Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Crystal Mountain Backcountry


Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Crystal Mountain Backcountry

Easy going ski tour that includes a beacon search practice session.

  • M2 Advanced Ski
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 5.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,600 ft


It takes about a half-hour to walk/take the shuttle up from "B-Lot" to Crystal's main lodge and visit the restroom.     Figure on arriving in the parking area around 8:00AM     

We will meet at the NE corner of the "Chapel Building"  at 8:30AM ready to ski.

 Those that don't yet have a "Crystal Backcountry Card" will need to obtain one by visiting Guest Services (The eastern most "ticket window")  The guest services window usually opens @ 8:30 

After everyone has signed Crystal's liability waiver and has their Backcountry Card 

Trip intended for folks new to backcountry  skiing to gain experience using skins and touring in a relaxed and low commitment setting.    Experienced ski tourer's will likely find the pacing a bit slow.   

I will initial set the roster count to zero and then after the final sign up date -- I will selectively move people from the waitlist to the roster for a group size of  eight.    (I Will not be doing a random lottery as I did last year -- too much effort)   I will use the  following criteria:

1) Whether COVID-19 vacination and boosters are up to date.
2) Whether the person has been, is or will be on a backcountry ski trip roster in recent times -- with favor shown to people who have not. 
3) How much experience does the person have with backcountry ski touring -- with favor shown to people with little experience. 
4) Wehther the person has Wilderness First Aid, or other medical training as is willing to act as a caregiver if there is a mishap.
5) Whether the person is willing to carpool.

Please provide details of these criteria in the "Registration notes" 

This trip will include a beacon search practice session.   We will likely do this in the meadows near Hen Skin Lake.    Please bring an extra stuff sack and some padding to wrap your beacon in.  Padding could be an extra sweater,  foam sit pad, bubble wrap, etc.   A tupperware or ziplock box to place your beacon in is also a good idea.   We will pair off and one person will bury their beacon and their partner will practice their search skills.   
The steepness of the terrain is modest -- I reccommend that your "Lift skiing skills" be that you are at least a confident "Blue Run" skier and are able to descend easier "Black runs" without undue fear.   We will be skiing through the trees some.  We will ski the more challenging sections with care.  Remember that a "stem turn" is a powerful backcounty ski skill.    We will travel as a group to ensure that no one become separated.

Example GPX track from a prior trip, we won't follow this exactly -- but this will give you a general idea of the area where we will tour.

In my prior trips to this area -- there is bench partway up that provides good stopping place and skiing down from there minimizes exposure to avalanche hazard and is  more of a "Blue Run" level of difficulty.    Depending on conditions this might be the high point for the day.      There is also an option for climbing a little higher onto some more "Black Run" level slopes whether we do with will depend on snow stability analysis and group interest and energy. 

In prior trips we have done 1 or 2 extra laps of roughly 500vft in this upper area.

The ski/ride out from the basin @ 5800 ft involves a small amout of "rolling terrain"  Splitboards are advised to have their poles at the ready through this section so that they can double pole instead of having to unstrap.

Note:  A Winter Storm Warning, Extreme Avalanche Forecast from NWAC, Freezing Rain or "Chains Required" on the highway will cancel the trip.    If NWAC forecast is for a High avalanche hazard -- inbounds lift skiing  will be a fallback option considered.

Additional Info:

My Touring Tips

My day touring ski pack contents:

My Driving Tips:

My Carpooling Tips:


Crystal Mountain Ski Area

  • USGS White River Park

    Green Trails Bumping Lake No. 271

    USGS Norse Peak

    Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270

    Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

  • The Ten Essentials
  • Boots, skis/snowboard, poles
  • Climbing skins
  • Avalanche shovel (metal blade)
  • Avalanche beacon (3 antenna digital beacon)
  • Avalanche probe
  • COVID-19 face covering
  • Extra stuff stack and padding for burying beacon for search practice.
Trip Reports