Virtual Volcano Vacation #114 WINNER – Bachelor

Mount Bachelor – Image courtesy US Geological Survey – public domain

If there is one thing that my virtual travels have taught me, it is that life as an anthropomorphized volcano can be complicated. Some volcanoes are keeping hopeless vigil over a fallen lover, some are handsome devils that make the ladies swoon and their rivals cry, and still others are just complete jerks who stole my homie’s girl.  So, being the absolutely charming diminutive cinder cone that I am, I try not to get myself into too many entanglements and leave a trail of moonstruck or brooding volcanoes behind me. I just want to have a little fun, so I headed back over to one of my own favourite hunting grounds, the Cascades Volcanic Arc in Oregon, where I hooked up with Mount Bachelor.

Overview of the Mount Bachelor Chain – 3D-rendered satellite image by Google Earth Pro

Like many bachelors, Mount Bachelor does not live completely alone. The 2,763 m high stratovolcano is the northernmost and youngest of the 25 km long Mount Bachelor Volcanic Chain, which includes three shield volcanoes and around fifty pyroclastic cones. Lookout Mountain is the southernmost shield volcano, with Sheridan Mountain in the middle, and Kwohl Butte actually underneath the stratovolcano that is Mount Bachelor.

Kwohl Butte stands before Mount Bachelor with two of the Three Sisters volcanoes in the background – Photo by Lee Siebert, 1981 (Smithsonian Institution) – via GVP

The entire complex is thought to have been constructed between 18,000 and 8,000 years ago, and occurred in four episodes. The first episode began during glacial retreat and was mostly concentrated at the center of the complex, where Mount Sheridan was constructed. The second episode took place to the south of Sheridan Mountain along the chain of vents that includes Siah Butte. The third episode was the one that actually built Kwohl Butte and then Mount Bachelor. Glacial moraines upon Bachelor. The fourth and final episode happened around the north flank of Bachelor and produced the Egan pyroclastic cone and the lava flows which hook toward Sparks Lake. All of the activity at Bachelor ended prior to the VEI 7 caldera-forming eruption of Mount Mazama around 5680 BCE. This is known because Mazama’s ash overlies every cone and flow of Bachelor.

Mount Bachelor’s summit – Photo courtesy US Geological Survey – public domain

These days, the volcano is best known for the Mount Bachelor Ski Area. Founded in 1958, the facility has grown to become the sixth largest by area ski resort in the U.S. Guests can ascend by lift to 2,743 m, just 20 m short of the volcano’s summit, which is accessible by foot. And as if volcano-climbing isn’t exciting enough, there is also skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, mountainbiking, showshoeing, dogsledding, snow-tubing  and interpretive tours….and of course there are eateries, bars and coffeehouses too because volcano-climbing burns calories.

Mount Bachelor Ski Area – image via TravelOregon.com – photographer not credited

The Bachelor got his name because of his closeness..or perhaps not-so-closeness..to the neighbouring Three Sisters volcano complex. Forever single, he was originally named Bachelor Butte, but the ski resort operators felt that their clientele would prefer skiing on a mountain, and so they incorporated the more dignified topographical designation in their official name. Soon, everybody was calling him a mountain. In 1983, the operators of the ski resort finally convinced the Oregon Geographic Names Board to adopt Mount Bachelor as his official name. So far I have not found any mention of names or legends attached to the volcano by the native people of the area.

Congratulations to Glenn, who was the only one to find me this week. I think I have one more domestic volcano in my travel plans, but as the dread Ides of April draws near, a volcanohead starts thinking it’s time to put a little more distance between myself and the taxman. For now, I’m hittin’ the trail on-foot, but you all can try to catch up wtih me this coming Monday on a new adventure at a new volcano.

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