Ski season at Mount Baker Ski Area kicks off Friday, but people are being asked to ski and ride cautiously after a variable snow base advisory was put in place.

Early Friday, the weather was clear, the winds were calm and no new snow had fallen at Mount Baker. An advisory issued early Friday warned riders of creeks, rocks, sticks, sudden variations in terrain, snow, subterrain, steep dips and other hazards and obstacles.

This is Mount Baker's 70th season. Though fresh snow fell on the mountain less than two weeks ago, an ongoing dry spell on the west side of the northern Cascades persists. But operators say there's more than enough snow.

"You will need to ride with early season caution and be alert to variable coverage, terrain, and other marked or unmarked hazards," the advisory said. "Remember, its going to be a long season so take it easy and choose your route with extra awareness."

Rentals and lessons are available at Mount Baker. Information about which runs are open can be found online.

If you are heading to Mount Baker for opening day, expect wintry conditions on the drive up, the Washington State Department of Transportation warns. Drivers should prepare for snow and ice on Highway 542.

Elsewhere, Crystal Mountain Resort will open to season pass holders Friday and to Crystal Legend Pass and Ikon Pass holders this weekend. The ski area will open to the public Monday. Mission Ridge will open Saturday. Stevens Pass Ski Area in August set an opening date of Dec. 2 but has not updated the timeline since new snow fell.

White Pass Ski Area hasn't set a date and Snoqualmie Pass needs more snow before the Summit at Snoqualmie can open for the season.

Staff reporter Gregory Scruggs contributed to this report.

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