Crystal Mountain, WA Conditions Report: Powder Refresher

Reid Pitman | BackcountryBackcountry | Industry NewsIndustry News
Katie Fairman chose wisely
Katie Fairman chose wisely

Last week brought ripping good conditions wall to wall at the resort, with a little of everything from powder pockets to fast groomed steeps. The coverage along the ridges where cold temps and high winds had scoured away all the snow are finally covered. A 2 day warming event manifested in some rain and fun slush skiing, an more importantly stabilized the snowpack and covered up those “early season” hazards.

PNW skiers don't fear rain
PNW skiers don’t fear rain

Seeking out the thrills has been a little tricky unless going 70mph down Iceberg (Ferks) is your jam. The grooming of the firm snow is so fast right now! I really had to pay attention to where the wind blew all the powder, but was able to find it here and there. A few decent snowfalls came through and dumped a nice 4″-6″ over the resort. Nothing like what hit Utah and Tahoe, but we can’t complain in this business. If you can’t find good snow, you’re just not looking.

Reid Pitman, splitboarding, crystal mountain, backcountry
Boot packing into Southback. PC Cori Bucherl

After a few days of riding lifts, I got a solid crew together to test out the backcountry. We knew that there was a danger of wind slabs and found evidence in chutes with a N/NE aspect. With careful planning and knowing the aspects we’d have to cross, we found some good snow in Silver Basin and Morris Creek.  The traverse from Chair 6 to the King hasn’t been this good since… well probably just last week.  Despite mostly good conditions, there’s still some weird wind buffed crust masquerading as perfect powder out there. I’ve started calling it “loud pow.”

Splitboarding, Rainier, backcountry
Alec Berghoef dropping into Crystal Lakes

We dropped into Crystal Lakes and experienced variable conditions but excellent views. Dropping in one by one, safe spot to safe spot, took a bit of time. Our comfort with the snowpack grew, but we continued to err on the side of caution. We skinned over a low saddle to Morris creek through deep yet reactive snow. The first few turns of our descent on the windward slope was like a scoured ice rink with frozen tree bombs. Fortunately, the lower slopes held great snow and were worth enduring the fear turns up high. We skinned back into Silver Basin via the longest side step traverse I’ve ever seen. Whoever had gone before us must really love a good side stepping session! We topped out on a north facing aspect, which we knew held wind deposited snow and questionable stability. So we opted to cut few cornices to see what the slope would do. Feeling good about the results, we skied out all the way to the base ready to chow down on nachos and pizza.
Today we went back and sessioned the area with more confidence about the snow, before all having to head in to make nachos and pizza for other people.

Splitboarding, backcountry, powder,
Backountry Party Shred
PC Cori Bucherl

A few more days of sunny and cool will be nice for railing some turns this weekend.
Side plug, an amazing band called Dancehall Days is playing at the patio Saturday. I don’t usually get excited about music up here, but I got to see them a few times last year and was blown away.


Snow Report:

Snow Report, Crystal Mountain Image
Snow Report, Crystal Mountain Image


Crystal Forecast. NOAA Image
Crystal Forecast. NOAA Image

Photo Tour:

backcountry, powder
Meaghann Gaffney slaying pow behind 3 Way Peak
Backcountry Terrain park.
Backcountry terrain park
ski touring, backcountry, crystal mountain
Hannah Besso dropping in
Alec boosting
Alec boosting
Reid Pitman, crystal mountain
Alec and I boot packing the last steep from Bear Gap
Soaking up the sunset after cutting cornices.
Soaking up the sunset after cutting cornices
Ski touring, backcountry, powder
Cori Bucherl finds the deep



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