Crystal Mountain, WA Conditions Report: “Choker Blower” Powder Daze

Reid Pitman | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Rainer and White River as a backdrop @ Crystal Mountain
Hiking up the King @ Crystal Mountain

Report from Monday, December 5th, 2016

Crystal had a steady start this season from an average opening snow depth with plenty of “early season conditions” to quite possibly the best snow I’ve ridden in my 9 years here! An overnight dump of 19″ of right side up pow fell Saturday night and made for all time storm riding Sunday for the snow starved population of local skiers.
Monday the cold temps lingered around while the crowds went back to work (or called in sick).

South back was scheduled to open around 11am so the plan was to ride fat skis down some of the best terrain in the PNW! We filled the time with carving perfect corduroy on fat skis and herding all the cats together before heading up Chair 6.
Patrol still had some control work to do so we waited by the gate at the Throne and enjoyed bacon and strong coffee ( my backcountry favorite).

Scoping lines along the traverse

The long traverse to Silver King had its usual early season sharks yet was full of familiar faces. We passed groups that didn’t know where they were going just following locals and got passed by the ski-everyday-ers. We had to keep reminding ourselves that its only the 1st week of December and Ptex is easy.

Bootpacking went fast thanks to all the preseason splitboarding and perfect steps put in by patrol early that morning.

From the Summit amid high fives the clouds continued to break.

Powder skis and neon with a little powder
Summit of Silver King, Crystal Mountain

We choose my favorite line for wide open powder off the south side. It didn’t disappoint as we skied through rimed trees to open bowls below. As we dropped into light dry knee deep snow we couldn’t stop laughing aloud.  We don’t get this kinda light stuff in the PNW very often. Especially this deep and stable!

Deep overhead powder turn after turn.  I found meaning to the term “choker blower” as it clogged my mouth on a few turns.  Cori and I were both on 130mm K2 Hellbents and still were up to our knees. Turning was just for fun as the “pow breaks” were enough to keep speed to a manageable level.

Powder fat skis sluffs
Is this what skiing in Alaska feels like

This was the snow of heros.
As we regrouped at the bottom everyone couldn’t shut up about how good it was as we made our way through the low angle trees, leap frogging the whole way to break trail through the low angle deep powder.

It was no question that we had to do another lap!
The long skate out of the Landing Strip was harder on my legs than I figured it was going to be, glad I didn’t opt for the snowboard.

deep powder on the south side of Silver King @ Crystal Mountain
deep powder on the south side of Silver King @ Crystal Mountain

Lap 2 we dropped right next to our last run, it ain’t broke so don’t fix it. The traverse was mellower without the mad dash and knowing where the rocks were.

Knowing the quality of the snow and the stability we let loose a little more.

Feeling totally spent and other life priorities starting to close in we called it a day. Actually we called it the best day of the season.

And its only week 1.

Cold temps are sticking around all week with more cold snow coming over the weekend. Storm days on weekends are my favorite!
Crystal Mountain Report
See ya out there!


Crystal snow depth. Image Crystal Mountain


Forecast for base area of Crystal, image NOAA today


blower powder skiing
The Stoke is strong with this one



Knee deep powder
Christy cruising Silver Basin
blower powder
Ready to drop in again

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