Ski Safari

When much-anticipated plans to take a ski vacation to France didn’t quite pan out, we found ourselves looking north.  Canada north.  We had passports and fat skis, vacation time, and a yen to ski new terrain – ideally with new snow.

This idea wasn’t totally out of the blue.  Last year’s trip to a backcountry lodge near Nelson, B.C. piqued our interest in exploring that part of the world, and an article in a ski magazine on the Powder Highway further encouraged us.  The final straw was the dry and springlike weather in Tahoe, with a forecast that offered no immediate relief.  So off we went.

Mt Bachelor powder skiing

First day of vacation – not bad.

Considering that Canadian border is nearly 1,000 miles from Tahoe, we decided to hit a few U.S. ski resorts on the way up.  First stop was Bend, OR, to see N’s parents…and sneak in skiing at Mt. Bachelor.  This is not a new resort to us – it’s where N learned to ski, and we’ve had more than a few memorable powder days there already.  But to have fresh snow after weeks of sunshine and high pressure in California was a welcome start to vacation.  

Mission Ridge Ski Resort

Short hike, big payoff.

From Bend we drove to the town of Wenatchee in eastern Washington.  Located on the east side of the Cascades, it’s home to Mission Ridge, a 2,000 acre ski resort right outside of town.  It’s not your typical PNW resort, in that there’s a lot of sunshine (300 days a year – like Tahoe) and the snow is drier than those resorts on the western side of the state.  Like a few other ski resorts we visited, Mission Ridge does not boast villages or lodging.   There’s a base lodge and a smaller lodge mid-mountain, but it was refreshingly simple – and the lift ticket rates reflected it ($53).  Our timing was good, for a recent storm meant that fresh tracks could be had if you were willing to hike.  And we were.

Mission Ridge ski resort

Fun terrain…and a bomber plane!

Mission Ridge’s terrain is varied, with plenty of advanced/expert steeps to keep us skiing until the end of the day.  It offers night skiing as well, but we had to get on the road for the next stop on our ski safari.

Next up: Red Mountain

Winter Break

We spent last week feting the holidays in Bend, where our impeccable timing meant we found fresh powder on Tuesday, and saw the sun and powder on the summit of Mt. Bachelor on Thursday.  While I’ve skied here numerous times, it has always been during storms, so I’ve never seen the top of the mountain, let alone skied it.

The top was fun, albeit a mix of hardpack glare ice where winds had blown the snow off and kneedeep powder where said snow had collected.  There were a few steeper pitches, but overall it was pretty gentle terrain – with great views of the Sisters.  I found it amusing that there was an employee at the bottom of the Summit chair warning people that there was no groomed runs and it was for experts only.  I realize there’s a punter factor at every resort, especially at this time of year, but this seemed excessively cautious.

But that might be because I’m a proponent of the Darwin school of thought, letting only the smartest survive.