Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Skiin' the Bachelor

I love Mt. Bachelor.  It's my most favorite place to ski in Oregon.  And, lucky for me, my brother Dale happens to live in Bend AND he loves to ski as much as I do.  It works out great - when I want to ski Bachelor, I've got a place to stay and a great skiing partner.  So every winter, I try to get over to Bend as much as I can.

Dale bundling up in the parking lot

My schedule was open the weekend after President's Day, so on Friday, I loaded up my Subie, and headed over the Cascades.  The mountains had been getting dumps of snow all week, so Saturday held lots of promise for good skiing.

Bluebird day on Mt. Bachelor!

The weatherman was forecasting a sunny day on Saturday.  But there was one hitch - clear skies meant cold temperatures.  REALLY cold temperatures!  Like lows below zero.  Brrrr!!  I was not ready for it to be so cold.

The cone, all carved up

But I'd traveled to Bend to ski, and a little cold weather was not going to stop me.  On the way to the mountain Saturday morning, Dale and I stopped at a local ski shop and I picked up a face mask and some toe warmers.   Later that day, I realized this was the best decision I'd made.  Money well spent!

The view of the cone and the Three Sisters from above

When it's really cold, I have a problem keeping my feet warm in my alpine ski boots.  Then, last Thursday, one of the ladies on my ski bus turned me on to toe warmers.  My alpine ski boots fit really tight, and I didn't have room under my feet to stick the adhesive toe warmers.  But I was told to stick the toe warmers on top of each foot.  I'd tried it last Thursday and my boots fit fine and my toes stayed toasty.  No cold feet all day!  (Thanks to Judy for such great advice!)

Broken Top close-up

When Dale and I reached Mt. Bachelor's parking lot, the temp was hovering right around zero.   We bundled up tight, and stuck a toe warmer on the top of each sock before jamming our feet into ski boots.

White plaster trees
Even though it was cold, the scenery was absolutely beautiful.  The sky was clear and deep blue.  The snow sparkled and gleamed white.  The mountains looked like craggy peaks of whipped cream.  There was no way I was skiing without my camera today!

Dale overlooking Sparks Lake

So this blog post is going to be a bunch of boring photos of mountains, snow-crusted trees, more mountains, and sunny skies.  Ho-hum!

There's no place I'd rather be right now!
 Even though Mt. Bachelor didn't get any new snow overnight, Friday's snow was still soft and powdery.  That's the good thing about cold temps - it preserves the snow.  And many of the runs were nicely groomed - lots of fun to race down.

Lift ride with a view

Dale and headed over to the Outback lift.  I love skiing the Outback.  Lots of nice, long runs and killer views of Sparks Lake, Broken top Mountain, and the Three Sisters.  The lift ride back up is truly scenic.

Ridin' towards the sun
The trails were all lined with white, snow-spackled trees.  The sunshine glinted off the white cream coating, making them sparkle brilliantly.

Lots of ice-crusted trees
At the top of the lift, the snow coating on the trees turned to an icy crust.  Even more beautiful!

Northwest sunburst
Then Dale and I headed over to the Northwest Express chair, on the far west side of Mt. Bachelor.  The top of this lift is above treeline, giving snow-riders a vast steep bowl to explore.

Pano view from Northwest Express chair

And the views are spectacular.  I attempted to take a panoramic photo of the vista.  If you click on the above picture, you'll be able to see a larger view of this image (by the way, this applies to all of the photographs posted on my blog).

The view just keeps gettin' better

I made many frequent stops for Kodak moments.  Poor Dale, he had to wait for his sister a lot!  Good thing he's so patient.  The sunny day made for some great light on the mountains and trees, and I wanted to take full advantage of it.

Snow-shrouded trees at the top of Northwest Express

Dale and I had more excellent runs on the trails of Northwest Express.  We skied through some bumpy off-piste powder that had been skied up pretty good.  It was tough, and along the way I hit another snow snake (yep, they hang out at Mt. Bachelor too!) and did a big yard sale down the slope.  What could I do?  I picked myself up, knocked the snow out of my goggles and had a good laugh.  Oh, and I handed the camera to Dale for documentation.  The photo of my great wipeout can be found on a previous post (the one about snow snakes).

The long ride up Northwest Express lift

The weather was frigid all morning, and my face kept getting really cold every time I whipped down the slope.  I broke out my new face mask and layered it over my balaclava. That really helped.  So glad I bought it!  The toe warmers were working their magic and my feet, although not piping hot, weren't getting cold.  That's a success in my book.

The Pine Marten Lodge surrounded by snowy dwarfs

But soon Dale and I's tummies were grumbling and the rest of our body parts were getting cold.  It was time to ski over to the Pine Marten Lodge and check out the lasagna bar!

The Three Sisters, up close and personal

My favorite place to eat at Mt. Bachelor is the restaurant in the Pine Martin Lodge.  They have the best food.  Dale and I traditionally split a trip through the lasagna bar.  It's enough food for two people.  I also ordered a hot chocolate, and was happy to learn the restaurant offered free refills.  Lots of hot liquid - just what I need on a cold winter day.

"Let's ski where this guy's pointing!"

After lunch, the skies began to cloud over.  A storm that was forecast to roll in overnight appeared to be coming in early.  I was glad to have taken so many photos in the morning, as our perfect blue-sky views were going away.

Where to go?  So many choices....

Dale and I spent the afternoon skiing all around the mountain.  We took one trip up to the summit, but it was really cold, windy, and totally fogged in up there.  And the snow was pretty icy on top.  One run was enough!  Should have visited the summit in the morning, I guess.  We still had a fun afternoon, hitting a bunch of trails off of the Pine Martin Lift.  Before we knew it, the clock read 3:30 and our legs said we were done.  A fine day on the slopes!

Blustery weather on the summit

The next morning dawned bright and sunny in Bend.  But the weather in town is no indication of what's happening on the mountain.  As Dale and I drove the road up to Bachelor, the sky clouded up began spitting freezing rain.  We got to the ski area parking lot, and it was cloudy, windy, rainy and cold.  We couldn't see the top of the lift due to low clouds.  Ugh!  Not good!

We went into the ski shop to look around and ponder if it was worth spending $60 on a lift ticket.  While we were perusing the shop, a ski patroller came in.  He was coated head to foot in a thin layer of ice.  That did it.  Both Dale and I decided right then that today was not the day for skiing Bachelor.  We turned around and headed back to town.

But I can't complain.  Dale and I had a wonderful Saturday on the mountain.  And it's always fun to get away and ski somewhere else - especially if that "somewhere else" is Mt. Bachelor!


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