Crystal Mountain Lifts & Terrain

Crystal Mountain Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Crystal Mountain Trail Map
  • Crystal Mountain Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    3,912 – 6,872 (2,472)
  • Average Snow Fall
    486 inches
  • Lifts 10)
    1 gondola
    2 6-pack
  • Ski Season
    mid Nov - mid Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 57
    Size – 2,600 acres
    Beginner – 11%
    Intermediate - 54%
    Advanced/Exp - 35%

Crystal Mountain Resort Terrain

Crystal Mountain Resort has plenty of mighty fine skiing and snowboarding terrain, especially for experienced riders. It is mostly a steep mountain. There are some mellow sections for beginners and intermediates, but huge sections of the Crystal Mountain skiing terrain are single and double black diamond slopes, with the occasional intermediate switchback to provide an easier route.

Despite the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort having 10 chair lifts, there are still large sections of the 2,600 acres of terrain that are nowhere near a lift. This makes sense for the outer fringes, that provide an awesome sidecountry experience, but there is also a huge section below the Green Valley chair where another chair and/or a nice fall line groomer or two wouldn’t go astray, so that you don’t have to repeat the hellish Kelley’s Gap Road if there hasn’t been fresh snow. It sounds as though Crystal Mountain has got it sorted though, with plans afoot for additional lifts in the area.

Lifts

The lift infrastructure is pretty good and includes a handful of high speed lifts, and Crystal Mountain Resort continues to invest in upgrading and adding lifts.

Thanks to an avalanche, Chair 6 needed to be replaced in 2014. The exit from the chair isn’t quite as heinous as it used to be, but you’ve still got to have your wits about you, especially if there are lots of exposed rocks. It’s probably a test considering that it services only expert terrain.

The Gold Hills chair lift only opens on weekends, whilst night skiing occurs on the weekends in peak season on Discovery, Gold Hills & Quicksilver lifts.

Lift Tickets

Despite some locals being outraged by lift ticket prices at Crystal Mountain Resort, the rates are quite reasonable compared to other high profile US ski resorts. And love it or hate it, Crystal Mountain is also accessible on the Ikon Pass.

Crystal Mountain Snow

With an average of 486 inches of snowfall annually, Crystal Mountain Resort is rather blessed when it comes to snow volumes. There is also a small amount of snowmaking on the green runs, to supplement Mother Nature’s blessings.

Being the Pacific Northwest, snow quality can be what lets the Crystal Mountain skiing down. It typically gets big fluctuations in temperature, so the snow can present in a myriad of ways. At least the top elevation is very good relative to other Washington ski resorts.

The gondola runs east-west and many of the slopes are predominantly east facing, with some runs facing northeast, so you need to play with the aspects when the sun’s out.

Crystal Mountain Skiing - Beginners

Having only 11% of the terrain at the Crystal Mountain ski area may sound like very little, but beginners have plenty of terrain to learn. Discovery is a dedicated learning zone so beginners can learn in peace, and the next progression is the wide mellow runs off Chinook and Quicksilver, and then onto Forest Queen.

Intermediate Snowboarding & Skiing Crystal Mountain

It sort of feels like someone couldn’t add up when devising the mountain statistics for the Crystal Mountain ski area, because 54% sounds like a mighty lot of intermediate terrain whereas in reality there are many more designated black and double black trails than blue. There are also a few blue trails that can’t be accessed without going down a black run first, so not sure if they should be counted?

The intermediate terrain is very good without being excellent. Most of it can be found off only 2 to 3 chairs so it can get rather congested, and it can get a little repetitive off the Rainier chair because you have to ski Lucky Shot over and over to access various other blue runs. For strong intermediates, at least a couple of the black runs are winch cat groomed, so you can also have plenty of fun on the steep groomers.

Advanced Snowboarding and Skiing

The steep groomers are awesome for cruising or zooming. Other single black diamond runs are varied and include open faces, lightly treed slopes, and cut runs between the trees further down. As to be expected considering the amount of skier traffic, the runs tend to get bumped up pretty quickly.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Crystal Mountain Resort is a kick-arse mountain for experts and there is even some extreme terrain. The variety is impressive and includes open alpine terrain, sub-alpine, and tree skiing, and there are various rocks features to add to the diversity. It also varies from straight off the lifts terrain, to traverse in and out terrain (so it’s more of a skier than snowboarder mountain due to the amount of traversing), to hike-to terrain (some of which can be traversed by skiers). Like any mountain, the more effort required for ingress and egress, the more untracked snow you’ll find.

One of the bookends of Crystal Mountain Resort is the Northway lifted area. It is best described as Crystal Mountain’s lift accessed inbounds sidecountry. Over a thousand acres of fun steeps, bowls, chutes and trees, it holds powder longer than other areas. And if you push further afield to Short North you could be completely blissful. The series of access gates vary greatly in difficulty so scope your line wisely. If you are at all concerned, use Fatmap or perhaps don’t go in here!

The other bookend and Crystal’s best asset is Chair 6. The chair exit is for experts only, and from there you can traverse into the lovely Campbell Basin. Short hikes get you longer and fresher lines in the basin, and then hike/traverse/sidestep to Avalanche Basin (Little AK) which has some mandatory air lines as well as straight shots, or head around the back to the massive Silver Basin. Or hike up to Silver King (if it’s open) which has gnarlier lines such as the Brain Damage couloir. For all these lines, you’ll be well rewarded for the traverse/skate/hike to get back into the resort proper.

The outer parts of the resort are controlled and patrolled, but nevertheless experts should don avalanche gear and a buddy, especially if heading into the sidecountry.