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Crystal Mountain

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thinking about taking my family out to Crystal Mountain for our February Break.  I saw some of the pics of the mountain.  Look pretty impressive. 

I am a very aggressive expert skier.  Love skiing steeps, powder...
My wife is also aggressive but likes to ski really steep groomed trails.
Kids (2 and 5) are good for a few good runs.

How is the terrain?  Looks good on the map and in the pics.
How will the snow conditions be in February?
Is the snow light powder of heavy cement?
How are the crowds?
We'll probably have 5 days to ski and then explore.  Maybe even head up to the Olympics for a very long day or overnight trip.  How is this area for off-piste opportunities?

Any other thoughts?


post #2 of 9
I assume you are talking about Crystal Mt. Washington?  I grew up in Washington and can tell you that Crystal rocks! It has some of the best terrain in the country when it comes to steep and gnarly.  Midweek, the place is empty.  On weekends and holidays, it is often a zoo (particularly in February when there is ski school).  Snow can be light, but generally it is not.  "Cascade Concrete" is the affectionate term. If your technique involves muscling your turns, you will blow yourself up very quickly on a "powder" day.  On the plus side, heavy, wet snow sticks to much steeper surfaces enabling some very sick lines.  Washington resorts are known for big dumps, big terrain, heavy snow, and poor visibility.

Grooming happens at Crystal, but the nature of the snow means that the experience isn't usually corduroy and the surface tends to get mangled pretty fast.  That said, Lucky Shot (a former FIS downhill course) and Deer Fly are a blast if you can catch them early before the ruts and icy patches develop.

February will normally involve good coverage and snow, but you never know with an El-Nino year. Washington resorts are relatively low, so rain is always a possibility, but especially when the baseline is starting warmer.  Pinapple Expresses are also a possibility (again, especially in an El-Nino year) and they can bring rain for an entire week.  I would be wary of booking a trip very far in advance.

If you have the BC gear and know-how, the backcountry options are fairly endless.  Also, there is a large chunk of "backcountry" within the resort boundaries that is somewhat avalanche controlled, but you should still have the requisite gear before venturing back there. 
post #3 of 9
What he said.  Geoffda has it down.
post #4 of 9
That would all be true, Crystal Mountain is Washington's big hill.  The snow here is not Utah, but there is a lot of it.

If you want to spend a weekday some place else give Alpental a day.  Again lots of side country, and some marvelous steep stuff.  International is a bump run that ranks with the best of them, and it has friends there. 
post #5 of 9
One of the best ski hills I've ever seen. Snow is another matter, though quantity thereof shouldn't be a problem. Great, great terrain.
post #6 of 9
One of the best for inbounds steeps and terrain as well as some close to hikes for some additional steep stuff. I'll be going back again this year. One of my favorites.

Search the site here for my trip report and some pictures.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I saw your post before I made mine. Great pics.  Truly, your pics are what made me think Crystal might be the place for us.

post #8 of 9

And of course, the lure of Enumclaw.

post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by asland View Post


I saw your post before I made mine. Great pics.  Truly, your pics are what made me think Crystal might be the place for us.


Well, the pictures don't do it justice, really. It's far more magnificent and majestic than my pictures. I had the pleasure and luxury to have hooked up with a few Patrollers who showed me some hikes and steeps which made it reality for me cause I wouldn't have done them alone not knowing the safe routes etc.

That said, you should also treat yourself to a day of exploring Alpental, over at Snowqualmie Pass. It's small but some awesome terrain and great access to some nearby backcountry steeps that are second to none in the States. Not something you will or should do without a local who knows the place and is trustworthy.

And of course, the lure of Enumclaw. ( crack me up Prickly)
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