By Joe Ditzler

The Bulletin

Mt. Bachelor ski area plans to open for three days in July for skiing and snowboarding, the first scheduled summer snow sports there in five years, a ski area executive said Monday.

The Sunrise and Summit lifts will operate from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 2 through 4, with scenic rides and mountain biking, snow-melt permitting, available on the Pine Marten lift at the same time, according to a ski resort email to season pass holders. The high amount of snowfall this season pointed easily to a July event, said Drew Jackson, Mt. Bachelor sales and marketing manager.

“It was a team call at the executive level, although our CEO, John McLeod, had the final say,” Jackson said. “We all feel that given the amount of snow we’ve had, we should try to take advantage of it and make this work.”

Nearly 600 inches of snow has fallen on the mountain this season, with nearly 160 inches of snow remaining at midmountain, according to the Mt. Bachelor website. A record high 665 inches of snow fell on the mountain during the 2010-11 season, according to the website.

The ski area last held summer ski days in 2012 and in 2011, Jackson said. Even in a banner year, weather on the day will dictate conditions on the surface.

“From what I’m told, 2011 was really fun,” Jackson said. “In 2012, it was a little colder and the snow wasn’t quite as good, and there were clouds.”

By contrast, in 2015 the ski area closed May 10, Mother’s Day, due to dwindling snowpack and without the regular, season-ending pond-skimming competition. That was the earliest the slopes went quiet there since 1976-77, when the ski area ended seasonal operations on April 30, 1977, according to The Bulletin archives. This year, regular operations at Mt. Bachelor end May 28 with the annual pond-skimming competition.

Snow continues to fall on the 9,065-foot-high volcanic cone. The forecast calls for another foot or more to fall on the mountain by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Details for the July event are still in the works, Jackson said. No decision has been made yet, for example, on whether a season pass will cover the lift charges or whether everyone will have to pay to ride on those three days. The ski area plans to announce further details, including lift ticket prices and how much terrain will be available for skiing and riding, later in June, he said.

“We’ll have to invest a fair amount on the expense side to make this happen; it’s unplanned and unbudgeted,” he said. “We’d have to feel pretty good to cover those costs and a little bit above to make it worth our while.”

The skiing and snowboarding portion of the weekend would start from the Sunrise lift. From the summit, skiers and snowboarders could descend the Marshmallow run all the way to the Sunrise lift. Runs to the east of the Sunrise lift may be out of commission by then, Jackson said.

On the west side, the Sunshine Accelerator lift will be open for mountain biking, he said. He said work will begin in June to clear snow away from midmountain bike trails accessed by the Pine Marten lift. The plan is to have those trails ready by the July 4 weekend, but if not, the lift will run for scenic rides, and the Pine Marten lodge will be open for dining, he said.

“We’re really going to try and position this as an opportunity to experience a number of different things at Mt. Bachelor,” Jackson said.

Skiing and snowboarding in July can be about the same as it is in May, he said.

“The terrain will not have been skied on for some time, so the surface tends to be smooth,” Jackson said. The best case scenario on the day is a short-lived hour or two of soft corn snow that turns to mush by about noon.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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