You know you are excited when you wake up a full three hours before your alarm is set to go off. With a fresh espresso in hand, I pour over the weather data and hope there will be enough snow to cover your skis from a dozen core shots. I learned my lesson last year after passing on a clear early season skiing opportunity. I didn’t get another chance for almost three weeks.
I always wonder what border guards think as we roll through declaring our plans to ski Mt. Baker at 7am on a Sunday. Maybe they think it is a code word for poaching deer. Today, our border guard had a look of confusion on his face when we described our intent for a three hour hike, for maybe a couple contrived turns in the snow. But that is the ski sickness some of us have. Just a few turns make all the difference between a feeling of satisfaction and longing for the deep winter.
Almost on cue to forecast, the snowline started about at about 4000ft and was thin right to 5500ft. Heliotrope Ridge is such an awe inspiring place. With a broken glacier in the background, we lap the perfect pitch that has enough space and elevation to crack 1000ft runs till your legs say no more. Well, at least that’s what happens when there’s visibility. Cue last season’s first runs (here), this year was more of a typical kick off day in the PNW. Snow, rain, wind, and crap visibility. Frankly it doesn’t matter to me what the conditions are for the first ski day. Simply it is the joy of being in the mountains that gives me the most satisfaction.
What do the next few days look like for Heliotrope? Well, if you can get there before the expected warming trend, and are lucky enough to stand under clear skies, expect some soft and silky turns. However, expect a two hour walk in, and lots of water as the streams are still pumping. Part of me is hoping for 5000ft freezing levels for a while so we can continue to hit this awesome spot for a few more weeks!