2018/5/2 – Crystal Mountain / 水晶山

Silver King from Point 6725
Silver King from Point 6725

Photos from this trip can be found here.

All the years of staring at Crystal Mountain (aka Silver King) from across the basin, we finally got the chance to pay a visit. First time driving on Crystal Mountain Boulevard to its terminus; in years past we’d stop short of the ski resort at mile 4 to climb Norse Peak. Most parties approach from Sourdough Gap via Chinook Pass, which is currently closed until early June.

I scoured through many reports online and found a great one by Redwic approaching from the ski basin. The resort had just been closed for the season week before last, perfect timing in avoiding seasonal crowds. Pup and I started hiking at 8:30 AM from Lot A, we’d occasionally spot ski patrols roaming the slopes.

Peak envy
Peak envy

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Hiking up Lower Arvine’s slope on firm snow and using microspikes for traction, we crossed Broadway and continued through Lower Magoo and Lower Chappell’s Run. The Forest Green Express ski lift ran periodically as we traveled underneath. After crossing Queens Run, I switched to snowshoes and scrambled through forest to Point 6725 via south slopes. The point provided full view of our destination towering above and Elizabeth Lake nestling in the basin below.

Snow had been baked in the morning sun for a good while, now with few inches of slush on top. Carefully avoiding open terrain on the east ridge, we stayed close to the trees and got through the steepest section from 6,200′ to 6,400′. Along the way we picked up several pairs of recent boot tracks, presumably left by climbers from this past weekend.

A closer look
A closer look

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Higher up on the ridge cornices were noticeably hanging over northern cliffs. We steered clear and stayed on or south of the ridge crest, and powered through the last couple hundred feet of slush to the summit. Nearly treeless summit offered endless views of peaks near and far, with Mount Rainier being the main attraction to the west.

Since we haven’t spent as much time in the South Cascades or within the Mount Rainier National Park boundary, I could only identify a few nearby high points like Norse Peak and Mount Aix. Four of the five Washington volcanoes were visible–Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Glacier Peak. Surprisingly, eastern portions of the Tatoosh Range, including Stevens Peak, Unicorn Peak, and Tatoosh Peak, were visible from here.

Norse Peak backed by Stuart Range
Norse Peak backed by Stuart Range

Photos from this trip can be found here.

On the way down we dropped into upper Elizabeth Creek Basin via north slopes. Lots of old boot tracks which we followed down to Elizabeth Lake. Crystal Mountain backing the lake made for dramatic photos from different angles. After a short stay we hiked down to the ski slopes and reversed our route back to the parking lot.

Virtually windless during our summit stay, late morning temperatures rose to low to mid 60s.

Access: Crystal Mountain Resort
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes


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