Tag Archives: crystal mountain

La Nina

December has been… very good.

Dec 4 – Deep powder at Crystal Mountain

I can’t imagine a better opening day to my 2016 lift accessed season than this. 20″+ of fresh snow overnight and reasonable small crowds for a Saturday made for one of my best days on skis ever. By the end of the day I was chest-deep in the Chinook Express lift line. Too bad my GoPro crapped out early!

Laps in Snorting Elk bowl and Stockholders off the Green Valley chair were the order of the day.

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Washington Inbounds

I’ve been awfully silent on here for a few months: I’ve been busy skiing, often sticking to in-bounds terrain at our fantastic resorts where a full blog post feels like a little bit of overkill – I’ll compile them all here instead. There have also been some good downhill and XC ski tours that will appear on here separately.

November 22: Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker is always a great choice for the early season because of the volume of snow they get – it builds up the base super quickly. Becca and I had a solid day skiing on and off-piste on springlike snow under blue skies and open clouds. The best part of a blue sky day on Baker is the view of Mt. Shuksan, the mountainiest mountain of them all! Run of the day: Austin

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Early Dec: Mt. Baker repeat

This was supposed to be a snowy day but it got a little warmer than anticipated and fell sticky and drizzly instead and the visibility was pretty poor. We still had a pretty good time lapping Chair 8 and Chair 6 while the rest of Washington’s ski areas stayed closed. Run of the day: Oh Zone to Daytona

Also early Dec (12?): Crystal Mountain

Headed up to Crystal Mountain with a friend to take advantage of a free pass that would only be valid through the end of the year. It was my first time at Crystal so I explored the resort a bit but the visibility was pretty bad. Run of the day: Green Valley main bowl.

December 19: Crystal Mountain POWDER

Ohhh man was Crystal great. Knee deep powder was harvested in the hike-to Northway and Southback zones. The video captures it best:

We started in Northway with 3-4 runs in Morning Glory and the trees on the ridge skier’s right of Penny Dawg’s, then did a few runs in Green Valley before travelling over to the Southback to finish the day.

Run(s) of the day: Morning Glory Bowl to Brand X, Southback Traverse to Silver Basin headwall (The Beach)

January 9: Stevens Pass

Stevens was odd today. It was sunny on the West side but a cloud loomed over the pass from the east side and made the light flat all day. Parking and lift lines were a mad house but some of the groomed trails were okay. There was pretty hoar frost on the trees on the backside runs. Everything was pretty chunked up and crusty though off piste and it wasn’t the best day of skiing. Run of the day: Pegasus

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January 16: Crystal Mountain

Today greatly exceeded expectations! It was too warm in the parking lot but the temps were pretty decent up high and it was snowing big flakes which refreshed the off piste terrain a little bit. We had a mixed group today so I spent some time cruising groomers around Forest  Queen and some off piste in Green Valley and Campbell Basin which was actually really great. Run of the day: Campbell Basin and Powder Bowl.

February 20: Crystal Mountain POWDER

Best day of 2016 so far! About a foot of powder fell over the prior 48 hours and Southback had not opened in two days due to avalanche danger. The day opened in full sun as we did laps off Chair 6 while watching the Southback gate. It finally opened up in time for us to harvest the goods with a couple of laps off the Beach in Silver Basin (quickly becoming my favorite run in WA). Video turned out pretty great too.

Run of the day: Silver Basin (duh)

Feb 26-27: Whistler Blackcomb

I split a condo with some really solid skiers and boarders to enjoy a long weekend up at Whistler. I wrote about Whistler last year; it is crazy large and I’m always blown away by the amount and variety of terrain to choose from. I’m hoping to hit it with better snow conditions one of these times.

We divided our time pretty evenly with Blackcomb in the mornings and Whistler in the afternoons. Friday was cloudier but conditions had stayed fairly cold and the groomers skied well. There was some packed powder and conditions weren’t too icy for the most part. Run of the day: Spanky’s Ladder. Saturday started off with blue skies and about an inch of new snow to freshen things up. Runs of the day: Blackcomb Glacier, Harmony Ridge to Low Roll

 

Norse Peak Overnight Ski Tour

Jeff, Becca and I headed up to the ridge east of the Crystal Mountain ski resort for some winter camping and skiing in the Norse Peak Wilderness. We toured up from the Upper C parking lot along the snowshoe track into Bullion Basin before ascending to the ridge on the W/SW aspect of the basin.

My relative inexperience showed as I found the kick turns on the steeper lower slopes of the basin to be surprisingly sketchy with the couple inches of light snow on top of the Thursday rain crust – the track kept sliding out and it would have been possible to take a long slide over some steep rollovers and trees. I ended up booting the middle 1/3 which was significantly more secure.

Once on the ridge, we made an surprisingly sheltered camp south of pt. 6654 and took a quick lap on the highpoint before it got dark. We awoke to beautiful blue skies and 3-4 inches of light snow that had fallen overnight!


After breakfast and coffee we ducked over into Cement Basin for some beautiful turns with enough new, light powder to smooth over the crust.

Rain runnels were evident up to the highest point on the ridge, building confidence that the weak layer problem had been successfully nuked on Thursday. We then toured north along the ridge, bagging the unnamed high point south of Scout Pass and continuing along to the moderate south ridge of Norse Peak. We stuck mostly to the west side of the ridge and were able to find plenty of clear spots in the trees to navigate without much trouble.

I spotted a party of two in Cement Basin in the early afternoon:

After a summit snack, the visibility began to diminish as clouds rolled in from the south. We skied our uptrack along the ridge but ducked west along the PCT after Scout Pass. We broke camp, then enjoyed creamy afternoon turns all the way down the main line on East Peak. This was especially satisfying after having spent several afternoons at Crystal admiring tracks on the open slopes.

Beautiful area, great weather, and I hope to spend more time in the future exploring farther out into the wilderness and MRNP!