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Coon Man on the Best Way to Ride Mt. Baker

This featured originally appeared in the October issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine. Subscribe here. 

Words: Taylor Boyd

Baker is a snowboarder’s mountain. It is, perhaps, the only ski area in existence that can truly claim that title. Spend a few days in this rugged Northwest treasure, and you understand why those who call this place home ride the way they do—fast and confident. Then there’s Morgan Rose, aka Coon Man. A product of Mount Baker’s gnarly topography, Coon is an outlier with a seemingly blatant disregard for personal safety. If launching is the journey and landing is the destination, then the journey is truly the destination for Coon. We wrangled the Coon for some advice on navigating between Bellingham’s bars and Baker’s backcountry.

If there ever was local that knew where all the stashes are at Mt. Baker, it's Coon. Photo: Jeremy Dubs
You gotta sack up and send. Photo: Jeremy Dubs

Coon Man on breakfast:
In the morning, I just beeline it straight to the mountain, and you know, I might have a beer or two on my way, and that’ll hold me over until lunchtime. I’ll have a break and a nice lunch, maybe a couple more beers, then ride the heck out of that mountain. Editor’s note: If you’re into eating breakfast, not just drinking it, Wake ‘N Bakery in Glacier is a good spot for coffee and a burrito.

On the best chair:
Chair One is one of my favorites. That goes up the North Face, and on your way down there will be 10 different signs that say “Non-Survivable”.  You’ve got to have a lot of confidence to go beyond those signs.

On finding the biggest cliff:
The biggest cliffs are out of bounds. One is called “The Beast”. Inbounds there are some big ones though. They’re off the North Face; some are pretty fun, and some aren’t survivable.

On staying safe:
Don’t unstrap when you’re in a place where it’s extreme. If you think you’re cliffed out, I would suggest staying strapped in. Most times you can find a way down, and if you unstrap and your board is lost, you’re more likely to fall into a tree well, or crevasse. Stay on your board, and you most likely can ride out. Maybe it’ll damage or even break your board, but they’re replaceable. Your life isn’t.

On the best place to grab a beer:
I like drinking beer, and I like booze too. Chair Nine has beer, booze and good food. Graham’s is the original spot in downtown Glacier though. Chair Nine and Graham’s are neck and neck.

On where to score weed:
I’d have to say my brothers; I get all my weed from my brothers. Or my buddy Q-Tip—he has a dispensary called _______. Q-Tip watched me go off the Retaining Wall on the North Face and cheered me on.

You've got to earn you chops to be respected at Baker. Coon has put in his time and has a special reign of this mountain. Photo: Chris Wellhausen
You’ve got to earn you chops to be respected at Baker. Coon has put in his time. Photo: Chris Wellhausen

On the best place to get a burger:
Raven Hut. It’s the newest lodge at Mount Baker, and my brother and three other guys built the fireplace in there, and the chimneys. The crew at Raven Hut will custom-make any kind of burger, any way you want. All you gotta do is ask ‘em. And make sure you tip ‘em right!

On where to find good tree riding:
Off Chair One and Six, in the Sticky Woods. There’s some nice stuff in there; it’s not too extreme, but you can definitely charge it, and it’s a big stump field in the summer when all the snow is gone, so there are drops after drops after drops, and you can hit them one after another, hauling ass.

On where to soak sore muscles:
There are some hot springs over on Highway 20, so it’s on the back side of the mountain by Baker Lake. You can hike to them in the winter; it’s pretty nice. And down in Glacier, lots of the cabins have hot tubs.

On where to skateboard:
There’s a spot in Glacier called the Coal Pad that a lot of locals have worked hard to build, and it’s so cool to have that. You can snowboard all day, then come down and go skateboarding; it is so ideal. They just put in a five-foot concrete mini ramp too.

You have sack up and send it if you ride with Coon. Photo: Dylan Hart
Would you? Photo: Dylan Hart

On where to get your board tuned:
I usually take mine to Boardworks Tech Shop in Bellingham. I put my boards through hell, and they tune ‘em up real good. Up in Glacier there’s Mount Baker Snowboard Shop. I’m good friends with them, so I just go in and say, “Hey, I got to tune up my board.” And they go, “Alright, stuff’s in the back.”

On where to see live music:
In Glacier, sometimes Graham’s has live music. In Bellingham, Underground is pretty good, and The Buffalo. They get big-name artists there traveling between Vancouver and Seattle. They’ve had Snoop Dogg there a couple times. He loves the weed up here.

On the Screamin’ Eagle:
Well, I was on Chair Six at Mount Baker, and I was going up the chair with a local legend named Robin. I was like “Hey, watch this!” And I took my roach, and I just sucked it right down. He’s like, “Dude, that is a Screamin’ Eagle!” So in the middle of taking your very last toke of your roach, you suck it down, and catch it on your tongue a little bit so you don’t inhale it. You’ve already taken a big toke, so when you’re blowing it out, you screech. And that’s the Screamin’ Eagle. I usually eat my roaches anyway. It’s a good way to finish your doobie.

On what board to ride:
Something big. I usually ride the Gnu Riders’ Choice 161.

On what outerwear to ride:
You need the most waterproof stuff you can get. I ride the 686 GLCR line.

On where to get a coonskin hat:
The side of the highway; that’s where I get mine. I skin it and then bring it to my buddy. He owns the taxidermy shop called Aker’s. I usually get a new hat every year, and every one has been roadkill. I made a helmet out of one too.

Can you guess how this inspiring mongrel got his name? Photo: Dylan Hart
Coon, the man. Photo: Dylan Hart

“I ride quite a bit by myself. I drive up there and don’t really wait around; I just go and charge everything. Sometimes people are like, “Can I ride with you? Do you mind if I follow?” And I’ll be like, “How fast can you ride?”

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