TR: Mount Baker, Washington: 12/23 - 12/28
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December 29, 2008
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
I figured I'd throw up a quick TR from out here in Anacortes, Washington (about 2 hours from Baker) where I'm sitting, listening to the winds gusting and attempting to knock one of these huge Pacific North-West pine trees into our house.

We were supposed to fly out on a direct Dulles-Seattle flight on Sunday, December 21st, but the flight was canceled as part of the huge pre-Xmas weather-related mess in the PNW. After much fretting and many phone calls, we got the last seats on a flight from Baltimore to Chicago, then Chicago to Seattle on Tuesday, the 22nd. We flew standby on the ORD-SEA flight, and were the last pair to get a seat, thanks to my wife's frequent flier status. 198 people were on the standby list behind us, and didn't get to go... Suffice to say, I won't be in a hurry to fly United again (the event was horrible mismanaged, and actually NOT weather related).

Anyway, powder cures all wounds, and the North-West, specifically Mount Baker, has LOTS of it right now. Even downtown Seattle and the San Juan islands were covered in two feet of snow when I got in, which is very rare for this part of the state. Mount Baker got an extremely late start to the year, not opening until mid-December, but they're fast making up for it.

I'm having a hard time finding snow totals, but right around Christmas we got 36-40 inches, and the rest of the days are probably averaging 10 inches per day or so. The base jumped from 30-something inches when we arrived, up to the current 87, and everything is light, dry, and fluffy right now (again, a rarity for the PNW).

The only downside would be tough visibility conditions, but we were lucky enough to get a few hours of bluebird skies yesterday, before the latest snowfall started around 3pm. It's been a long time since I've skied in snow this deep, but that's a great problem to have. Santa brought me a new pair of High Society Freerides mounted with Marker Griffons, which I've put three days on and am very pleased with. It's my first twintip, but I had the bindings mounted back, at the freeride line, for all-mountain use.

We've been too busy skiing to take many pics, and I realized I had a dead battery in my DSLR our last trip up the mountain, so this was taken with a compact Canon SD850IS, at the base of the mountain. We're taking today off, but I'll try to get some decent powder shots tomorrow when we resume skiing.

This one is a few days ago (the snow is seriously much deeper now), when I hit a flat runout and my tips dove.

More pics to come later this week.
December 29, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts
.. but how did the High Society Freerides perform? do you like them?
Denis - DCSki Supporter 
December 31, 2008
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,337 posts
Fantastic. Thanks for posting. I'll be looking forward to more pics. Baker is on my list.
December 31, 2008
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
As promised, here are some more pics. I'll post thoughts on the HS Free Rides when I get a little more time, but suffice it to say I'm very pleased with them (at least in this type of snow).

Quick shot behind me on the chair. You can see, I believe, Mt. Shuksan in the background, with the bluish glacial ice visible.

Baker has a lot of cliffs, some skiable, some not. All are marked, but you have to (legally) duck a rope to even enter the areas.

Powdery goodness in the trees:

Closing in on the 100 inch base mark, with way more than that in snowfall sitting off the runs:

I spent a lot of time skiing this area, which is skiers right of chair 5. Some decent, mandatory drops at the top to get in, then steep and deep all the way down.

Roger Z
December 31, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
GAH!!! Thanks for the beautiful shots Reisen! I've got a buddy in Seattle, but he might be moving to Juneau before I have a chance to get back and see him. Baker remains a "must ski" mountain, haven't been there yet. If he goes to Juneau... maybe I can try Alyeska???? laugh
December 31, 2008
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
Couple more, this time take with a Nikon D40x DSLR:

Base lodge:

Better picture of Shuksan and the glacier:

Baker was definitely one of the cooler ski areas I've visited. The snow conditions were very abnormal, with much lighter, Utah-like powder compared to the normal sierra cement you find in the PNW. The vertical is very limited (only 1500 feet or so, which is about the same as Snowshoe's Western Territory), but the terrain was right up there with the top resorts. I didn't do any BC skiing, but I saw a ton of people inbounds with avy gear, and talked to a few locals who were showing my some great looking BC lines from the chairlift, that required a relatively short walk or skin to get to.
January 1, 2009
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Big Mountains..great views & tons of snow!...I lived in the seattle area (Renton Wash) during one of those rare times when the snow level dropped down to Seattle,wash...heading up to Snowqualmie pass would blow my mind with the huge walls of snow on the sides of the road. The machinery used to move & blow the snow was massive!....if it wasn't for Whistler these ski areas from oregon north to the border would be much more in the limelight..but the locals probably like it like that!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 1, 2009
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,961 posts
Nice stuff Reisen. Shuksan looks like the Alps. How does the skiing at Mt. Baker compare to Crystal Mtn?

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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