Words and photos by Nathanael Asaro
Subject Matters: Nathanael Asaro at Mt. Baker
This winter has been tough on the east coast, with minimal snow and base levels too low to ride in the woods safely. I finally decided to venture out to the Mt. Baker ski area in Washington State with three of my good friends from Vermont; Craig Brown, Tomas Ruprecht, and Ralph Kucharek. Craig and Ralph both had experience at Baker, and it was good to have friends that could show Tomas and I around because it was our first time there.
To start the trip, our flights were canceled a couple of days early due to an incoming storm on the east coast. Of course, it had to snow the biggest storm of the season on the day we were leaving. We quickly changed our flights to leave a day earlier to avoid being stranded in Vermont. Our Air B&B was already paid for, so we had to make it happen. We got out of Vermont just in time and had an empty flight to Seattle.
We woke up early and drove to the mountain for a day of storm riding. Due to the low visibility, we met up with a few friends and rode some inbounds terrain. I was stoked to have some new Jones outerwear from Neon Wave because it kept me dry all day when everyone else was wet from the PNW snow. After a good first day, we headed back to the condo to dry out our gear, cook some food, and get a good night's sleep for the next day, which was forecasted to be sunny.
Craig Brown getting his setup dialed in.
The following day, we woke up early and drove up the mountain. The sun was breaking through as we got up to the parking lot, and Tomas and I could see the insane terrain that was hidden in low clouds the day before. It was a whole new experience and one of the most visually stimulating places I have ever been. The Mount Baker ski area sits in the shadow of Mt. Shuksan, a 9,131 ft peak with visible glaciers. The views of the mountains are 360° around the resort. Mt. Baker peak, not to be confused with the resort was my favorite view. It looked like Mt. Fuji in Japan, a volcanic cone of white against the blue sky, with ridges fanning out and down into the valley. I felt like I was snowboarding in a national park rather than a ski resort.
We lucked out and had two amazing days in a row with fresh pow, sunny conditions, and stable snow. The next day was another day of low visibility, and we kept it mellow by exploring the resort and had to try the famous salmon chowder in the lodge. On the fourth day of the trip, it got a bit warmer than expected, and that was the end of our pow for the week. We had a fun day of hitting side hits and riding with some local friends in spring conditions.
The following day we all needed a rest, so we took a day to relax and walk around in the mossy forests down in the valley. We checked out a pizza place and brewery that Craig used to work at. We ordered some raw oysters and pizza. One of the pizzas had salmon on it, which I learned is a local specialty. We ended up having salmon for dinner two nights while we were there.
The last two days of the trip were quieter and more about taking in the views than good riding conditions. On the last evening before the red-eye back to Vermont, I spilt up to the top of Chair 1 on my Rome Uprise Splitboard to get a better view of the surrounding mountains. It was a nice way to round out the trip for me, and have a moment alone to take in the beauty of the scenery and reflect on the trip. Mount Baker is truly a magical place. It’s a free-rider's paradise and encapsulates the true spirit of snowboarding. This trip opened my eyes to the possibilities on and off of my snowboard. I highly recommend this pilgrimage if powder and natural terrain are your passion, or if you just want to see amazing scenery. It was a bucket list destination for me, and I can’t wait to go back!
You can find Nathan on instagram @nathanaelasaro.
Riders: Craig Brown, Tomas Ruprekt, Ralph Kucharek
Photos: Nathanael Asaro