Swampy Lakes Skiing

Living in Bend, I have a lot of options for local backcountry skiing. Several Sno-Parks are nearby with a network of ski trails leading out from each.

My local favorite this past winter/spring was the Swampy Lakes Area. The Swampy Lakes Sno-Park located at 5800 feet in elevation and is just north of the Cascade Lakes Highway (Highway 46) about 16 miles from Bend. The higher elevation of the Swampy Lakes Area typically offers better snow conditions than Virginia Meissner Area, yet is better protected in stormy weather than areas higher and nearer Mount Bachelor. During weekends and holidays the Mount Bachelor highway traffic can be very heavy and it is helpful to get out of the traffic sooner than driving in traffic all the way to the Bachelor Nordic Center.

The only disadvantage of the Swampy Lakes Area is that it is closed to dogs. But Linda and I often take our dogs Joey and Chico with us to the nearby Wanoga Snow Play Area and ski with the dogs around a groomed ski trail.

Linda skiing up Vista Butte

Linda skiing up Vista Butte

My favorite trail combinations in the Swampy Lakes Area this past ski season were the Swede Ridge Loop, the Swampy-Flagline-Flagline Tie-Butte-Ridge-Beginner trail loop, and the out and back up Vista Butte via the Ridge and Butte trails. The Nordeen Loop was also fun, but that route can experience more traffic. One can combine some of these to make longer ski outings, as well.

Paul on the Vista Butte Summit with his new Ski Gear

Paul on the Vista Butte Summit with his new Ski Gear

This season I augmented my Fischer Mountain E99 Crown ski, Alpina NNN BC ski boot combination with a Madshus Epoch ski, Fischer BCX 6 ski boot combination. The shaped Madshus Epoch ski and stiffer Fischer boot provided me much more turning capability than the Fischer E99 ski and Alpina boot. I particularly enjoyed carving turns in powder down the forested slopes of Vista Butte.

The Madshus ski and Fischer boot do require more energy to break trail than does the narrower Fischer ski and more flexible Alpina boot, but the combination is lighter and easier to tour in than is a typical telemark ski/boot combination. But if I should repeat the long ski tour around Crater Lake next season I will likely use my old E99 skis and Alpina boots for it again.

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains and other mountain ranges in the Western United States.
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