If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Another chapter in Mt. Baker Volunteer Ski Patrol's long history


Mt. Baker Volunteer Ski Patrol has been around longer than the legendary ski resort it protects. Since 1938, some 15 years before Mt. Baker Ski Area opened for business, the ski patrol has carved those hallowed slopes, getting to know them better than very few others.

But now, the volunteers are changing how they organize. Mt. Baker Ski Patrol recently registered itself as a nonprofit, in order to better fundraise for crucial equipment updates and the rigorous training required for its nearly 400 ski patrol volunteers that make up the Aid Room staff, Mountain Education Center staff, Mountain Hosts and Community Events Hosts.

On volunteer patrol since 2001 and director since 2019, Krister Fast commands the volunteer army that keeps the mountain safe for everyone. He said it takes a certain type of person, someone who wants to give back to the community, to serve on the volunteer teams, but the enticement of a season pass doesn’t hurt to get applicants in the door.

“Initially it’s going to be people looking for the season pass,” Fast quipped. “Then you get a lot of other people that are looking to help and give back to the community. For me, it always come back to the friends and family that you get to know that are part of the patrols and other volunteer organizations up here.”

Mt. Baker Ski Area is one of a dying breed of small, locally-owned ski resorts, and that tight, community-driven ethos bleeds into how the volunteers work – and are treated – on the mountain, Fast said.

“Management is totally supportive of all the volunteers that are up here,” Fast said. “I know a lot of volunteers at other ski areas, and they certainly don’t get the same support or the same sort of friendliness from management.”

Fast said that while the volunteers have full support of ownership and management, funding is always a challenge, when the patrol has to get trained and re-trained for every winter. Organizing into a non-profit, besides making the insurance-side of things simpler, allows the patrol to more effectively fundraise.

Since the change, Fast said donations have already been trickling in, and an official website is in the works.

A fundraiser sponsored by Mount Baker Experience is set for Friday, October 18 at Boundary Bay Brewery.    X