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It appears that all of those baby animal sacrifices are starting to pay off. Northwest resorts have begun to dust-off chairlifts, deploying snowcats, and jacking up lift ticket prices. At long last, Northwest resorts have decided to open for the 2008-2009 season, but we will have to wait to see if these openers stick (remember 2004-2005? I do). But for the moment, the stranglehold of a snow-less winter has been loosened and Northwest snowboarders have the opportunity of visiting a handful of operational resorts. Among the few resorts with lifts turning and burgers grilling is the revered Mount Baker. Mount Baker is the Northwest snowboarders most prized possession. Whenever a Northwest snowboarder’s gnarlyness is challenged by an outsider (i.e. Californian), a Northwest rider can always play the Mount Baker local card. Mount Baker local status trumps all in snowboarding. You need not live near or even ride at Mount Baker. A Washington State driver’s license is all the evidence you need to claim gnarly-Baker-dude status.
But so far this season, our source of gnarlyness has been compromised due to the absence of snow in the Cascade Mountains. Evergreen State shreds let out a jerky-flavored sigh of relief when Baker announced its opening after the Canadian storm that blew down last week. The crisp Arctic air deposited a healthy amount of flakes on Cascade peaks, but nowhere near the amount needed to put us back on track for the season. Nevertheless, news of incoming storms had Northwest riders breaking in their Sorels, re-waxing their Mervin boards and putting another coat of lacquer on their outerwear. Hype levels were off the charts. The hype was so great that Mount Baker was forced to open in spite of lack of snow. In fact, I am not even sure that they have snow. But they do have a bunch of stir-crazy NW snowboarders eager to fork over $50 for a lift ticket. So on Sunday, December 14, 2008, Mount Baker opened for the 2008-2009 season. I didn’t go. Instead, I woke up late, went to the grocery store, used a coupon for 50 cents off a box of macaroni, watched snowboard videos and wrote this article. Why was I not at Mount Baker’s opening? Because I am not a true snowboarder? Because I am lazy? Because I am trying to be cool? To an extent, these are all true. But I like to think it is because I am a man of principle. I stick to my guns and go down in flames of pride if my opponent’s guns prove a higher caliber. I questioned the quality and quantity of Mount Baker’s new snow, so I couldn’t be heading up there and sampling the goods. I predicted very few runs being open, narrow strips of snow packed full of little kids sitting down, inflated ticket prices, long lines, $10 burgers, a slough of core shots and lots of soreness the next day. So I stayed home and went to the grocery store. How is that for an opener? Sources tell me that there was a lot of slashing, sliding and smiling. Bunch of crap. I am sure the snowboarding in the video I watched was just as fun, and the macaroni sauce I ate came in a powder form, so I am going to count last Sunday as my first day of the season. 2009 is going to kick ass.