Thanks to the jet stream sticking stubbornly to the Pacific Northwest, ski areas in this corner of the U.S. are tallying healthy snowfall. Mount Baker in particular is an oasis for thirsty skiers this winter, with 65 inches falling in last week’s storm cycle. I dusted off the fattest skis in my quiver to glide through the fresh powder. After a few warm-up runs, I took the lift straight to my favorite double black, Gunner’s Bowl. It’s the kind of line I’m only comfortable skiing when the snow is cushy, but the powder was so dreamy that I floated down the slopes in slow motion on my rockered skis.
Just how much snow does Mount Baker get? During the 1998–99 season, the area set a new record for the world’s greatest snowfall in a single season: 1,140 inches, or 95 feet. With an average of 641 inches per winter, it also has the highest average annual snowfall of any resort in the world.
“Mount Baker is reminiscent of Alaska,” said a local I met on the lift. “People come for the big mountain, not for the scene.” The two and a half hour drive from Seattle keeps the crowds at bay, and the facilities feel under-developed. But there’s easy access to world-class backcountry. You’re just as likely to share a lift with a local high school kid as you are with a pro, and with the laid-back attitude at Mount Baker, you’ll probably never know if they’re one and the same. —Charlotte Austin
For more information, visit mtbaker.us.