December 2-5… A.P. helps me load my skis and duffel bag into the back of his truck. It's 4:30 am. Sammo sits shotgun. We're about to leave Salt Lake City, Utah. It's dark, it's cold, and there is almost no snow in the Wasatch Mountains. Tomorrow, December 2, is opening day at Alta Ski Area, our home resort. It's A.P.'s first time missing Alta's opening day. It's probably Sammo's as well, but he's stoke ranting about where we're headed, his mind moving too quickly to dwell on the place we're leaving. We're driving 16 hours north from Utah, following snow reports and rumors of all-time conditions at Mount Baker, Washington. Mount Baker Ski Area boasts the unofficial highest average snowfall in the world. It seems like a good place to ski some deep snow.
We drive north into a snow globe. Our first day skiing of the season is through 36 inches of North Cascade blower. We start our days in the dark and finish them in the dark. So much for easing into the ski season. Wake up, coffee, boots on, chair lift, hike, drop in, celebrate, sleep. What day is it again? Not like it really matters... Our host and unofficial guide, Tom, delivers unmatched Pacific Northwest hospitality. He shows us his favorite zones and shares his home. The sun pokes out for a few hours a day. The temperatures stay cold. The snow stays deep. Our days warp into a wild vortex of cold smoke and old growth forest. All too soon, high pressure tightens its grip on Baker. We wake from our powder fever dream and decide it's time to drive back to Utah. Even paradise has to warm up sometimes. Chances are, it will snow big at Mount Baker again. It always does. --Sam Watson