By Gwyn Howat
When did the crossover occur? When did we at Mt. Baker go from discussing cutting-edge stuff like allowing snowboarding in the first place to talking about the history of snowboarding at Baker.
Have we been at it that long now? Long enough to have a history? Snowboarding’s always existed in the present for me, not the past. But then the memories stir and I begin to remember when … and I realize we do have a past, and that the present state of snowboarding at Baker (70 percent of the season-pass holders are boarders) is largely a result of those who make up its history.
I used to immediately think of what collectively became known as the Mt. Baker Hard Cores (M.B.H.C.s)¿the likes of Carter Turk, Craig Kelly, Jeff Fulton, Jason Basraich, or later, Tex Devenport and Teal Copeland¿whenever I saw a continuous track in and out of Willows, or a smooth line off the Knob, or a line dropping into that insane section to the left of the Ice Wall. But these days I know those lines could’ve been laid by any variety of talented snowboarders at Baker. Maybe even someone who’d flown in from parts unknown just to ride the storm, someone I don’t know. And this is a change.
I remember first descents, and local boys and girls hitting the big time on the World Cup tour, coming home with copious amounts of Day-Glo and cash. I remember typing up “the red slip” early one season threatening to close part of the mountain to snowboarders if they didn’t shape up. I remember the first snowboards in the rental shop, and talks of actually offering snowboard lessons. And I remember discussions of the course location for the first Banked Slalom sixteen years ago. Wow. I am getting old.
I remember when Mike Ranquet was a punk, Craig boarded in public, Carter rode in hightops, Jamie Lynn was a nervous Junior in the start gate of the Banked Slalom, and Marcella Dobis made it to the mountain more than three times a year. And when Tex made a living flipping pancakes and burning toast for our employees, and Teal Copeland first rolled into town with powder snow in his beard.
Now I see Jeff at the coffee shop; Dan Donnelly shows me pictures of his kids; Kelly Jo LeGaz and I discuss business plans. I now watch my sister Amy in rowing races instead of World Cup races, Eric Janko’s mixing sound for grunge bands, and Bas? Well, Bas still manages to get in trouble.
All the M.B.H.C.s are sporting a little gray or thinning hair these days, but most of them¿on any given day¿still find their way back to a powder stash in a storm and, knowing exactly where to go, lay a track as smooth as any new-schooler. This is the advantage of getting older¿the advantage of having a little history.
Gwyn’s father Duncan has been the General Manager at Mt. Baker for 31 years. Carter, Craig, Fulton, and a few others first got Duncan on a snowboard and convinced him to allow snowboarding at Baker in the early 80s, way ahead of the curve. Gwyn and her sister Amy grew up at Mt. Baker and now work with their dad. Together, the Howats help make Mt. Baker one of the coolest places in the world for snowboarding. (The snow and terrain don’t hurt either!)