As I headed out the door at 6:30AM on Saturday, the sensors on top of Crystal Mountain were reporting 7 degrees. That’s about what it felt like all day. But the cold was outweighed by bluebird skies and incredible views stretch from Baker to St. Helens. This was my seventh day at Crystal this season but the first that I’ve been able to see Mt. Rainier.
I took the GoPro along with me and used it for a few runs. Unfortunately the second time I used it I had it pointed down to low and a lot of that footage is unusable, but I did edit together a couple clips. You’ll see the following scenes in this order:
1) The top of the Green Valley chair is a stunner on days like this. It lines you right up for a beautiful view of Rainier.
2) From the top of the gondola, I panned quickly across the horizon.
3) As I rode up the gondola, I spotted a little patch of fresh snow. (It hadn’t snowed since Tuesday night.) It required a short hike but I went for it and enjoyed it.
4) I spotted another patch from the Northway lift and that run was even better.
It was a good day for me to explore the Northway area because visibility was so good and there wasn’t a lot of fresh snow which meant it was less likely to get caught in a bad situation. It’s enormous and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. I challenged myself by finding fun stuff that I could see from the lift and then trying to get there. Terrain looks a lot different when you’re actually on the ground. At one point I realized I’d missed my mark and started seeing cliff signs to the left and right. Shortly after that I saw a wall of cliff signs ahead of me too. I knew the cliff band and it’s a solid 20-30 feet in most places. Uh oh. These are the thoughts that went through my head: “Am I going to be the idiot who has to call for rescue? I should pull out my phone and take a photo of this. No, Tyla would be mad if she saw the photo. But I’m just going to blog about it anyway. Skip the photo stupid and try to get out of this mess.” There were enough tracks in the area that I was able to pick my way through the cliff band without any real danger. It sure had my heart pumping though!
With this trip I’ve racked up enough vertical feet to rank 3rd on my list of 8 ski seasons. That’s pretty good considering it’s not even the middle of January yet!