Backcountry Safety with K2 and Atlas: A Day at Mt Baker

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With the forthcoming launch of the new K2 Backcountry snowboard line, the fine folks at K2 Snowboarding and Atlas Snowshoes invited a group of magazine folks for a group media event at Mt. Baker. While a snowboard trip to Mt. Baker is normal for myself, this trip was a bit different as we were given the chance to check out new backcountry product from K2/Atlas, shred with K2 Pros Shaun McKay and Aaron Robinson, and receive a fairly extensive backcountry course from American Alpine Institute including route-finding, snow profiles and more.

From somebody that grew up riding the Baker backcountry via bootpack, accessing terrain with a splitboard and snowshoes was a nice treat. This was actually my first time using a snowboard-specific snowshoe and I was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to hike and cover terrain much faster and easier than post-holing. In the past, one of my major concerns with splitboarding was that the skins sometimes did not stay on the board. It appears K2 has solved this issue with skins that attach to both the front and rear of the board when in ascend mode. Impressive—way cool and well done K2.

While ease of access and quality gear is a large part of the Backcountry snowboarding experience, safety certainly needs to be addressed and K2/Atlas was quick to mention this at every opportunity. Given the warm and snowing conditions and twitchy snowpack, it was good timing to check out a pit profile and learn a bit more about traveling in avalanche terrain. The American Alpine Institute is known to have one of if not the best avalanche safety courses in the Northwest and offers trips all over the globe to remote locations. Our media group was lucky to have a few hours of intense avalanche training, which included pit digging, terrain analysis, a run or two, and a group discussion over cold beverages.

Thank you K2 Snowboarding, Atlas, AAI, Connor, Hunter and Ryan, for re-introducing me to the familiar Mt Baker backcountry with a new perspective on both equipment and snow safety.


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