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Weekend crowds at Crystal Mt. and Stevens Pass

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm headed to Washington from February 16th through the 22nd and will be skiing that first weekend. Just wondering if anyone knows how crowded Crystal Mt. and Stevens Pass get on the weekends b/c I want to avoid them if they are too bad. Thanks!
post #2 of 18
They are bad. If you can afford the time to drive, Mt. Baker has much shorter weekend lift lines but it's quite a bit farther (2 1/2 to 3 hours or more from Seattle).

Another option is to night ski at Crystal or Stevens (I think Stevens has more lit terrain) but you will not be able to ski some of their best stuff at night.
post #3 of 18
Not only is there potential for bad lift lines at Stevens and Crystal, both places really lack enough parking for the Weekends of Doom that frequently occur during Jan and Feb. If you don't get up there pretty early, you can get totally shut out. Both places also attract ski schools on weekends. Baker is usually better but even Baker can get pretty packed on a Jan/Feb weekend. We are all weekend warriors hereabouts.
post #4 of 18
Cant speak for xtal but at stevens on weekends crowds can be avoided by taking the right lifts/runs for example big chief/doubledimond and southern cross usually has no lift lines so you can lap lap those as well as 7th if you ski back to the chair
post #5 of 18
You did not say what terrain you prefer to ski & what you are comfortable skiing. On or off piste? What level of steepness and difficulty? And what tools you work with. Fat or narrow? How versatile are you on them? The real answer(s) to your question will depend on this. Also, willing to hike? Equipped for it?

There is more than one "mountain" (inbounds) with differing levels of crowding occupying the same space at each of these areas...
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Here are my stats:

27 year old male, level 8-9 skiier...prefer mainly off-piste terrain. Like powder bowls, steeps and trees (love the back bowls of Vail, Lone Peak at Big Sky and Peak 8 at Breck if that gives you any idea). Sometimes like bumps but not all-day long. Can hike or boot it if necessary. Don't really have much in the way of avy gear so nothing too out-of-bounds.
post #7 of 18

Crystal

It's been a while since I have hit Stevens on a weekend, but I go to Crystal on a regual weekend basis. Stevens gets really, really crowded on the weekends and doesn't have as much vert, but is worth a day to ski as long as you're out here.
Crystal can get really crowded also, but a couple of things really help- make sure you leave Enumclaw no later than 7:45 AM, earlier if it is snowing . Its about 45 minutes from Enumclaw to Crystal, barring snowy roads.
The first hour or so is not that crowded on the weekends, so get in a lot of runs early. Take an early or late lunch and make sure you're skiing from 11:45-1:00. Lines will be 10-12 minutes peak on Rainier Express (REX)-(quad) and Forest Queen (6 pack- mostly blue, but also how you get to Chair 6) on the weekend.
You can always go single and re-group at the top, that will save time in line. The lines also usually drop off around 2 or so on REX.
Chair 6 (old double slow chair to the top of Powder Bowl) opened late one day last year on a nice day for some reason (avy control or chair problem) and the line was 1/2 hour+ but that was an anomoly and usually is 5-10 minutes tops.
One note is there are more out of town and out of country skiers hitting the PNW this year. Had Frenchies cutting in line last Sunday, so that is adding probably more mid-week traffic, though it will still be pretty much ski up and get on mid-week.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BHallDDS View Post
Here are my stats:

27 year old male, level 8-9 skiier...prefer mainly off-piste terrain. Like powder bowls, steeps and trees (love the back bowls of Vail, Lone Peak at Big Sky and Peak 8 at Breck if that gives you any idea). Sometimes like bumps but not all-day long. Can hike or boot it if necessary. Don't really have much in the way of avy gear so nothing too out-of-bounds.
Crystal or Baker, Stevens is pretty blue except for some fun on 7th Heaven, but that's a small amount of terrain.
Crystal has some great "in-bounds" backcountry that they patrol and control and some great short hikes - Silver King, Northway Notch. Good chutes and tree skiing also.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Here are my stats:

27 year old male, level 8-9 skiier...prefer mainly off-piste terrain. Like powder bowls, steeps and trees (love the back bowls of Vail, Lone Peak at Big Sky and Peak 8 at Breck if that gives you any idea). Sometimes like bumps but not all-day long. Can hike or boot it if necessary. Don't really have much in the way of avy gear so nothing too out-of-bounds
If you ski mainly off-piste, then you should also consider Alpental, which is located 52 miles east from Seattle. On weekends you have to get there probably before 10am to find a parking. Here is a trail map: http://www.summitatsnoqualmie.com/in...lpental_lg.asp
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-2-fly View Post
Stevens is pretty blue except for some fun on 7th Heaven, but that's a small amount of terrain.
Don't know much about Stevens, do you? Anything at all? It's OK to admit it...
post #11 of 18
its okay he doesnt. It just means he stays off the good terrain.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input guys. Yeah, I definitely know and WILL leave really early for these spots (be there before 9) I think I'll probably head to Mt. Baker on a Saturday being it farther away from Seattle than the other resorts (i.e. Crystal, Stevens Pass, etc.) and then on Monday hit Mt. Hood Meadows (with a friend who has a pass so I don't have a choice) and then depending on conditions will hit a combination of Crystal, Stevens Pass and Alpental on Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh and hey...any local input on short boot hikes or traverses/inside tips to nice expert terrain is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
post #13 of 18
If I was visiting the PNW this wknd I might skip baker since the really good hike accessable backcountry (shuksen arm, hemispheres .. both north exposure) are likely to be pretty firm (telemetry from 1/23 showed rain, and got pretty warm after that), and the inbounds stuff with the exception of stuff under chair 6 doesn't get much sun this time of year. I like baker, but not sure it's worth the gamble this wknd. Need a baker local to chime in.

Likely better at crystal skiing frontside bumps under rex chair and doing top to bottom on upper/lower E and bull run in soft snow ... all these lines get good sun and frzlevel fcst @~6000', sunny fcst, and not much E winds probably enough to soften it up. Lift lines last wknd not too bad, though not much sun, and the sun seems to draw crowds so you definitely want to get up early. (note: I have a crystal season pass). I'm expecting that all remaining terrain at crystal not having sun exposure to be pretty firm and not the endless pow which has spoiled me for weeks on end. Last wknd found 12-18" untracked light pow in far north areas in-spite of report of only 5" new sat. Will be a while before we see that again.
post #14 of 18
Another thing to keep in mind about Crystal is that it's on a 2-lane road. The traffic getting OFF the mountain can be awful. If you're not in a hurry, you're much better off having dinner at the base and letting the traffic die down a bit before driving home.
post #15 of 18
Stevens should be OK on the back side because of its southern exposure. I agree, icy conditions are a concern. ripnbud is correct about Baker. It should be OK on the slopes on the chair 6 side until you get to the shade line, then it will probably be very icy. You can beat that by skiing just the top and then following the cat tracks to miss the bottom of the hill. Not very appealing, however.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BHallDDS View Post
Here are my stats:

27 year old male, level 8-9 skiier...prefer mainly off-piste terrain. Like powder bowls, steeps and trees (love the back bowls of Vail, Lone Peak at Big Sky and Peak 8 at Breck if that gives you any idea). Sometimes like bumps but not all-day long. Can hike or boot it if necessary. Don't really have much in the way of avy gear so nothing too out-of-bounds.
"Chair 6" at Crystal Mt. is also called the "High Cambell" chair. Sometimes it's closed due to high winds or if (I'm not mistaken...) the conditions are too frozen/icy. However, when it is open, there are no lift lines as is services black/double black terrain. While this is not a detatchable high speed lift, it will take you back up the mountain fast enough. There is also some terrain that you can hike to once you have riden up the High Cambell chair.

Also at Crystal is the Rainier Express (REX) chair that will take you to some advanced terrain. I usually find that the lift line starts to shorten up at about 2:00pm when people get tired and start heading home.

Night skiing at Crystal, in my opinion, is a joke, so don't plan on that.

I'm glad you're skiing Meadows on Monday and not the weekend. Lift lines at Meadows are far worse on the weekends than what you'll find at Crystal or Steven's pass.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Don't know much about Stevens, do you? Anything at all? It's OK to admit it...
I know that compared to Crystal, Stevens is one big blue run, which is neither here nore there, depends what you want. It's just the way it is. Sure, throw in double diamond, 7th etc, but there just isn't that much of it. The grooming is certainly better at Stevens and there is no comparison for terrain park. Stevens is man-made with great jumps, Crystal either doesn't have one, or is the whole mountain, depeding on how you want to look at it.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-2-fly View Post
I know that compared to Crystal, Stevens is one big blue run, which is neither here nore there, depends what you want. It's just the way it is. Sure, throw in double diamond, 7th etc, but there just isn't that much of it. The grooming is certainly better at Stevens and there is no comparison for terrain park. Stevens is man-made with great jumps, Crystal either doesn't have one, or is the whole mountain, depeding on how you want to look at it.
crystal is sick I like it alot, but you are seriously missing out on a huge amout of stevens if you think that it looks flat, there is some serious gnar at stevens just cause its not on the trail maps doesnt mean it doesnt exist.
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