Crystal Mountain is the largest ski area in Washington with a total of 2,600 acres - 300 of which are considered in-bounds backcountry terrain - 10 chairlifts - four of them of the high-speed variety - and more than 50 named runs.

There's everything from gentle groomed cruising runs for beginners to challenging steeps, backcountry, glades, chutes, and black runs for the more adventurous.

Those who would like to take advantage of the tough stuff - and 35 percent of Crystal's terrain is ranked advanced or better - should check out the Miles Smart Steep Camp Dec. 12-14.

This clinic is a condensed version of the legendary steep skiing camps in France and Switzerland created by the late extreme-ski pioneer Doug Coombs. Miles Smart, a protégé of Coombs, conducts the Crystal camp, and he will focus on having fun while skiing hard and learning about the mountains and backcountry travel techniques such as asic single burial transceiver search and how to effectively negotiate Crystal's steeps.

The cost of the three-day camp - open to anyone older than 16 who can handle black-diamond runs with control and confidence - is $466 ($631 if you need lift tickets), and the price includes a light breakfast and lunch each day and an après gathering with snacks and video analysis on the second day.

Plus tons of coaching.