View Full Version : Crystal Mountain, WA
12-09-2003, 03:26 PM
Ongoing Crystal Mountain conditions reports.
12-09-2003, 03:32 PM
The snow seemed very complicated today. Early in the day, we rode the Campbell. The first 4 runs, we were able to lay down untouched or nearly untouched lines on both sides of the lift. The snow had a "buttery smooth but heavy" feel to it. There was the faintest trace of a crust from melting high on the mountain. We would learn that lower on the mountain there was a very real and thick crust. Later in the day we switched to the Green Valley chair, where we found cut up powder and much to our suprise, very real and deep powder on the slopes facing north, with no crust.
We could hear the patrol blasting in Southback all day, which was closed.
12-15-2003, 10:35 AM
Woohoo! Deep and light today. Started off the day with first tracks on Campbell Basin. With both pairs of fat skis down, I skiied the whole day on my 68mm waist K2s. Face shots galore! There was maybe 5-9 inches of new on top of yesterdays tracks. Later, we lapped powder bowl and bear pits, neither of which were quite as good. They both had less coverage, more bumps, and less fresh. After that, we headed out into south backcountry for the real goods. Our first run on the flank of the king yielded 10-20 inches of light, untouched goodness. There were progressively more tracks as the day went on, but still not so many that you couldn't link several consecutive untouched turns. Hit the backside of the Throne, the flank of the King, and than for the grand finale, hiked up to the summit of the King and skiied all the way out Silver Basin.
The new snow seems to have filled in most coverage issues Crystal was having (except for Powder Bowl, and a few choked places.) On piste was soft and bumpy, off, quite light POWDER!
01-04-2004, 04:36 PM
Another killer day at Crystal. This season is starting to spoil me. We ran over to chair 6 and hiked into South Back right away. The bootpack up the Throne was wiped out by the wind and we had to break a new trail. We dropped into the backside of the Throne found the snow to be excellent, but the visibility poor. (It was overcast all day.) We retreated back to Campbell basin for a few deep laps. Then we proceeded into North Back. That's where the real goods were. The snow was as fluffy as I've ever seen in the PacNW. It was super cold and light. So light that in some places you could bottom out on a crusty layer that the new isn't really bonding to all that much. On my last lap through North Back, I found stashes more than waist deep. Killer! I imagine that today (Sunday) is just going off with the visibility. Unforetunatly, my need for food and clean clothes kept me off the mountain today and in the grocery store. The sick memorys from yesterday remain. ;)
01-10-2004, 11:51 PM
The old girl satisfies yet again.
The scree-flop of the wipers came out of a '40s gumshoe detective flick and did not belong here today. Driving up the access road in the rain, it looked ugly: brown smears of dirt and runnels of water coursing over the broken pavement. No snow in the trees. I steeled myself, donned the gore-tex and prepared for a morning of squishing around the slushpiles.
But walking up the the lift, you could see a freeze line up 800 or so vertical feet. There was hope.
And hope blossomed.
With a couple inches of creamy smooth slugsnot on top of the old cool whip, there were faceshots to be had. We ripped a screamer down lucky shot, then did Low Visibilty over to West Face. West Face delivered as usual: pillows of thigh deep cut up heavy pow, face shots that could knock your teeth out, but face shots nonetheless. The initial consensus was that we had to stay high and on N facing aspects. The former is a given, the latter required some intent. So we bombed from Groin Valley over to chair 6. There we found lighter snow and even less cut up, knee to thigh deep and good. Lots of good lines crossing old tracks, but virgin turns available. Then it happened.
They opened S. Back.
Wobbling up the King, it was hard to tell what it was going to be like, but it was unskied after several feet of snow. And the snow was good. Canonically heavy pow, but totally untracked. We raged a great one down appliances, knocking off a slow moving slough, but gobbling more snow all the way down to Lake Elizabeth. So we did it again. It was a great day.
01-19-2004, 10:27 AM
Rode the bus out to the mountain today with the intention of skiing myself into the ground.
Got to Crystal to find it overcast and refrozen. The south facing groomers were starting to resemble sheets of ice. (Iceburg gulch was particularly bad. The north facing slopes on the other side of iceburg gulch held the best snow. And by best I mean heavy duty consolidated, but less refrozen crystals.
Around luch the sun poked out and it warmed up fast. A lot of the south facing stuff became pretty fun and fast groomed slush runs. I took one good fall on the steep part of deer fly and nearly slid the whole run. Some of the more frequently traveled runs started to get bumped out.
But, by about 2 the clouds came back and the lower mountain got a mix of rain and snow while the upper mountain got snow.
I stuck to the groomed trails and just off for the day. I didn't venture into the backcountry at all.
01-19-2004, 07:55 PM
After checking the weather all week, I decided to head up today hoping that the upper mountain had resisted the rapidly rising freezing levels we've experienced lately. The base did not look promising, everything was a frozen sheet of ice, but high up the north-facing runs weren't too bad - an inch or two of new snow, and reasonably soft, albeit heavy. There was definitely hardpack underneath, but the turns weren't all that bad. However, every other exposure was... challenging (re-frozen crud). I eventually went in search of that elusive bottomless powder that I hoped was waiting in the Southback.
The north-facing chutes off the King looked promising, but it was a bit illusory. The snow was not bad - about 3-4 inches of fresh overlaying a pretty solid hardpack crust. The trick was avoiding the old, frozen avie debris ranging in size from a softball to small boulders, all solid as stones. Still, if one could spy a clear line, and not edge too hard - good, soft, fast turns were the reward. After a few Southback laps, I skied small slush bumps on the lower mountain before calling it a day.
Today was not a day of insane face-shots or floating bottomless turns. No, today's Southback satisfaction came instead from the artistry of the turn; the symmetry of the yin and the yang, linked in frozen testimony of a solitary quest for that timeless moment where individual consciousness is replaced by a singular awareness of the mountain, snow, and flowing energy - its lonesome etching immortalizing its maker for a day.
01-24-2004, 11:01 PM
The promised dump fizzled Friday night to a couple of inches of accumulation. After finding that World Cup had mismounted both new pairs of skis and knowing that it would be dust on crust and I couldn't find my files, much less find time to actually tune ye auld boards, I grabbed the 190 Explosivs and a screwdriver and headed out, late.
By the time we got in line about 8:00, it was packed. Warmups on on Lucky Shot and Groin Valley revealed delicate dendrite deposits over a hard underlayment. Lots of scraping. Ran into Chronic at Groin Valley and we decided to give chair 6 a chance.
It was dumping continuously, varying in degree. Sometimes it would be blowing with sucker holes of blue giving glimpses of Mt. Rainiers flanks as she lifted her skirts. Someone must have put some quarters in the slot. But then it would settle in and bale down snow with really poor visibilty and high winds at 15-20 degrees.
Throne Bowl/hamburger hill had some decent stuff where the crust wasn't so hard, so we mined a few turns there before finding the right exposure in the lee of the wind and most people's attention. After ripping at least 3 knee deepers along the ridges, it as time to go and queue up for daddy dooty.
It was probably the worst day yet this year at Crustal, but diligence was rewarded with some slots in the trees and raging around with good friends in a storm. Can't really complain. The car had accumulated about 4 inches in 5 hours.
It was the first day out on the Explosivs. I've never skied a board with a timbre so much like glass. I'd say it's more of a specialty powder plank than the Asteroid, softer in flex both lengthwise and torsionally. It felt pretty solid underfoot and did provide that buck out of the turn, but just not as stiff or solid as the Asteroid. I bought a new file.
01-25-2004, 07:18 PM
1/24/04 - 1/25/04
Post-script to Buster's excellent narrative.
After Buster left for paternal duties, I took a few more laps in the trees, mining little shots of knee-deep goodness. But my mind was pulled upwards to the looming presence of the King, and I could not resist its whispered siren call of steep, fresh pow.
By the time I started hiking up the King, the wind had picked up, and the snow was really coming down. About 1/2 way up, a particularly vicious gust of wind lifted the skis off my shoulder and buffeted me to the ground like a cat playing with a spring toy. But like the spring toy, I recovered, and kept staggering upwards. Searing pinpricks of heat pummeled my exposed face as I struggled to stay on the suddenly treacherous bootpack, which was almost completely obscured by drifting snow. The gale at my back was sometimes helpful, gently pushing me upwards, but more often than not the storm toyed with me, unbalancing enough that I sank to my knees several times in the windblown snow before resuming the painful march.
I made it to the top and hooked up with a few folks who had the same idea as I did - SE face. Wind and snow were such that this was one of the uncommon times where the SE exposure looked to be better than the north-facing chutes. We pushed off, turned the knob, and entered the white room... Deep, untracked, storm-skiing goodness all the way down.
Sunday morning, my fevered id talked my responsible super-ego into another day. It was like Saturday, only deeper. Knee-deep, light snow was the norm, with a few waist-deep turns and face-shots thrown in for good measure. I lapped the Northback a few times, moved over to Chair 6 and finished with another run down SE face of the King, fresh tracks all the way down.
Overall, the snow was still a bit variable, and in some sections, the wind or skiers had scoured it down to hardpack. Still, it was an outstanding day. What a great weekend - good skiing and companionship Saturday, and deep turns on Sunday.
01-26-2004, 10:40 AM
Didn't meet up with either Buster or Chronic. Started the day with some laps on North Face and some of the North facing bits of Snorthing Elk Bowl. The crust was a little less wicked on the straight north stuff. We took a few laps down lucky shot and the trees there in looking for freshies and little hits. I suppose becuase the last day I had skiied was the brutal ice racing at Alpental, I found the crust to be mostly manageable, and it did dump all day leaving a little pow that covered stuff up in more tracked-in areas.
After lunch we started up on the high campbell chair. We stuck to the skiers left side of the bowl and lapped our way over to the very top entrances to bear pits. We did some of the gnarly top chutes and sluffed off all the snow up there along with us. These were easily the biggest sluffs I've seen in the PacNW. Definitly enough to take your feet out if you let them. The rest of Bear Pits was increasing amounts of dust on the crust, like it wanted to be a pow day up it just couldn't put down enough snow to keep us from scraping.
02-02-2004, 11:05 AM
Got up early this morning feeling like crap. Dragged my ass downstairs for breakfast. Dragged my ass back into the bedroom to get dressed to ski. Ugh. I needed more sleep in a bad way. Then, just for giggles I called the Crystal Mountain Snow Fone.
"On Thursday night we recieved 15 inches of new snow, however, the top of the mountain was closed becuase of high wind. On Friday night, we recived 16 MORE inches of new snow..."
Holy crap. That was a better jolt than a swift kick to the nads.
I got on the bus positively giddy, only pissed that there was no way to make first chair. By the time I got to the mountain, it was sunny, with a little breeze, and the pillaging was on. The lift lines were XXXL. Right around lunchtime, it started to get warm and the snow started to get a little heavy, but the first few runs were among the best of my life. On one particular run (skiers left of Campbell Basin to Bearpits, I got the waist-deep-or-more-face-shot-on-every-turn-eating-snow-it-feels-so-good-I-don't-even-care feeling. Unreal.
The afternnon cooled back down, the wind picked up, and the light went flat turning the day into simply awesome.
02-02-2004, 11:12 AM
After yesterdays winner, I wasn't sure what Sunday was going to look like: bumps? slush? Nope. I turns out the wind had picked up, 6 more inches of new had fallen as the powder pillaging was back in effect. If anything, the day was actually better than yesterday in terms of weather. It was blue and warm, and we skiied boot deep and a deeper pow all morning.
The afternoon got off to a bang when I dropped into Brain Damage to discover that all the new had sluffed off leaving a crunchy soft crust behind. Not bad skiing, but hard to work a good line. The sun had gone away momentarily as well, leaving the dreaded flat light. The bottom of Brain Damage held pow and avy debris. A good one to get the heart rate up for sure. (Evidently Silver Basin was killer though, oh well.)
After that I jumped back in bounds to pound out some bump runs (ignoring my burning quads) before heading out to casa de Rausty Nails for the Superbowl.
03-16-2004, 12:41 AM
Bullion Basin (east, across the street). Great corn after the sun warmed things up, very very stable snow: after cutting a cornice three times without it moving, we had to jump on it (belayed) to have chunks fall off.
It's spring, guys. Frozen sheet of crap in the morning, corn / mashed potatoes in the afternoon. But hey, what a great week-end to go snow camping (gotta love those snow caves)!
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