Opening Weekend at Mt Baker: Pacific Flows and a Pillow Feast

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It’s funny how quickly the taps can turn on—then off again—in the Pacific Northwest.

Mt Baker, WA’s opening day last Wednesday came with a heavy dose of snow. From the dusting a week before, the mountain suddenly had the most snow in North America thanks to a four-day drubbing at the hands of a Pacific front. A whiteout on-hill served up a generous dose of powder turns, although much of the steeps remained closed due to lingering holes in the snowpack and avalanche potential brought on by four feet in four days. But by Thanksgiving, the storm lifted enough to provide a bit more visibility and the opening of some steeper runs inbounds—a hearty helping of PNW powder to work up an appetite for Thanksgiving dinner.

And then it turned off—rising freezing levels and subsequent high pressure left things a little crusty, but served as a good base builder. This also meant moderate-to-low avalanche danger and a first opportunity to explore the backcountry. So, on Sunday, I joined a few friends for a mellow tour out the Shuksan Arm for a close up look at one of the most beautiful mountains in the PNW.

Despite some hoar frost, it appears things are setting up nicely. A brief warm front midweek will hopefully take care of any sketchy layers, and the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center just released a favorable forecast for inbounds powder into the weekend. It appears that the Pacific flow is once again ready to usher in pillows aplenty.

We hope you all had a powder-filled Thanksgiving and ushered in the 2012-13 season with a smile on your face and a full belly, wherever you are.

Winter’s here—see you in the mountains.


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