While the festering famish of snow continues to dredge onward around Tahoe (though there do exist some epic conditions for those willing to work), Mt. Baker offers up some delightfully white turns. Concerns had been growing in the back of my mind if the sky was even capable of precipitating, but Baker proves yes, yes it most certainly can. While they are still sitting below average on precip totals, a 100 inch base and the freedom to ski in any direction you want (rather than left white ribbon or right white strip of death) makes you feel like a kid in a candy shop.
Baker’s boundary policy/closure policy is pretty unique. All those ropes and signs that you get in trouble for crossing at other resorts are fair game at Baker, their only request is that you respect closer of the Canyon (a terrain trap to end all terrain traps between chairs 5 and 6). But bear in mind, with such lenient boundaries Ski Patrol requires that you ski with a pack in most zones. Their site sums things up:
THINK – Because as a visitor here, you will encounter an ever-changing and at times severe mountain environment. Your safety is NOT guaranteed.
A beacon is standard and shovel and probe are highly recommended. Ducking any rope is a grand opportunity, but be sure you know where you’re going because there does exist a number of zones that don’t exactly go through. For example, signs indicating Unsurvivable Cliffs should probably be adhered to.
There’s no need for sunscreen at Baker, if you see the sun at all. But no snow means lots of clouds, and clouds generally mean precipitation. So long as the snow levels are favorable (rain is an all too common enemy of Baker, whose summit sits at a mere 5,000 feet), you’re certain to have a grand time. With $45 tickets, Baker offers an affordable sabbatical from the no-snow insanity of Tahoe. Hop in your car, jump on an airplane, beg, borrow, or barter…one way or another make the pilgrimage up to Baker!