It might be because this season is already shaping up to be snowier than last year's disappointing accumulation. It might be because there's new equipment that needs to be broken in.
It's not quite winter, but still, many skiers and snowboarders are already itching to hit the runs at Mt. Bachelor.
Another thing making snow riders look forward to the season ahead: A previously untouched section of the mountain, now open thanks to a new lift.
Cloudchaser is the new chairlift that will open this season on Mt. Bachelor. It's a high speed, detachable quad lift built by Doppelmayr that stretches over 6,500 feet and rises almost 1,500 feet along the mountain's east side, expected to serve more than 2,400 people an hour with 141 chairs. The lift area will add an additional 635 acres of skiable terrain—with over six miles of groomed runs—bringing Mt. Bachelor to 4,318 total skiable acres. That makes it the fifth-largest ski area in the United States.
Mt. Bachelor's Marketing and Communications Manager Stirling Cobb says the lift's development has been a long-term goal for the mountain. "Cloudchaser was part of our 10-year master development plan that was approved by the Forest Service a few years ago now. It's been on the to-do list for a couple years, and we finally were able to get the capital and make it happen," he said.
The lift was named by Tom Lomax, Mt. Bachelor's director of mountain operations, and it "pays tribute to the mountain's unique weather patterns and the phenomenon whereby approaching clouds from the west tend to dissipate and disappear as they wrap around the summit and pass to Mt. Bachelor's east side," according to a description on Mt. Bachelor's website. Its location and design also offers better wind protection, a common problem on the mountain's west face.
From the Ground Up
The actual lift line was only cut and defined a couple summers ago, Cobb says, with actual lift construction commencing at the start of July this year. The entire process is "pretty impressive," he adds.
"The process overall consists of building tower foundations along the lift line, as well as the top and bottom terminal foundations," Cobb said. "Then pouring the concrete at each of those spots, getting the terminals built at top and bottom, then flying with a helicopter the lift towers to their set foundation locations along the line. Obviously, all the electrical components of the lift are worked into that whole process. And then getting the haul rope, followed by testing with special chair lift loading on the line."
In total, the approximate costs of building Cloudchaser came in at $6 million. The mountain replaced the Pine Marten Express lift in 2006, but a lift hasn't been built from scratch in a long time.
"The last lift put in was Northwest Express and that was in 1996, so it's been 20 years since we put a new lift in," Cobb said. "It's not something that you get to be a part of too often, so this is a really big deal for us at Mt. Bachelor. It's a pretty hefty investment from our parent company, Powdr, to give back to this local community and show their support of our mountain."
Room to Ride for All
The support is more than welcome at a time when Mt. Bachelor seems to get busier every year. Cobb said the influx of guests to the mountain (and the region) wasn't the primary reason for Cloudchaser's construction, but the lift will definitely address some of the complaints of overcrowding.
"On our busier weekends or holidays, we do see longer lift lines," he said. "This is definitely going to help alleviate some of the capacity challenges that Sunrise Express will face on our busiest days, along with just spreading people out across the mountain further which should help everyone."
Not only will the new lift create more space on the mountain, but it will also be an excellent learning spot for skiers and snowboarders developing their skills. "It just enhances the overall mountain product we have up here at Mt. Bachelor for any intermediate level skier or snowboarder. All that terrain will be perfect to build confidence and aid in the progression process," Cobb said. "So anyone who's riding on Sunshine Accelerator or the Carousel beginner lift will have a nice progression from either of those at Cloudchaser. And any more advanced skiers, all the terrain over there is super fun."
While Mt. Bachelor officially opens on Friday, Nov. 25, Cloudchaser won't officially open until mid-December, just in time for the holiday season. "We're definitely planning to have a big celebration weekend here at the mountain, and we're probably going to have a big party in town as well," Cobb said. Currently, single day (9 am to 4 pm) lift tickets range from $92-$52, while late arrival (noon to 4 pm) lift tickets range from $79-$47, according to Mt. Bachelor's website.
With the lift up and running at the end of this year, Mt. Bachelor will be able to cross it off the 2013 Master Development Plan. Cloudchaser was easily the largest aspect of the plan, which will continue to be rolled out over the next few years, Cobb said. "The bike park was a big part of that plan early on, and now we've gone through three full summers of bike park operations. There's some general facility improvements that are part of it," he said. "And beyond the Cloudchaser build-out, there are some other plans...but we really want to stay focused on the new lift this year."
With miles of new runs and acres to explore, Cobb said the mountain's team is "super excited right now" for visitors to check out this newest addition to Mt. Bachelor. "I think this will be a great addition and will help everyone be able to ski more of the mountain," he said.
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