Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Turns out it’s still ski season here in Washington, which is awesome. Although no, this picture isn’t THAT recent, it’s from earlier this year, end of January I think. Remember how I said that I headed up to Mt. Baker that one particular day to take advantage of the sunshine? It’s still true! And this is from then!
The terrain you’re looking at (which is part of the Mt. Shuksan massif) is all out of bounds, probably inside the National Park boundary (and I’ve mentioned all this before.) Nice little slide right there on that little hummock. It’s not clear if those people you see in the picture caused it or not. I have an earlier picture two of them are standing on the top of the ridge above it, and the third guy is well below it on the next hummock down. By analyzing the ski trails, it looks like there’s a decent chance that he did start it. But, all three of them look pretty relaxed, which is definitely *not* how I’d look if either me or my buddy just narrowly avoided being buried in a slide that I/he/she had triggered way in the backcountry. So, I’m going to just say it’s “unclear” and leave it at that.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 55-250mm IS lens. 1/500s, f/10.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 250mm.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Hey, guess what!! I posted a picture today! I know, I know, I’m awesome.
This is another view from Mt. Baker Ski Area, in northwestern Washington state. I specifically chose the words “view from Mt. Baker” as opposed to “this is Mt. Baker Ski Area”, becasue the area you’re looking at here is strictly out of bounds. The ridge in the foreground is in a designated wilderness area, and I think the peak in the background (it’s actually just a little pointy part on the ridge that leads up to the actual summit of Mt. Shuksan) is inside the bounds of North Cascades National Park. So while technically possible to ski it, it would take quite a hike to get there, through some really gnarly (and extremely avalanche-prone) terrain. Maybe that’s your cup of tea, but it sure ain’t mine. But, I was totally standing inside the bounds of the ski area when I took it, so it totally counts.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll stand by it (and then I’ll caveat the crap out of it): Mt. Baker has the most jaw-droppingly incredible scenery of any ski resort anywhere, hands-down. Okay, now, hands back up, because here come the caveats. A lot of the time (most of the time?) you can’t even see the scenery, because, duh, the ski area that holds the world record for snowfall tends to have crappy weather. Bluebird days are almost non-existent, and often you can count the total number from an entire season on one hand. Sometimes on one finger. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s a haul from Seattle (3.5 hours), so the only reason we even went up there on the day I took this picture is because we knew it would be sunny with some reasonably fresh snow. Next, I can only really fairly compare the scenery here to other places I’ve actually been. Which limits it pretty severely. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to some places that are decent competitors (Vail, Whistler, Whitefish, heck, even Snoqualmie), but I still think Baker wins out. I have *not* been to anywhere outside North America, at least not in the winter. And, I’ve only actually been to one European ski resort at all (Zermatt), so the odds are good that those may actually be better. And, finally, the last caveat to that statemen…
Wait, who the eff cares which one is truly “best” in the scenery department? That doesn’t even make sense. Views, just like photos, aren’t something that can be compared, judged, and stack-ranked. It just doesn’t make sense. Beauty, and the related quality of views or pictures can’t be quantified, and thus can’t be labelled “winner” and “loser”. It’s like asking “Which is greater? The number 532, or a chair?”
So, sit down, stop asking questions, and look at the pretty picture! And, optionally, go to Mt. Baker Ski Area, because, seriously, the views are incredible.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 55-250mm IS lens. 1/160s, f/16.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 250mm.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Welcome back, everyone! Through an unusual turn in the weather this last weekend, we actually got some sunshine around these parts, at least in the northern half of western Washington. I mean, sure, it’s not unheard of for us to see the sun in the winter here in the Pacific Northwest, but to get a day of wall-to-wall blue skies, well that doesn’t happen too often, at least not west of the Cascade crest. So, I decided to take full advantage of it by heading up to Mt. Baker for the day. For those of you not familiar, the Mt. Baker ski area is notable for primarily two reasons. First, it holds the world record for snowfall in one season. That should give you the (correct) impression that they get a lot of storms rolling through, and most of the storms drop a LOT of precipitation. Second, the scenery up there – when you can see it – is UNBELIEVABLE. Seriously, there are few places on this earth that can match the quality of the views up there. It’s truly unreal. The second point there is what made it perfect for yesterday.
The skiing yesterday could probably best be described as “decent, but not great”. We had some fairly warm weather late last week, and a cold front that blew through early in the weekend. As a result, it was fairly icy. But it was great for pictures, which is really the main reason I wanted to head up there. I’ve only just begun going through the shots I got (I really only dipped my toes in just enough to find a picture to use for today), so I’m sure you’ll be seeing plenty of them over the coming weeks, months, and potentially years. So, get comfortable!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/400s, f/10.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 24mm.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Hey everybody, welcome back! Hope you all enjoyed your long weekend if you live in a place such that this last weekend was a long one. Alternatively, I hope you enjoyed your regular-length weekend followed by your fairly typical Monday! My traffic dropped fairly precipitously over the weekend, so I’m guessing that means that most of you were indeed not around a computer. Either that, or you had very little confidence that I’d actually be posting anything. Or, most likely, both.
The weather around here was crap this weekend, which cancelled my plans to go backpacking near Glacier Peak. I still hope to make it back to that trail, but this weekend wasn’t looking like the right time. Instead, Julie and I headed over to the desert, where the forecast (which was correct) said it would be 70 and sunny. I didn’t really realize it until this weekend, but holy crap! There’s some absolutely GORGEOUS terrain over there! I definitely need to get out there and explore it more. You can probably tell that today’s picture is absolutely not from the desert, and if that’s what you were thinking, you’re correct. I’m still following my rule that I won’t go through my new pics until at least a couple days since I’ve taken them. Which means, I’ll start looking through them tonight or tomorrow.
So, since I couldn’t look through the weekend’s pictures last night, I ended up instead looking back through some old pictures that I’ve still got on my hard drive. (Eventually I archive them off to DVDs, but I’ve got a few years of pics that I haven’t done that with…) I’m still slowly trudging my way through my old pictures, digging out any that are even remotely interesting. I’ve mentioned this several times. But, last night, I went even further back than that, and revisited a bunch of pics that I had already dug through and grabbed everything that I thought was worthwhile. But, I suppose I was in a different kind of mood or something, because in 4 or 5 months worth of images, I found 23 that I had previously passed over that are at least worthy of putting in Rate Dave’s Photos (which is a pretty low bar, honestly.) This being one of them. Not all of them are any good of course, but some of them are good enough to toss up here. (Well.. okay, yeah, still a pretty low bar. Shut up.)
This was taken at Mt. Baker Ski Area, which is in the northern part of Washington State. I’ve only skiied there once (the day I took this picture), although I have also snowshoed there, and I’ve been up there a whole bunch of times in the summer (it’s inside Heather Meadows Recreation Area). This was I believe on closing weekend a few years back, so mid to late April. Checking the timestamp on the image says yes, April 27. So, almost into May. Now you can see one of the things that frustrates me: why do they have to close these mountains so early?! They clearly still had plenty of snow. I suppose you could argue that by then, most folks have already hung their skis up for the season, so it becomes more and more difficult to keep running the lifts profitably, but whatever, I’m not concerned with the bottom line, I just want to ride a line to the bottom! Sigh, oh well.
It’s worth noting as well that Mt. Baker Ski Area holds the world record for snowfall in a single season. I believe it’s not just the world record for ski areas, but for any point where snowfall is measured. That could be wrong, but I think it’s right. Anyway, the record was set in the 1998-1999 season, when they had 1,140 inches of snow fall. (That’s **95 FEET** of snow, or 29 meters!!) That was a La Nina year (you know, the opposite of El Nino). Oh, did I mention that La Nina is also scheduled to make an appearance this season? Yes. Yes it is. Excellent.
I should also note that this picture was NOT from the record breaking season. This was just from a more typical season, where they average 647 inches. Still not too shabby, kinda makes you wonder why I’ve only skiied there once, huh? Oh, right, it’s more than a three hour drive. That would do it.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm VC lens. 1/500s, f/11.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 109mm.