The Mountain’s of Mount Baker
Mt Baker’s popularity and continued success lies in its stock of steep and challenging in-bounds terrain, plentiful and easy access to backcountry terrain and abundant snowfall (a world record-breaking 28,956cm in the ‘98-99 season). For families there are several mellow-grade beginner / intermediate runs, but a lack of grooming leaves these bumpy and rugged more often than not. Not that the place is intimidating, but the main clientele are intermediate to advanced skiers & snowboarders who don’t care for resort amenities or niceties and would rather just ride Baker’s legendary bulk. The mountain sits smack in the centre of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and the peaks surrounding the resort provide an almost unlimited amount of terrain beyond the resort’s boundaries.
Mt Baker has 1,000 Acres of ski-able terrain
Cable cars or gondolas
7 Chair & 1 Drag Lifts
1 Park & No Pipes
No Night Opening & no summer skiing/boarding
After signing up for a lesson, head to the rope tow on the mellow slope right in front of the White Salmon Day Lodge, or over to Chair 2. Baker Instruction offers a Best for Beginners package that includes rentals and lessons for those completely new to the mountain experience.
6 Easy Runs
Lap Chair 7 a few times, then try a few runs underneath Chair B. Session the natural halfpipe to the west of Chair 5, which has endless wall-hits and banks to slash. The woods off Chair 7 offer a mellow pitch to build up confidence at tree riding. End up the day with a quick hike to the east of Chair 1, where you’ll be rewarded with steeper tree shots and wide-open bowls.
16 Intermediate Runs
This low-profile northwest gem is the locus of steep, deep and dark dreams of hard-core powder and freeriding. Everything you’ve heard about Mt Baker is true. Yes it’s crazy, and yes you just might need a snorkel.
Behold! Mount Baker is your playground. Go straight to Chair 5, where you can spot your line from the chair and plot your descent down the most fun in-bounds terrain in the northwest: cliffs, chutes, jumps and steep, steep pitch. After a few laps (on a good day you could be here till closing), head over to Chair 1, where after a leisurely shred down the front bow, the hill funnels into a glorious array of even more chutes and cliffs. In bounds, it’s pretty much fair game: if you can spot it, you can drop it. But beware following people’s tracks, there are plenty of features that cliff out.
9 Expert Black Runs
|Top Lift||1551 m|
|Vertical Drop||485 m|
|Bottom Lift||1066 m|
|Opening||Late November (25 November 2016)|
|1 Day Weekend or Holiday||US $ 59|
|1 Day Weekday or Non Holiday||US $ 54|
|Season Pass||US $ 790|
Bellingham (BLI) Airport is the resorts nearest at 90 Km or 56 miles away.
The resort of Mount Baker sits alone at the terminus of a cul-de-sac, and the closest thing to a town is Glacier, some 30 minutes back down the road. It you blink while driving you might miss this moss-covered hamlet. Regardless of its size, Glacier contains sleeping, eating, drinking, and houses most of the locals, who might give you the hairy eyeball when you step into the tavern, but after a few beers are otherwise friendly creatures.
Check out the aspensnowmass.com for an in-depth explanation of the lodging options. Lodging starts out very basic at the St Moritz for US$60 and goes up to the exquisite five-star lodgings of the Little Nell. Renting a condo at the Mountain House or Gant and splitting it amongst fellow travelers is a good value option. Although Aspen has the best of the best there are still deals out there for the budget traveler.
See mt-baker.com/lodging for an in-depth listing of rental accommodation in and around the Glacier area . Most of these are condo or cabin rentals, suitable for multiple people, and vary in price from US$55 per person a night, upwards into the hundreds for upscale accommodations.
Apres Ski & Nightlife
As mentioned above, Graham’s is the only spot in Glacier to get a drink, unless you sneak into some hot rub with a six-pack.
|Possibly the most concentrated amount of freeriding terrain in America.||Lack of grooming and mellow terrain means it’s shocking without fresh powder.|
|Cheap tickets and no crowds. The most snow in the world.||No village means limited nightlife and eating options.|
|Poor snowpark and pipe program.|
Mount Baker’s terrain ranges from mellow pow runs to challenging Tarzan courses billy-goated by only the best. The resort has evolved into a breeding ground for some of the most talented and humble riders in the world.
Due to the lack of eateries, it’s a good idea to stock up in Bellingham.
Health & Wellbeing
There are plenty of massage establishments in nearby Bellingham.
Glacier is both an internet and mobile black hole, but Baker itself has free Wi-Fi.
Bellair Baker Shuttle runs a service from Bellingham to Glacier and on to Mt Baker on weekends and selected holidays. Otherwise it’s almost all driving or hitchhiking in the Bellingham / Glacier / Baker area.
No local partners.
Check into Baker Instruction for their comprehensive kids learning program.
Bad Weather Days
Mt Baker’s notoriety for snowfall is also synonymous with fiat light. Almost all the terrain in bounds has plenty of trees around for contrast, especially under Chair 5. And who cares what it looks like if your tracks fill in after one run?
On powder days, get up early. Mt Baker is not a crowded place, but tends to get tracked fast, and the resulting bumps can render your legs jelly-like by noon.
An Interesting Little Fact
The Mt Baker Slalom is the event event of choice for hardcore snowboarders.
In Glacier, you have to check out the Mt Baker Snowboard Shop, with signed pictures of shred legends past, present and future plastered up on the walls.
|Ski/Ride the backcountry with full kit and knowledge.||Have to sleep in Glacier, don’t be afraid to sleep in your car overnight!|
|Drive down to Bellingham to do a big grocery shop and hit the bars.||Rock the latest Polo gear in the lodge après.|
|Get to the bill early.||Duck ropes without proper gear and a partner.|