Late May at Crystal Mountain
May 22, 2012
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With luck that would rival Chelsea in the Champion’s League this season, Crystal certainly picked the perfect first two winters to expand its operations for Spring skiing. With near record, La Nina-driven 500+ inches of snowfall each season, there was never any doubt that local SWAPs (Skiers With A Problem) like us were in for some great May skiing. A warm mid-month had caused some serious low down meltage this year, but top to bottom skiing was still conveniently possible for the last weekend of operations of the Chinook Express and Forest Queen chairs. This gave plenty of terrain and snow for a Crystal-style weekend of skiing and apres debauchery. In the case of the latter, the Snorting Elk may have been quiet, but Guatemalan brandy proved a more than adequate substitute 😉
Saturday rivaled, if not excelled, the conditions at Bachelor the previous weekend. Crystal’s many steep lines were draped in soft, sugary snow where the sun did it’s freeze-thaw work, making for epic bump skiing under the Rainier Express. Anything facing north-ish held firm, grippy cream cheese that was made for carving fresh arcs down the fall line. The gate-accessed Bear Pits, which falls as steeply as the Greek economy, was close to steep skiing nirvana all weekend. It was hard to imagine better, and it’s terrain like this that really is Crystal’s signature.
A sunny, warm Saturday transitioned into a damp, grey Sunday. The rain at lift opening time was pretty ominous, and we expected the worst. But somehow the snow held firm, the groomers skied like butter, and the rain became very light drizzle and then nothing. Once again, high quality laps of Bear Pits, including the line formerly known as K2 Face, made a mockery of the dodgy weather. Late May skiing really shouldn’t be this good.
Saturday 10,600m Sunday 6400m
Season Totals: 68 days, 590,200m vert, 28 powder days