Point of clarification, Baker's base elavation is 3500' and the highest point inbounds is 5000'. Whereas, Bachelor has a base of 6000' and a summit of 9000' and is the highest ski area in the PNW. Usually Bachelor is not affected as much by warm weather systems.
But yes, 2004-2005 was a sad year.
Correct. 2004-05 in the PNW and western Canada was distinguished by 4 days of torrential rain to 8,000+ feet in mid-January followed by ~6 weeks of drought. Crystal was actually closed for ~2 months and I don't think they were the only one. Washington/Oregon skier visits were 1.7 million vs. a 12 year average of 3.6 million.
Despite a banner year in California in 2005 I made 2 trips into western Canada that season. The first, right after that rain, started with 3 days of cat skiing in some of the worst snow I've ever experience. I was getting very nervous about the second trip in late march to Whistler, but fortunately it snowed 33 inches the 2 days before I arrived.
At any rate, we all remember the disasters like that cat skiing in 2005. I've had 14 other cat trips in western Canada since 1997 and rest have been good and some of them like last year rank among the best trips of my life. I'm sure there are some of you who had disaster trips last season in Colorado or the Sierra. But in the long run if you choose your dates and places sensibly those disasters should fall well under 10% of trips. Sometimes $#!% happens, and the 2005 trip didn't stop me from going back to western Canada nearly every year since.
Ignore the BS forecasts and keep it simple. Expensive fly-to destination trips should generally be mid-January to mid-March. The places that are good later than that are quite predictable in terms of snow preservation and I've referred people to them here many times. Earlier season commitments should only be to the places with outstanding early season long term snow history. For skiing before Christmas do not commit until you see who is getting lots of early snow.
For places within drive distance you have an advantage, so use it. You can wait for the snow and hit it right away.