Our friend, Zack Giffin, gives his take along with a tour of his home ski area Mt. Baker, WA. As I have told so many before, I am a huge fan of Mt. Baker and the surrounding endless peaks of the North Cascades, but most of all my dog, Trooper, is welcome to ski everywhere with me and the gang (even on the actual Volcano, Mt. Baker). However, The Snow Troopers call it our home in a way, due to the fact our backcountry here on Snoqualmie Pass meets up with theirs around Stevens Pass, aka the Mt. Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest (I guess we just refer to our home, as the Cascades)!
Hey Snow Troopers, I’m sure most of you roll daily with a ski pack that has all the essentials (including some kind of mini screw driver with multiple tips), so my guess is, you have been asked many times in the past for a “tool” or “screw driver” by a snowboarding brother with a loose binding plate or a skier that needs a din adjustment.
I know I’ve been asked more than one hundred times in the past for a “tool”, anywhere from the lift line to the backcountry (and I’m always stoked to help) but my screw driver is deep in my pack, safely stashed inside my medical kit, which takes a few moves to unpack and lend out. Now, soon as I get my “Click Carabiner” I will just click it on the outside of my pack, where it will be quickly lent out to help a brother or sister in need!!! But first, “Click Carabiner” needs a little help from everyone to get this awesome product kickstarted so it will reach a shop near/or at your home mountain.
Red Mountain, BC as seen from Big Red Cats’ playground.
If you live in the PNW and want a quick get away (2.5 hrs North of Spokane) for the family or the gang of slashers, that offers endless untracked terrain, then be sure to check out the video of BIG RED CATS, from our friends at Freeride Media. Below are are a few words from BIG RED CATS in regards to their operation.
Come Ski our 8 Peaks! With 19,300 acres of some of the best tree skiing and glades in the world, you can explore our area with day-trips, or week-long packages based at neighbouring Red Mountain Ski Resort. The world’s largest cat skiing operation, running 4 cats a day with separate ability levels, and over 3000 skier days per season. Come and explore fresh tracks and deep powder with our qualified guides, just 2.5 hours north of Spokane, WA at Rossland BC! As the only snowcat skiing operation in British Columbia to offer separate trips for Expert, Advanced, and Intermediate skiers and riders, (and even “Uber Expert” by request), you can enjoy exploring the backcountry with others of a similar ability. – BigRedCatSkiing.com
We’ve had an exciting, early start to this 2013-2014 season. In Washington, super early storms brought enough snow for limited skiing in early October. Yes, we’re talking lift served turns on natural snow at Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass, WA in early Oct.! And much to our delight, Crystal and Stevens Pass opened again this past weekend. Now it’s Mt. Baker’s turn. They will open for the season this Thursday, Nov. 21 at 9am. Here’s their announcement:
With the 10 additional inches of new snow from yesterday, we can officially announce that Mt Baker will begin DAILY OPERATION, THURSDAY NOVEMBER 21st at 9:00 am! We really lucked out yesterday, with most of the warmup heading further south to the other passes. The snow base is variable around the ski area, with approximately 43 inches of snow on top of Pan Dome and approximately 37 inches at Heather Meadows. The forecast looks good, with cooler temperatures on Thursday then moderating temperatures and clearing skies through the weekend. We will be operating BOTH THE WHITE SALMON AND HEATHER MEADOWS BASE AREAS with at least 7 chair lifts and MAIN RUNS ONLY open. Discounted midweek prices will be in effect Thursday and Friday. Stay tuned to this report for updated pricing information Friday. Please note there is EARLY SEASON SNOW COVERAGE and you need to ski and ride with extra caution because there are sudden terrain changes and features, rocks, sticks, stumps, sudden drop-offs and patches of thin coverage around the ski area. The bottom of Chair 5 area has very low snow conditions so go slow and use extra caution in that area. The steeps will be CLOSED and closed areas will be strongly enforced with fines per RCW 79a.45.070.
EpicQuest and its heli ski companies, Chugach Powder Guides and Sun Valley Heli Ski Guides are the focus of a new TV series which premieres this Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 at 9pm est on Outside TV. The series called “Epic Quest” is a story-driven docudrama featuring the guides, athletes and operations of the renowned adventure travel company created 25 years ago by a handful of elite outdoorsmen to provide thrill-seekers incomparable trips into the most remote and untamable places on Earth. Tune in to watch their adventures on snow and get a peek behind the scenes of their operation.
As I’m hoping you already know, we have been sharing Bob Legasa’s videos (Freeride Media) now for a few years, which has helped us with our daily fix of eye candy along the way. In one of the recent cat skiing adventures posted on The Snow Troopers, my eye was caught by this rippin’ skier named, Landon Gardner. I don’t really need to tell you where he came from and the current “climbing” route he’s on, because the video below (along with a few words from Landon) happens to sum it up quite well. There’s some very cool freeriding pov action below, so don’t miss it!
Paying homage to my mogul skiing days and finding a new way up the mountain and a new way down the mountain. Take a look through my eyes as I transition from the mogul course to the mountains via Ryan Bingham, Bob Dylan, an ice ax, sturdy friends and a montana landscape -Landon
Great snow for Crystal Mountain’s opening day today. Check out our friend Carl Simpson’s video showing how deep it got. Definitely some good early season powder turns out there. If you missed it today, Crystal’s Gondola & Green Valley chair will open again tomorrow at 9am. Tickets are still only $25. The mountain will be closed Monday and Tuesday, but possibly will be reopening on Wednesday.
Yesterday’s storm was a whopper – mother nature delivered enough snow to get some lifts running. Here’s the skinny on our Western WA resorts- CRYSTAL IS OPEN & STEVENS PASS OPENS AT NOON TODAY!!! Get out and get some early season stoke (remember early season conditions exist so ski/ride with care):
Crystal -Two lifts OPEN today! Mt. Rainier Gondola and Green Valley (GV will run until 2:30pm). Tickets are reduced to $25. Don’t forget in just 2 weeks, Ingrid Backstrom, will be returning to Crystal Mountain as its official “Queen of Stoke” and to coach the mountain’s Freeride Team Progam for 9-17 yr olds. More info on that here. Crystal received 7″ at their base and 12″ at their summit in the last 24hrs bring the summit total snow depth to 24″.
Stevens -20″ of new snow bringing Stevens to a 29″ base. OPENING TODAY from noon-4pm and Sunday from 9am-4pm. Lifts spinning: Hogsback, Daisy and the rope tow! Up to 10 fresh-built terrain park features on Beacon Hill. Tickets just $20 in Guest Relations; PNW Advantage Pass holders can go straight to the lift and will be charged the $20 rate.
Mt. Baker -They report 20″ of new snow in the upper base area, so Heather Meadows is now measuring 26″. The lower base area received about 10-14″. Forecasts are calling for 4-5″ more through Monday. If there’s enough snow, they say there’s “the possibility of opening towards next weekend”.
Summit At Snoqualmie -TNT measured 12″ on the ground at the Summit West’s Pass Life Condos job site. Bryce Phillips of EVO is currently skiing up Summit East/Hyak for 1st turns of the season. Go catch up with him!
White Pass -Estimates receiving 8+” and it’s still snowing. The resort reports that they typically need about 3′ of snow to open.
Our friends at Freeride Media spent time at this sweet powder hideaway, known as Chatter Creek! This trip was all about the epic cat skiing in an isolated zone located 100 km to the NW from the nearest town of Golden, BC (note: they also offer heli skiing and snowmobiling). Below are some notes from the Chatter Creek folks in regards to the cat skiing operation, along with the video from Freeride Media that captures the experience through their lens.
In just 2 weeks, Ingrid Backstrom, will be returning to Crystal Mountain as its official “Queen of Stoke” and to coach the mountain’s Freeride Team Progam for 9-17 yr olds. Ingrid, who grew up skiing at Crystal, is one of the most successful and recognizable freeskiers, having placed top 3 in over a dozen competitions and appeared in numerous ski films. We’re thrilled to hear she’s coming back to her stomping grounds to give back and groom the next generation of hard chargers. According to Crystal, “each of the kids registered in the program will have a dedicated full-time coach and they will get the opportunity to train and talk with Ingrid.” “I am thrilled to be involved in Crystal Mountain’s Freeride Program—it’s one of my favorite places and I’m so stoked to ski with the team in between my other projects this winter. We’re going to have an awesome time and I’m excited to coach alongside the other rad coaches and ripping team members!” – Ingrid Backstrom.
Dates and prices for the Freeride Team Program below. Here’s a clip of Ingrid in Matchstick Production’s “Attack of La Nina” to get you stoked — the snow’s here so be sure to sign up soon:
Early season camps -
1-Day Freeride Camp with Ingrid Backstrom (Nov. 30, 2013): $92
2-Day Freeride Camp with Ingrid Backstrom (Dec. 21-22, 2013): $184
2-Day Freeride Camp with Ingrid Backstrom (Dec. 28-29, 2013): $184
These early season camps are weather/conditions permitting.
Freeride Team 8-Week Session - Jan. 4 – Feb. 23, 2014: $644
Price: Saturday or Sunday $644, Saturday & Sunday $1,288
Freeride Team Season Pass: $549 (only available when enrolled in the 8 week program).
One day drop-in session: $85 (during the 8-week program)
About becoming a Crystal Mountain Freeride Team Member
1. You must be between the age of 9- 17 with the ability and focused attitude to challenge yourself and push your limits.
2. All skiers and riders must be able to ride all chairs and feel comfortable on steep terrain.
3. You will go out with coaches and be evaluated prior to becoming an official team member. Those that don’t make the cut will have an opportunity to join a developmental program to help them reach team member status.
For more info, click here.