Mt. Bachelor is more than its local nickname, Mt. Flat-ular. Sure, it doesn’t house the vertical of Jackson or the glitz of Aspen, but there is something undeniable about this place. Here is a local bite of Bachelor.
A quick twenty-minute drive delivers you to Mt. Bachelor. Here the local morning routine is to hike before the first bell. The most accessible local hot spot is the “cone”, tucked on the flank of Mt. Bachelor Resort. The small cinder cone is a quick tour and offers stunning sunrise views across the Cascade Range. From atop the cone you can ski the main pitch into a small glade or slink into the inner cone bowl. On powder mornings the cone is buzzing, becoming a pre-dawn ritual.
The resort itself is 360-degrees of skiable volcano. Although the on-piste skiing is good, this mountain is all about the off-piste. Almost the entirety of the mountain is skiable terrain, partly due to the amount of exposed Upper Mountain available. If the winds at summit drive you down, no problem, the tree line of Lower Mountain offers ample protection and expansive tree skiing. Mt. Bachelor is perhaps the most underrated ski area I have ever been too. It still has an endearing local feeling, paired with something unexplainably wild.
My favorite area is the Northwest Territory. Northwest is an exposed section of the mountain known for its sprawling bowls, tree skiing, and deep stashes. The farther you traverse across the Northwestern bowls, the better it gets, and the longer run you score. Chattering across an occasional bare wind lip you dip into untracked bowls, cascading into a beautifully laced treescape. This is Mt. Bachelor tree skiing at its best. A 360-degree catch-line skirts the mountain, eliminating any fear of getting disoriented. The Northwest Territory offers some of the steepest prolonged pitches on the mountain and arguably the best NW in bounds tree skiing. There is nearly 2,500 ft. of vertical from lift top to base. Outback is the little sister to northwest, offering up a milder version and shorter runs. This lift allows intermediate skiers to explore this section of the mountain, and experience the most spectacular views of the South Sisters. If lines get unruly at Northwest, outback offers a great relief.
Wedging and pizza/french fry more your style? Mt. Bachelor has great beginner terrain. The West Village has the Sunshine Accelerator beginner lift and the main ski school, complete with giant magic carpet. On the other side of the mountain Sunrise Lodge has the Carousal chair (free of charge!) as well as a secondary ski school. Lessons and rentals take place at both locations. If you are skiing with some little rippers look for the wildly popular Dilly Dally Alley along Marshmallow. This zippy tree roller coaster gets five stars from the local four year olds. Also search for the bear cave tucked between Rainbow Chair and Sunrise. This old lava tube is worth the short exploration. Mt. Bachelor truly is a family mountain, friendly and family oriented to its core.
If you are a park rider looking to take park laps look no further than Skyliner lift. The fully loaded park is progressively built throughout the season and the park crew does an outstanding job. In addition, sunrise has a small feature park, Shortsands. On busy days parking at the base of Skyliner and hoping in the lift line will save you from the busy west side of the mountain. If you do park at West Village you will find yourself at Pine Martin Express, housing the most variety on the mountain. One local trick is to cut high around the upper Pine Martin lodge and duck into a small set of wind lips know as the “Triple Nipple”.
Summit lift offers an entirely different experience, with incredible vistas of Broken Top and the Three Sisters. Once on top of Mt. Bachelor you can ski off in any direction, no limitations. The backside, marked with a red “experts only” sign is etched with small spins, bowls, and crumholt forests. Look for the infamous wall of voodoo feature. On a clear day you get amazing views towards the cascade lake range and the tower of Mt. Thielson. If you hike to the actual summit point you can access the terrain above Northwest, the cornice (big drop!), and the Pinnacles (a number of large rock outcroppings). You can also drop into the main cirque bowl. This is the “expert” section of Mt. Bachelor.
The wonderful thing about this mountain is that it offers lots of secret surf spots, with natural wind lips scouring the lands. One of my favorite zones sits under Red Chair lift (yes, the beer is named after it). Even with the heaviest of traffic there are always stashes to be found. In terms of snow there are foggy days, but when Bachelor is great, it’s really great. There are champagne powder days where there isn’t another person in sight. That’s the type of thing that could only happen in Oregon.
One of the unique things about this resort is that it has no base village or accommodations. And to be honest I find this part of the appeal. It somehow still feels wild. Although there is a limited après ski scene on mountain, downtown Bend keeps things going. Once back in town head to the bonfire at 10barrel or Stile whiskey bar. To cap off the night and treat those muscles head to McMinimins Turkish bath soaking pools.
Although I always feel the pull of the Canadian Rockies and make seasonal pilgrimages to Jackson and Tahoe, something about this place pulls me back. Perhaps it is the underrated vibe, which the locals promote, or maybe it’s the cascades themselves. One thing is certain, you won’t be disappointed.
… And if you want any more secrets you’ll just have to come see for yourself!