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Ascent of Mount Bachelor on 2014-09-20

Climber: Samuel Hahn

Date:Saturday, September 20, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Bachelor
    Location:USA-Oregon
    Elevation:9065 ft / 2763 m

Ascent Trip Report

With plans to head south to the Diamond Lake area for another round of peakbagging, I wanted a Cascade volcano near Bend with a roundtrip route that wouldn't take longer than a half a day. Toying between Middle Sister and Mount Bachelor, I would eventually go with the latter, not wanting the hassle of a tricky permit process to access the former from the Obsidian trailhead.

Arriving at the trailhead/resort parking lot around 7:30 AM I was surprised to find that my rental Kia was the only other car on a broad asphalt plain save a single lonely pickup used by the ski area's maintenance staff. I then took a short approach hike to the Pine Martin ski lift after learning from a few locals of the most expeditious route to the summit. The slog upwards from the start of the lift was less than scenic, a wide, ugly scar of a clearing, the typical image of a ski run without the snow, made more unappealing after spending yesterday in the picturesque Three Sisters Wilderness, but I toughed through it and made it to the top of the lift in ~45 minutes. The lift operator was knowledgeable, and pointed me in the direction of the true trail to the summit, about a half mile descent north to a route which follows yet another ski lift, and this is where the crucial decision of the day would lie.

Do I drop a few hundred feet to a well-graded but otherwise bland trail and eliminate any real adventure I could have on a relatively easy peak or do I proceed up a pile of well-consolidated, but still snowless talus, sans helmet, in what could essentially be a foolish vaunt to the rockfall gods?

The decision came to me easy enough, albeit for less than intelligent reasons. Mulling it over on a small mound of volcanic rock, masticating a Clif bar, I saw a conspicuous hashtag on the back of the wrapper, #MeetTheMoment, and one frequently used by my mountaineering hero, Jeremy Jones. Knowing that Mr. Jones would opt for the sickest route possible up the mountain, and knowing that I, in typical American fashion, would want to emulate his climbing style despite the obvious vast differences in our climbing abilities, the trail-less route to the summit immediately became the best of all possible routes.

Fortunately, the rocks were even more stable than I first thought, and I hopped across them to a steep scree slope to the summit in just under an hour. There was relatively little route-finding challenges, as even when I felt lost, I just reminded myself that because of the ubiquitous recommendation found in guide books for Mount Bachelor stating that simply going upwards on this mountain will take anyone to the summit, I'd eventually find myself at the top. And to their credit, I did, and was rewarded with clear views of the Sisters, Broken Top and other volcanoes extending northwards to Mount Adams. Sadly, the views south were more obscured, and I could barely see Mount Thielsen, the planned ascent for tomorrow. I stayed to enjoy a few handfuls of trail mix with my new volcanic neighbors, taking a few summit photos before descending.

I took the trail (in excellent condition for any peak, especially a rotten volcano) down to a service road and then, with the main ski lodge in sight, made my way down various runs and mountain bike trails to my car, rock-hopping and sand-skiing all the way. Overall, Mount Bachelor was a moderately challenging peak offering a fine cardiovascular workout and superb views. Perfect way to spend a Saturday morning before a long drive.

4 hours car-to-car
~2713 elevation gain
~4.5 miles RT
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2713 ft / 826 m
    Trailhead:6352 ft / 1936 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1, Class 2 in
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles



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