Northwest run on Osprey, then Thunderbird back to the West Village base to finish with 32,300 vertical.

On Sunday we got on the hill close to opening bell to meet Glenn Pacifico, whom Tseeb had met in Jackson in 2014 and later skied with him at Bachelor. Temperatures in the 40’s were similar to Saturday, but the overnight freeze was shorter so snow softened about an hour earlier. Glenn had a run on Beverley Hills before we arrived which looked good Sunday but would have been quite firm that early on Saturday.

We skied Wanoga Way to White Bark on Cloudchaser then returned to Summit for Healy Heights and Beverley Hills. After lower runs on Corkscrew and Old Skyliner we returned to Summit, reaching the top about 11:30.

As it was an hour earlier we dropped in skied slightly SE into Larry Valley and Moe. This was a rare occasion that there were some other people skiing the same line we were.

This is about as far east as you can be and still take the exit road to Northwest after about 1,600 vertical.

The east catchline to Cloudchaser has a lot of flat spots. If you ski ungroomed farther east it’s wisest to bail out when you hit the more gravity friendly Sunrise Getback.

Our second backside lap was in the same Upper Plains area as on Saturday.

A couple of other people are about to drop in far above.

Lower down on Smokey Bowl:

Liz and I are at top of Northwest with Sparks Lake, South and Middle Sisters and Broken Top in background.

Our final backside run of the trip was farther west, probably Long Bowl, where we reached the exit road at marker 19B. Liz here with cinder cone SE of Bachelor in background.


Glenn follows, and we have this wide open perfect corn line all to ourselves.


Lower down we reach some scattered trees.



The farther west you go, the longer the fall line to the exit road, about 2,000 vertical in this case. In spring you want to avoid denser trees because the snow melts irregularly and does not have a smooth surface. On the third run Saturday, Liz and I had to maneuver through a few tighter trees, but with Glenn’s assistance we have a very clean line to the road Sunday.

Liz called it a day while Glenn and I skied Snapshot, Devil’s Backbone and West Bowl on Northwest. I finished with exactly 30K vertical. I have only skied 30+K on consecutive days 3x before and to little surprise two of those were also at Mt. Bachelor.

Liz missed the late March Mammoth trip as her knee arthritis was acting up and she was in Florida during the first half of April. So she was doing well to ski 49K over this weekend and more importantly to experience firsthand 6 runs in Bachelor’s backside corn, comparable in quality to my first spring trip there with NASJA in April 2000.
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In spite of its lack of steeps, I've always like Bachelor a lot. I need to get back there sooner than later I guess.