by: anhillx - 1st November 2006

  • 5
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 5All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 4Family Friendly
  • 5Nightlife
  • 2Terrain Park
  • Value

Full review

Won't find a better all-around mountain without the hype. Sure, Whisler's got the Village and internatiional appeal, but Crystal has 2300 chair accessable acres 1.5 hours from Seattle. You've got something for everyone at Crystal and more than likely that's steep and technical terrain for the adrenaline seekers. I don't know another hill in the Northwest with more expert local skiers. The kids here stay on edge in the steeps like pros. Of course, you can hang out with the groomers on Forest Queen, catching up with friends/family on the lifts. From here you can enjoy nice gradual slopes, hitting mach speeds on 'Downhill' and 'Roling Knolls' with a couple nice ledged launches with great visability. When the mountain's socked in, the trees over here part the mist. But, there's really only so much conversation you can have on a lift (hey, you did that in the car). After a couple warm-ups, grab those that can keep up and jump up on the rickety Campbell chair for some quick bowl hits into the Basin. Work north to south, seeking fresh stashes in the chutes. Next, take a little hike up to catch some signature Crystal runs like 'Braindamaged', 'Hourglass', and 'Pinball'. You either treat these as 'get away from the crowd' runs or warm-ups for Northback. 25 minute up and 5 minute down, so you can burn some good time/calories here. Keep heading south over the ridge and try out some interesting chutes off the far rocky ledge for kicks. Sooner or later, you're going to stray from the day-users and hang with the locals on the Rainier and Green Valley high speed chairs. From here, you can show off your skills to the chairs in the open slopes for a couple spins to feel out the conditions. Once you have it dailed, time to hit the Northback to step it up. The crowds divide quickly. Most come up short at Snorting Elk to hang close to the chair for some quick descents. This is good and it leave the real stashes for those who know better. Staying on the ridge toward/down Right Angle picks up hidden dumps through recently select cuts (cut perfectly for nice carving turns down a 35 degree slope). Pop over the ridge at any point and grab some quick little open chutty descents. They get the blood pumping, but the funs over too soon for my vertical need. I'd prefer to go over another ridge and stay high above 'Morning Glory' into open glades descents into the ravine. Or shoot way out to the boundry line and come down into some open glades running into tight chutes that spill you down to the shuttle for an refreshing mountain bump runout. If you're not winded at the shuttle, you stopped a couple times on the way down. Essentially, there are two Crystal Mountains as far as I'm concerned. The on-piste groomers on Forest (and a little Rainier overflow) and the big mountain carvers hanging in/out of the fringes of the backcountry. You want vertical? I've clocked 75K on 1 day there. You want technical? Add 'Braindamaged' to your ski portfolio. You'll always remember your first jump into the top of it. You want big mountain? Mach down Powder Bowl with 3 packer width turns. Speed is your friend. Want a amateur downhill run? Start at 'Lucky Shot', keep on your edges and stay high to catch Bull Run into the lodge. If you drop below 25 mph, you're skidding. Of course, I don't know anywhere in the world with as better look-out as the Summit House for Mt Rainier. P.S. Don't forget to hit the Snorting Elk Bar for some Carrot Cake to get the blood sugar peaked.
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