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Mt. Baker Re-Alignment?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm still learning how to properly ski Mt. Baker (with a little help from friends). The snow accumulations are legend and the terrain is varied with challenging slopes.

However, the layout is the strangest I've encountered. Few runs are self-evident (unless you're skiing under the lifts), and many entail abrupt transitions, or avoidance of cliffs.

It's also not without risk. I believe 3 or 4 people died on Mt. Baker this year.

Could Baker's lift layout could be aligned better to the mountain, yielding more direct downhill routes?
post #2 of 18
For one thing I seriously doubt that the Forest Service would allow any changes. When they replaced chairs 4, 5, and 6 the load and unload areas didn't change at all and even the chair towers were in the same places. My guess is that this was required by the feds.

Second, unless the area expanded into the National Wilderness Area (no chance of that) there really is no way I can see to do much different even if you could get it by the Forest Service.

Anyway, those abrupt transitions and weird geograpy add charm to the area and challenge to the runs.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
Anyway, those abrupt transitions and weird geography add charm to the area and challenge to the runs.
That's an enlightened perspective, Posuane. It's undoubtedly unique.

I suspected federal limitations constrained the layout.

If the resort designers could re-cast the layout today, without bureaucratic constraints, I wonder if the result would look the same.
post #4 of 18
Bakers lift layout is IDEAL in my opinon. If you really learn to know the mtn you will see how it lets you link runs togetehr from any point on the mtn to any other point, with out traversing. Secondly, Baker always has been and always will be a true experts only mtn. Because of the best runs and terrain are not marked on a trail map.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
Anyway, those abrupt transitions and weird geograpy add charm to the area and challenge to the runs.
I just wish that I had spelled geography correctly. The edit button has gone away somewhere.
post #6 of 18

Ski area design

I used to ski there quite a bit. I've often thought about their layout. Here's what I think happened.

Location: This was a hiking ski area because it was the end of the road. If they were deciding where to locate it, they would pick differently.

First skiing terrain: Pan Dome and Austin Pass. They put lifts on where they hiked. The original lodge was way skier's left from the current one, but the skiing "center of gravity" moved.

Oops. We'd like to figure out a flatter place for beginners. So, we'll put in that lift that uses the flatter area under Pan Dome. Crosses under Pan Dome. Which brings up an interesting first time at Baker observation: New person gets there in the fog, boards the chair, goes downhill. Then, while travelling through the fog, they see a chair "intersection". They finally get going up. Even a Baker local has to concede this is unique.

Hey, they decide we need more terrain. Left or right? We'll go left and build the C-3 Up and Up chairlift. Now, when you are building a chair and you do a double-sided chair, you are hitting issues that, charitably, are not in most standard area programs.

Hey, we need even more terrain. Then White Salmon fits off Up and Up.

This area is logical given the starting point and decision made but if you were deciding where to build a ski area in this vicinity and had a blank sheet for a road, you'd find a different starting point.
post #7 of 18
Maybe you're right, S11. Put the lodge (only one) where 3, 5, and 6 come together. Your beginner hill angles off toward chair 7. You still need chairs 8 and 1 to access the terrain, but extend 6 farther up the hill and knock the top of Pan down a bit to make it so you don't have to hike from the top of 6 or 1 to get to Austin. Then you've got a real resort kind of setup.

Naa. Leave it alone. It's better the way it is.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
Naa. Leave it alone. It's better the way it is.
Yeah, leave it be. Those funky sided fall lines, transitions, even varied weather to elevation/location characteristics are great. Kind of like a musical jam drafted on topography.

my only real single complaint is the top of 6 isn't a little higher up toward 1 -- and, yes, I know this makes me sound like a lazy ass.... but there have been times I've taken 3 to 2 to 1, just to avoid that very small uphill.

The right side (Pan) and left side (Salmon) are the sweet glove hand that reaches into the sky and grabs that precipitation. (shmaltzy, yeah I know).

but, it's unique. the east coasters have mad river, and the west coasters have baker. two incredibly unique, beautiful, and quitely rebellious places. Someone by the name of bill graham (or Uncle Bobo for the JStaw's in the house) once said of a band he hosted quite a bit in his venues, that, "they were the best at what they do," and baker and mad river, well, you could say about the same thing. they're the best at what they do, because they do what they do. Ski (and ride)

and it's almost over....:

... who is going this weekend?
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
I just wish that I had spelled geography correctly. The edit button has gone away somewhere.
Damn edit limitations!!!! Now poor Posaune has been limited in his desire to improve his spelling!!!!
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetsuma
Someone by the name of bill graham (or Uncle Bobo for the JStaw's in the house) once said of a band he hosted quite a bit in his venues, that, "they were the best at what they do," and baker and mad river, well, you could say about the same thing. they're the best at what they do, because they do what they do.
Well so far as I know, the only thing Baker's the best at, is collecting snow, and apparently snowboarders too.
post #11 of 18
From my limited experience, Baker is best at being uniquely its own place. It is not into styling (maybe that's its style). The corporation that owns it is local.

In an increasingly urban part of the country Baker is situated in a far back corner that is not easy to access exept for the people of Whatcom and Skagit counties. It would be easy for a large urban population in BC but the border is a hassle and tends to screen a lot of them out. There is no on-hill lodging. It's off the grid.

The terrain is strange and challenging as well as the weather. There is lots of heavy new snow, so people who really go for Baker had better be up on their crud-busting skills.

The views on a clear day are not to be believed.

I'll probably go for my last day today (Saturday). I can't make the last day party this year on Sunday (GRRRR!). For those going up for the big party, quaf one for me!
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
I'll probably go for my last day today (Saturday). I can't make the last day party this year on Sunday (GRRRR!). For those going up for the big party, quaf one for me!
Shall do so, Posaune. We went to Whistler today. A 3000-meter freezing-level precipitation day (that's Whistler-speak for rain - top to bottom). Took a long lunch.

Hopefully, the last day at Baker will rock!
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbakerskier
Bakers lift layout is IDEAL in my opinion. If you really learn to know the mtn you will see how it lets you link runs together from any point on the mtn to any other point, with out traversing. Secondly, Baker always has been and always will be a true experts only mtn. Because of the best runs and terrain are not marked on a trail map.
I agree, it can be learned. But you still end up with series of broken, shorter shots, rather than full-length runs and top-to-bottom rhythm. Criss-cross traffic is therefore also a fact of life.

However, after observing the layout fairly closely today (last day), I doubt anything can be changed, even if you had a clean sheet. The mountain topography just doesn't allow it.

It simply is what it is, which is plenty fine. It just means spending some time mapping runs that have little to do with the trail map, and becoming confident of one's routes.

Once learned, they're good for the duration.

Finally, who wants an "experts-only mountain". The phrase implies that anyone else doesn't belong. I once considered myself an expert. But, at age 52, I no longer do (50% is pure conditioning - which slips with age).

Even if I was still an expert, I wouldn't want a hill that only the top 2% or 3% of skier/boarders are qualified to ride. To the extent possible, resorts should be made accessible to all segments -especially mountains on National Forest Service land (we all pay taxes - don't we?).

The last day was beautiful. Perfect weather, goofy costumes, and hero-snow all day long.

I wish they'd keep it open for another month.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato
The last day was beautiful. Perfect weather, goofy costumes, and hero-snow all day long.
Captain, SHAME on you! Quit rubbing it in. I had to sit inside a large, windowless room today and do what other people told me to do. All I wanted to do was be on the hill.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato
The last day was beautiful. Perfect weather, goofy costumes, and hero-snow all day long.

I wish they'd keep it open for another month.
Was Endorra the Snow Fairy out? She's the one wearing a purple costume with purple streamers trailing from her arms; on skis, with no poles. She's fun to watch! Uses her arms to fly down the mountain (she was out last Sunday practicing).

Ahh, the only good thing is i skied six months this part year, which means it's only six months till we ski again!
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetsuma
Was Endorra the Snow Fairy out? She's the one wearing a purple costume with purple streamers trailing from her arms; on skis, with no poles. She's fun to watch! Uses her arms to fly down the mountain (she was out last Sunday practicing).

Ahh, the only good thing is i skied six months this part year, which means it's only six months till we ski again!
I didn't see her, but I did see Batman, Green Lantern, the fat-suit man, Miss Purple Tights, a few bikini babes (pleeeease fall), a Hawain princess and lots of others.

A fun way to end the year.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
Captain, SHAME on you! Quit rubbing it in. I had to sit inside a large, windowless room today and do what other people told me to do. All I wanted to do was be on the hill.
Posaune: Sorry to make you suffer. Hero snow is a great way to end the year. I found myself thinking: "Yeah, I really DO rock!!"

You can ski anything on that stuff. It leaves you with an unbounded sense of optimism.

There's still another month at Whistler (until June 4th).
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato
I didn't see her, but I did see Batman, Green Lantern, the fat-suit man, Miss Purple Tights, a few bikini babes (pleeeease fall), a Hawain princess and lots of others.

A fun way to end the year.
That's funny. How many people riding & skiing at Baker are old enough to even know who the green lantern is?

as for the bikini babes... you're right, they never seem to fall. I'm glad it was a blast, and wish I had made it.

All I can say is Ullr rocks for this year. Thank you!

Whistler... not a bad idea, actually....

-David
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