Trew was born in Hood River, Oregon. Nestled at the base of Mount Hood in the Columbia River Gorge it’s truly a legendary location and it fostered the perfect conditions to breed Trew Gear. We pride ourselves on the cargo capacity of our outerwear, it’s durability inbounds and out of bounds, and most of all it’s weather proofness. We craft our bibs and jackets to protect the wearer from the conditions we PNW locals endure every season: variable temps, sleet, rain, slush, snow, and powder.
Sure, these conditions can be present at most ski areas across the country on any given day, but for the northwest and our maritime snowpack we have incredible fluctuations in precipitation that can trick our local doppler radar into thinking it’s snowing 12+ inches but the reality can be quite the opposite.
With that being said, we not only build our gear for the northwest but we test it here as well. From Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Baker and everywhere in between, the Pacific Northwest is our home and our testing facility. It’s precisely why we drove through the evening last week to meet three of our ambassadors who call the Mt. Baker Ski Area home, to tail them in and out of bounds at our favorite locale in all the land.
Photos by Evan Skoczenski and Nate Duffy
The Mt. Baker Ski Area is no ordinary ski area. Its rugged and it has incredible character. Drive northbound on the I-5 from Portland and take a right once you get to Bellingham. Catch highway 542 east and keep driving until you hit the end of the road. On a clear day you’ll be greeted by tall banks of snow on the winding highway and between white frosted trees the Canadian Border peaks will offer you glimpses of their cold blue faces. Standing in the lot of the lower White Salmon Lodge Mt. Shuksan shoots out of the earth and dominates the horizon. Common mistaken for Mt. Baker, Shuksan rises to an impressive 9,131 ft, about 1,000 feet shorter than Baker. To catch a glimpse of the mountain that the ski area takes its name from you have to rally up the other side of the ski area. A short ride up Chairs 6 or 1 and you’ll be able to lay your eyes upon the distant titan that is Mt. Baker.
Rugged is an understatement for Baker. The ski area is run off diesel generators, there’s no hard lines back to civilization, and regardless of your cell provider your service will be limited. The chairs move painfully slow, liftys actually have jobs to do, and there’s no RFID gate to check your pass, just real people. The smell of diesel and 2 stroke motor oil linger around the chairlifts as you board. We’ll never complain about the slow chairs here, it gives your more than enough time to enjoy your beer.
The terrain is what keeps us coming back to Baker. There’s no other place quite like it. When the snow falls it’s unreal. Baker still holds the world record for the 98/99 season with a total snowfall of 1,140 inches. And just about every year they get pretty close to that number, with a few exceptions here and there. At Baker it turns on and stays on, and the pow is deep and crisp, curated in a magical vortex where the air and moisture combine to form the stuff dreams are made of. Inbounds the mixture of extreme and intermediate terrain is endless, you’ll be hard pressed to find a ski area that offers the selection that Mt. Baker does. For snowboarding especially Baker has bred some of the most influential riders of all time, OG pros such as Jamie Lynn, Tex Davenport, Mark Landvik and of course the style godfather of snow surfing: Craig Kelly. Baker breeds all mountain slayers, and since the ski area lacks a terrain park these days the emphasis on style resonates throughout the ski area. People at Baker ride with style, be it on the fresh groomers at the top of Chair 5 or the gravity rollers of Hemispheres.
When it finally stops powing you’re left with endless options. Rolling groomers laid by the best cat drivers in the country and with the proper equipment and training you can access a plethora of side and backcountry terrain from the ski area. This isn’t your ordinary side country access, the terrain available outside of the ski area is treacherous and awe inspiring.
Regardless of your skill level Mt. Baker is a mountain you should visit at least once, there is truly no other ski area on the planet like it. It's about as Mom & Pop as you can get these days, a gem of a playground that has evaded the greasy fingers of Vail Resorts and remains to this day one of the last great ski areas in North America.