It only took a minute of standing outside the car to get caked in a thin layer of white, prompting us to gear up quick. The Heather Meadows lot at Mt. Baker Ski Area, WA was filling up fast and the line at Chair 1 looked to be 100 people deep. With over 24 inches of fresh snow falling in the two days prior to opening, and a few feet preceding that, the crowd came as no surprise. It was the first day of the season—on November 16, even—and with 50-plus inches at the bottom, it was deep enough to open every lift at the resort. Usually gobbles over Gabls don’t come until after turkey day, but the time to give thanks came early this year.
Some lines that don’t normally fill in until midseason were good to go, and with temps in the 20s the snow was light, playful. Face shots always come easy in these conditions. But the Mt. Baker regulars are a hungry bunch, meaning you’ve got to act fast to get yours. Fortunately, there was plenty of powder to go around, and more was on its way. It snowed throughout the day, and into Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Patrol worked diligently to open the steeps. It was full go and lived up to everyone’s high expectations.
Winter is here, and by the looks of it thus far, it’s going to be a good one. With nearly 70 inches already at the base of Heather Meadows and over 80 inches at the top of Pan Dome just one week into the 2017/18 season, things are off to an even healthier start than last year’s (which shaped up to be a deep, deep winter). Apparently, November is the new December. And we’re just fine with that.