Russian Roulette and Waist Deep: October Turns at Mt Baker

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October in the Northwest usually means rain–lots and lots of rain. Last week, while it was pouring down in Bellingham, it was cold enough to be dumping fresh snow in the mountains. After obsessively checking the forecast all week, we decided to crack the seal on our 2012-13 season.

Word from some friends up at Mt Baker Ski Area was that it was snowing hard on Saturday night. Sunday morning, Dave Ghan and I packed the splitboards, some snacks and the dog into the space van and headed up 542. In Glacier we met some skier friends and pushed on up the highway. To our surprise, the snow was lower than we had anticipated. Spacevan was still in surf mode with the studded tires in the garage. With a little bit of digging and a 4×4 shuttle from our skier friends, we still made it up.

Parking in boot deep snow, we hastily put our skins on as Wyatt (the dog) thrashed around in the fresh to celebrate the beginning of a new season. Skinning up under the chairlifts brought back excitement and memories stored away since last season. By the time we reached the top of Chair 8 the whole crew was in disbelief at how much snow there was. Everyone completed their first transition of the year in record time and dropped in to seek out where the rocks were hiding.

The riding was good when you stuck to areas with some leftover snowpack. Venturing off into the unknown however, was equivalent to Russian roulette. A bruised hip and a couple core shots later we tracked out the permanent snow patch and couldn’t risk any more rock hits to our bodies or bases.

By keeping a watchful eye out for sharks on the way down, we were able to ride all the way back to the car. With boots off and beers cracked we celebrated the day and planned for the even more awesome days to come. We had just gotten our first pow turns of the year–and it was only October 21st.

Photos: Rylan Schoen


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