Snowstorm draws crowd to Mt. Bachelor

Central Oregon’s weekend winter weather brings skiers, riders

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin / @DylanJDarling


Published Jan 13, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Jan 13, 2014 at 06:19AM

MT. BACHELOR — Skiers and snowboarders didn’t let blustering winds, blowing snow and few open lifts stop them Sunday in their search for fresh powder at the Mt. Bachelor ski area.

“I guess everyone is really powder hungry,” said Jill Kaufmann, 36, of Bend. Kaufmann and her husband, Steve Kaufmann, 38, were among the people who braved the weather and traffic Sunday for the sake of snow.

The first strong winter storm in about a month caused a rush to the mountain, where people parked along Cascade Lakes Highway due to parking lots full of cars and snow.

Winds from the ongoing storm Sunday caused drifting of snow, erasing snow-removal efforts in the lots, Mt. Bachelor spokesman Andy Goggins wrote in an email.

“Our snow-removal team has been working around the clock since the storm began with all of our equipment being utilized,” he wrote. “They will continue their efforts overnight, and we expect all of our parking lots to be open (today) to be cleaned and de-iced.”

The weekend storm dropped 20 inches at Mount Bachelor in 24 hours, Mt. Bachelor was reporting Sunday night. Earlier in the day cars and trucks lined the highway around the turnoff to Sunrise Lodge.

Tony Emick’s Suburban was among them. Emick 40, of Bend, was there to snowboard with his son, James Emick, 18, and his son’s friend, Addison Hartford, 18, of Bend. He said he hadn’t seen people parking on the highway before.

“Maybe everybody thought they’d catch this snow,” he said. “It’s the first good snow in a while.”

And it might be awhile until there’s more. The National Weather Service is calling for clear skies and high temperatures this week in Bend and at Mount Bachelor. There’s a possibility of more snow next weekend, but it doesn’t look to be a dumping like this last storm.

“If you want your winter experience you got to get it today,” Allen Light, 46, of Bend, said Sunday as he put skins on his backcountry set of skis.

His friend secured one of the precious parking spots Sunday at Sunrise Lodge, where they left his friend’s son for a lesson at Mt. Bachelor, then hiked up and skied down part of nearby Tumalo Mountain rather than going up the lifts.

Little snowfall in Oregon through much of December and the start of January left many ski areas closed. That could help explain the busy day at Mt. Bachelor.

“Willamette Pass (Resort) and Hoodoo (Ski Area) aren’t open, so pretty much got to come up here,” said Sarah Diehr, 27, of Springfield. She was there Sunday with her fiance, Evan Wernecke, 28, also of Springfield.

After weeks of waiting, Hoodoo finally received some solid snowfall last weekend, said Leif Williams, spokesman for the ski area west of Sisters.

“We’ve gotten about 14 inches in 36 hours,” he said Sunday night.

The base at Hoodoo was up to just over 24 inches, according to the Hoodoo website. Ski area managers have said they want about 30 on the ground before they open. Williams said they will decide around noon today if there is enough snow to try to open Thursday.

Ski rentals typically do quite well through the end of December and the start of January, but the recent lack of snow caused them to be down, said Mark Campbell, store manager at Pine Mountain Sports in Bend. But the shop also rents mountain bikes, so the start of the season wasn’t financially lost.

The store rented out 75 to 100 bikes during the winter vacation, he said. Normally it rents fewer than 10 in the month of December.

“The trails outside of town were riding so incredibly well,” Campbell said. “So if you couldn’t ski you were able to ride out there and have a great time.”

Rentals at The Powder House were down about 15 to 20 percent from last year, said Todd McGee, owner of the snow gear shop in Bend. But he said the run of snowless days didn’t slow the sale of skis and snowboards and associated equipment.

“Typically, Christmas is the best season dollarwise, but it’s not the best skiing,” he said.

Bulletin reporter Tyler Leeds contributed to this story.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812; ddarling@bendbulletin.com.