MOUNT BACHELOR —
In hindsight, maybe I should have started in the Start Park.
But the lure of the new terrain parks — designed for progression — was just too intoxicating.
So after hopping onto a wide box feature in the new Otter Rock terrain park while snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor ski area last week, I promptly fell on my behind. No matter, I bounced up quickly and went on to clean the next box and then hit the final two jumps with minimal air, but landing safely.
The new Woodward Mountain Park zones at Bachelor this season have been extremely popular, according to Dustin Smith, Woodward terrain parks manager.
“We are receiving tons of positive feedback on the level of progression through the terrain,” Smith said Thursday.
The parks are popular, but perhaps not as popular as fresh powder, which Mother Nature has delivered in heaps this month. As of Friday, Bachelor had received 76 inches of snow in the last seven days, and the resort reported a snow depth of 100 inches at mid-mountain.
It was a welcome storm for skiers and snowboarders, as meager snowfall through December and early January made for a slow start to the season.
Smith and his parks crew went from not having enough snow to build features to having to rebuild much of what was already constructed after the intense storms swept across the mountain. The parks include jumps, rails, boxes, walls, bermed corners and other features.
“Since the recent storm cycle came in with a lot of sustained intensity in snowfall and wind transport, we are working through rebuilding all of the parks,” Smith said. “When this happens we rebuild from our teaching terrain up to large parks. The Woodward terrain parks team is building terrain nightly. We’ve gotten a reset on everything we had previously built, and all parks — from extra small to large — are getting rebuilt.”
The network of man-made terrain zones offers areas for all skill levels, from novice to advanced. The new 629-foot quad Early Riser chairlift serves a new learning zone that also includes two new conveyor lifts.
The new learning zone and the Woodward Mountain Park are designed to help Bachelor serve an increasing demand for both novice terrain and free-ride options.
Woodward is an experiential action sports company that is owned by POWDR, Bachelor’s parent company. Bachelor is one of five POWDR resorts across the country to feature Woodward Mountain Parks.
The parks are designed around progression, from the Start Park next to Sunrise Lodge to the more advanced terrain areas off of the Skyliner lift.
The Start Park is free to the public seven days a week. Snowriders can also purchase a progression lift ticket for $39 that includes access to Easy Riser and the two carpet conveyors.
For now, I will stick to the smaller parks near the Rainbow and Sunrise chairlifts, including Otter Rock, Progression Park, Family Cross and Dilly Dally Alley. Perhaps later in the season I can work my way up to the more advanced terrain near the Skyliner lift.
“Progress through the parks at your pace, and always inspect every feature before use every day,” Smith said. “Be respectful of others and their process for learning new skills, and give park crew a high-five when you see them. They are out early in the morning before the mountain opens and late at night after we close.”
Terrain park crews work two different shifts, 4 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 9 a.m. Crews use snowcats seven nights a week to move snow and shape features in the parks.
Lately, they have been moving a lot of new snow to reshape the parks as skiers and snowboarders have reveled in the piles of powder. Smith said the snowriders still enjoy the parks even when there are fresh turns to be had on the off-groomed areas.
“There are always guests looking to get some pow park,” he said. “We don’t see a dip in usership; it usually remains steady.”
For skiers and riders who do venture off-piste, mtbachelor.com has posted several safety-related recommendations, including always skiing with a partner and staying within one to two turns of each other. The ski area also suggests skiing with a shovel, transceiver and probe when riding in the more remote areas such as the East Bowls off the Cloudchaser chairlift and the West Bowls off the Northwest chairlift.
Summit chairlift is expected to open sometime in the next few days, according to the website, which will make tree well and deep snow safety even more imperative.
Tree wells — areas of unconsolidated snow around the bases of trees — are hazardous, especially when a skier or rider falls headfirst into them, which can lead to suffocation.
The best way to mitigate tree well danger is to ski or ride with a partner while staying within each other’s sight, according to Tom Lomax, director of mountain operations at Bachelor. That way, if one of the snowriders encounters trouble, the other will see it and can be there quickly to help.
And always progressing at your own pace, whether in the parks or in the powder, is a must on the mountain.