It's.... SKI SEASON!!! In early November some snow had been falling, and accordingly Fras, Martin, and I decided that it was time to wax up the planks, strap on the skins, and farm some early season powder. We met at 8:30am on Saturday morning in Kendall, WA and piled into Fras's Matrix and drove east along 542 toward Baker. We headed south in Glacier for the Mount Baker summer trail, as we had heard that Heliotrope Ridge was a good spot for early skiing as you can ski on the west edge of the Coleman Glacier and not have to worry about rocks.
We had to park a couple of miles from the trailhead once it became clear that the 2wd Matrix was not cut out for driving steep unmaintained roads in snow, so from there we strapped our skis on our packs and started walking as the snow was not quite deep enough to skin yet. We eventually reached the trailhead where all the 4wd cars were parked, and continued up the trail. A bridge was missing at one point so we had to drop down and cross the river, here are Fras and Martin making their way across:
We continued on a little further by foot, and then just as we were getting close to the treeline we swapped our runners out for skis:
We continued on up with ever improving coverage, though still some rocks poking through in spots. As we popped above the treeline the coverage really improved, though there was a corresponding increase in wind and drop in visibility. Oh well, we trucked on to the top of Heliotrope Ridge at 7,000 feet (4,000 feet of gain from where we parked at 3,000) where we stopped for lunch and then headed back down. The snow was really nice on the ridge, though it was pretty tough to ski in the low-vis conditions.
We definitely clipped a few rocks as we continued to descend, and back in the forest we swapped out our skis for shoes again until we were back on the road as it would have been a crazy bob sled run down the trail with rocks and roots on both sides. We made it back to the car around 4:00pm as it was starting to get dark, super psyched to have gotten a jump on the coming ski season!
Here is a GPS track of our route:
Bring on the snow!!!
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