For snow lovers, Christmas came early this year. Our majestic Mount Baker is open for the ski and snowboard season, and with lots of fresh snow and fantastic conditions, you’ll hear rousing cheers all around. For parents of young children however, this news can evoke loud sighs and fond memories of when skiing was a regular part of their lives. But wait — did you know it’s now possible to take your young children skiing at Mount Baker (and get yourself a lift ticket, too) without breaking the bank?
Yep, it’s a beautiful truth called the Powder Pups program. Active parents everywhere who’ve been looking for their long-lost freedom and frivolity can now score half price lift-tickets just for bringing their little ones along (ages 6 and under ski free!). And this isn’t the only brilliant offer for kids and families at Baker this year. It’s now easier than ever before for kids and parents to get up to the mountain and learn to ski or snowboard.
Powder Pups arose out of the conundrum parents face when they spend several hours of their ski day dressing, teaching and helping their child on the mountain. Afterward, maybe one parent can break free for some sweet adult-only runs, but by the time they’re able to hit the slopes on their own, most don’t want to buy a full-price ticket. Enter Powder Pups. If your child is between 4 and 6 years old, which also happens to be prime learn-to-ski years, you’re in luck. Up to four adults can be designated as the Powder Pups family and two adults (age 18+) can take advantage of the deal in a given day. Once registered for the program, a parent should bring their 4 to 6 year old to a ticket window after 11:00 a.m. to receive a half-price ticket.
Ready to sign up your little one, or as they say at Baker, “Bring a little ripper, leave a little richer”? Parent and child must go together to the Mount Baker business office, located at 1420 Iowa Street in Bellingham, with proper documentation for both to sign up. At the office, you will receive a Powder Pups card and be required to sign a release form. The card is good for 10 adult half-price tickets per child per year. Remember, children ages 6 and younger ski free. If a Powder Pup kid comes to the mountain seven times in a season, he or she can earn a $30 voucher toward a first child season pass.
As the mother of a 3 and 5 year old, Mount Baker’s Marketing Director, Amy Trowbridge, doesn’t just plan awesome programs at the mounting, but she knows firsthand how important it is to keep skiing and boarding accessible and affordable for families. “We’ve had an amazing start to the season,” Amy says. “We opened November 19, which is even earlier than our average. Conditions and visibility have been great, especially for those who are learning. For beginners, we have something for everyone — from the gentle sloping hill outside the Heather Meadows Lodge (where many kids take their first runs), to the free Handle Tow, to the beginning chair lift. For programs (just to name a few), there are Powder Pups, Dad’s Moms and Groms, Snow School, Best for Beginners, Komo Kids, and don’t forget that all fifth graders ski free this year.”
Dads, Moms & Groms
This class series for 5 and 6 year olds and their parents not only teaches kids essential ski and snowboard skills, but it teaches parents how to teach their children as well. “I am planning on doing the class this year because I actually have no idea how to teach my daughter to ski,” Amy says. Even seasoned skiers can feel lost when it comes to instruction. The class is a four-week session starting mid-January and meets every Saturday or Sunday. Kids are grouped by age and ability and meet with the same instructor each week, making the series both fun and welcoming.
Designed for young skiers and snowboarders ages 7 to 15, Komo Kids derives its name from the native name for Mount Baker, Komo Kulshan. This program is tried and true, as it’s been a Mount Baker staple for over 40 years. Komo Kids follows a similar format to Dads, Moms & Groms, but parents don’t come to class and classes and the entire series run a little bit longer. Sign up before January 1 and save $30 on the series.
Best for Beginners
Best for Beginners is an economical way for a newbie to spend a day at the mountain. For kids and adults ages 7 and up, Best for Beginners includes a group lesson, rental gear, and an all-day beginner lift ticket. All this for the low price of $49.
Regardless of which track you take, the beginner chair lift is a perfect place for kids to start learning how to ride the ski lifts. “I love how the beginner lift goes nice and slow and has a safety bar to lower down,” Amy says. “It offers my kids a break and a chance for a snack. It has also become somewhat of a tradition for my kids and I to look for various animal tracks while we’re up there.”
For nearly everyone new to the sports of skiing and snowboarding, they need to rent gear. Luckily, Mount Baker has good prices on rentals and some great packages to go along with the various class series. The standard kids rental package comes with skis, bindings, ski boots and poles for $20 for kids under 6 years old, and $28 for kids ages 7 to 15. Add a ski helmet for another $9. Be sure to check the specific rental package deals under each class series description. For instance, if your little one is signed up for Dads, Moms & Groms, you can score kids rentals for $60 for the four-week program.
Rental boots at Mount Baker begin at a children’s size 10.5. For children or toddlers with smaller feet, it’s possible to buy skis with stretchy bindings, where the child can wear their own snow boots. Yeager’s Sporting Goods in Bellingham also offers ski and snowboard rental gear. Yeager’s rental prices are comparable, and the rental length is always 48 hours, which allows the convenience of picking up the day before your trip to the mountain.
Introducing your children to skiing or snowboarding is a great way to spend time together outdoors during the winter months. However, it’s important to give your kids lots of breaks to warm up, which is why Amy stresses, “The most important feature of any trip to the mountain is the hot cocoa break.”