Mandatory Air

The Mt. Baker road gap is a rock outcropping on the way up the two-lane road from the main lodge at Mt. Baker to the upper lodge.The run-in to the gap snakes through the woods and then straight-shoots it to the overhanging lip of the kicker, usually some 40 feet above the road. Oregon-based photographer Trevor Graves has seen every pro rider you can think of fly over that gap. He says, “It’s a rite of passage for everyone-you come all the way from Sweden and you’ve got to hit the road gap.”

Shawn Farmer was the first person to ever hit it. The springtime footage of his shirtless method was one of the sickest sequences inTotally Board. Filmer Mike Hatchett says, “By today’s standards the jump was really small-just a little pile of snow. Shawn jumped it once, then took his shirt off and jumped it again. That same day, another rider named Jeff Toluch aired it as well.”

The gap has proved to be timeless through the years, from Josh Dirksen’s DC ad underflip to Chris Engelsman’s switch backside 540 to headplant in last year’s Robot Food production Afterbang. Last season Erik Leines and J.J. Thomas stopped by-Erik stuck a backside 180 and J.J. pulled a Cab 540. Mike Basich, a frequent visitor to the gap, got creative last season and successfully hit it in the middle of the night using only a 500-watt light, the headlights on his van, a couple of flashlights, and a headlamp. Josh Thompson took the photos and summarized the situation as “pitch black and spooky as hell.”

Almost every trick in the book has been performed over the gap, but contrary to the widespread myth, Sean Kerns never took the gap on his snowmobile during the filming of the Whiskey video series. There’s no photographic evidence to prove it because, according to Whiskey cohort Sean Johnson, it never happened.

The more snow Baker has, the bigger the gap gets. During the record snow year of 1999, that sucker got to be about 60 feet over the road. This winter is lining up to be the same conditions-visiting pros best be aware of Mt. Baker’s mandatory air.-A.F.

Erik Leines and Mike Basich survey the scene. Photo: Josh Thompson

J.J. Thomas mid Cab 540. Photo: Josh Thompson