Home > Trip Reports > April 20, 2003, Crystal Mountain crest tour

April 20, 2003, Crystal Mountain crest tour

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Lowell_Skoog on 4/20/03 8:27pm
After posting this over on TT.com, I realized that TAY.com was a more appropriate place for it...


I headed up to Crystal Mountain ski area after the family Easter egg hunt with a vague goal of getting some exercise. Finding better weather than I expected, I skinned up Lower Exterminator and climbed through Kelly's Gap to the top of Northway Peak. Then I started following the skyline south, taking in all the summits--C3, Rex, Silver Queen, the Throne, Silver King. On top of the King, I took my skins off for the first time and skied into Silver Basin, then up Threeway Peak.

The tour had gone quicker than I expected to this point, so I decided to keep following the crest to Bear Gap, Crown Point, Bullion Peak, and East Peak. Touring conditions were good--not too crusty or too mushy. South slopes were corning up nicely. Finally I skied the southwest slope of East Peak (still good corn at 3:30 pm) back to my car in the parking lot.

This spur of the moment tour turned out to be a nice outing for a day when you're more interested in views and touring than turns and yo-yoing. Hard trail-breaking would make the tour a lot less fun, so early spring seems ideal. You spend a lot of time right on the crest, so the views are continuously good. Now that the ski area is closed, snowmobiles have been highmarking most of the basins, something I haven't seen before at Crystal.
Thanks for the report, Lowell. It sounds like a great tour. I'm wondering what the story is with snowmobiles at closed ski areas - Stevens, Crystal. Does anyone know if this is an activity approved by the NF/ski areas, or are the machines sneaking in to poach some lines?

Charles -

I believe the person who could answer your question is Larry Donovan, Winter Sports Recreation Coordinator with the USFS.  His phone is 425-744-3403 and e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Larry is also the lead on the master plan permit review for the Crystal ski area expansion.

I have only recently found this website and just by chance happened to be at Chrystal mtn. last weekend.  Judging by the pictures it looks like your get together was a lot of fun.

I also couldn't help but notice the snowmobiles using the area.  Like you, this was a first for me.  I can't remember seeing them at any time in the past.  So I contacted the Forest Service and received a nice reply from Larry Donovan.  He said that snowmobiles are not permitted in the ski resort area and that he had contacted the Forest Service law enforment person who had issued a few warnings and posted the area.  Hopefully this will take care of the problem. ;)s

Thanks RG ! Now lets see how good it all works. I know Iv'e been up there in the past after closure or before opening day and employees have taken snomobiles up to drop fellow workers off to ski.A gang of them highmarking is something else.

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2003-04-21 03:27:58