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I am not a pro boarder. In fact I am a very late fan of the sport. This is more a diary than anything else, although comments and suggestions are appreciated. I'm going to try to keep track of how I do (and what I do) from season to season; what works and what fails; and how I improve over time.
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Mt Baker For Spring Break

Posted 03-22-2013 at 10:05 AM by Donutz
Updated 03-22-2013 at 01:33 PM by Donutz

For spring break we rented a condo in Snowater for 3 nights. Snowater is the closest accomodation to Baker, and it's still a half-hour drive up to the mountain. The good news is that the drive to Baker from home is overall shorter than Whistler, and Baker is cheaper. The bad news is that cell phone reception is sucky to non-existant.

Day 1
Went up with the family. Baker closes chairs 1 & 2 during the week, which reduces the number of greens available. However, Expresso is more than big enough to keep my wife and daughter entertained. Truthfully, they could handle the blues on chair 8 as long as they stuck to the groomed path, so there was never any danger of boredom.

The first surprise was that none of the chairs have safety bars. This was mildly annoying to me as I have a bit of acrophobia. It was of considerably more concern to my wife who is already having chairlift issues since her injury. But we got on and got some good runs in.

Day 2
My wife and daughter decided to go to Bellingham for shopping, and I met up with Wrathfuldeity and NWBoarder for a tour of the mountain. First thing I discovered is that these guys are better than me and they like the blacks. And blacks on Baker deserve the name. Very steep and covered with moguls and ruts. It was an eye-opening experience in several ways. First, that I went on these runs and survived. Second, that they can be navigated with the right techniquie. Not that I have that technique yet, but I was able to figure out what it should be.

There was one funny/scary moment early in the day. I fell in a patch of deep new stuff. NWBoarder came up behind me, fell in the same place, and slid into me with his board up. Smacked me right in the forehead. Unfortunately my Drift did not get the video. It looks like one of the batteries that I got with the camera has no life left. Lost almost all the videos from the day.

Day 3
On my own for the day. Wife and daughter decided to stay at the condo and enjoy the amenities. Well, vacation doesn't mean the same to everyone :-) . Yesterday I realized that although I have C turns locked on moderate and un-mogully slopes, when things get gnarly I lose the technique. There appear to be two reasons: 1) fear of committing, and 2) going too slow. My other problem is heelside washouts. So I spent the day on chair 8 (which is almost all blues) working the steeper and more mogully sections. The first thing I determined is that my heelside issues happen because on steeper slopes I do more of a heelside brake than a heelside turn. I spent some time working on opening up the turn and making it more gradual. Not sure why, but speeding up on heelside turns freaks me out more than on toesides. I'll have to keep working on it to really get it out of my system, but it's identified and in progress.

Regarding the C turns, my problem there seems to be that when I'm on a slope that freaks me out, I stand up straight. Of course that makes the upweighting and weight-shifting impossible, so the turn goes to crap. Or, in many cases, I actually can't get the turn initiated. So I made a point of finding more moderate, smooth slopes and working the technique. Then I brought the game to the steeper sections and made sure I was doing it right. Made a huge difference. I wouldn't call this "nailed" -- I still am not ready to tackle the big blacks under control -- but I know what to work on, and I can spend some time on Noels and Friendly and Unicorn working the techniques. I also have to work on getting over my fear of speed and losing control. I'd have a better time on steeps if I was willing to make each turn bigger and allow myself to build up more speed.

Impressions of Baker
Baker isn't as big as Whistler/Blackcomb, but it's still a damned big mountain. It's bigger than Cypress and Grouse for sure. It also has very much a wild unfinished feel that's kind of reminiscent of Seymour. Wild areas seem to outnumber groomed areas, and the runs for the most part aren't sculpted. There are a lot of flats that you can stall on, so you have to get to know the mountain. And with the number of chairs and runs, getting to know the mountain is a long-term thing.

It's too bad Baker doesn't do much in the way of park. But other than that, this is a mountain that you wouldn't get bored with any time soon. I think next year we'll likely head out there a couple of times over the course of the season.
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