words and photos: Mike Yoshida
The Mt. Baker step-up is one of those legendary jumps that will always go down in history as one of the most sessioned jumps that I have ever seen. The history runs deep, as this kicker has easily been in snowboard films for at least twenty years, or as long as I can remember. Everyone from Think Thank, Soundstrait, Wild Card, and so on and so forth has had at least a couple shots from this jump in their movies.
The appeal of the step-up is the fact that it is a really safe jump with low impact, and once it is built in the spring, it takes much less work to rebuild and maintain to keep the sessions going for weeks. What started as a film crew spring session has progressed into what we now call the Mt. Baker Seshup, which has been an official event for the last five years. Steven Goodell, longtime Baker local and now Seattle resident, has taken it upon himself to organize this eclectic gathering of snowboarders, partiers and onlookers. The Seshup is a great reason to come up to Baker and enjoy the last bits of snow before everything totally melts out. Snowboarding can last a couple more months up there, but right now is when the step-up is in its prime. The event is completely free, and the only thing that is asked of the crowd is to be respectful and to help shovel if you plan to hit the jump.
The Seshup has gone from an impromptu spring filming mission into a full-blown event. Steven has gotten permits and brought in the infrastructure to support the gathering similar to that of a rock concert. Kegs of beer are brought up, tents and fold-out lawn chairs are pitched, and even Porta Potties are installed. While many came to party, the real reason most of us have shown up is to shred this amazing jump, and hopefully learn a trick or two before the season is done.
One change that was made to the jump was a mandatory ten-foot stepdown in the middle of the in-run that added a bit of consequence and quirkiness to the runway. Although it did allow for a straight shot to the kicker, which usually has a sketchy dog leg in-run that can scrub speed.
Pro snowboarders, shred enthusiasts, and skiers from around the state flocked to Mt. Baker and it was refreshing to see everyone ride together. Pat McCarthy, Nate Lind, Joe Bosler, Matt Wainhouse and Nick Ennen are among a few of the longtime alumni that showed up to throw down. There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Wainhouse was the standout. He was sending it all day, larger than most, and doing it with a huge smile on his face. Be on the lookout for more of Wainhouse, as he seems to be unstoppable right now! Other highlights were Joe Bosler's backflip suitcase and smooth shifty 540s; Matt Wainhouse absolutely sending a huge bag of tricks; Jackson Blackburn’s Backflip beer chug; Nate Lind's signature backside rodeo 720s; Travis Claughton’s smooth frontside spins; Nick Ennen's frontside rodeos and backside 5s; Mateo throwing down backside sevens and being the youngest at the event to hi the jump; and Patrick "Sarge" McCarthy boosting some massive backflips to the bottom of the landing.
Thanks to Steven and crew for putting on an awesome and free event. Not only was it a good time to reconnect with old friends but it was a super fun jump to hit that is safe and just an all-around good time.
Long time Bellingham resident and step-up alumni Pat McCarthy had a few words to say about the session:
“The Mt Baker Seshup is everything that is right in snowboarding and I have been coming since 1999. Everyone rolls up with a shovel, (around three hundred people now, it used to be a lot smaller) from all walks of life and different areas of the Northwest with one plan: to send it! The energy and vibe is so sick as everyone is throwing shovel loads of snow to build the jump and the run-in; the anticipation is thick. Then there is no order or rule, you just walk up, strap in and go for it. It fortifies my feeling that all is good in the Northwest. Just a bunch of passionate snowboarders enjoying life together and ending the season with one last send off! God damn I love snowboarding Mt. Baker and living in the Pacific Northwest!”
Here's a quote from Steven Goodell, the organizer of the event:
“I've been going to the Seshup since Jason Speer started the first one when he was the student rep on campus at Western for Red Bull in 2003. I was still in high school and thought it was cool to get the invite from the older guys. Getting to ride with guys like Donnkie, Jesse Burtner, Nate Lind, and Pat McCarthy was super ego-inflating. When Jason graduated a few years later, the event kept going, but the organization aspect kind of stopped. It was a total free for all. By 2009, the event was in danger of getting shut down. The Forest Service and the sheriff were out there every year finding something to give us a ticket over. One year they wrote a ticket for “building and maintaining a monument on government property." By monument they meant our jump. It was flattering in a fucked up way. It had gotten to the point where we putting together the rider's pool just to pay the ticket we were expecting. A total Glacier Banked Slalom weekend style crackdown was coming and I knew the only way for the event to continue was to play their game. So, I downloaded the forms for a non-commercial event permit and called the local Forest Service office. They were actually expecting my call. It turns out the government will let you do anything if you fill out enough paperwork. After the first year with a permit went well, they even gave me permission to have a snowmobile out there for the weekend to haul kegs. Everything still runs basically the same. People still build the jump themselves. It's completely grassroots. The only reason we originally brought on sponsors was to pay for the Honey Bucket the FS required on the permit. Stickers, banners, t-shirts, pop-up tents, beer sponsors, and swag add to the atmosphere, but it all comes down to the people, the jump, and the weather.”
Notable tricks that have gone down on the Mt Baker step-up jump:
Jesse Burtner: Switch frontside 1080, backside 360 one-footer, switch frontside stoney bologna 900
Nate Lind: Backside rodeo 900
Donkey: Backside Rodeo 900
Pat McCarthy: Frontside 1080 double cork, double backflip
Nick Ennen: Frontside rodeo 900
Kurt Jensen: Switch Frontside rodeo 900
Matt Edgers: Method to late backside 180 (not the gnarliest trick, but the style was beyond amazing)