Winter 2016/2017 was the first I’ve had a season pass at Crystal Mountain here in Washington. I skied the resort and surrounding backcountry. It was a blast exploring a new area; making the most of all the pow that fell this year in the Pacific Northwest.
The deluge of this winter’s snow came with an onslaught of grey weather. There were only a few days where I even saw blue skies (often because of the pow hitting me in the face). During April the sun didn’t make much of an appearance, and fresh snow was there for the skiing during almost every day.
The forecast for the last weekend in April looked surprisingly good, so we decided to take full advantage and ski some of the lines around Crystal that I’d been wanting to hit all year. The day turned out to be a beautiful. It was a bit warm, but we still managed to find some light pow.
We began our morning with a ride up the lifts, and traversed to the edge of the Southback sidecountry area. Instead of dropping back towards the resort, we skied off the backside and found surprisingly nice dust on crust.
After a quick run, we wrapped around to the top of the peak above Sheep Lake, this holds the aesthetic Sheep Lake Couloir on its NE slopes. We were pleased to see that the chute still held cold snow, and that it didn’t show too much avy debris at the bottom. I snagged first tracks and had a blast. Jeff and Carl had some fun too.
The surprisingly sticky snow at the bottom made for good laughs. We skinned up and got another short run, and then made our way back to the top of the ridge above Silver Basin. We dropped into our last run and minutes later were enjoying beers in the B-lot at Crystal. Check out our pictures from that glorious day:
Here’s a little video Carl took of me skiing the first few turns in Sheep Lake Couloir:
Outstanding day, fantastic crew, magnificent area. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the excellent lift-accessed touring available at Crystal Mountain Resort. Compared to the usual weekend gong-show at Mt. Baker or the other areas in Washington, the Crystal backcountry can seem downright deserted on a weekend. SHHHHH, you didn’t hear it from me!
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.