By late November, snow enthusiasts were poised anxiously at the winter starting line. Sequestered since last spring, Central Oregon’s ski enthusiasts were beyond ready for some time on the hill. Come December seventh, opening day, Bachelor’s 62nd season was off to a shotgun start. Take your mark, get set, ski!
The slopes were primed by sixty-eight inches of snow from several early storm cycles, and locals took advantage by hiking the cone three full weeks before opening day. Two words: La Niña. One staffer noted 400 cars in the parking lot after seven inches of snow overnight. Partaking patrons were stoked to get their early season laps in, even if they had to hike for them, before parking reservation requirements kicked in for the season.
Locals have been embracing Mt. Bachelor’s Back to Basics approach to unavoidable, well-implemented COVID-19 prevention measures, put in play by parent company POWDR, with guidance from Oregon Health Authority, Deschutes County Health Department and The National Ski Area Association “ski well be well” campaign. The upshot of Back to Basics includes many new mountain amenities and a huge retrofit aimed at catering to locals.
Vehicle Base Camp
From opening day, visitors to Mt. Bachelor have been invited to make their vehicles their base camp. For many diehards and dirtbags, Oregonian and otherwise, the art of car camp has been refined over decades: midday defrosting, heating vents full blast, food and beverages tailgate-style.
“Back to Basics is our safe operating plan,” said Leigh Capozzi, Mt. Bachelor brand and marketing director. “This means coming prepared, booting up at the car and maintaining the highest level of personal responsibility. This is very authentic to the DNA of Oregonians and a throwback to the early days at Mt. Bachelor. With a managed volume of skiers and riders on the mountain at any given time, guests will have plenty of room to spread out, soak up the Cascades and may feel that the [winter recreation] experience is in some ways better.”
Already embracing the Pacific Northwest’s love of food carts with Egan’s Outpost, Bachelor blew up their mobile meal game with new pods at West Village in the Red Chair area and Sunrise, near Early Riserlift. Cuisine options have included specialty sausage and brats and colcannon potatoes at Egan’s. BBQ, Asian (Dump City Dumplings), burritos and veggie bowls (Lucky Woodsman) are also among rotating offerings. Finally, resort partner Subaru built a convenient mobile “Subie Shack” that supplies hot and cold beverages and grab-n-go food at the top of the West Village hot walk.
Woodward, lessons and rentals
Woodward Mountain Park opened winter 2019, introducing a network of featured terrain zones. “While many resorts may not be building parks this season, we will be building out the entry level offerings—intermediate to advanced parks for locals, families looking to take some park laps together and athletes in training,” Capozzi said.
Multi-week lessons, a big favorite with locals, are now offered as half-days on Saturday, Sunday or newly added Wednesdays. Guests may take a lesson as a family, a parent/child, or small self-designated group. Another new offering is the long-awaited season-long rental package. Pre-reserved daily rental options are now an option as well.
No matter if you are skinning, visiting as a tourist or fulfilling your stoke as a season pass holder, reserving parking is a must. The process to accomplish this is outlined on the Bachelor site and enlists a smart and savvy app, ParkWhiz. Whether coming up for a few morning groomers, a full ski day or an afternoon Nordic skate ski, guests must reserve parking. That just means that after the drive up the hill, guests can rest assured they’ll have a spot for their car.
Just get up there
What hasn’t changed are the home-sweet-home reliable Bachelor luxuries like 4,323 acres of skiable terrain, 56 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails, powder turns off the charming Red Chair, hot laps on Northwest and hiking Summit to descent the pinnacles. “Outdoor recreation has proven to be a welcomed respite for us all as we navigate dynamic times and establish a new normal of living in the midst of a pandemic,” Capozzi said. “Pure skiing, snowboarding and Nordic experiences offer our community and guests fresh air, wide-open spaces and a safe opportunity to enjoy the natural environment we choose to call home.”
Perhaps the biggest projected blessing to snow sports enthusiasts this season—totally uncontrollable by any governing body in the ski industry—is that it’s a La Niña year, for which skiers and snowboarders are thanking their lucky stars. What are the trademarks of a La Niña season, you ask? Typically, above-average precipitation with a wild card factor as to how much precipitation will fall in the form of solid or liquid. Still, the ingredients are all there for a killer season. Make your reservation and head for the hill!