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Mt. Bachelor's Ski Season Is Right on Schedule

January 18, 1987|FRANK RILEY | Riley is travel columnist for Los Angeles magazine and a regular contributor to this section

MT. BACHELOR, Ore. — Three winters ago we came here when Mt. Bachelor was celebrating its Silver Anniversary as a ski and summer resort.

The resort's Golden Anniversary is in the first decade of the 21st Century, but this winter is certainly a golden season at Mt. Bachelor.

While so many ski areas throughout the West were waiting during December for the first serious snowfall, Mt. Bachelor was able to open its new Pine Marten Super Express lift on Dec. 6, as scheduled.

During the holidays this central Oregon resort handled up to 12,000 skiers a day without being overcrowded. Mt. Bachelor moved into the new year with a snow base of 78 inches at the bottom of the mountain. Here in the Cascades, snow falls early and lingers for summertime skiing.

Quad Chairlift Opened

For its Silver Anniversary year Mt. Bachelor opened the Summit triple chairlift to its 9,000-foot peak. The new Pine Marten Super Express is a quad chair 20% faster than the Summit lift. With a ride of only five minutes to 9,000 feet, skiers will have more mountain to enjoy and more time to enjoy it.

The Super Express is a detachable grip quad, another benefit for skiers. As the lift approaches the loading area it detaches from the high-speed cable to a slow cable for loading safety. The reverse shift takes place when it's ready to zoom up the mountain.

Descents from the 9,000-foot summit aren't only for the expert skier. Runs from the top offer broad intermediate slopes as well as snow-covered precipices to put the expert into orbit. The vertical drop is 3,100 feet and the maximum run is two miles.

Last year a formal agreement was signed with the U.S. ski team designating Mt. Bachelor as one of six national training centers. The U.S. team has trained here for more than 20 years.

The mountain now has 10 chairlifts serving a terrain rated as 15% beginner, 25% intermediate, 35% advanced intermediate and 25% expert.

The continuing expansion program calls for 14 lifts, 11 of them to be express.

Majestic Panorama

For skiers or non-skiers, a view from the summit is one of the most majestic panoramas in the West. The Cascades reach from California to the Canadian border. Lakes and streams that are crystalline in warm weather are powdered with winter snows and add to the illusion of looking out across the landscape of a distant planet.

Trees in the alpine forests seem to be snow sculptures. Each year brings an average snowfall of about 200 inches. The dry alpine air on the eastern side of the Cascades maintains the Mt. Bachelor snow in what has come to be known around the ski world as high Cascade powder. Winter gets its share of the more than 250 days of sunshine annually recorded in this wilderness wonderland.

The number of day lodges around the base has grown to five, offering a variety of national and international cuisines. Two new mid-mountain restaurants will be added to the complex.

Village Atmosphere

Mt. Bachelor still has the postal address and ZIP code of Bend, Ore., 22 miles northwest, but the day lodges create the effect of a village atmosphere and this will be increased by the addition of the restaurant/lodge facilities.

This mountain and the Cascade wilderness around it are under U.S. Forest Service administration and there are no plans for overnight base lodging. Daily shuttle service is available to carry skiers and visitors between the base and more than a dozen resort inns, lodges, condo complexes and motels in and around Bend and Sunriver. Parking in the base area can accommodate 10,000 skiers a day.

A new service for visitors this season is nonstop daily flights between San Francisco and Bend. Round-trip fares from Los Angeles start as low as $158. Combination packages can be fitted into your Mt. Bachelor escape through your travel agent or by dialing (800) 223-2929. If you have time for a scenic rail journey to ski at Mt. Bachelor, Amtrak has daily overnight service from Los Angeles.

Network of Trails

Mt. Bachelor has nearly 60 kilometers of Nordic trails through Deschutes National Forest. The nine trails in this network range from 1 to 12 kilometers. All-day trail passes for adults are $6.50; $3.50 for children 12 and under.

Mt. Bachelor is continuing its tradition of catering to the family. An all-day group lesson in downhill skiing for children 7-12 is $19. Group lessons in the Children's Nordic Ski School are $12. For children of 6 weeks to 7 years there are state-licensed day care centers at two of the base lodges, with special attention and planned activities. For parents who want to enjoy a full day of skiing, the rate for day care from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is $16, with lunch provided by the parents. The hourly rate is $3.

Popular with skiers this season is the innovative option of a $5 lift ticket credit for anyone who wants to call it a day after skiing until noon. The credit can be applied to the regular adult lift ticket price of $21.

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