Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mount Bachelor Looks To The Future: Opening The East Side

Posted By on Sat, Oct 24, 2009 at 12:08 AM

The cat is out of the bag ( as to Mount Bachelor's expansion plans and they focus primarily on opening the mountain's eastside.
This is not a new plan. In fact, it goes back several years when it was first put forth by then Mount Bachelor president, Dan Rutherford.
Now the plan has been fleshed out and includes: 1) a new lodge at Sunrise, 2) a new lift that will take skiers up the east side of the mountain and 3)the creation of a network of trails on the east side.
I've always enjoyed backcountry skiing Bachelor's eastern flanks for several reasons. One, there's some wonderful tree and open glade skiing. Two, there are some lava ridges lower down on the slopes that make for interesting obstacles. Three, because the east side is the leeward side of most storms, it seems to accumulate deeper snow and hold it. Also the wind is much less of a problem when you head east.
I first skied the east side of the mountain back in the dark ages when Bob Mathews ran the Nordic Center. He and I would ride the lift to the summit and then head east. Most of the mountain might be covered with windpacked snow but there was often knee-deep powder on the east side.
The problem then was the slogging back out on what passed for telemark skis in those days (read thin and unstable) to the Cascade Lakes Highway and a thumbing a ride back to Sunrise.
Later, and with fatter skis, I'd take a Summit lift ride and then, after a descent to the east, skin back up to run favorite sections again.
So, while I'll miss the solitude of skiing the east side, Mount Bachelor’s plan, on the face of it, will  open some fun new terrain for skiers. And, after all, that's what skiing the mountain should be about-fun.

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