In stark contrast to office days, 5 a.m. just hits different when powder is on the itinerary. The battle to get out of bed doesn’t seem so uphill in knowing that you’ll soon be sliding down a mountain. I, along with hundreds of other impassioned skiers and snowboarders in Washington state, can attest to this, especially after last Sunday’s deep 2019/20 Season Opener at Mt. Baker Ski Area.
With over 40 inches of fresh snow falling on Mt. Baker since the Thursday prior, mountain-goers meandered up Highway 542 with face shots on the mind. Under clearing skies and the watchful eye of the ever-majestic Mt. Shuksan, friendly hordes of Gore-Tex clad devotees lined up in front of Chairs 1, 2 and 3 in eager anticipation. Along with the lifts turning out of Heather Meadows Base Area we knew that Chair 4 would be in the mix, and it came as a welcomed surprise when mountain operations got 5 and 6 spinning too. Sporadic symphonies of hoots and hollers rang out across the resort as people reveled in their first turns (and tomahawks) of what is sure to be another epic season in the North Cascades.
Unlike that weightless excitement felt on Mt. Baker’s amazing season opener, waking up the day after wasn’t so easy. The celebration left some backs tweaked, and a lot of legs sorer than they’ve felt in a long time. But those tender aches and inflammations come with the territory of riding from first chair till last, finding playful pockets of powder around the resort and jumping off the Austin wind lip with friends all day long. It’s a small price to pay for the mental refresh resulting from our first day back at Mt. Baker—the sort of mental refresh that’s hard to find anywhere else.
While we’re on the topic of refreshes: Mt. Baker has been getting hammered all week long. A shift north in the jet stream has brought with it daily snowfall and the terrain is filling in nicely. So enjoy this recap from opening day, relax, then re-wax and get on up there to get yours.