Ascent of Mount Bachelor on 2010-10-21

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, October 21, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Bachelor
    Elevation:9065 ft / 2763 m

Ascent Trip Report

It had been an exceptionally mild Fall up to this point, but there was indications that a strong storm system would be moving into the region beginning on Friday. I knew that this would be my last shot at racking up some of the higher Cascade peaks with my 'warm' weather setup.

I set out from home just before 6am and headed for Santaim Pass, cruising along through the peaceful, pre-sunrise dawn and enjoying the gradually emerging silhouette of the Cascade crest as the eastern sky began showing signs of light. I reached the pass at sunrise and cruised through Sisters and Bend as they began to stir for the morning bustle. It was a glorious Fall morning - barely a cloud in the sky, but a fresh cool snap air. I approached the Bachelor Ski Area and stopped at the semi-closed main gate. There were service vehicles coming and going, but it looked apparent that the public wasn't supposed to enter.

I pulled off to the side of the shoulder near the gate, donned my pack, and headed toward the main lodge of the ski area. The plan was to climb along a service road or ski lift line as high as possible, then make a direct ascent from the north whenever it appeared to best advantage. I was able to do just that, trying to stay out of the way of the many trucks and workers milling about in preparation for the first snowfall of the season. Just south of the upper lodge I decided that it was time to break off from the gravel road and make my way for the summit.

Almost as soon as I left the road it was as if I was in a totally different place. The hum of engines died down quickly, and I was forced to pay attention to each foot placement on the jumbled talus rather than just plodding along taking in the view. It was oddly reassuring to be back in the 'wild'. This lasted most of the way to the top, until I came upon some kind of electric cable near the NW edge of the bowl. I was surprised and annoyed to see it just strung out along the scree, which was also the best footing heading up. I stayed away from it as best I could without sacrificing the route. I thought about how much this reminded me of the final stretch up the South Sister (south route), loosing half my gain from every step as I slid back. There's probably a reason for the similarity, as the Sisters were very nearby and dominated the view to the north.

The wind very suddenly gained force, and I knew I must be nearing the summit. A few moments later I was rambling around the top, peering at the small craters scattered about and wondering which of the rocks was the true summit. I tagged them all 'just to be sure', although I was more interested in the 360 degree views at that point. I was also amused to find markers for 'sensitive alpine areas' up there, not far from the massive summit lift house - the irony was so great I couldn't stifle an amused chuckle.

I grabbed a snack, while snapping some photos and video, noting the approaching clouds from the SW - the beginnings of storm system in all likelihood. It was still a long way off, but I wanted to bag a couple more peaks before the day ended, so it wasn't long before I was making my way back down, weaving in and out of my ascent route.

Final thought: Throughout the trek I couldn't help but notice how incredibly close together the Three Sisters and Broken Top are, and how they make a crude arc. It reminded me of how the peaks around Crater Lake ring the caldera there. Perhaps those have not always been three distinct peaks? Could it be that Mt. Bachelor is to those mountains (or that now-gone, unified mountain) what Mt. Scott is to Mt. Mazama?
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2665 ft / 813 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route:Ski lift line, access road, direct ascent
    Trailhead:Cascade Lakes HWY  6400 ft / 1950 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Nights Spent:0 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 45 Minutes

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