After the long dry spell of October, the normal weather patterns have returned to the northwest, and despite a mediocre general prediction for the winter snow pack, things have gotten off to a good start in early November. A few storms have come through, and most importantly cold temperatures have remained afterward, allowing light fluffy “rocky mountain” powder snow to linger in the high elevations.

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While no lift will take you to the top of a snowy slope yet, with a bit of planning and some effort, you can get out to the snows already. Paradise on Mount Rainier is already a winter wonderland and the snow is unlikely to melt out until the spring.

Mount Baker is also getting the white treatment, and the ski area isn’t the only attraction at the end of the road. With snowshoes or skis, continuing past the road closure of 542 at the Baker ski area yields an amazing vista of snowy slopes, especially if you push on to Artist Point and take in views of Mount Baker itself. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the current avalanche conditions, and plan your route accordingly. Below are a set of pictures taken from an early season ski outing on Heliotrope Ridge of Mount Baker. While still accessible in the winter, the trailhead for this area lies along Glacier Creek Rd, which is not plowed, making it a great place for early season adventures when you can get close to the trailhead by car.

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window down into thunder galcer from heliotrope ridge_std

kam shoing how it's done_std

evening light on koma kulshan_std

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