We needed to see what things looked like at Mt. Bachelor during COVID-19. So we made our way up to the mountain today, day 2 of operations. With season passes in hand, crystal clear skies, the sun shining bright, and unusually warm weather for early December; it was a recipe for an epic early season day. The fact that this first week was reserved for pass holders, mixed with the restricted parking reservations meant that there were not nearly as many people on the Cascade Lake Hwy. We cruised from our driveway to the mountain parking lot in 28 minutes. The parking attendant scanned our pass and we were on way to park in the Skyliner lot.
Skyliner Lot / Lift
We were a little surprised by the number of cars in the lot and even more surprised by the groups of people throwing parking lot parties (PS – that’s a great Lee Brice song if you’re into country music). After finding a good spot to park and getting geared up, we headed down to the Skyliner lift. To be honest, at this point we got a little nervous. While 95% of the people in the lift line were properly masked up, the rope lines didn’t extend far enough. There were large groups of people not socially distancing and trying to figure out how many actual lines we would funnel into.
Because the mountain is limiting the number of “strangers” riding up the lift together (absolutely necessary) the lines went slow. While this was expected, it was still a little unnerving being surrounded by people for the better part of 20 minutes. Hopefully that’s not going to be the norm at Mt. Bachelor during COVID-19.
Once we got on the lift our shoulders relaxed and we were able to once again appreciate the spectacular beauty that is Mt. Bachelor on a clear and sunny day. The views are always jaw dropping on a day like today and we are reminded of how lucky we are to have this mountain in our back yard.
While the lift lines were a little crowded, the runs were anything but. We traversed over to the West Village to see if the lines at Pine Martin were any better. We need more snow, but climate change is a topic for a different blog. The snow that was on the ground was well groomed and provided as perfect conditions as Mother Nature would allow.
Hitting the lift lines at Pine Martin let us to breathe a mask covered sigh of relief. The space available there allowed for longer ropes and more space between skiers. We saw a few people with masks around their chin, but the lifties and other mountain staff did an adequate job at asking people to “mask up so we can stay open!” It should be mentioned that no one who was asked to pull his or her mask up gave any sort of resistance or back talk. Regardless of your views on COVID-19, everyone knows that the only hope we have of Mt. Bachelor staying open is to everyone follow the rules.
The line at Pine Martin wasn’t any faster than the lift line at Skyliner, but we felt a little safer due to the effectiveness of the corral at “forcing” social distancing. We made a few runs on that side of the mountain and enjoyed the available terrain. The warm weather and bright sun began to soften up the snow and by 1pm it was getting pretty heavy. We hit the parking lot to find that (luckily) the cars parked near us had left; so we could enjoy cold beer on the tailgate before heading down the hill.
Mt. Bachelor during COVID-19: Our Conclusion
Overall, it was an interesting day. We felt a little too… nervous? stressed? depressed? anxious?… to really enjoy the day as much as we should have. We only got in 5 runs in 2 hours due to slow lift lines and Pine Martin having a mechanical issue for about 10 minutes. That is too much standing near other people and not enough time actually skiing. Admittedly, the unease we felt was based off our personal feelings about COVID-19 and the surging number of cases in Deschutes County.
I’m sure plenty of people at Mt. Bachelor today had an amazing, worry free experience. Could that be why we have seen such a spike in cases? Again, that’s a debate for a different day. For us, while we believe that most people are doing their best to keep everyone safe at Mt. Bachelor during COVID-19, we’ll wait until there is more snow, more terrain, and more lifts open open before we give it another shot.
For more info about what to expect at the mountain this year, check out our post on Bend Ski Vacations.