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Luke Sutton: Skier, manager at Backcountry Essentials

CDN's weekly community profile

Luke Sutton moved to Bellingham two summers ago to access the great outdoors. He landed a job at Backcountry Essentials and spends his free winter days at Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Luke Sutton moved to Bellingham two summers ago to access the great outdoors. He landed a job at Backcountry Essentials and spends his free winter days at Mt. Baker Ski Area. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Hailey Hoffman Visual Journalist

Luke Sutton (he/him)

Age: 25

City: Bellingham

Lived here for: 1.5 years

Originally from: Buffalo, New York 

Notable: Manager at Backcountry Essentials, avid skier, British-trained ski instructor, scuba diver, graduate of the University of Vermont.

How did you end up in Bellingham?
I mainly came here for the access to the outdoors. I am a big hiker and big skier. I saw what the West Coast had to offer, and ended up deciding to come to Bellingham. I’ve loved the people. I’ve loved the views in town, and I’ve loved being able to go up to [Mount] Baker and ski anything I want to ski.

How’d you get into skiing?
I originally got into skiing between my dad’s legs at the age of 4 trying to make it down the mountain. I moved to Vermont for college, where I really started to get into skiing. My junior year of college, I took a gap year, and I studied abroad in Turks and Caicos Islands for a semester, and then I went to France and skied in the French Alps.

You’ve skied all around the world. What’s special about the Mt. Baker Ski Area?
There’s so much that’s so special about Baker, and it’s so interesting to hear certain people’s complaints about Baker because that’s the reason why I love it. I love that it’s not a resort-y feel. I love that there’s not a hotel on the grounds. I love that the chairs are literally just one through eight and you know what runs you want to take based on what chair you want to go on. I love that the terrain is so varied, and you’re not skiing groomers all the time, that it’s not just these big, wide-open faces that you are going to make the same turn down all the way. It is very variable, and it really tests my ski ability.

Why do you like working at Backcountry Essentials?
I think some of the same reasons — that it’s not a big name shop, that it’s not, even though we do get a lot of their returns here. I love my coworkers. They’re from all over the country, and we have a lot of fun together. I also love the customers. We get in some really hardcore backcountry mountaineers, but at the same time, we get someone who’s never been in the store because it says ‘Backcountry Essentials’ and all they want is a sweatshirt. 

What does an ideal day off look like?
One of my favorite days of the week is Sunday. I get to wake up early with my girlfriend who moved here from Vermont. We get to spend the day skiing together, which we’ve both grown up doing from a very, very young age. She’s a Vermonter originally and having that East Coast tie always brings us together. We love to face the ice and the chunder (backcountry term for chunks of ice), being able to have that day on the mountain and then go to Chair 9 [Pizza & Bar] and have a little date night afterwards.

“Faces in the Crowd” is published online and in print Fridays. Have a suggestion for a “Faces in the Crowd” subject? Email us at

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