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Crystal Mtn/mount Baker

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've never skiied Cyrstal or Baker and would appreciate any info on conditions, transportaion and lodging. Would like to visit !st or 2nd week of Jan. Flyiing from Reno, staying approx. 3 days.

post #2 of 12
There is some lodging at Crystal which is about 1 1/2 hours from the Seattle area depending on where you start. I don't know about what transportation there may be, but it probably isn't frequent. A car would be needed. Crystal is a fairly large area with great terrain. It's popular and can be very crowded on January weekends, but weekdays are not bad. Like all of Western Washington, snow conditions can vary a great deal. They will be whatever they are when you are there.

Mt. Baker is smaller than Crystal and has a lower elevation. There is no on mountain lodging or amenities outside of the day lodges. The closest lodging is about 18 miles away in Glacier. There is no regular transportation outside of a weekend bus that takes days skiers from Bellingham. A car will be required. It takes about 3 1/2 hours to drive from Seattle. The terrain is varied with quite a bit of steeps. The layout is very strange and takes a while to get used to. Be very careful about forging off on your own to get the pow just under that little rope, you could end up stranded at the top of a cliff, or worse yet dead at the bottom of it. Baker is well know for its huge snowfall, but it is usually heavy snow, though someone from the Tahoe area won't find it all that different. Weekends are not as crowded as at Crystal.

If I were you and I had 3 weekdays, I'd go for Crystal.
post #3 of 12
Crystal has transportation on a weekends only basis from Seattle. See: http://www.skicrystal.com/1599.html

Posaune has done a very good job of summarizing each area. They each have their own special attributes.
post #4 of 12
I believe Crystal has some nice deals on midweek lodging if you are able to avoid going on the weekend (a good idea anyway).
post #5 of 12
I just got back from my first stay a Crystal Mountain and the lodging is seriously overstated and way overpriced. Built in the '60s and never left them and they talk about 'ski in' but that means you are hiking out. They talk about deals but I couldn't find any. The mountain is great, even the greens are fast but they are wide enough with enough variety for every person to pick their own line at their own speed. Expect people to be going past you at warp speed.
We will go back for day skiing but won't spend another night on the mountain.
post #6 of 12
"What to know if you plan to ski western Washington" probably deserves its own big fat thread this year. But for now...

All of Baker, Stevens, Alpental, and Crystal deserve serious consideration as far as the skiing they offer. At least if you can & want to ski off piste. As can Mission Ridge depending on the year. Repeating prior comments - not a one of these places is a "resort" in the sense you'd find in UT or CO. Also, despite relative proximity, microclimate rules the day. Depending on temps, convergence zones, etc., one area might get a dump of fine snow & the next one over gets rain or nothing.

You could do worse than wait until the last minute to pick your areas. Or base yourself in or near Bellevue and suck up the drive to one area one day and another the next - and repeat.

Regardless, get an AWD rental car. It'll give you flexibility. And it will save you hassles when chains are "required". The roads to these areas each have their own special charm

There are many TRs with pics from these areas over at TGR. Note the bias away from groomers... If you are a groomer fan, skip Baker. And the others may not thrill you either. If not, you will be amazed if you find the goods or get someone to show them to you...
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Crystal Reply

Thanks to all of you who replied about the Crystal Mtn. inquiry. Your info really hepled a lot. I might just give it a shot...
post #8 of 12
pisteoff2003 -

I'm not sure if you're still following this thread or not, but I have a few thoughts for you. I live in Vancouver, Wa, which is on the other side of the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Every ski season I'll make 2 to 4 trips north to ski Crystal Mt. (it's a 3.5 to 4 hour drive for me). I'll typically drive up Friday night, ski two days, and drive home Sunday night. Mt Hood (Oregon) is a lot closer (1.5 hours), but the experience at Crystal is much better.


I've stayed at several places on or near the mountain, and there's only one worth recommending: Alta Crystal Resort. See their website: http://www.altacrystalresort.com

As other posters have noted, many of the accomodations on the mountain are very lacking in quality. I haven't stayed in all of the accomodations, but the ones I've tried have been disappointing. However, Alta Crystal Resort, which is about 8 miles from Crystal Mt., is excellent. The place is in excellent condition, and it is obvious that the owners are very active in keeping it maintained.

I had a chance to ski with Alta's owners at the Crystal Mt Steeps Camp last February. They are very nice people who take pride in the fact that when Warren Miller comes to Crystal Mt., he stays at Alta Crystal.

Alta Crystal is on HW 410, about a mile before the turn off to Crystal Mt.


See: http://www.buckleychamber.org/accommodations.htm

Enumclaw is about 40 miles away from Crystal Mt., with Buckley being about 45 miles away. A lot of excellent lodging posibilities exist in Puyallup, which is about 60 miles away.

I've had bad experiences at King's Valu Inn and Mt. View Inn. Until a couple of weeks ago, Mt. View Inn was my place of choice.

Park Center Hotel used to be a Best Western. Rates have dropped since they were a Best Western. 5 or 6 years ago when I last stayed there this place met the standards one would expect from a Best Western. On a good powder weekend, it will sell out.

I'll be staying at the Park Center Hotel this weekend. Its probably the best one can do in Buckley or Enumclaw, and if you're interested I'll post a review of it early next week.


Three quick and important notes...

- Highway 410, which runs through Enumclaw, is the only way to get to Crystal Mt. You'll see a blockade on HW 410, just past the Crystal Mt. turn off. There is a 7 mile road from HW 410 to the resort.

- AWD is highly recommended. I frequently put my truck in 4WD to get up the road to Crystal. I've never had the need to chain up, yet I always take chains with me. Note the following disclaimer: the weekend you visit you may wish you had chains.

At the end of a day of skiing (at about 4:30pm), I've never had problems getting down from Crystal Mt. without chains (once again: you may wish you had chains the weekend you visit...).

- You'll see signs around Bonney Lake, Buckley, and Enumclaw on HW 410 that say "Chinook Pass Closed". Don't panic. "Chinook Pass" is apparently past Crystal Mt., and is probably why there is a blockade on HW 410 just past the Crystal Mt. exit.
post #9 of 12
Chinook Pass is closed all winter, every winter.
post #10 of 12
Crystal reports 21 inches of new snow at the summit overnight 1/2/07 and 12 new inches at the base. Crystal currently measures 77 inches at the base and 107 inches the summit.
post #11 of 12
Just in case anyone ever digs up this thread with by a search of the forums...

I stayed 3 nights in Park Center Hotel in Enumclaw last weekend. It is no longer a Best Western, because, in my opinion, the place needs some maintainence. That said, the place is clean, the utilities work, and it is the best hotel in the Buckley/Enumclaw area.

The Park Center Hotel is now my place of choice for my weekend trips to Crystal Mt. By the way, I asked for a "corporate rate" for my lodging and got $65/night. I was pretty happy with that.
post #12 of 12
the Quicksilver Lodge right at the mountain is fine. I have stayed there literally hundreds of times

It is literally steps to the base lodge and reserved parking is included.

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