Every year I conclude skiing season with a trip to Cascade Crest Tour at Mt Bachelor
in Bend, OR for the first weekend of April. Throughout Washington State the good
skiing has usually been over for at least three weeks. On
weekends one might find an occasional ski area that is still grooming, but temperatures
are in the upper 40s during the day and the snow turns to slush pretty quickly
and often doesn't even freeze up overnight. Mt Bachelor in Oregon, however, is
a different matter entirely.
Arriving in Bend the temperature is paltry 38 degrees and sunny. I am getting
nervous. The warm winter must have surely taken its toll. They can't have much
snow on the trails. I hang a right onto Century Drive and head up the mountain.
It is clear, but I can't see it. The mountain is enveloped in a big cloud. It's
20 miles to go. Thermometer drops to 30, then 25. With 5 miles to go, piles of
snow start appearing in the woods and then I'm in the cloud; no more sun. As I
pull in to parking lot it starts snowing hard, air temperature 18F. No problems
with snow coverage, I guess.
Spring cleaning in the parking lot
Cascade Crest Tour is a fun race offered in 25K and 15K formats by Mt Bachelor
Ski Education Foundation. The course is no joke, however, and the fun might take
a temporary retreat as you hit some of the more gnarly hills that constitute the
1600 feet of climbing that are to be had in the 25K. It is sure to return as you're
racing across Dutchman's Flat towards the end of the lap.
The race starts up a 20 meter hill and then hits a series of long and twisty downhills,
then gnarly uphills, a long false flat and finally the Dutchman's Flat. Then it's
a finish for the 15K or next lap for the 25K. The course is slightly different
for the 15K race to elongate the lap.
Lead group during the first lap
Anyone recognize this skier?
After the race, it's a short breather, refuel and back to the trails. Heck, it's
April 5th and I'm skiing on fresh snow with temps in the 20s. The cloud around
the mountain is gradually blown away in the afternoon and we're treated to glorious
sunshine. It's some of the best skiing of the year. In the evening I head back
to Entrada Lodge, just twenty minutes away from Mt Bachelor Nordic Center, and
by this time of the year charging a reasonable rate.
On Sunday, very few locals are on the trails and I have the trail system pretty
much to myself. The weather holds and in fact, a couple more feet of snow fall
overnight. After 6 hours of skiing, I crawl back to my car and begin 6-hour drive
back to Issaquah. As far as Bend is from Seattle, it is still possible to maintain
50/50 relation between drive time and ski time.
Leaving Oregon behind
Cascade Crest Tour has something for everyone. Ben Husaby and XC Oregon racers
and the 25K terrain would challenge even the fittest skier. On the other hand,
there is also a healthy contingent of less serious citizen
racers. As far as quality of skiing, Mt Bachelor never disappoints. It's a perfect