Mt. Bachelor is known for adventure — from epic skiing and snowboarding in the winter to laps down the mountain bike trails in the summer. This summer the mountain added ziplining to its roster of “active participation adventures.” I got a first look at Mt. Bachelor’s new ZipTour and my advice is to stretch, hydrate and come mentally and physically prepared for this new all-in outdoor adventure.
The tour runs two hours from start to finish with a descent of 1,400 vertical feet. Riders can achieve speeds close to 70 miles per hour, making this not only the steepest and highest zip line in the Pacific Northwest but also the fastest. The views are incredible and the adrenaline rush was definitely more than I expected.
What sets this ZipTour apart from other zip line adventures is clear from the beginning. The tour is social, as in you’re able to drop in on with a partner side-by-side on the dual line. Another unique feature is the braking system; each rider is assigned a trolley, which is basically your personal zip line handle and braking system that you control by pulling down on the handle to go faster and pushing up to slow down. This control allows you to not only manage your comfort zone for the ride down, but also to interact with your partner by speeding ahead, slowing down and letting them pass you and so on.
Even though it was early July in Bend, the weather was still cool enough for jackets and even light gloves up at the mountain. Our tour started off with an orientation at the mountain base, where we were fitted into our harness and equipped with a trolley stashed in a backpack and a helmet. Next up was a chance to try out our braking skills and our ability to follow basic hand signals (slow down, speed up, stop!) on a short span.
Next we load the Pine Marten chairlift up to 7,800 feet where the first of three loading platforms awaits. The tour consists of three stages starting with the top of Pine Marten lift descending 255 feet in elevation toward the Skyliner chairlift. The views during the whole tour are stunning — this platform features views of Tumalo Mountain and Paulina Peak in the distance. The attendant attaches the trolleys and gives the go ahead. Truth be told, this is my first zip line experience, having previously opted out of old-fashioned free-for-all drops from tree stands in the past. The thorough orientation and the modern equipment give me a confidence that I’ve never had in ziplines, so I’m free to enjoy the ride without worrying about my equipment — which isn’t to say I didn’t scream all the way down, I did, but I also had a lot of fun.
Stage two offers up incredible views of South Sister towering above the forest, which I focused on as the attendant fastened my trolley onto the line. This set up ahead of each drop was definitely the most nerve-wracking part for me. I didn’t want to look off the edge of the platform until it was time to go. Once secured and verbally cleared for takeoff, a gentle pull on the trolley handle was all it took to set off. This second zipline spans back toward the Pine Marten lift with a vertical drop of 263 feet.
Finally, stage three, the longest stage also features the most stunning views of Broken Top peak, which earned it the nickname the “Broken Top Drop.” This section is an 866-feet vertical plunge spanning 3,443 feet back to the base area where you hand off your trolley.
If you’re anything like me, applaud yourself and then head straight for the Clearing Rock Bar to relax and recover.