Mt. Baker Ski Area

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Mt. Baker Ski Area
A view of Mt. Shuksan from the Ski Area. In the foreground is the White Salmon Lodge.
A view of Mt. Shuksan from the Ski Area. In the foreground is the White Salmon Lodge.
Location Glacier, Washington, US
Nearest city Bellingham 52 miles (84 km) west - 1hr 15min drive
Coordinates 48°51′30″N 121°40′38″W / 48.85833°N 121.67722°W / 48.85833; -121.67722 (Mt. Baker Ski Area)
Vertical 1,589 ft (484 m)
Top elevation 5,089 ft (1,551 m)
Base elevation 3,500 ft (1,100 m)
White Salmon Base Area
4,300 ft (1,300 m)
Heather Meadows Base Area
Skiable area 1,000 acres (4.0 km2)
Runs 31
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg - 24% easiest
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg - 45% more difficult
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg - 31% most difficult
Lift system 8 chairs, 2 rope tows
Snowfall 641 in (1,630 cm)
Snowmaking no
Night skiing no
Web site Mt. Baker Ski Area
Mt. Baker Ski Area is located in Washington (state)
Mt. Baker Ski Area
Mt. Baker Ski Area
Location of Mt. Baker Ski Area

Mt. Baker Ski Area is a ski resort located in Whatcom County, Washington, United States, at the end of State Route 542. The base elevation is at 3,500 feet (1,100 m), while the peak of the resort is at 5,089 feet (1,551 m).

The ski area is home to the world's greatest recorded snowfall in one season, 1,140 inches (95.0 ft; 29.0 m), recorded during the 1998–99 season. Mt. Baker also enjoys the unofficially highest average annual snowfall of any resort in the world, with 641 inches (53.4 ft; 16.3 m).[1][2][3]

The ski area is known for numerous challenging in-bounds routes and for the many backcountry opportunities that surround it. The backcountry is accessible from several chairlifts, and access is permitted from the resort following the Mt. Baker Ski Area backcountry policy.

The mountain[edit]

The lifts at Mt. Baker are not named but referred to by number. All are fixed-grip quads without safety bars or footrests. Chairs 3 and 4 access the same point from different sides of the mountain using a continuous loop of cable (haul rope); there is a mid-station at the top for unloading only.

Chair 1 runs from the Heather Meadows Lodge upper base area to the top of Panorama Dome. There is a midpoint station on this lift, where other riders can catch it halfway down the mountain, allowing for speedy runs on Austin, Pan Face, North Face, Chicken Ridge, and the famed Chute. Also accessible from Chair 1 is the Canyon and the rest of the Chair 6 terrain. Chair 2 is located at the Heather Meadows Lodge upper base area. This is a chair for beginners. Chair 3 allows customers either to access the Raven Hut Lodge area or return down to Chairs 2 and 3. Chair 4 runs from the Raven Hut Lodge area and back up to the top of Chair 3. Chair 5 replaced two parallel double chairs and accesses intermediate terrain, as well as the experts-only Gabl's run and the Elbow backcountry area. Chair 6 runs to the top of Panorama Dome. Chair 7 is the only chair that leaves from the White Salmon Lodge base area. From it, one can access Chair 8 or the Raven Hut Lodge area. Chair 8 is the longest chair on the mountain and features longer groomed runs as well as access to the Hemispheres and Shuksan Arm backcountry areas. Additionally, there are two handle-tow surface lifts for beginners, one located at White Salmon and one at Heather Meadows.

As of 2010, Mt. Baker has one terrain park, called the Pinky Park, located at the top of Chairs 3 and 4. It includes a few smaller jumps as well as a variety of boxes.

Possible expansion[edit]

Future expansion is limited, according to an interview with the owner, Duncan Howat:[4]

Due to the remote location of the ski area — 37 miles out on a dead-end road — Howat said it will probably never become a full-scale ski resort with hotels and condos. For starters, there aren’t any public utilities up there to support more development. In 1989, when the ski area began developing a second base area known as the White Salmon Lodge, it first had to build all the necessary infrastructure: a parking lot, a water catchment and filtration system, a sewage treatment system, and a power generator.

"We’ll improve the current infrastructure, but as far as going off into some new territory and build new chairlifts, that won’t happen," Howat said. "We’ve got some new plans, but I’m not gonna let it out yet."

—Bellingham Business Journal, 2009

Legendary Banked Slalom[edit]

Started in 1985, this slalom snowboard race through the natural halfpipe has evolved into an international event. The Legendary Banked Slalom attracts many professionals from around the world as competitors and allows amateurs of all ages and abilities to compete on the same course over the same period with the professionals. The winner in each category receives a duct tape trophy and an embroidered Carhartt jacket.

Featured in films[edit]

Mt. Baker Ski Area is often featured in ski and snowboard films and still photography due to its picturesque setting, plentiful snowfall, and the availability of easily accessed advanced terrain. The Call of The Wild was filmed at Mt. Baker in 1934–35.[5]

Season and Hours[edit]

The ski season typically begins in late November and ends in late April. Usual operating hours are 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Previous opening days
Year Opening Date
2012 21-Nov[6]
2011 18-Nov[6]
2009 12-Nov[4]
2008 14-Dec[7]
2007 29-Nov[8]

History[edit]

1921–26
Mt. Baker highway constructed to Heather Meadows; skiing begins.[9]
1927
Mount Baker Lodge opened. Mt. Baker Ski Club organized.[9]
1930
First ski tournament at Heather Meadows.[9]
1931
Mt. Baker Lodge destroyed by fire.[9]
1935
Pacific Northwest Ski Association downhill tournament, held on northeast face of Table Mountain.[9]
1935–36
"Ski escalator" installed.[9]
1937–38
First rope tow installed, Otto Lang ski school.[9]
1953
The first chairlift, Pan Dome (now Chair 1), is constructed at the ski area.[5]
1977
Six chairs and four rope tows operate. They are referenced by name instead of number.[10]
1981–88
One rope tow (Galena) is removed, and chairs are now numbered instead of named.[10]
1989–90
The first quad chair (Chair 7) is installed in the White Salmon area. One more rope tow (7 Hills) is removed.[10]
1991–98
Chair 8 opens.[10]
1996
White Salmon Day Lodge opens.[11]
2002
Chair 4 and Chair 5 doubles replaced with Chair 5 quad.[12]
2011
Chairs 1 and 6 designated as "Experts only".[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

A view of the White Salmon lodge from the parking lot. Mt. Shuksan can be seen in the background.

Coordinates: 48°51′30″N 121°40′38″W / 48.85833°N 121.67722°W / 48.85833; -121.67722