Will Hutchinson, 21, is peering over the edge of a cliff that looks like a diving board, trying to spot his landing. The conditions at Mount Baker Ski Area are so soupy he can hardly see through the fog, but he doesn’t let the poor visibility deter him—these powdery, stormy conditions are what he knows best.
“You’re good!” says Hutchinson’s childhood friend, Mattias Evangelista, who is holding a camera from a vantage below. Hutchinson steps up to the in-run and takes off, going huge into the deep snow. When he lands, a chorus of whoops and a round of high fives greet him from the childhood friends he has skied with since he was in his dad’s backpack.
“There’s not much else to do around here until you get your driver’s license,” says Jim Evangelista, who took his two sons, Mattias and Micah, skiing when they were each a week old. “These kids have been in the backcountry since they were young, and they’ve cultivated relationships with the other skiers over those years.”
The young skiers who grew up riding together at Mount Baker don’t ski like others. Hutchinson, the Evangelistas, and their friends have an innate ability to flow through tight trees straight into a cliff drop, hitting the transition with panache. They know how to command deep snow and navigate big backcountry lines. Their style, fostered by an 800-inch snowpack and a close-knit community, is distinctly Mount Baker-ian.
The Older Brother
Mattias Evangelista, 23, was the first of the group to get outside attention when he started shooting with photographer Grant Gunderson. Now, he’s focusing on shooting video of his own: ethereal shots of his trips to Japan and of his brother and friends shredding around Baker. “Matt is two-fold talented,” says Jamie Baril, his coach. “He understands shooting as an athlete, and has the eye and that ability to slow it down.”
Jamie Baril, 24, grew up in Sammamish, Washington, near Seattle. He didn’t make it to Baker until after high school, but he’s ingratiated himself because he’s willing to teach the crew everything he knows. Will Hutchinson says he’s constantly applying his park background and expertise from coaching at Windells to teach the crew new ways to look at tricky terrain.
The Zen Master
When you ask them who the best skier of the bunch is, Micah Evangelista, 20, Matt’s younger brother, comes up…