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Paradise, September 7, 2014

September is typically "scratch and dent" season for skiers in the Pacific Northwest. Even in a good year you typically are down to decades-old glacial ice with volcanic ash and gravel thrown in. The 2013-2014 season wasn't exactly top notch for snow depth; in fact the snow had mostly come late (after mid-February) and hadn't had a full winter to compress. If you've bought into the year-round ski lifestyle, you don't have too much choice this late in the season - the usual venues are the upper Paradise Glacier or Heliotrope Ridge on Mt. Baker. Even these standbys are becoming more and more sketchy - there's snow, but chances are high of encountering "gravel" in the snowpack and heinous sun cups are the rule.

At this time of year, it's hiking and bringing your skis along for the ride. Skinning started a few hundred feet above Pebble Creek, and the skis came off several times for rock portages. Still, it beats staying home and dreaming about skiing.

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