Sun glinted off countless helmets and pairs of wraparound sunglasses Saturday morning as hundreds of skiers and snowboarders waited for a chairlift ride on the first day of Mt. Bachelor’s 2018-19 season.

Overnight snow Thursday and Friday left about 16 inches mid-mountain and about 14 inches at the West Village base, clearing the way for Mt. Bachelor to open one chairlift. By late morning, hundreds of people were waiting in the lift line or trudging uphill carrying their gear while skiers or snowboarders on their way down zigged and zagged between them.

Drew Jackson, director of sales and marketing for Mt. Bachelor, said more than 1,000 people had used the lift by midafternoon. Having a soft opening on the Saturday of a holiday weekend helped boost turnout, he said.

“We only have one lift and one run open, and if we look back to similar situations where that has been our case on the first day, it’s higher this year,” he said.

A dusting of snow rested on some pine branches behind the snaking lift line where friends Will Templeton and Rob Jurek stood.

The snowboarders both live in Humboldt County and made the seven-hour drive to Bend just because of the prospect of snow at Mt. Bachelor.

The snow wasn’t great Saturday, Templeton said, and he said rocks beneath it were shredding his gear.

But Jurek, who described himself as the optimist of the pair, said it was still a good time.

“A bad day here is better than a good day in a lot of places,” he said.

A few hundred feet away, skier Cindy Lund waved off her family members who were taking snowboarding lessons. Visits to Mt. Bachelor are an annual tradition for Lund’s family, who live in the Portland area.

“We come every Thanksgiving, and we hope Bachelor’s open so we can try skiing,” she said.

Lund said she didn’t ski much until she was an adult, but she, her husband and her daughters try to make it to Bend or Mount Hood once or twice a year. On Saturday, everyone but her decided to try snowboarding.

Kara DiFrancesco, of Bend, headed to her car around 11 after climbing the Cinder Cone route a few times. The lift nearby wasn’t open Saturday, but DiFrancesco and other skiers still hiked uphill to come down on the fresh snow.

“It’s nice,” she said. “There’s not much snow, but it’s soft on top so you don’t sink down to the rocks.”.

Cheryl Brown, of Tigard, rented a home in Sunriver with family for Thanksgiving and spent the morning at Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park. She said the snow was a pleasant surprise.

“We weren’t expecting hardly any, so finding it was nice,” she said.

Brown’s group arrived when the park opened, and they spent the morning intermittently lugging inner tubes uphill through the snow and flying downhill toward a patch of straw and a temporary fence.

At the base of the hill stood a pair of Mt. Bachelor employees, calling out the winners of impromptu races downhill.

When Brown won her race, she was more proud of another feat.

“I stayed in my lane this time, which was a first,” she said.

Mt. Bachelor’s Sunshine Accelerator chairlift will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and lift tickets are $34 online or $44 in person.

The resort will close Monday through Thursday to collect snow and prepare additional lifts with the hope of opening Friday, Jackson said.

“If the weather is cooperative, we would make every effort to open Friday,” he said. “We need more snow.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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