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Baker with Mountain Madness

The 4−1−1 on Baker Backcountry Skiing

Ever want­ed to try back­coun­try ski­ing but didn’t know where to start? Ever want­ed to explore new back­coun­try ski ter­rain but didn’t want to waste days stum­bling around? Ever want­ed to refresh your avalanche edu­ca­tion but didn’t want to take a whole new course? Well, join MM ski guide and avalanche instruc­tor as he updates us on his recent ski day with MM clients in the Mt Bak­er Back­coun­try and their vis­it to the White Room.

The Mt Bak­er back­coun­try has been my go-to play­ground this win­ter. With its insane amounts of snow, unend­ing ter­rain, and incred­i­ble local ski cul­ture, I find myself head­ing west on Hwy 542 every chance I get. So, when the MM office called and said we had some folks who want­ed a day of guid­ed back­coun­try ski­ing in the Bak­er area; need­less to say, I was excit­ed. Jor­dan and Chelsea are no strangers here at MM. They joined us last sea­son for one of our Stevens Pass AIARE Lev­el 1 cours­es. This year they were look­ing to expand their back­coun­try ter­rain and refresh a lit­tle of their avalanche skills. The Bak­er back­coun­try was the per­fect place to do both. 

Jor­dan enter­ing the White Room on Her­man Peak’s SE glades. Dal­las Glass photo

Two weeks of sun­ny and warm weath­er here in the North­west had left me won­der­ing if we’d be hunt­ing mid-win­ter corn in a region famous for its record amounts of pow­der. Well, Bak­er would not dis­ap­point. On Wednes­day before our trip the clear skies turned grey and win­ter returned! Over 18” of fresh had fall­en in the Bak­er area by Sat­ur­day morn­ing and some recent per­son­al ski days told me that our avalanche prob­lem would be local­ized. This meant game on!

Let’n the snow fly, Chelsea lays down first tracks on Her­man Peak. Dal­las Glass photo

As we put climb­ing skins on in the park­ing lot at Heather Mead­ows it was clear that the weath­er fore­cast of snow show­ers would be an under­state­ment. Moth­er-nature had full on snow in store for us all day. While this would bring us killer pow­der, it also meant low vis­i­bil­i­ty and that we’d be bet­ter off in the trees. After a short warm-up lap to get our skis under us, we head­ed for the SE glades of Her­man Peak. As I watched Jor­dan ski from my look­out posi­tion, he com­plete­ly dis­ap­peared; turn after turn Jor­dan entered what we like to call the White Room! Pow­der bil­low­ing up and over his shoul­ders, flow­ing past his waste; it was deep. Then down came Chelsea with a spec­tac­u­lar tele­mark per­for­mance, arc­ing grace­ful turns with streams of snow hang­ing in the air as she went. As I joined them at the lake below I saw two huge grin­ning faces. What do ya think? Should we ski it again?’ I asked. Absolute­ly!’ they replied. So up we went. 

Find­ing the goods in Swift Creek, Jor­dan com­ing down toward the mead­ow. Dal­las Glass photo

Peo­ple were begin­ning to notice our tracks and smiles on Her­man Peak; I guess the cat was out of the bag. Oth­er skiers were head­ing up to ski in our tracks, so we turned our atten­tion to a new area. After an obser­va­tion­al lap in the upper Swift Creek drainage, a local favorite, we moved down canyon to set our­selves up for one last big lap. As I dropped in to scope the line, I couldn’t help but laugh. Yet again we’d grab untracked snow on an amaz­ing line. I tucked into some trees to take pic­tures of Jor­dan and Chelsea as they one by one showed me how tele-ers take a beau­ti­ful sport and add anoth­er twist of art. We gath­ered in the mead­ow below with wea­ried legs and glad­dened hearts. One last skin track up, and we’d point our skis toward home.

Adding a lit­tle bit of tele-art, Chelsea puts her knee to the ski. Dal­las Glass photo

The snow hadn’t let up all day. Bak­er had shown us yet again why it is world renowned for its deep snow and spec­tac­u­lar ter­rain. We may not have been able to see any of the moun­tains with all the falling snow, but we were able to dig deep into their souls and allow their beau­ty to flow around our waist and over our head one turn after another.“

~ MM Guide Dal­las Glass