Baked Bluebird: Warm Winter Fun at Crystal

Mount Rainier is just across the valley from Crystal Mountain.
A snowboarder cruises spring-like snow on Rolling Knolls on the Forest Queen lift.

Day 18: Feb. 8, 2016

It’s hard to beat Crystal Mountain on a sunny day.

Day 18 of the SkiZer season was bluebird-beautiful at Crystal. Or make that baked bluebird. With temps well into the 50’s, it felt a lot like spring skiing. Best of all, the slopes were uncrowded.

On a clear day, the view from Crystal is amazing. Mount Rainier is just across the valley and it dominates the skyline, but you can also see the other Northwest volcanoes: Baker, Glacier Peak, St. Helens, Adams and Hood.

Click on maps to see detailed versions.

Early morning runs on Rainier Express and Green Valley were sun-softened and fun. Quickly, the south-facing slopes took on a mashed-potato quality, so I searched out some meat — in the form of north-facing steeps.

SkiZer prepares to drop off of Northway Peak.

I found some great, sugary snow on Northway. The north-facing Horseshoe Cliffs, Northway Peak and the shaded portions of Paradise Bowl were the best of it.

Still searching for north-facing runs, I made my way to Chair 6 and took a couple of laps on Powder Bowl. Its cliffs were well-covered, and the snow underneath was soft and carvable.

Campbell Basin also had its moments. I took a run up to the Throne Chutes, got another view of those beautiful volcanoes, and skied down to the soft snow in the basin.

It was all great sunny fun. Still, the SkiZer wouldn’t mind a few more stormy winter days before we get into spring for real.

The view from the Throne at Crystal Mountain.
A skier carves on Middle Ferks as the Mount Rainier Gondola passes overhead.
Sunwashed slopes of Crystal
The sun-washed slopes of Crystal Mountain.

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