Words: Patrick McCarthy Team Manager @patrickmccarthy
Twenty years ago we celebrated the end of the snow season by venturing into the side-country at Mt Baker Ski Area, building a step-up jump and enjoying a big finale session with the homies. Appropriately named after the jump, "The Sesh Up," has been a tradition ever since. Since then, it's evolved in many ways, but one thing remains the same - skiers and snowboarders are still just as hyped to cap the season off with some serious senders in the side country!
This year a small crew, led by 686 rider Matt Wainhouse and Mt Baker's own Eliah Drake, went up to the mountain on Saturday and helped build the jump so it would be nearly ready bright and early on Sunday. As I got up to the mountain I felt the excitement in the parking lot. With the Mt. Baker snow pack up about 300% from last year, the run-in was sure to be dialed already. What I wasn't ready for was the size of jump that Waino and Eliah had crafted. Normally the step-up jump caters to a wide spectrum of riding and skiing abilities but this year the boys put some extra size into the jump which really separated those who were willing to step to this beast and those who brought their boards and skis but would decide that they actually just came to spectate and drink beer.
This event is all propelled by riders joining together and working to make it happen. There is no involvement from the resort. It's all of us joining together with shovels, a vision and a lot of beer. In the end, I think about 300 riders came out, about 30 were sessoning and the other 270 enjoying cold beers, good vibes and ladies in bikinis. For those 30 that stepped up to the step-up, this year's session was definitely one for the books. The generation gap was amazing - high school kids tricks would get followed up by legends like the seemingly ageless Russel Winfield. Getting to see everyone throw down and go for broke is so special, and this year surpassed all expectations. The 686 team was stacked this year with Matt Wainhouse, Kurt Jenson, Tyler Ravelle, Nate Lind and myself representing.
After the event, the real uniqueness of snowboard and ski culture came out. We watched a crew, led by the Canadians Colin D Watt and Tyler Ravelle polish off 3 kegs, do shirtless keg stands and then sleep under the stars at 7,000 feet. I would say snowboarding and skiing in the Northwest are alive and well and I can't wait to do it all again next season. See y'all at summer camp...