Mount Bachelor Snow Hike 18-Jun-2010

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon

I had work to do in Lakeview, Oregon this week and figured I owed myself a hike up Mount Bachelor on the way back to Portland. June is supposed to be the optimal time for hiking Bachelor, as it’s after the ski area closes (a must!) and before the snow melts to expose endless slopes of loose scree and pumice. I had to get back to Portland sooner than later, so it was an early start (5:30AM) kinda hike.

After a night in Bend, Oregon I drove up to the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park on the Cascade Lakes Highway, under clear skies (at least to start), with no wind, and a 32º F air temperature.

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
An early start…

From the Sno-Park, I just crossed the highway and headed southwest toward the peak. Within a quarter of a mile, I encountered a junction of two ski runs and took the left one which pointed directly at the peak. Nothing too subtle about route finding here.

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
Looking up at the summit

Yes, a ski slope is the path of least resistance and it is a bit boring but the alternative, wandering over and around snow hummocks in the forest, seemed unnecessarily dramatic. I was using Bond’s 75 Scrambles in Oregon (2005) as a guide but decided that dropping into, and then climbing out of, the cirque didn’t seem too interesting. So I aimed for the exposed slope as seen in the previous picture, contoured up (my Microspikes made doing this a lot easier) and around it to the left (south), and thereby gained the ridge above the south rim of the cirque. The snow was crisp and firm but not icy – perfect!

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
The Three Sisters come into view

The ridge I was standing on to take the preceding picture heads directly toward the lift house at 8,800 feet and once there, it was only a short distance north and up to the summit. The morning started clear but some clouds started drifting in as I ascended – Would my views be compromised? Fortunately, no they wouldn’t, as the clouds turned into something picturesque, not obscuring. Great view of the Three Sisters to the north,

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
The Three Sisters, now with clouds

as well as Mounts Jefferson and Washington.

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
Mount Washington (point on left) and Mount Jefferson (snowy peak in center)

The valleys to the south were filled with low clouds but Diamond Peak was visible.

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
Diamond Peak – the snow-covered peak on horizon to right of center

It was a bit windy on the summit and somewhere below freezing, so I didn’t linger. I’d brought an ice axe but didn’t need it to glissade majestically down groomed ski slopes, the top layers of which had been softened just enough by the sun to give me a good gliding surface. It took me two hours to reach the summit and less than an hour to glide back down to the car, enjoying a view of Broken Top (Broken Hand is the bump to right) along the way.

Mount Bachelor Bend Oregon
Broken Top and Broken Hand

If I hadn’t stopped for breakfast, I would have made it back to Portland for lunch. This was a short (4.4 miles roundtrip; 2,700 feet of elevation gain), simple, but very fun snow hike, on near perfect “Spring” snow.


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