Top Ten Unheralded Extreme Ski Slopes

Beyond Black: The World's Top Ten Unheralded Steeps
By Peter Oliver & Alistair Wearmouth

You have to wonder if Crystal Mountain doesn't have it all: nestled in the Cascades Mountains and on the northeast flank of Rainier National Park, you can't argue with the views; only 76 miles from Seattle, Crystal is an alpine resort with big-city catchment; and, when the weather gods play nice, the snow at the top can be up to 12 feet deep—even better for powderhounds, it has been known to snow over 50 inches in a day.

Crystal Mountain is also one of the West Coast's best hardcore skiing playgrounds. But, if you want to get to the really steep stuff, you're going have to hike some to get there. However, that's not a bad thing. Forty-three percent of Crystal's terrain is considered black diamond, although nearly half of the total acreage (1,000 acres out of 2,300) is in-bound backcountry terrain, most of which isn't lift-served.

Once you do scale the heights, you'll find yourself teetering on the lip of a trail called Pinball. Why the name? Firstly, remember your ingredients: a narrow entry, 47-degree pitch, and rock walls to the left and right. Then, consider that if you fall, you'll be bouncing down the slope like a. . .well, you know what.

Resort Facts

Web: www.crystalmt.com

Phone: 1-888-754-6199

2004-05 lift pass: $45


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