Since it looked like winter was going to be making a fashionably late arrival this year, Dan and I made plans to get our December turns in early and steal a summer day out of season. After waffling back and forth between Mt Hood and Mt Bachelor, we settled on Bachelor. We early at Dan’s, piled gear into my Subaru, and headed up the highway. Although it was a bit sad there wasn’t any snow as we passed Willamette, it was nice to be able to take the Cascade Lakes Highway and the Sunriver cutoff to knock a few miles off the drive. Soon, we found ourselves getting a good look at the mountain, and there wasn’t much snow for December, but it looked like we’d be able to find some turns.
We found a parking spot along the highway, changed into ski boots, shouldered packs, and headed out. Happily, we were able to skin from a few feet of the base on 2-3 inches of snow, and we worked our way up Avalanche run towards mid-mountain. It really was quite a sight seeing the mountain with so little snow, and it felt like June, although the snowpack was thinner.
It didn’t take long to reach the bottom of the summit lift, and we had to take the skis off to cross a few bare spots before resuming skinning. We decided to head up the cat road to the east for a little while, rather than skin up under the lift due to the lack of snow. Before long, we were able to work our way up one of the gullies and then up to a main ridge that afforded us access towards the top.
As we skinned the last bit towards the top of the Summit lift, the wind picked up appreciably, so we found a spot out of it near the ski patrol area and enjoyed some food with a view in the sun. We weren’t sure whether to try Cow’s Face or the Cirque Bowl, but after I took a quick jaunt over to Cow’s to check it out we decided it looked to be our best bet, being out of the wind.
After refueling with a quick bite, we headed over to Cow’s with our gear and enjoyed the view out of the wind. It was also time to get our beers on ice, before enjoying them a few minutes later prior to dropping in. My beer of choice was a tasty Dark Matter chocolate porter from Block 15 Brewing Company.
After soaking up the views and about half of our beers, it was time to drop in for some December corn. I headed down first, and made some really fun turns down to a suitable spot to shoot a few shots of Dan coming down.
Although there was the least amount of snow on Cow’s that we’d ever made turns on, the quality was pretty nice. We threaded our way through a thin section, slipped between a choke point with a couple of rocks, and then continued on down.
After working our way through the choke point, Dan grabbed the camera and skied down a ways, then motioned me to come down. I opened it up a bit in the perfect corn, and carved some fun turns down to Dan and then on past…
We skied down a ways further, and I shot a few more pics of Dan. About 800 feet or so from the top, we decided to call it. It looked like we could have skied down a few hundred feet further, but it involved a couple of carries and we wanted to get back up top before the sun set completely on the north side in order to harvest the waiting corn.
The boot back up the slope was enjoyable in the afternoon sun. In many ways, it felt like we were climbing in June or July, while the snowpack suggested we might be climbing in early October. We admired our turns as we climbed back up, and soon found ourselves back up top at our waiting beers.
We sat around up top for a few minutes enjoying the second half of our beers, but we didn’t wait too long because the sun crept behind the mountain and our line down was now in the shade. Not to worry, we shoved off in time to harvest some really nice corn before it refroze for the afternoon.
We retraced our skin track back down, and found the snow to be in really good condition. The corn was nearly perfect, and both of us were pretty happy as we ripped big turns down the slope.
We worked our way down the slope, and eventually found one of the gullies that held snow to work a continuous line down towards the cat road below. Along the way, we took turns shooting each other with the camera, firing off several shots, including the one below.
We were able to thread a continuous line all the way back down to the cat road, and then with a really short carry, we worked our way back down to mid-mountain and the bottom of the summit lift.
At mid-mountain, we paused for a moment to enjoy the view out to the sisters and Broken Top. The lack of snow on these peaks for the 1st of December was stunning, but with a little luck, they’ll be coated in feet of snow before too long and hopefully several more all winter long in La ‘Nina can deliver.
After a short carry across the snowless section at mid-mountain, we strapped back in headed on down. Dan had sniffed out a line earlier that looked like it would ski through the trees better than what we’d skinned up. We decided to hit it on the way down, and it turned out to be a great decision; the snow was really nice and we didn’t hit a rock!
We ended up having to cross back over to Avalanche on foot near the bottom, but soon were turning again, albeit slowly, back towards the bottom. The skiing in this section was marginal at best, but at least we were sliding. In the end, we were able to slide to within a few vertical feet of the parking lot on only a couple inches of snow. Maybe not the brightest idea in the world, but as I told Dan, given the snow conditions, sliding the entire vertical from the summit to the parking lot on this day may have been one of our best works of art yet.
From the base, we made the short hike back to the car, loaded our gear, and headed down to Edison Butte Snowpark to enjoy some apres’ activities, including cooking up some tasty brats. The weather in the parking lot was perfect, and as an added bonus, we could see the top part of the mountain where we’d made turns an hour or so earlier. While the brats were cooking, we enjoyed a beer, and my second choice for the day was a Backside IPA from Oblivion Brewing Company that really hit the spot. I’d bought it a few months earlier in the summer while vacationing in Sunriver with the family, and it seemed fitting to drink it near it’s point of origin.
It didn’t take long, and the brats were ready to go. All that was needed was a few onions and some mustard, along with a piece of bread. As usual, they hit the spot after a day of climbing and riding and we wolfed them down. All that was left to do after that was to hit the road.
All things considered, even though we’d have rather been sitting in the snowpark shivering after skiing a foot of pow on a good base, it did feel nice to “steal” a day of summer turns on the 1st of December. Nevertheless, it’s now beyond time for winter to arrive, and I hope it does so in a hurry. Until then, here’s a parting shot from the day.