58.7 F
Thursday, June 4, 2020


water mark 11

Northern view just below the peak of Mount Herman. //Photo by Trevor Dickie 

How often are days at the ski resort filled only with fresh tracks and untouched powder? In the backcountry, that’s the description of most days, though the days are never without risk.

Mount Baker Ski Area had a snow-base of 101 inches at the Heather Meadows base area at the end of the first week in January and more snow is coming down. The early season skiing and snowboarding has been as good as anyone could ask for.

The resort is well known for its deep snow and powder-filled days, but the backcountry areas around the ski resort are less traveled and often have more snow than the resort itself. This means more fresh tracks and powder turns, sometimes stretching days after the last snowfall.

To access backcountry areas, continue along the highway past the left turn into the main parking/lodge, and stay right into a parking lot past the Heather Meadows base area. The lot is overflow parking for resort-goers and other visitors.

With proper knowledge, training and equipment, the backcountry can be a playground for any willing skier or snowboarder.

Trevor Dickie 

water mark 12

The south side of Mount Herman. // Photo by Trevor Dickie 


If you go touring for your first time at Mount Baker, do not go alone. Make sure both you and your partner have the correct safety gear. If neither of you have experience with the area in the winter, find someone to tour with who is experienced. It is extremely unsafe to go into foreign areas in the backcountry without guidance.

Since there are no chairlifts, most the day will be spent going up the mountain. The first days touring in a season may be tough, with only a small number of laps being made.

Someone in good touring shape could potentially ski two or three times as many runs as someone who isn’t as prepared for the trek.

On my most recent trip, I was heading up on my second lap and was passed by someone two times on a single ascent. He skied seven runs that day, I skied two.

With proper knowledge, training and equipment, the backcountry can be a playground for any willing skier or snowboarder.

Safety equipment, avalanche education, training and safety gear is very important for anyone entering the backcountry. Between Dec. 10  and Jan. 5, six avalanche deaths occurred around the United States, according to avalanche.org.

In Bellingham, both the American Alpine Institute, and the Mt. Baker Mountain Guides offer avalanche education courses throughout winter and into spring.

The classes will require you either own or rent the important equipment, including an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel. If someone gets buried in an avalanche, these are needed to locate and dig the buried member out.

Don’t let the potential dangers scare you off. Backcountry skiing is a great way to access some of the best runs you will ever encounter on the slopes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Behind the systems: WWU Newman Center forced resignation of student employee after learning of same-sex partner

Student says she was told to break up with her girlfriend or quit her job

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Sports: Pros and cons of Seahawks’ NFL draft pick Malik McDowell

Why did the Seahawks go after a defensive tackle with their first selection in the 2017 NFL draft? Coming off...

Latest News

What’s the story on all the painted bricks on campus?

A painted brick reads “Senior Class of 2020” with a picture of a Winnie-the-Pooh character on...

New, current students consider attendance at Western

During college admission season, Western is holding virtual tours and Q&A sessions for new and prospective students. // Illustration by Rachel...

Uninsured to suffer the most after the pandemic

Experts say isolation can negatively impact mental health, but not everyone has access to services they may need. // Illustration by...

Tiny house completion moved to fall

A fully rendered image of what the tiny-house will look like. It will be in the same location as seen in...

City of Subdued Excitement gets new subdued podcast

Annika Fleming (left) and Maria Dalla Gasperina on a field trip with Western during their internship in 2017. // Photo courtesy...

More Articles Like This