hIf three months of snow in the mountains of Australasia just isn’t enough for you, it’s time you started looking north. Way north. Mt. Baker Ski Resort sits at the end of State Route 542 in Whatcom County, Washington. Baker boasts world class runs, bucket loads of snow (it actually holds the world record for the highest snowfall in one season) and amazing winter hiking trails, minus the intense crowds of North America’s better known snowsport destinations.
You can either fly to Seattle or Vancouver, then drive out towards the tiny town of Glacier, Washington – population 211. For daytrippers, Glacier is your last chance to stock up on supplies before hitting the winding access road to Mt. Baker Ski Resort. A flight into Vancouver gives you the opportunity to take in the many fruits of one of Canada’s most popular cities, but the Seattle option cuts out a border crossing – take your pick. You’ll lose cell service in Kendall, WA and won’t get it again until you’re at the ski resort, so keep that in mind.
Where to stay
Like New Zealand’s ski fields, there’s basically no accomodation on the mountain. Glacier is a sleepy little alpine town about 45 minutes from the action, and that’s about as close as you’ll find a bed. There aren’t many accommodation options in town, so make sure you book something well in advance.
What to expect
Mt. Baker is famous for its deep powder, steep lines and accessible backcountry. Expect down to earth locals who don’t need gondolas and high speed chairlifts to ski world class terrain. When you catch Baker on a powder day, you’ll understand what the hype is all about.
When to go
The resort opens sometime in November and closes in April when the snow melts. Baker hosts the world Legendary Banked Slalom event in February. If you can visit during the week, you’ll never see a lift line.