Apr 12, 2015
Winter made a brief return last weekend, with cold temperatures and heavy snowfall across the Pacific Northwest. The snow line was down to 800-1000m, with fresh snow on the North Shore Mountains, a rare sight this winter. Looking at the Mount Baker telemetry, there was up to 13″ of snow that fell on Friday evening through Saturday morning. Most of the snow fell on a variety of old surfaces, and the Northwest Avalanche Centre advised ski parties to safety enjoy the return of winter. I convinced Ned Mark and Jen that we could find some powder turns. Mark thought I was optimistic when I loaded up my 120mm waist skis into the car. It just feels wrong to ski at Baker with skinnier skis.
The ski area was still closed, but there was enough snow to start skiing from the parking lot at Heather Meadows. The vibe at the parking lot was great, everybody was smiling and happy with Ullr’s gift. We skinned up the Blueberry Cat track to the top of Chair 1. We skied down Canuck’s delight, which had a ton of snow on it and good coverage. We went back up to the top of Chair 1, sat on the chair lift for lunch, and then dropped down Pan Face. More powder turns and more smiles.
The visibility was looking a bit better, so we headed up towards Table Mountain. People were everywhere, with all kinds of gear, just having a good time. I watched one guy ahead of me, struggling to get up the slight incline at the start of the cat track. His skins were on backwards. And then there were all the people walking up the well-established bootpacks on Austin, stoked for the turns on the way down. Out here, it didn’t matter what gear you had, or what was on your feet. The fresh snow was just so delightful to be in after a dry winter.
The last descent of the day was down the Blueberry Chutes off Table Mountain. The initial turns were steep and deep. I dropped one knee, and then another, and amazed myself that I could still tele. You might say the snow was just perfect for my fat skis, Voile Drifters. Once the slope opened up below and the angle eased, I was in cloud nine. The turns felt effortless and I could just surf overtop of the deep powder, which was now consolidating with the warming afternoon temperatures. The weather came in, and it was dumping the entire way back to the parking lot.
Winter’s back at Mount Baker. The fantastic staff at the ski area have decided to open up the ski area for April 16-19 out of Heather Meadows for one last hurrah. It looks like they’ll have three chair lifts running with the limited terrain. The forecast is for high freezing levels, which means cruising groomer skiing if you’re headed up that way. It’ll be interesting to see how the snowpack transitions back to spring conditions, after this recent winter reset.