Mt. Baker Backcountry Skiing & Split-Boarding 2018

Mount Baker Ski Trip 2018Trip Meeting Date: October 19, 6 PM, STREAM Building

Leaders: Martin Brakke ( and Catherine Klem

Location: Mt. Baker, WA

Dates of Trip: February 17-24, 2018 (Mid Winter Break)

Number of Students: Six – Eight Students Max

Age Group: Upper School Students (9-12th grades)

Cost per Student: Tentative
6 Students $2650.00
7 Students $2550.00
8 Students $2450.00

Extra Costs: Gear rental, travel insurance

Important Dates:

October 19Upper School Trip Night for Families
October 30
– Trip Sign Up Deadline, Trip Financial Aid Application Deadline
November 10 – Student notification of trips. Parent notification of financial aid awards.
November 21 – Last day to cancel participation and receive full trip refund.


  • Expose students to the activity of backcountry skiing
  • Outdoor Leadership
  • Build confidence and comfort in the backcountry and balance with a healthy respect for the dangers of winter travel.
  • Education and proper training in decision making, team building, route planning, snow science, and the mitigation of risks inherent in the backcountry.
  • Study avalanche safety and mitigate risks associated with winter travel
  • Become AIARE I certified, the first step in avalanche awareness
  • Build Backcountry & Touring Skills

Many students have experience with in-bounds winter travel. Recently, the terms “Side-Country”  and “Backcountry” have become increasingly popular for adventure junkies looking to get in long runs in untouched terrain. This has been made possible with broader access to AT and Backcountry Ski equipment. The issue is that far too many people are partaking in this activity without the proper education, experience, and research to stay safe in avalanche terrain but feel quite comfortable as they are just beyond the boundaries of the ski area.

Students will spend two days cross country (skate) skiing on the Methow Valley trails, coached by trip leaders. The NCMG (North Cascade Mountain Guides) will coordinate the avalanche safety training for the remainder of the week and students will earn their AIARE I certificate during this time. The course will last three days and each student will partake in 3-5 hours of online learning prior to the course. During the 3-day course, students and leaders will take part in the practical aspects of route planning, safe winter travel, snow science, and technique. This will take place up the North Cascade Highway, accessible only by snow machines (snowmobiles) in the winter season. Students will be shuttled up (adults driving) and the majority of the course will take place in the Hairpin Valley and the classroom learning will take place at the Methow Community Center in Mazama. Following the AIARE course, the NCMG will coordinate two full days of ski touring in the Methow Valley.

Tentative Itinerary:

Date Details
Sun – 2/17 Travel Day (Morning) / AIARE I – Day 1 – Classroom: Fundamentals
Mon – 2/18 AIARE I – Day 2 – Mt. Baker Backcountry: Companion Rescue & Field Observations
Tue – 2/19 AIARE I – Day 2 – Mt. Baker Backcountry: Decision Making
Wed – 2/20 BC Pro 1 – Day 1 – Classroom: Navigation and Tour Planning
Thur – 2/21 BC Pro 1 – Day 2 – Mt. Baker: Backcountry Basics
Fri – 2/22 BC Pro 1 – Day 3 – Mt. Baker: Backcountry Experience
Sat – 2/23 BC Pro 1 – Day 4 – Mt. Baker: Backcountry Experience
Sun – 2/24 BC Pro 1 – Day 5 – Mt. Baker: Backcountry Experience

Experience Necessary: Students must be confident, capable, and experienced skiiers, snowboarders. Most skiers are able to safely navigate Black Diamond terrain and can transfer these skills to backcountry travel. No prior backcountry experience is required.

Equipment Requirements: Each student will need a full AT/Backcountry set up. Skis (or Splitboard), Skins, tour ready bindings/boots, touring poles, helmet, and backpack with avalanche tools (probe, beacon, shovel, emergency blanket, etc). Gear can be rented at the Goats Beard in Mazama (leaders will coordinate) and avalanche tools will be provided by NCMG if needed.

Guide Company: Baker Mountain Guides ( will coordinate the AIARE I avalanche safety course (3 days) as well as the Backcountry Pro 1 Course (5 days). The course and subsequent touring days will take place up near Mt. Baker.

Lodging / Food: We will likely rent a cabin in Glacier, the closest town to Mt. Baker, as there is only one cabin up at Mt. Baker. The Mountaineers own the only lodge near the Baker Ski area which borders the Baker backcountry. This lodge is called Baker lodge and is not open during the weekdays. We will attempt to coordinate us of the lodge, but the chances are slim and it may end up being more expensive than a rental in town. We will cook our meals at our cabin and pack lunches for days in the field.

PowerPoint Presentation