Welcome to Mt Bachelor's end of season party!
|Greetings from the summit!
Here in the Pacific NW, our mountains are blessed with abundant snowfall that generally sticks around well into late spring. Central Oregon's Mt Bachelor ski area usually keeps its lifts turning until Memorial Day weekend. Although I'd never before experienced it's final day, this year I happened to be in Bend during the holiday. Why not go and check it out? After all, it's not every day you get a chance to ski over Memorial Day weekend.
|Fantastic views skiing down the summit
I recruited my best ski buddy Kim (who coincidentally also happened to be in town) to join me for the fun. On a warm, sunny Memorial weekend Sunday we met up in the parking lot of Mt Bachelor. Although still early morning, the party had already started. Loud music blared from car speakers. Dozens of people were putting on wacky costumes, with plenty more already clad in shorts and t-shirts.
Overnight temperatures had stayed well above freezing so the snow was already soft. Kim and I took a few runs on the lower slopes before realizing we needed to move higher. So we headed to the summit lift.
Due to frequent high winds and low visibility, Mt Bachelor's summit lift is rarely open. But on sunny spring days it's the perfect place to ski. Kim and I made several laps before the snow began to get too soft. Today's warm air and sunshine turned the snow into sticky peanut butter. As all skiers know, when the snow starts grabbing at your skis, it's time to quit.
|Time to watch the pond skim
Even if conditions weren't great, Mt Bachelor had many other activities planned. There was live music and a beer garden at the base lodge. And, in proper ski area closing day fashion, they also offered a pond skim competition.
|A trio of snowboarding bananas
What's a pond skim? It's a contest where skiers and snowboarders slide down a steep hill with a pool of water at the bottom. The object is to slide all the way across the pond. To add to the merriment, contestants often compete in wacky costumes. Everyone is judged by their performance (although I never figured out what constitutes a good score).
|Waiting for the show!
Mt Bachelor's pond skim was in full swing by the time Kim and I returned to the base area. Although the course was lined with spectators, we found a fairly open area near the top of the slope. I got out my pocket camera and tried to capture a few photos of the action below.
|Will he make it across?
Although it looked impossible that anyone could travel all the way across, surprisingly several people did.
Of course, the wipeouts were the most fun to watch. And there were some doozies! But no worries, the water didn't appear to be very deep, and there were staff with long poles standing by to fish people out.
|This guy is prepared
For awhile I stood by the fence and watched competitors zip by. This little kid was decked out with a life jacket and paddle! Talk about being prepared! I was surprised by the number of young boys that participated.
The costumes were a riot. There were several bananas, a couple of pirates, an 80s guy, unicorns, Hawaiian shirts and shorts....but my favorite was a guy dressed up as Moses. (With a costume like that you would think he'd have an upper hand on parting the water, but unfortunately he sank.)
|Fancy jump at the end
A few crazy people not only made it all the way across but managed to catch air at the end.
After an hour of watching from above, Kim and I began to get thirsty. So we made our way down to the beer garden. I ran to my car, changed out of my ski boots, and grabbed my big DSLR camera. Then we wormed our way to the fence near the pond's very end.
This was a perfect place to watch the contest. As competitors skimmed across the water, successful riders slid right past us. And we had a front row view of splashes from the unlucky ones.
|Little banana makes it across
I had a ball trying to capture contestants sliding across the water.
|With a jump at the end
This young banana-wearing boy did quite well.
|Do they give points for huge splashes?
This dude did not.....
Some young men tried to do somersaulting jumps at the pond's end.
They were incredible to watch.
Quite a few of them crashed spectacularly. Luckily, aside from some bumps and scrapes, I didn't see any serious injuries.
|This guy made it on one ski
This guy made it all the way across on one ski!
|Will he stick the landing?
|High marks from the judges
I never did figure out the judge's scoring system.
|Nice pink jacket
Sorry.....There's too many fun photos to weed out, so I'm posting them all. Enjoy!
|"Hey dude here's your water gun!"
|Two contestants at once
|The fisherman makes it
|80s guy doesn't - but he still has his beer
|This guy made it across despite losing his pants
|One of the few female contestants
|She can't believe she made it!
|Bringing the water with him
|That looks like it hurt
|Will the Abominable Snowman make it?
In the end, a good time was had by all. Kim and I decided this was definitely an event we'd return for next year.
|Wet high fives!
Sigh......now it's time to hang up the skis until next December. But this was a fitting end to what's been a fantastic season. I'm counting the days until the snow flies again!