It’s been at least six months since many folks in northwest Washington took their last turns on snow, and while that sure seems like a long time ago, the hiatus makes it all the sweeter. The fickleness of winter is one of the aspects that makes it so captivating, as does its seasonality. The off-season allows for time to recharge and remember, to anticipate. Don’t get me wrong, never-ending, perpetually dumping winters are the stuff of dreams, but maybe they’re best that way. Isn’t there a chance we’d take it all for granted and forget what it’s like when the stars align to deliver dreamlike conditions?
As the seasons transition from fall to winter, the excitement only builds. The community gathers to celebrate our shared love. We watch the highlights of winters past and express hopes for what this season might bring. These cultural rituals are a staple of the sport. They mark the passage of time, provide a communal experience, and acknowledge something larger than us. Then, finally, comes opening day, the pinnacle of six months or so of imagining, and a manifestation of excitement for what this winter has in store.
On Thursday, November 17, Mt. Baker Ski Area season passholders lined up with jubilation for a special passholders only day. Cheers rang through the air as the first chair loaded in another enduring seasonal tradition. Boarders and skiers took to the groomers and made the most of their time on snow, lapping from bell to bell. The following day, winter 2022-23 officially began with the ski area opening for everyone. An unusual cold spell brought chilly temps and mountain snowfall early in the month, providing just the right amount for pro patrollers, lifties and the entire mountain operations crew to kickstart the season. A high-pressure system followed, delivering crisp air, brilliant blue skies and surreal mountain vistas for the weekend as everyone reacquainted themselves with the mountain.
The atypical weather patterns we’ve seen early this season are a reminder that anything can happen, but with an unusual third-in-a-row La Niña winter predicted, there are plenty of reasons to be excited. Once again, we get to froth over incoming weather patterns, hope Mother Nature delivers, and revel in the excitement with like-minded, winter-obsessed kin. Knowing the season isn’t forever simply emphasizes the good fortune when it arrives. We’ve been dreaming of powder days for too long, but now the time is upon us, because at Mt. Baker it’s generally a matter of when rather than if.