Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quick jaunt to Baker

Once again the Ryan, Patrick, David and Jenny crew hopped in the bucket of bolts (Ryan's minivan) and started out on a trip to a new mountain. This trip was a quick one, a day trip down to Mt. Baker. None of us had ever been to Baker before and David was the only one on the trip who had ever skied outside of BC before. What an exciting experience! After a mandatory Tim Hortons stop before crossing the border, we drove south to the ski hill, unsure of what the conditions would be like as there was no snow in sight for the majority of the drive. Out of nowhere the mountains and snow appeared as we pulled into the parking lot.
Parking lot change

The sun was shining and the snow was better than we expected it to be. A bit of dust on crust, not too bad considering how heavy everyone says the snow usually is. The first major difference that we noticed at Mt. Baker vs. all the BC mountains we have skied at was the amount of effort spent on signage. There seemed to be a sign for everything, from "snow sliding off roof" to "low chair clearance." They seemed pretty paranoid and even the lift tickets had written on them "your safety is not guarenteed." Despite all the warnings, the chairs didn't even have safety bars! Patrick was very disappointed. Another difference is that to get to any terrain that looked any bit interesting, you had to duck ropes with more signs. These ones read EXTREME DANGER ZONE and proceeded to explain that rescue may not be possible. It was only later, on the way home that we realized that if you wanted patrol to come and get you in these areas, it was a minimum $500 fine!

The terrain at Baker was amazing. It involved a ton of niggling through tight, steep chutes, fins and rocks and had huge potential for cliffs on a deep day. The backcountry there was also tantalizing, next time I go I will be bringing the touring gear and staying for a few days for sure. Hopefully during a storm cycle!
There may have been a bit of snow...
Our sucessful day included skiing 95% in extreme danger zones and hugging the ski boundary area signs all over the mountain. It was fun being at a mountain where we seemed to be the only ones who were checking out the other skiers gear and judging their technique. The number of good skiers at Baker seemed to be low. Perhaps it was because we were there on a weekend? Maybe because it hadn't snowed in a while? Probably all the good guys were out hiking for their turns. Either way, it was a new experience after the constant judgement being thrown around in Whistler.
Bucket of bolts!
The trip back involved a stop at KFC to indulge in a fine American delicacy, the Double Down. Patrick double double downed while the rest of us looked on in horror. After that we decided to keep up the high calorie intake and get some ice cream at Fred Meyer as it was on sale for 8 drumstick cones for $5. Crazy!! We all felt pretty sick on the way home. That didn't mean that we skipped out on the mandatory Tim Hortons stop when we reached the good side of the border.

The best fence I have ever seen

The fence in the picture above was at a shop on the road down from the mountain. It caught our attention on the way up so we felt obliged to stop on the way home to check it out. It went all the way past the shop and around the garbage bins as well as back behind us along the rest of the parking stalls.

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