Autumn is a dynamic season in the Cascades. With finicky weather that is rapidly transitioning—from the perfect rock climbing days of late summer to the rainy-ness of fall—all types of mountain activities are possible. The key is to watch the weather and match the activity with the forecast. Last week my friend, and guide extraordinaire, Forest McBrian and I went on a backcountry ski mission to Mount Baker after seeing two days of precipitation accompanied by low snow levels in the forecast. We were not disappointed!
After a really reasonable start from Seattle (6AM!), we found ourselves at the Hogsback Camp on the north side of Mount Baker around 9:30AM. Approach conditions were perfect and we hiked to the bottom of the glacier in tennis shoes under cloudless and windless skies.
There were about eight other skiers in front of us and various skin tracks criss-crossed up Heliotrope Ridge. They made our 1000 vertical foot laps quick and efficient.
The conditions were good; no, wait, they were excellent. We skied a few laps, chasing the last shaded north-facing aspects to harvest the best snow into the mid-afternoon.
Let’s hope that it was the first of many great days this coming ski season!