Beautiful Backcountry Skiing, Crystal Mountain, WA

Post by blogger | June 2, 2017      

Winter 2016/2017 was the first I’ve had a season pass at Crystal Mountain here in Washington. I skied the resort and surrounding backcountry. It was a blast exploring a new area; making the most of all the pow that fell this year in the Pacific Northwest.

The deluge of this winter’s snow came with an onslaught of grey weather. There were only a few days where I even saw blue skies (often because of the pow hitting me in the face). During April the sun didn’t make much of an appearance, and fresh snow was there for the skiing during almost every day.

Stunning view of Mt. Rainier, with the Sheep Lake Couloir in the foreground. If you look close you can see our tracks.

Stunning view of Mt. Rainier, with the Sheep Lake Couloir in the foreground. If you look close you can see our tracks.

The forecast for the last weekend in April looked surprisingly good, so we decided to take full advantage and ski some of the lines around Crystal that I’d been wanting to hit all year. The day turned out to be a beautiful. It was a bit warm, but we still managed to find some light pow.

We began our morning with a ride up the lifts, and traversed to the edge of the Southback sidecountry area. Instead of dropping back towards the resort, we skied off the backside and found surprisingly nice dust on crust.

After a quick run, we wrapped around to the top of the peak above Sheep Lake, this holds the aesthetic Sheep Lake Couloir on its NE slopes. We were pleased to see that the chute still held cold snow, and that it didn’t show too much avy debris at the bottom. I snagged first tracks and had a blast. Jeff and Carl had some fun too.

The surprisingly sticky snow at the bottom made for good laughs. We skinned up and got another short run, and then made our way back to the top of the ridge above Silver Basin. We dropped into our last run and minutes later were enjoying beers in the B-lot at Crystal. Check out our pictures from that glorious day:

The first skin of the day was through some sun-baked mank. We managed to find better snow for the most part on the way down.

The first skin of the day was through sun-baked mank. We managed to find better snow for most of the way down.

Skinning below the impressive bulk of Mt. Rainier.

Skinning below the impressive bulk of Mt. Rainier.

Carl making turns down our first run of the day, the Sheep Lake Couloir.

Carl, first run of the day, Sheep Lake Couloir.

Second run of the day. Still a bit of pow, but it was getting kinda manky at this point.

Second run of the day. Still a bit of pow, but it was getting kinda manky at this point.

Jeff dropping into our last run of the day. Fresh, untracked slopes straight to the bar. Not bad.

Jeff dropping into our last run of the day. Fresh, untracked slopes straight to the bar. Not bad.

Here’s a little video Carl took of me skiing the first few turns in Sheep Lake Couloir:

A post shared by Carl Simpson (@freebirdski) on

Outstanding day, fantastic crew, magnificent area. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the excellent lift-accessed touring available at Crystal Mountain Resort. Compared to the usual weekend gong-show at Mt. Baker or the other areas in Washington, the Crystal backcountry can seem downright deserted on a weekend. SHHHHH, you didn’t hear it from me!


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3 Responses to “Beautiful Backcountry Skiing, Crystal Mountain, WA”

  1. Lisa Dawson June 2nd, 2017 12:28 pm

    More goodness from the spectacular PNW!

  2. Joe John June 3rd, 2017 10:52 pm

    Looks so delicious! Awesome pictures too.

  3. Tabke June 6th, 2017 1:28 pm

    Bummed I missed you up there this season. You coming back for more next year? Or are you gonna gamble on getting another stellar year at Snoq Pass? Muahaha

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