Crystal Mountain Ski Resort by Norse Peak via Elizabeth Lake / 水晶山

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Crystal Mountain by Norse Peak is home to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort, the largest in the state. At the same time, it’s the highest point in Central South Cascade Crest east of Mount Rainer. Northeast ridge plus Elizabeth Lake gives the quickest access to the peak on foot.

Crystal Mountain Silver King from Point 6725
Crystal Mountain Silver King from Point 6725

See more trip photos here.

Crystal Mountain at Glance

Access: Crystal Mountain Ski Resort (trail maps)
Round Trip: 13.5 miles
Elevation Range: 4320′-6998′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

I first saw Crystal Mountain from Norse Peak. Because it’s part of the resort, we’ve stayed away for years. But now that the ski season is over, the pup and I went to check out the mountain midweek.

Crystal Mountain Resort

For years, we would stop short of the ski area at mile 4 to climb Norse Peak. It’s also possible to access Crystal Mountain via Sourdough Gap and Chinook Pass when the highway is open.

While scouring through reports online, I found one by Redwic. It was perfect timing as the resort had closed for the season two weeks ago. After parking in Lot A, we started walking at 8:30 AM.

Peak envy
Peak envy

See more trip photos here.

Through Ski Runs

I used microspikes on firm snow and went up on Lower Arvine. Then we crossed Broadway through Lower Magoo and Lower Chappell’s Run. The Forest Green Express lift operated as we walked under it.

After Queens Run, I switched to snowshoes and then left the road up into the trees. We reached Point 6725 from the south, where I saw our goal above. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Lake was nestling in the basin below.

See more trip photos here.

Traversing the East Ridge

Snow had been in the morning sun for a while, so the top was slushy. We avoided open terrain by walking in the trees. Then we went through the steeper section between 6200′ and 6400′.

Along the way, we followed several pairs of recent boot tracks, possibly from last weekend’s group. The prominent cornices off the north cliffs had us stay south of the east crest.

A closer look from Crystal Mountain
A closer look from Crystal Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Crystal Mountain Summit Views

Soon, we powered through the final 200′ of wet snow to the top. The almost treeless summit offered vast views of everything around us. I would not want to be up here when there’s no view.

We haven’t spent much time inside the national park, so I only knew Norse Peak and Mount Aix. Mount Baker was the only of the five volcanoes I didn’t see. Unicorn Peak on the Tatoosh Range was visible also.

Stuart Range backing Norse Peak
Stuart Range backing Norse Peak

See more trip photos here.

Outro

Later we dropped into upper Elizabeth Creek Basin from the north. Then we followed days-old tracks over to Elizabeth Lake. Crystal Mountain sitting behind the lake looked pretty dramatic.

We later walked down the ski slopes and picked up our tracks back to the car. It was an enjoyable visit to the windless summit. Then it was in the 60s by the late morning.

See more trip photos here.

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