Mt. Baker Pro Patrol featured in Oct. issue of Powder Magazine

Billed as “taming the snowiest mountain: behind the scenes with Mount Baker ski patrol”, the article in the October issue of Powder Magazine is a look inside a small, tight-knit group of pro patrollers who work hard and ski harder.

Fourteen skiers keep the world’s snowiest ski area safe and open to the masses. During the 2010-11 season, the Mount Baker Ski Patrol endured storms that dropped 15 feet in 14 days, eventually causing a 10-year, class-five, 16-foot fracture. Despite the grueling work, they managed to stay alive. And ski. Hard.

If you didn’t pick it up last month, you could try their newly-announced iTunes version of Powder (from which the Oct. issue is $4.99).

Mt. Baker confirms OPENING FRIDAY

From their Facebook page:

Forecasts are calling for a strong front to bring us 15 – 20 inches of new snow over tonight and tomorrow. This snow, added to our existing base, will give us the amount needed to begin the 2011-12 season. Depending on how conditions develop, we are looking to open both Base Areas and most chairlifts, but be sure to check our snow report at Thursday afternoon for final opening day details.

Keep an eye on the snow report page on their website as well — they’ll likely be posting more information there tomorrow and Friday morning.

Mt. Baker opening day: Friday at the earliest

As of this afternoon’s update on Mt. Baker’s snow report page, the earliest opening day will now be Friday. They’re forecasted to receive 16-20 inches of new snow Wednesday and Thursday, but there’s a predicted warm front coming through on Thursday that they’re keeping an eye on. They’ll make the call Wednesday afternoon, so check back then.

They also have a page if you’re curious about how much snow they need to open.

And they posted some new photos yesterday of the new Raven Hut Lodge.

Photo below is from today from Pan Dome near the ski patrol shack, looking at the top of Chair 1.

Top of Chair 1 from Pan Dome near the ski patrol shack

Roundup of Ski Area Improvements

The News Tribune down in Tacoma has a great roundup of what is new at PNW area resorts, What’s new at Northwest Ski areas as has the Seattle Times, Changes on the slopes should give skiers a lift

Here’s what’s new close to home:

Mount Baker: “Mount Baker Ski Area spent $3.5 million to build a new midmountain warming hut called the Raven Hut Lodge. The two-story lodge’s design was inspired by 1920s Cascadia architecture and can only be reached on skis or snowboard. Replacing the Raven Hot Café, the lodge has room for 300 people and will offer full food service, restrooms and two fireplaces.” – News Tribune

Mount Baker’s site has some photos of the new lodge:

Crystal: “Crystal Mountain is opening its mountaintop RDL Test Center this season. RDL stands for Rossignol, Dynastar and Lange, the companies whose gear will be featured in the center. Try the latest equipment for one run or all day and swap gear as often as you like. Prices are $60 for skis boots and poles or snowboard, bindings and boots; $48 for skis only, or snowboards and bindings only; or $30 for boots only.” – News Tribune

Seattle Times reports, “Five new gondola cabins are set to arrive in early spring at a cost of $200,000, bringing the count up to 27 cabins. The gondola cable can carry 36 cabins.

Other changes include extensive tree limbing and stump removal on Upper Exterminator and Bull Run, a new event plaza in the base area, and rock work at the bottom of the gondola.”

Snoqualmie: “The Summit at Snoqualmie made several changes for this season including the installation of a 210-foot moving carpet for beginners at Summit West. The Hog Wild Trail serviced by the Silver Fir Express at Summit Central was regraded. A new Snow Cat and winch system will enable the ski area to groom more of the Silver Fir terrain. Across Interstate 90 at Alpental, a new ski patrol station, which will be open to the public, has been added near the top of Armstrong Express.” – News Tribune

For your summer mountain enthusiasts you’ll be glad to know that Obama Signs Ski Area Summer Use Bill Into Law:

It amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to permit activities beyond the alpine and Nordic skiing already allowed in ski areas on public lands. Such uses would include zip lines, mountain coasters and alpine slides as well as mountain biking and concerts that some resorts already offer on adjacent private land, but this new law allows such facilities on National Forest Service land leased to the resorts with Forest Service approval.

Scheduled Opening Dates For Washington Ski Resorts

Here’s the scheduled opening dates for Washington ski resorts. Hopefully some open early!

49 Degrees North Ski Area 11/24
Bluewood Ski Area 11/26
Crystal Mountain 11/24 – 12/7
Echo Valley Ski Area 12/17
Leavenworth Ski Hill Mid-December
Loup Loup Ski Bowl 12/2 – 12/16
Mission Ridge Ski Area 11/25 – 11/27
Mount Baker Ski Area Mid-November
Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park 12/3
Stevens Pass TBA
Summit at Snoqualmie TBA