April 29, 2001, Mt. Baker Backcountry
WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Two of us decided against driving over the pass for fear they'd close the North Cascades Highway if the predicted snow and high winds built windslab in the chutes above the hairpin turn. Instead, we had a nice, tame and humbling trip near the Mt. Baker Ski area: a foot or so of fresh wind-affected powder, rapidly turning heavy in rising temperatures, with moderate snow, high winds and whiteout above 4800 feet. Windslab was releasing in our switchbacks, so we backed off the steeper places which, in any case, we couldn't really see in the whiteout and settled for a number of short runs on a variety of aspects. Lots of snow scoops and holes where we least expected led to an extraordinary selection of spectacular wipeouts. Getting back up after each fall seemed to be taking longer and longer, so we beat a retreat back to the world of double lattes and mundane responsibilities. One of us professed to have had a good time; the other claimed a new understanding of those who, after reading the weather forecasts, decided not to come with us. For better or for worse, the ski area closed today with the deepest snowpack of this very dry year, somewhat over ten feet. Should be good skiing through June this year. Enjoy.