Warm weather and rain have diminished Mt. Baker Ski Area‘s snow base, resulting in the cancellation of the Legendary Banked Slalom, the annual snowboard race scheduled for Feb. 9–11.
“It pains us greatly to say this, but El Nino has now washed the 36th Legendary Banked Slalom into 2025,” CEO Gwyn Howat said in a video.
Since Sunday, Jan. 28, the hill has been hit with 3 inches of rain, causing the snow base to recede by 14 inches, Howat said. The snow base at Heather Meadows Lodge is 45 inches as of Thursday, Feb. 1. Large rocks are exposed and cracks have formed on the course located just off of Chair 5.
This week, ski area officials had hoped they’d not lose more snow base, temperatures would cool and that snow would fall this weekend. But now another 2 inches of rain is expected over the next few days.
“We’re not seeing the shot of snow to get enough snow back to heal what we have lost and actually have enough to be able to run a fair and a fun event,” Howat said.
The race began in 1985 with 16 snowboarders. Now, snowboarders, from amateurs to Olympians, travel to Mt. Baker Ski Area from around the world. The ski area canceled the race in 2005 and 2015 due to similarly poor conditions and again in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19.
Racers are encouraged to check their emails for more information about the cancellation and more details for next year.
Howat said if conditions improve, they’ll host an unofficial “fun run” for snowboarders on the mountain.
Warm weather and low snowfall have plagued the ski area this winter. Lift tickets are currently discounted due to limited operations, but Howat is hopeful conditions will improve as El Nino ends based on a forecast from University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass. Mass is also predicting a La Nina to bring a lot of snow next season.
Hailey Hoffman is a CDN visual journalist; reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org; 360-922-3090 ext. 103.