Finding Winter in the North Cascades

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Terry, Backcountry Ambassador

Mount Baker to the north was looking majestic on a stretch of bluebird days here in the PNW. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get back in my Tubbs Snowshoes, and for my wife to give her FLEX ALPs a first go.

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We made the drive to the Mount Baker ski area approximately 1 1/2 hours from home, and found ourselves in the parking lot with several others looking to take advantage of this great weather. The air was cool and clean, the sun was shining and the snow was in great condition.

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Upon exiting the parking area we donned our snowshoes. My wife was immediately impressed with the ease of using the bindings, and light weight of the FLEX ALPs. I, of course had used my FLEX VRT XL, and cannot say enough about the Dynamic Fit BOA system. Once you make your initial adjustment, it’s as easy as dropping your foot in and dialing to your desired tightness. Simple as that.

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The trail is known as Artist Point. This trail offers opportunity for fresh powder, trail walking, a steep climb over Austin Pass and several lookout points that offer views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan and the North Cascade Range, all the way into Canada. We took advantage of every bit the trail offered, and our Tubbs performed flawlessly the whole way.

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As the day wore on and the conditions changed, so did the snow. This is where what we considered the high point of the shoes comes in. On the way to our viewpoint we climbed Austin Pass in really icy, very steep and slick conditions. Heel bars up and the aggressive rail design we moved along confidently. On the way back it was icy, slushy and even more slick, and once again, (heel bars down) we descended securely. This is a fact my wife still talks about to this day.

The winter weather here may not be some of the better we’ve seen, but days like this make up for it.

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