Mt. Bachelor is a 9,065 ft msl peak in the Central Oregon
Cascades, located approximately 20 miles west of the city
of Bend. It is a popular ski area with lift service from
6,300 ft msl to the summit. The Desert Air Riders (DAR)
Central Oregon paragliding club has made arrangements
with the ski area to allow lift-assisted paragliding from
the time the lifts open in the fall until the lifts close
the following spring -- six months in a typical year.
Because Mt. Bachelor is an insured flying site, visiting
pilots are encouraged to make a donation to the DAR to
help offset the cost of insurance. Recommended donation is $10-$20.
If you have any questions about Mt. Bachelor, contact
one of the DAR Bachelor guides listed below.
Pilot Requirements for Paragliding at Mt. Bachelor:
1. Prior to flying all pilots must read and agree to the rules established by Mt. Bachelor. Mt. Bachelor Site Rules
2. All flying must be done under the supervision of a guide approved by the DAR and Mt. Bachelor. DAR Bachelor Guide List
3. All flights must maintain horizontal and vertical clearance of 300' from the summit station and 200' from lifts and other structures. Summit station clearance
4. Pilots must be members of the U.S. Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association.
5. Pilots must have an Intermediate (Para III) USHPA rating, or a Novice (Para II) USHPA rating with 20 hours of logged air time and 90 logged flights, or a foreign rating equivalent to an Intermediate rating. Novice pilots must show logbook.
6. Pilots must have either a high altitude special skill sign off or a logbook showing flights launched above 6,000'.
7. Pilots must have a two-way radio tuned to 151.505, a reserve parachute, a helmet, and boots appropriate for walking/launching on snow.
8. Pilots must be 18 year of age or older.
9. Pilots must purchase lift tickets (a paragliding lift ticket good for one ride to the summit is available for $15).
10. Any pilot who has caused problems at Mt. Bachelor or any other site will not be permitted to fly.
11. All USHPA rules and guidelines apply.
12. All FAA rules and guidelines apply.
13. Tandem paragliding is allowed for recreational purposes only (no commercial tandems).
14. Speed riding is prohibited at Mt. Bachelor.
Pumice grape fern: Mt. Bachelor is home to the
pumice grape fern,
a plant that is listed by the Deschutes National Forest under
"Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Plant Species."
Paraglider pilots are required to avoid disturbing the
pumice grape fern when launching on Mt. Bachelor. In
practice this means launching on snow whenever possible.
Directions to Site: Before flying at Mt. Bachelor you
must contact a paragliding guide and arrange a time
to meet at the ski area. From the town of Bend, drive
22 miles west on Century Drive until you reach Mt. Bachelor
ski area. Meet the guide at either the Sunrise lodge
or the West Village lodge, depending on which lifts
are in use, and sign a Bachelor paragliding waiver at
the ticket window. If it's your first time flying at
Bachelor be sure to walk the LZ with a guide and discuss
the approaches. Ride the chairlifts to the summit with a
guide, who will choose an appropriate launch based on the
conditions each day. The only lifts that are insured for
foot traffic are Sunrise, Pine Marten, and Summit. Use
only these three chairlifts and do not attempt to go up on
the Skyliner chair or any other.
Launches: There are launches in all directions off the
top of Mt. Bachelor. The wind is obviously the most
important factor in determining which launch area to use,
but the snow surface also influences the choice because
ice formation and fresh deep snow sometimes make it
difficult or impossible to launch in certain places.
Launching the backside when the wind has a west component
means that you'll need to fly around the north or south
side of the mountain in order to reach the LZ, and if the
prevailing wind is over 10 mph there's likely to be a
large area of sinking air on the front/east side of the
mountain, so if that's the case it's best to fly well
clear of the mountain to avoid the sink before turning
toward the LZ. If a sidehill landing occurs on the upper
part of the mountain and the pilot wants to relaunch,
Bachelor management says, "the relaunch should if at all
possible happen back at the top in the normal areas."
They add, "We can always help someone down with a
toboggan ride or whatever is necessary."
Landing Zones: The two landing zones are shown as LZ1 and LZ2
near the bottom of the
Mt. Bachelor LZ map.
LZ1, located in the flat area NW of the bottom of the Skyliner
chairlift where the frontage road rejoins Century Drive,
is the primary landing zone for the winter and early spring.
LZ2, located near the nordic oval, is only available for use
after the nordic center closes which is usually around mid-April.
The wind often funnels between Bachelor and Tumalo Mountain
which means the most common wind directions in the LZs are
southeast or northwest (roughly parallel to Century Drive).
When landing at LZ1 into a northwest or north wind pilots need
to avoid flying over or close to the Skyliner lift line, which
typically means setting up the landing approach over the trees.
At both LZ1 and LZ2 stay as far away from skiers and snowmobiles
as possible and don't land in the road. In case of emergency it
is possible to land in or near the West Village or Sunrise parking
lots, but this is considered an outlanding and will need to be
reported to ski patrol and/or Bachelor management. Guides are
responsible for familiarizing new pilots with the landing zone
and for reporting any outlandings or other adverse events.
Notable paraglider flights: During the months of April
and May thermal flights are common at Mt. Bachelor.
Tumalo Mountain has proven to be a good thermal source
as well as a good starting point for the flight to Bend.
A number of paraglider pilots have flown from Bachelor to
Jeff Huey has flown from Bachelor to Pine Mountain.
Hang gliders launched from Mt. Bachelor have flown triangles
in the Cascades and have also flown to Bend.
Submitted by: Steve Roti
Last Revision Date: 1/4/2013