For those of you who haven’t heard of Crystal Mountain, it is located in the Cascade Range of Washington State right next to Mount Rainier (a colossal 14,410 foot volcano with 28 sprawling glaciers). The resort was recently ranked 7th in the nation by Skiing magazine. The lift system is great with two high speed six packs and two high speed quads among other lifts. The runs are fun and there is some legendary expert terrain (north and south backcountry and high campbell basin).
I had one of those totally super skiing days today. For starters, the snow conditions were superb. It seemed more like January coverage than the last week in March. The weather was essentially idyllic – not too warm and not too cold. Clear blue skies afforded great views to Mount Rainier towering across the valley and other parts of the Cascade Range including Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Glacier Peak, and even Mt. Baker near the Canadian border. The best part, however, was the emptiness of the mountain. I didn’t have to wait once for a chairlift. On top of this all, they got enough new snow last night to cover up the old tracks. This is how skiing should be!
I started the day off with some corduroy (groomed runs) speeding down the mountain, quickly upping the run and vertical count for the day. The sun quickly softened the snow making for some sweet care-free morning turns (btw: I lost track of the run count somewhere in the twenties… but I got a ton of great skiing in today leaving me very tired right now). I soon started to explore some off piste terrain. I found a sweet cornice to jump off and I returned several times. At about 11 am, I moved over to High Campbell chair (think K2 at Squaw Valley or the Peak Chair at Whistler) to hit some double diamond action. I did 12 runs there today (all doubles)! Steep and deep action made me all smiles – great lines, jump turns in chutes, snow mist blowing with each turn – it doesn’t get much better. I wrapped up at 3:30 pm very satisfied.
I haven’t been to Crystal in a couple years, but I had a great experience there today. The drive is a little longer than the other local resorts (around 1.75 hours from my house), but it was well worth it today. I will definitely return to Crystal for mid-week action in the future.