(April 8) UPDATE: The forest service has confirmed that no appeals were received by mail. Mt. Bachelor is officially free to move forward with improvements beginning Monday, April 8.
Downhill mountain biking has long been the missing element in Bend's bike-topia scene. Management at Mt. Bachelor knows it and, for years has been in talks with Gravity Logic, the B.C.-based bike park building and design team that pushed Whistler, and other such downhill playgrounds, onto the map.
In 2010, the Canadian company drafted Mt. Bachelor's mountain bike park design as part of a larger, mountainwide improvement plan. The project moved forward in mid-February after an environmental impact statement and approval from the Forest Service. But before breaking ground, officials at Bachelor had to wait for a 50-day appeals window. That window for comments closed April 1 and, with no appeals on record, Mt. Bachelor has the green light to move ahead with the ambitious mountain makeover.
"Hopefully everything goes as planned," said Andy Goggins, Mt. Bachelor's director of marketing and communications. "It's exciting and it's been a long time coming." Goggins added that the bike park was a "priority."
The lift-served bike park, though, is only a portion of the total improvement plan (see sidebar). The full plan calls for a new lodge, lift and kid zone. The lift would be built along the mountain's eastern flanks, an area that should provide some protection from high winds while offering intermediate tree skiing options. Improvements also include replacing the Rainbow and Sunrise lifts, creating an alpine training center and building a biomass plant, which would act as an on-site power provider.
Goggins confirmed that the mountain bike park could be ready for riding as early as this fall, as it's part of the mountain's "one to four year" plan. Some of the larger projects, like the new Sunrise lodge, are grouped into the "four to 10 year" plan.
According to Forest Service Public Affairs Specialist Jean Nelson Dean, one caveat remains: If the Forest Service receives a handwritten, snail-mailed appeal (postmarked before April 1) from an anti-fun-loving grouch before Saturday, then the federal agency will have to give the proposed project another look.
In the near term there's a pile of fun slated for this week (and upcoming weeks) at Mt. B.
On Friday it's Pine Party No. 2—an opportunity to ski late, for cheap! For only $20 you get to ride lifts from 4-7 p.m. and unwind to those string-bending bluegrass maestros, Blackstrap. As always, the events are conditions-dependent.
Monday marks the beginning of Charity Ski Week—a win-win for snowriders as well as the community. Buy a $25 lift-ticket voucher from one of the five participating area nonprofits: MBSEF, Sparrow Club, Saving Grace, Oregon Adaptive Sports or Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) and ski with a clear conscience—Mt. Bachelor contributes 100 percent of the proceeds back to the organization. Act fast, $25 tickets available from Monday, April 8, through Friday, April 12, only.
And on April 27 it is yet another chance to slide on snow for a discount. In this case—for free! The Barrel Bonk on April 27 features three "creatively displayed" beer barrels to be utilized in a jam-style judged competition—think rail jam but with barrels. It's free (no lift ticket required) and runs from noon to 2 p.m. Winners take home prizes from 10 Barrel Brewing Company, the event's brewing benefactor.
Global warming is sad.
Warm temps and no new snow (it's not even freezing at night) have brought an end to the Nordic season at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park, according to Larry Katz, a Meissner Nordic board member. Katz said the nonprofit has been unable to groom since the middle of last week.
"It was just melting away faster than we could do anything about it," Katz said, citing the weather as the obvious culprit—daytime temps are regularly hitting the mid-50s.
But! Overall, it's been a good season. Meissner Nordic maintained a four-days-per-week grooming schedule through the five-month ski season and hosted a number of successful fundraising efforts.
And expect more of the same, but BETTER next year. Katz said the Meissner Nordic board is almost entirely sure it's going forward with the purchase of an awesome (reliable) new grooming machine, the PistenBully 100, one which they demo-ed earlier this spring.
To pay for it, as well all the other community ski trail necessities, the local ski club has launched into full fundraising mode. To invest in next season's ski trails donate at meissnernordic.org. And if (when?) it snows, check facebook.com/MeissnerNordic for the latest conditions report.
**Full disclosure: Blaming global warming is kinda misleading. Meissner Nordic's permit with the Forest Service was only good through March 31, so it needed to wrap things up by late March anyway. Still, with a big springtime dump, they might be able to squeeze in a weekend grooming session, Katz said.